the watch
bush lied, people died. escalate nonviolence.

Evict Bush!

Saturday, May 31, 2003  

The Example of Aung San Suu Kyi

This morning I heard that Aung San Suu Kyi was once again placed under house arrest by the Myanmar military government, although they are calling it protective detention.

Whenever I think about my heroes, she is the first person that comes to mind. How can she do what she does and still maintain her compassion and belief that what she does will eventually make a difference? She continues to show what humans can do when they are striving for the best they can be. She is an incredible role model for us in these times when it feels futile or bleak, when fear in our own land leads to preventative wars.

On dKos, colleen provided a link to an incredibly inspiring speech by Aung San Suu Kyi that shows what real courage is like. In it she shows how giving into fear is the basis of corruption and human failing.

It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it. Most Burmese are familiar with the four a-gati, the four kinds of corruption. Chanda-gati, corruption induced by desire, is deviation from the right path in pursuit of bribes or for the sake of those one loves. Dosa-gati is taking the wrong path to spite those against whom one bears ill will, and moga-gati is aberration due to ignorance. But perhaps the worst of the four is bhaya-gati, for not only does bhaya, fear, stifle and slowly destroy all sense of right and wrong, it so often lies at the root of the other three kinds of corruption. Just as chanda-gati, when not the result of sheer avarice, can be caused by fear of want or fear of losing the goodwill of those one loves, so fear of being surpassed, humiliated or injured in some way can provide the impetus for ill will. And it would be difficult to dispel ignorance unless there is freedom to pursue the truth unfettered by fear. With so close a relationship between fear and corruption it is little wonder that in any society where fear is rife corruption in all forms becomes deeply entrenched.

What an incredible insight into humans and the way we can be induced to careless and unthoughtful evil acts by our fear.

She certainly never gives into her fear. And she calls upon her own belief in humanity to give herself and her people reason to not give up.

Saints, it has been said, are the sinners who go on trying. So free men are the oppressed who go on trying and who in the process make themselves fit to bear the responsibilities and to uphold the disciplines which will maintain a free society. Among the basic freedoms to which men aspire that their lives might be full and uncramped, freedom from fear stands out as both a means and an end. A people who would build a nation in which strong, democratic institutions are firmly established as a guarantee against state-induced power must first learn to liberate their own minds from apathy and fear.

Believing it is worth standing up against injustice, having faith that humans can be inspired to greatness of spirit, these are the things I think about when considering the example of Aung San Suu Kyi. I pray for her quick release.

Update: Project For a New Century of Freedom has a great piece on Aung San Suu Kyi that provides more context on how the politics in our country affect her democracy movement and the actions of the oppressive government in Mynamar. And his final point about the need for Accountability and Transparency for a healthy democratic government is right on. Thanks, freelixer. She is indeed a remarkable woman and deserves our support.

posted by Mary at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK |

Friday, May 30, 2003  

The Missing WMD: Redux

Walking down the street today at lunchtime, I saw this remarkable headline that made me do a doubletake:

Bush Aid: "Huge" reason for Iraq War was U.S. Pullout from Saudi Arabia

Oh, yeah? My immediate thought was, wasn't that one of Osama bin Laden's main reasons for declaring war on the US and for 9/11?

Here were OBL's goals as reported on October 5, 2001:

From driving U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia to replacing authoritarian Arab governments with fundamentalist Islamic systems, bin Laden's ambition has swelled and shifted over time. And as his aspirations have grown, it has become more difficult for policymakers to imagine any plausible changes in U.S. policy that could cause him to call off the "jihad," or holy war, he declared against America in 1996.

Why is George W Bush doing Osama bin Laden's bidding?

Oregonian story was not online, but here is Voice Of America giving the same reason.

Vanity Fair quotes Mr. Wolfowitz as saying that the Bush Adminstration settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on. The magazine cites him as saying another big reason for the war was that ousting Saddam Hussein would allow the United States to take its troops out of Saudi Arabia.

I would not want to be in Wolfie's shoes today.

