the watch
bush lied, people died. escalate nonviolence.

Evict Bush!

Saturday, February 15, 2003  

Supporting our Troops

Across town, some military families held a 'Support Our Troops' rally. Here are some things they probably didn't discuss:

And what about the veterans of the last Gulf War? What will the fine, healthy people that we send to Iraq now have to look forward to? Our soldiers from that first war came back sick. Congressman McDermott said today that over 200,000 of them have filed permanent disability claims. Here's a short list of some of their ongoing health problems:

  • Dementia
  • Fatigue
  • Memory lapses
  • Joint pain
  • Dizzy spells
  • Headaches
  • Limb spasms
  • Seizures
  • Lou Gehrig's disease
  • Increased rates of cancer
  • Greater incidences of miscarriage and birth defects

Front line troops are being told to leave doposits in sperm banks in case they come back sterile like some of those who went before them. A higher rate of disability has been reported for Gulf War veterans than for any other group of veterans in the last 60 years. The cause of this epidemic has not been identified, and it's a hard thing to think about the Iraqis who've been living for years now in the toxic soup that poisoned these soldiers.

Our soldiers signed on to defend all our lives in case of an attack on our country. They didn't sign up hoping for lifetime disability, for being put in harm's way because of lies and greed, or for being cheated out of benefits and education funding for their children here at home.

I wish I could have told all the people at the Support our Troops rally that one of the reasons that I oppose a war in Iraq is because I do support our troops. As Mr. Alexie said today, I hope they die in their beds at a ripe, old age after a long, healthy life. I feel that I have a better right to say that I support them more than think-tank chickenhawks, more than defense contractors looking for a profit, and more than our oil companies. And I definitely support them more than a president who, when he was called to serve, went AWOL from the safe National Guard post that his father got for him.

So, here's to our troops. They have the thanks of everyone for volunteering to defend us, but let's hope they aren't forced to prove that willingness in a defense of ExxonMobil.

posted by Natasha at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK |

Well, unlike past mass protests CNN is covering this one. Back here in Seattle, my compatriot guesstimated around 100,000 people. Two local congressmen, Jay Inslee and Jim McDermott, showed up. Only Mr. McDermott had time to speak, which was a shame, because he was one of the few presenters that had something coherent and useful to say. He and Inslee should have headlined, instead of getting squeezed in at the end.

I got there just at the beginning of a speech by the author of 'Smoke Signals', Sherman Alexie, who's Native American. He was pretty good, and related a story about something that happened right after 9-11. Shortly after that, he was walking downtown, stepping into a crosswalk, when the driver of a truck leaned out his window and told him to 'go back to his country.' Alexie described this as a crime of irony, and wasn't sure if he had composed himself in time for the driver to hear his retort of 'You first.' He'd said that it had been the prayer of all brown people in the US that the terrorists would turn out to be Norwegian.

Then, they turned the podium over (regrettably) to someone from the ILWU, who talked on and on about the problems of the local janitors' union. He was trying to make a point about there being a war on workers getting lost in the shuffle. For anyone who didn't already agree with him, he probably failed miserably. It was shameless grandstanding which really kind of hijacked the purpose of the day. Then, three people read slogans in three different languages. I had to wander off at that point, so when I came back, I caught the tail end of someone talking about the Patriot Act II and immigrant detention. Someone standing near me, who apparently doesn't read the news, didn't know why the immigrant detentions were being brought up. Finally, Mr. McDermott came up to speak, and I'll try to find a copy of his remarks somewhere. The gist of his commentary was that he was getting deja vu from his Vietnam days, and felt that the goals of disarmament (which everyone standing there voiced noisy approval of) could be accomplished without war.

The fountain court of the Seattle Center was jam packed from one end to the other with people, with many more spilling around the sides, and streaming in throughout the program. (My partner in crime guessed that there were maybe 100,000 there, which I'm adding to this commentary only because he's done a lot of public speaking for work and is alright at estimating crowd sizes.) I hope that next time one of these things gets thrown, that they vet the speakers a little more carefully, do a dress rehearsal or something. But I was pleased at the turnout on what was a pretty gray day, threatening to rain.

posted by Natasha at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK |

Notable Posts:

Atrios notes that the BBC included a portion of Hans Blix' speech to the UN which CNN seems to have missed.

The Agonist comments on rumors of a possible coup in Pakistan.

Ampersand talks about better genes for the rich.

Dwight Meredith gives us a new installment of what an era of responsibility means to Republicans, particularly when they're drawing up a budget.

Talk Left brings us some highlights of protest around the world.

And on that note, I'm off to attend our local shindig.

posted by Natasha at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK |

Friday, February 14, 2003  

You know, 500 handbills don't go as far as it sounds like they might. I'm off, until tomorrow most likely, but have a pleasant evening. I'll have plenty to report on tomorrow, including the peace rally in Seattle. Find one in your area and go.

posted by Natasha at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK |

Thursday, February 13, 2003  

Lisa at Not Invented Here had some comments about the international perception of the US (no permalinks, scroll to the bottom.) She says:

...Both "isolationist" and "imperialist" are code for "the US is not consulting our opinion". One is applied to action, one to non-action, but what really stings is to be ignored.

I'd like to respectfully disagree that being ignored in general is what other countries are concerned about. Having their interests, their welfare, their rights, and their sovereignty disregarded is more like it. If the US is being isolationist in matters of consulting others, that doesn't mean that it's going to be militarily or economically isolationist. If the US is invading the territory of other countries, or forcing unpalatable decisions on sovereign nations who strongly disagree, what should we call it but imperialism? It's like saying that what children dislike most about a class bully is that the bully ignores them.

The reason why other people are so much more concerned with US opinion and multilateralism than they are with, say, Paraguay's, is that our behavior is very likely to affect them directly. Bringing the situation home, it's the same reason why politically inclined Americans may be feverishly concerned with the actions of the president, yet not give a toss about what the neighbor down the street is up to.

Is it so unreasonable that people who have to deal with the consequences of our decisions ask for some say in them?

posted by Natasha at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK |

Notable posts:

Yes, Aelred, Emma of Late Night Thoughts should immediately be given the job of the current DNC chairman. She is clearly way smarter. Out of what is a prize-winning essay in its entirety, I loved this: "When did we forget the simple sentence: "you are lying?" Why do we have to be mealymouthed about it, and look for euphemisms? Why can't a Democratic politician look one of those blowhards on tv straight in the eye and say: you, sir, are a liar?" The post above this one is pretty good, too.

Easter Lemming digs up 17 good reasons to oppose war in Iraq. Lots of other good posts, too.

TBogg points out eerie parallels, prefaced by a not particularly eerie piece of wingnut bloodlust.

David E finds Senator Byrd making some sense.

Electrolite talks about the desire to do a good job.

Skippy tells us all about our early economic Valentine from our legacy admissions president.

posted by Natasha at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK |

There are just a ton of things I want to blog about today, what with being way behind on my outrage over our Dear Leader's bold-faced lies in a speech to our troops this morning, but I only have time for a brief note before class. I'll try to post more later tonight, but I'm not betting anything on that.

In my personal war on the war on Iraq, I printed up a few fliers, and 500 handbills/leaflets for the peace rally this Saturday. (You can make quite a nuisance of yourself with $20 and a nearby Kinko's.) I've spent the last two and a half hours putting up fliers at my college and leafleting cars in my neighborhood grocery and library parking lots. Yesterday, I hit a different grocery store lot, the movie theater, and half the park & ride before the nice folks said that leaflets aren't allowed at the park & ride. I've been thanked twice, given several funny looks, and got some unexpected help with papering my campus announcement boards. Tomorrow, I have another bunch of leaflets to put up, presuming I can fit it in.