Update: I was not the only one who had this reaction. Uggabugga has a very good quote for this topic: So Bush did exactly what Osama wanted. Congratulations, George! Indeed.

posted by Mary at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK |

Quick Jaunt

After months of speculation (is it oil, water, grudge match, a war between the dollar and the euro, a payoff to Halliburton & friends,...) dKos finds Paul Wolfowitz finally releasing the real reason to the public. Now, that is, that the public has already begun the arduous, months long process of forgetting that Iraq exists. Also, indications that regime change in Britain may not be far off, as well as the astonishing discovery that the US Democratic party is locating its spine.

Cowboy Kahlil has a list of 30 Things Iran can do to escape the Matrix, now that, as The Looking Glass points out, we're getting ready to set an invasion date.

Don't miss the Memory Hole's rescue of this little tidbit: Joe Lieberman's ties to apocalyptic Christian groups.

Alright, ma'am, step away from the computer... Really, we mean it this time.

posted by Natasha at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK |

Broadcasting Consolidation Update

[I posted part of this as a comment at dKos this morning, but I think it does deserve some of front page airtime as this issue is so important for us. Our time to make a stink is running out and Powell's vision sounds like it could be my worse nightmare. See if you don't agree.]

Michael Powell was interviewed on NPR this morning. Here were a couple of the more notable statements.

He said that the free broadcasting companies are having a hard time competing against the cable guys because there were so many choices that it was hard to have the American public have a common view of the world. Glad to know that he is concerned that fracturing the audience leads to problems when trying build consensus. (Awww. Gee that is soooo sad. AOL, GE, FAUX, etc. are having a hard time capturing audience share so they need more stations and media outlets.)*

He also thinks that there won't be a problem with the broadcast guys not doing their part in promoting the public interest. He says we won't lose "local" focus because local news is so profitable. I'm glad that he thinks local news is an example of high quality programming. I guess in his eyes the local news which has done an outstanding job of terrorizing the American public** is something to be encouraged because then you can build a national concensus.

* But he certainly didn't see any problem with having completely one-side news. IMO, this wouldn't be such a problem if the fairness doctrine were still enforced.

** Local news which promotes "if it bleeds it leads", "crime all the time", and "get ready for war" news, as brillantly shown by Michael Moore in Bowling for Columnbine. And we think that we have a problem with Propaganda now?

If you haven't called one of the Senators on the Commerce Committee, please do so today!

Update: Reggie provided another great link for where to go for info on our failing media and what you can do.

posted by Mary at 6:27 AM | PERMALINK |

While I was out...

It's been a great quarter with my wild & crazy plant identification class. Today we learned all we need to know (for this class) about the various grassy/reedy type plants; "Sedges have edges, rushes are round, grasses have joints." You never know when that may come in handy. I mean, you could find yourself having to wait around in a marshy area someday and have nothing better to amuse yourself with than determining from the stems whether or not you're looking at grass, rushes, or sedges.

Tomorrow afternoon we'll be heading off for a weekend hike after a morning spent working at the county greenhouse for the service learning portion of the class (I went there last quarter, found out some interesting things about Black Cottonwood trees and other members of the Willow family.) It's been suggested that we'll see rare and unusual plants on this hike that we can't easily find anywhere else, so I better be impressed (and probably will be). When I come back from that, I have to study like the very devil on Sunday for a math exam and do my chemistry homework. (Not nearly as much fun as the Discordian suggestion to study Demonology with an enemy on Sunday, but probably more profitable in the long run.)

But in the meantime, Lisa at Ruminate This has given us a tremendous reason to fight the FCC consolidation. To oppose a purely money driven programming ethic that threatens to destroy one of the few high quality children's programs left on TV. A program of the type that encourages kids to be curious enough to want to get a better education, whether through reading and exploring on their own, or putting up with the byzantine strangeness of our institutions of higher learning. I'll leave you with this teaser:

...My daughter was three when The Barbie Doll invaded our home. It was during an innocuous enough birthday party and it happened so fast, that it's become a blurry memory. I do recall that the wrapping paper was off in a matter of seconds and next thing I knew, my kid's life was turned upside down by the ubiquitous Mattel-motif: hearts, flowers, lace and even a bubblegum pink plastic doll-sized convertible. Those gender-neutral playthings suddenly held no interest and our kid had finally discovered the truth: she was a girl child being raised in Toys-R-Us America. Unfortunately, that was seen as a very cool concept - one she quickly embraced. I had no alternative but to bring in the heavy equipment. I began pushing the books. Bigtime.