Anyway, I highly recommend foot powered activism. Especially if you're one of those people that never seems to find time to go to the gym.

posted by Natasha at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK |

Wednesday, February 12, 2003  

Mark Morford suggests that we each go get our $20 share of the music industry's settlement in the CD price-fixing lawsuit. The deadline is March 3rd, 2003.

posted by Natasha at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK |

A teenager arrested for the first time in a marijuana bust gets a 26 year sentence. Twenty six years!? There are murderers who go free in less time. States are releasing inmates because the budget crisis has slashed incarceration funding. And a high-school student with no record gets sentenced to more years in jail than he's even been alive because he sold pot to an undercover agent. What a madhouse.

posted by Natasha at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK |

From Greenpeace Activist News, format modified for web:


We've launched a new website opposing a war in Iraq. We've also set up a discussion thread about volunteering to help stop
a war.

We encourage you all to participate in the world wide demonstrations against a war on Saturday, 15 February. To find out more, please visit United For Peace.

Please send our new Valentine-themed e-card to your friends and colleagues (not just your special someone!). The e-card asks people to thank the Presidents of France, Russia and China for opposing a war in Iraq. Please thank these Presidents yourself from here.

You can send a letter to the 15 members of the UN Security Council here, and to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair here. You can participate in a general discussion about a possible Iraqi war here

posted by Natasha at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK |

In the Guardian:

Paul Foot talks about why Saturday's peace rally is important. He may be talking about the rally in London, but it applies equally anywhere. If you care at all, go. If you've never been to a protest before, go. If you're not 'one of those people,' go anyway. This isn't about free love and acid in the park. It's about stopping the violent murder of tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

A new and credible Bin Laden tape emerges to urge suicide attacks against the US. Americans told to keep a supply of masking tape and plastic sheeting at home. (Huh!?)

France and America mixing it up again, but this time without the usual quick making it up. This bit seemed to sum it up pretty well:

...The easy-going prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who rarely speaks about foreign policy, responded to George Bush's "the game is over" last week with a little-reported but perfectly effective: "It's not a game, it's not over." ...

posted by Natasha at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK |

In the Asia Times:

Ehsan Ahrari looks at the overly simplistic way that US pundits have tried to answer the equally simplistic question, "Why do they hate us?"

Jim Lobe analyzes America's fast crumbling alliances, and Hilmi Toros talks about the split in NATO.

A novel idea for creating pre-emptive democracy in Iraq.

A game of Cowboys, Terrorists, and Euro-Trash. As stereotypes collide in the increasingly venemous squabbling over Iraq, absolutely everyone is losing face and the natives are getting restless.

...Washington's hawks obviously don't give a damn about popular sentiment anywhere. They react with the usual vocabulary: these people are leftists, communists, anti-globalization protesters, anti-imperialists, anti-Americans or whatever. But the current global anti-war movement is not composed only of activists and militants: it involves all sectors of civil society, the average Joe, Kim or Ahmad. Even in Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak's government in fact cracks down on any manifestation of popular anger, there is now a committee for human shields willing to go to Iraq. Ahmed Abdel Salam, the head of the committee, says: "They are all volunteers, and no government has the right to stop them from defending Arab land. Because today it is Iraq; tomorrow we know it will be Egypt." Abdel Salam says: "We have volunteers from Syria, Kuwait, Bahrain, the [United Arab] Emirates and Qatar, and we hope that this mass migration to Baghdad will put pressure on many Arab governments."

All over the world, a river of humanity is saying - as the organizers of the London rally put it - that the war against Iraq will be waged "in the name of ridding the world of chemical weapons, by the power that spread napalm and Agent Orange across half a continent. It will be waged to rid the world of a dictator who gassed his own people and invaded Iran, when those acts could only have been carried out with the backing of the only superpower in the first place." ...

posted by Natasha at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK |

Courtesy of the Sideshow, we find that Zizka has conclusively proved that Belgium is a Liberal hoax. As he says: "...Some aging hippies may even claim to have bought drugs there, but of what value are the delusions of a stoned counter-culturalist." Heh.

posted by Natasha at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK |

Tuesday, February 11, 2003  

Notable Posts:

PLA has two good posts about what Bush's proposed era of personal responsibility has meant in terms of actual responsibility taken. Hint: It's all Clinton's fault.

Ruminate This posts about the hounding of liberal academics.

Body and Soul takes a long look at Iraq.

Ampersand takes on a men's rights spokesentity on the topics of disparity of breast vs. prostate cancer funding, and also sentencing guidelines.

How to Save the World posts an encouraging quote from 'The Once and Future King, and also the figures on the level of international support the US would have for war in Iraq if governments were all listening to their citizens.

WampumBlog gives us an idea of what it will really mean to bomb Baghdad back to the stone age, a city of 5.8 million people no less.

Orcinus on Bill O'Reilly's ties to WorldNetDaily, and other unsavory folk.

Seeing the Forest pulls together a truly impressive list of electronic voting machine stories.

Mark Kleiman talks about the failure of the DEA.

Josh Marshall digs dirt on Republican political consultants in this post, and the two below.

Weapons of Mass Distraction reminds us of what they were saying when Clinton was contemplating war with Iraq.

posted by Natasha at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK |

In the BBC:

Mentally incompetent death row inmates in the US may now be forced to take medication that would make them sane enough to execute.

Germans and Dutch take command of the rotating leadership of ISAF forces in Afghanistan.

South Korea asks the EU to intercede in North Korea.

Demand for India's software and support services is booming.

Pakistan trying to grow more cotton to meet increased demand after textile export quotas to western nations were raised as a concession for their help in the war on terror.

Zambia's president having second thoughts about privatization. Look for civil unrest, attempted coups, capital flight, and heavy hitting financial retribution if he isn't convinced to toe the line.

Greenhouse gases at highest level yet recorded.

posted by Natasha at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK |

This coming Saturday, February 15th will be an international day of action against the war, with marches all over the place. We even get to have on here in Seattle. If you would like to find a peace rally in your area, go to United For Peace and look up your state.

If you want to take it a step further, tell more people about it. Make up some flyers or handbills, post them at the grocery store, your local college or library, hand them out in public somewhere. The rest of the world thinks that the country is teeming with warmongers, the least we can do is correct that misconception.

posted by Natasha at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK |

Kahlil at ReachM High had this to say about the Patriot Act Redux:

...For the past 17 months, pundits have worn out one phrase: "if (such & such) happens, then the terrorists will have won." I'm upgrading that: If Patriot II passes, then the terrorists will be right. ...

Couldn't agree more. Warblogging has the full scoop on the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003. This thing is grim totalitarianism at its unsmiling worst, and there isn't even a hint of dramatic license in that. Write your spokesentities, tell your friends, make your opposition heard.

posted by Natasha at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK |


In case you haven't yet done so, it's time to let your senators know that they have your support in blocking the nomination of Miguel Estrada. This closemouthed candidate, who appeared to have no opinions when appearing before the judiciary committee, is opposed by a wide range of groups.

But to hear Orrin Hatch (R-UT) tell the story, the Democrats are blocking this nominee because he's a conservative Hispanic. In his appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews last night (transcript not yet available), he was allowed to make it sound as though Democrats have it in for all Bush's nominees, especially the Hispanic Miguel Estrada. Hispanics all over the country, he said, were watching this. He also said that there were 25 emergency vacancies in the appellate courts, due to the Democrats blocking Bush's right to appoint judges, while Matthews let this slide.