"Alright, this is the deal," I said in similar words on very many occasions, "If you behave yourself, I'll take you to the library this morning. You can take out ALL the books you want. And...if you're EXTRA GOOD, I'll even let you watch Reading Rainbow. But listen here, Missy...that means no decorating the walls with that address stamper or tormenting the cat. Got it?"

Alright, it was parental propaganda. I'll admit it. I was messing with my kid's head - hoping she'd crave the books I'd elevated to toy status. I couldn't help myself. But having lost the Barbie Wars, I wasn't about to surrender the rest. As it turns out, I didn't have to....

So, just go read the rest. And add quality programming to the list of desirable and important things that get priced out of the free market faster than an unattended three year old can lay waste to an innocent wall. Or at least, it's desirable if you think that living in a society full of literate and moderately well-informed people is a good thing. Possibly even a state of affairs with unpredictable side effects of the most serendipitous kind.

Cheers, all.

posted by Natasha at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK |

Thursday, May 29, 2003  


You've probably already caught this, but if you haven't, go read Billmon's timeline of Bush administration WMD quotes. A good resource for those arguments where newly memory-wiped conservatives try to tell you that the war was always about freeing the Iraqi people.

Stonerwitch finds a study indicating that there are fewer registered Democrats in journalism than there were 10 years ago.

MyDD finds that in Germany and Spain, the conservative parties are losing support at record rates and third parties are expanding their ranks. Schroeder rewarded and Aznar punished. Guess it's obvious which government was expressing the will of their citizens on the Iraq question.

Sisyphus finds that the AIDS bill will also be used to urge GM food on poor African and Carribbean countries. Also, god, the horror, that the provision was sneaked in by a Democrat.

Dave Pollard talks about the army of dragons outside the borders of fashionable news hotspots favored by the US media.

Al-Muhajabah brings us a wahhabist condemnation of terrorism while pointing out that Al-Qaida's version of Islamism is more Egyptian than Saudi, talks about human rights in Uzbekistan, and Islamic inheritance law.

Wil Wheaton got a chance to hear Eric Schlosser talk at a signing of his new book, Reefer Madness. Eric Schlosser is also the author of Fast Food Nation, a book that can permanently kill a person's desire to eat at McDonald's, or a public school, in a single reading.

posted by Natasha at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK |

Who are the patriots?

So many of the rightwing radicals and the bullies like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly are saying that people that are against the war and are not behind George W. Bush are unpatriotic. Well, I'm like Bill Moyers, I believe we who protest and fight to keep our rights are the true patriots.

Our country was founded on the rule of law and our forefathers thought hard and long about what rights were important. In their mind the most important rights were set into the Bill of Rights. When someone takes an oath to protect and preserve the Constitution, they swear on a Bible to protect those rights.

Today, we have a government that is actively working to undermine those rights. They have already tossed out the right of habeas corpus.

Prisoners no longer have the right against cruel and unusual punishment.

The accused are denied access to counsel because if they were provided counsel, they would not be as inclined to confide and confess to the authorities.

This administration does not believe in the right of people to protest their government or freedom of speech.

They do not believe in the inherent right to vote.

And they call themselves patriots. Well, I for one say, no, you are not patriots when you prove yourselves incapable of living up to your responsibilities to protect and preserve our Constitution.

posted by Mary at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK |

Some posts to check out

The Right Wing has a number of tricks that they use when they argue or respond to a liberal argument. Tristero has a really excellent post about how to identify the tricks and how to make sure to keep them focused on the real arguments.

The main strategies the author uses in his letter are all logical or rhetorical fallacies - that's right, all of his tactics add up to just so much poppycock. They include:

  • Ad Hominem attacks
  • Arguing from authority
  • Non sequitur
  • Straw man
  • He then proceeds to show examples of each one of these tactics.

    Let's don't let them side track us with these tricks.

    Steve Soto continues to be strategizing up a storm. You really need to put him on your regular rounds as he has some fantastic ideas and we lefty bloggers should adopt and advertise his talking points as much