What did Matthews neglect to ask Senator Hatch, if he really wanted to get to the meat of the issue? He could have asked why those judicial slots went vacant during the Clinton years while the Senate was in Republican hands. Apparently, only Republican presidents have the right to appoint judges. Matthews and Hatch discussed Estrada's work at the Harvard Law Review, but failed to mention his membership in the Federalist Society. An influential and hard right group of law students, lawyers, and judges, whom a Google search for 'federalist society' reveals to have chapters at a great many influential universities. Also neglected was the fact that even certain Hispanic groups oppose this candidate. Or the elephant in the room that even as they slash affirmative action, Republicans believe that putting up a minority candidate should guarantee their acceptance, regardless of record. A position which even today's affirmative action supporters consider extreme.

Finally, if we really had a liberal media, Matthews would have instead been talking to one of the Democratic senators opposed to the nomination. But I would have settled for at least an exchange between Hatch and a Democrat, or even an interviewer who had done his homework and was genuinely willing to ask 'hardball' questions.

Update: According to this letter writer on, Estrada's nomination is opposed by no less than "The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus..." Yes, Mr. Hatch, Hispanics all across the country are watching. They're waiting for Republicans, after years of slashing education funding and bashing immigrants, to try and appoint someone whose radical beliefs and lack of experience would make a non-minority candidate completely unacceptable.

Clearly, the reason why Republicans have problems with any type of Affirmative Action is because they're afraid that the rest of the world might abuse it as much as they do. It isn't about appointing token minorities regardless of suitability. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Estrada should be adamantly opposed by anyone who calls themselves a liberal or moderate, even if instead of being a hispanic man, he were a gay, black woman.

posted by Natasha at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK |

Monday, February 10, 2003  

Posts of Note:

Body and Soul puts up a citizen's response to the Patriot Act.

Pandagon on the incoherence theory of warmongers.

The Sideshow and Interesting Times are ready to impeach.

Nathan Newman on the stiffing of New York.

The Upper Left Coast Review looks at what Bush's tried and true management strategies might do to our suffering economy, and does the math to represent the budget deficit in adjusted dollars (where it still looks pretty pad.)

MyDD tells us that the bodies of those killed in action during a war in Iraq will be cremated in the region, and that after the last Gulf War, illnesses and birth defects have skyrocketed among the veteran population and Iraqis both.

Talk Left brings us the opinion of a professional on Bush's Hussein obsession.

At No War Blog (also Stand Down), further holes punched in Powell's case to the UN, and even Robert Novak indicates that some conservatives are a little uneasy about what looks like empire building.

Update: Must read at Late Night Thoughts on why the farm bill is corporate welfare at its worst, and just below that, another good post about the many ways NASA pays for itself.

posted by Natasha at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK |

On Alternet:

Jim Hightower rails against corporate tax scammers. I like the Bermuda Shorts punishment, very novel.

Arianna Huffington takes on newly minted Treasury Secretary John Snow.

Rosenthal jurors want a new trial, saying they felt misled by the federal prosecutors tactics and would never have voted to convict if they'd been told the whole story.

Hemp production in Canada proceeds in fits and starts.

posted by Natasha at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK |

In the Guardian:

Dissension in the ranks as a member of parliament thrown out of the House for refusing to come to order in the midst of repeatedly accusing the Prime Minister of misleading parliament of "plagiarising an out-of-date Californian PhD and representing it as an intelligence service report".

To the surprise of everyone, Ariel Sharon has met with one of Arafat's senior negotiators in an undisclosed location to discuss a ceasefire. (A promising development, which we here at the watch can only hope took place at a different 'undisclosed location' than the one where Vice President Cheney has been mothballed all this time.) It's wondered if Sharon is doing this in order to coax the Labor party into a coalition government, but any good faith negotiations are better than the constant sniping back and forth.

Iraq agrees to surveillance overflights. I'm not sure why this was such a big sticking point, considering that we can take very detailed satellite photos, but hey, great. Then the by now unremarkable news that like the UN and every other group or country that doesn't act as a rubber stamp for US dictates, NATO is now facing a crisis of credibility. As a further burr in the Bush administration's panties, France and Germany have proposed a stepped up inspections regime with more staff and a large contingent of UN peacekeepers on the ground.

The remnants of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan are uniting under Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Analysts are concerned that the peacekeeping force now in Afghanistan, woefully understaffed even in the relative calm of a few months ago, is in danger of being hopelessly inadequate.

Peter Preston on the laughable promise to 'democratize' Iraq, and why that country is nothing like Japan.

posted by Natasha at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK |

Sunday, February 09, 2003  

Transcript of Bill Moyers interview with Chuck Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity on the new Homeland Security proposal.

...The problem is, we have a history in our country, just in our lifetime, in the last quarter century.

Where we've seen FBI and CIA abuses of ordinary citizens. Where mail has been opened, where homes have been broken into. Where infiltration has occurred in political groups. Informants have been used, misused. People's lives have been ruined. People have committed suicide because of the pressures brought against them by the government, by these kinds of secret intelligence agencies.

This is not a completely crazy idea to worry about the power of the government. And it was curbed and rolled back in the '70s. And there is something obviously occurring here in the public space around the whole issue of liberty and security right now. ...

Read the whole thing. Really.

posted by Natasha at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK |

The White House is now talking about abandoning income tax altogether in favor of consumption taxes. Which, as the article deigned to barely note, disproportionately target low-income brackets.

Considering that sales taxes can run somewhere around 8% already, and that the revenues from these are not enough to keep states afloat in the current budget crisis, how high would they have to be to support the federal government? Would they have to repeal the tax-free status of food?

posted by Natasha at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK |

From the Onion: North Dakota Found To Be Harboring Nuclear Missiles

The stage was set for another international showdown Monday, when chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix confirmed that the remote, isolationist state of North Dakota is in possession of a large stockpile of nuclear missiles.

...The man at the center of the controversy is North Dakota's leader, Gov. John Hoeven. Having risen to power in 2000 after amassing tremendous wealth in the private sector, Hoeven lives a life of comfort and excess inside the heavily patrolled North Dakota governor's mansion, a lavish dwelling paid for entirely by the state, while many of his people engage in subsistence farming.

..."North Dakotans live a horrible life of isolation and deprivation, struggling to grow crops in a hostile, sub-zero climate while their indifferent government routinely prioritizes bolstering the state's military might," BBC World correspondent Caroline Eagan said. "There are people starving there, and yet high-tech weapons laboratories and military bases abound. It's deplorable."...

posted by Natasha at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK |

Lying Media Bastards (which you should really go read) brings to our attention Noam Chomsky's speech at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre on the need to confront imperialism. Some excerpts, emphasis mine:

...I have also had some other recent experiences that give a vivid picture of what the world may be like if imperial violence is not limited and dismantled. Last month I was in southeastern Turkey, the scene of some of the worst atrocities of the grisly 1990s, still continuing: just a few hours ago we were informed of renewed atrocities by the army near Diyarbakir, the unofficial capital of the Kurdish regions. Through the 1990s, millions of people were driven out of the devastated countryside, with tens of thousands killed and every imaginable form of barbaric torture. They try to survive in caves outside the walls of Diyarbakir, in condemned buildings in miserable slums in Istanbul, or wherever they can find refuge, barred from returning to their villages despite new legislation that theoretically permits return. 80% of the weapons came from the US. In the year 1997 alone, Clinton sent more arms to Turkey than in the entire Cold War period combined up to the onset of the state terror campaign – called “counterterror” by the perpetrators and their supporters, another convention. Turkey became the leading recipient of US arms as atrocities peaked (apart from Israel-Egypt, a separate category).

In 1999, Turkey relinquished this position to Colombia. The reason is that in Turkey, US-backed state terror had largely succeeded, while in Colombia it had not. Colombia had the worst human rights record in the Western hemisphere in the 1990s and was by far the leading recipient of US arms and military training, and now leads the world. It also leads the world by other measures, for example, murder of labor activists: more than half of those killed worldwide in the last decade were in Colombia. Close to ½ million people were driven from their land last year, a new record. The displaced population is now estimated at 2.7 million. Political killings have risen to 20 a day; 5 years ago it was half that.

I visited Cauca in southern Colombia, which had the worst human rights record in the country in 2001, quite an achievement. There I listened to hours of testimony by peasants who were driven from their lands by chemical warfare – called “fumigation” under the pretext of a US-run “drug war” that few take seriously and that would be obscene if that were the intent. Their lives and lands are destroyed, children are dying, they suffer from sickness and wounds. Peasant agriculture is based on a rich tradition of knowledge and experience gained over many centuries, in much of the world passed on from mother to daughter. Though a remarkable human achievement, it is very fragile, and can be destroyed forever in a single generation. Also being destroyed is some of the richest biodiversity in the world, similar to neighboring regions of Brazil. ...

...Italy is on board, the White House tells us. It is apparently not a problem that over 80% of the public is opposed to the war, according to recent polls. That just shows that the people of Italy also belong to the “old Europe,” and can be sent to the ashcan of history along with France and Germany, and others who do not know their place. Spain is hailed as another prominent member of the new Europe -- with 75% totally opposed to the war, according to an international Gallup poll. According to the leading foreign policy analyst of Newsweek, pretty much the same is true of the most hopeful part of the new Europe, the former Communist countries ... He reports that in Czechoslovakia, 2/3 of the population oppose participation in a war, while in Poland only ¼ would support a war even if the UN inspectors “prove that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.” The Polish press reports 37% approval in this case, still extremely low, at the heart of the “new Europe.”

New Europe soon identified itself in an open letter in the Wall Street Journal: along with Italy, Spain, Poland and Czechoslovakia – the leaders, that is, not the people – it includes Denmark (with popular opinion on the war about the same as Germany, therefore “old Europe”), Portugal (53% opposed to war under any circumstances, 96% opposed to war by the US and its allies unilaterally), Britain (40% opposed to war under any circumstances, 90% opposed to war by the US and its allies unilaterally), and Hungary (no figures available). ...In brief, the exciting “new Europe” consists of some leaders who are willing to defy their populations.

...It is important to bear in mind that the US is the only country outside Iraq where Saddam Hussein is not only reviled but also feared. There is a flood of lurid propaganda warning that if we do not stop him today he will destroy us tomorrow. The next evidence of his weapons of mass destruction may be a “mushroom cloud,” so National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice announced in September – presumably over New York. No one in Iraq’s neighborhood seems overly concerned, much as they may hate the murderous tyrant. Perhaps that is because they know that as a result of the sanctions “the vast majority of the country’s population has been on a semi-starvation diet for years,” as the World Health Organization reported, and that Iraq is one of the weakest states in the region: its economy and military expenditures are a fraction of Kuwait’s, which has 10% of Iraq’s population, and much farther below others nearby.

...These ideas are second nature to the current political leaders, most of them recycled from the Reagan administration. They are replaying a familiar script: drive the country into deficit so as to be able to undermine social programs, declare a “war on terror” (as they did in 1981) and conjure up one devil after another to frighten the population into obedience. ...Meanwhile the political leadership were able to carry out domestic policies that had generally poor economic outcomes but did create wealth for narrow sectors while harming a considerable majority of the population – the script that is being followed once again. ...

Resistance Is Vital.

posted by Natasha at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK |

In the BBC:

Iran will develop its own uranium deposits. The status of their current planned deal with Russia, where Russia supplies nuclear fuel and takes back spent rods, is up in the air.

Russia agrees with France and Germany on the need for a peaceful solution in Iraq, but might not veto a new UN resolution.

Britain's economy not so hot, either.

Nobel prize-winning economists denounce Bush's economic plan.

Young women in Kenya running away from home to avoid female genital mutilation. Rabid opponents of the 'looseness' of multiculturalism should note that not even the most ardent of liberals support these kinds of practices. Also, according to this older article, things don't always go well during the circumcision of African boys. While the procedure is generally not considered as harmful, and the end result not as grotesque, isn't it time for people to consider that cutting children's genitals is a bit barbaric no matter what culture practices it?

posted by Natasha at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK |

No it isn't. Yes it is. No it isn't. Yes it is.

posted by Natasha at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK |

In the Guardian:

Is the British public also being prepared for a return to imperialism? The author examines the devastating effect that colonial rule exacted on the once wealthy and prosperous state of Mughal India. Some other examples of the 'blessings' of the pax Brittanica:

...Whether in 18th-century India, 19th-century Egypt or 20th-century Iraq, the story is the same. As long as taxes were paid, the British cared little about how they were collected. Far from imposing "the rule of law", they turned a blind eye to Indian landlords who extracted rent by coercion or white planters who evicted their African neighbours by force. Despotic repression was fostered where it protected British interests. Many of those petty despotisms are still with us today. The feudal lords now massacring villagers in the Indian state of Bihar were created by British land policy. The northern Nigerian emirs who sentenced Amina Lawal to death for adultery last year owe their existence to the dubious practices of British imperial rule. ...

The plan for Iraq. Are we ready to occupy and rebuild after this:

...The key unknown for the third stage is the state of Iraq after the war. A document prepared for the State Department predicts 'disruption of law and order, the food distribution systems and emergency healthcare'. Fear would be 'widespread,' says the government report. So, experts say, would 'score-settling'. A secret UN memo, leaked to the press, forecasts 'devastation'. Injuries and trauma could, says the report, 'devastate' the population, with up to 500,000 needing treatment. 'The outbreak of disease, in epidemic if not pandemic proportions, is very likely.' ...

The first fallout emerges from the forged British 'intelligence report'. This point comparing the situation in the US and UK was also made:

...Downing Street's efforts to sell the case for war have created a tension with MI6 that has mirrored that between the White House and Pentagon civilian staff and the CIA, DIA and FBI across the Atlantic. There the White House has established a shadow, parallel intelligence network staffed, not by espionage professionals but by favoured political appointees who are providing answers far closer to what the administration want to hear.

For months British intelligence officers - like their counterparts in the US - have been insisting that there is no hard evidence of a link between Saddam and al-Qaeda, while at every turn their political masters have been insisting the opposite. They have been briefing that Saddam's weapons programme has been so disrupted it is almost utterly redundant: meanwhile, the politicians have insisted that it is still a threat. ...

Are British citizens prepared to fulfill Thatcher's incomplete vision of becoming America's Mini-Me?

posted by Natasha at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK |

In the Asia Times:

Things heat up between India and Pakistan. The ongoing fight over Kashmir between the two nuclear powers was considered the most dangerous hotspot anywhere in the world before 9-11. Though it has been overshadowed by other events, it's by no means less worrying than it used to be. The proposed pipeline between Iran and India will now bypass Pakistan, with Iran offering support in any conflict, and trade access to Afghanistan.

Iran working to increase non-oil exports and trying to move towards a manufacturing driven economy. A smart strategy, but major reforms will be necessary to acheive the goal. Iran is one of the few countries in the world that would benefit from heeding (though not to excess) the neoliberal market restructuring recommendations.

Saudi Arabia talking about some changes. But will reforms materialize, or will today's promises prove once again to be smoke and mirrors?

posted by Natasha at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK |

Sunday funny papers, courtesy of World Net Daily:

Is Bill Clinton an anti-semite?

Was Jesus... a pacifist(!?), and other mind-boggling exchanges between WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving and Ari Fleishcher.

A 'reality check' on Bush's tax cut. Because nobody knows their figures like the Heritage Foundation.

posted by Natasha at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK |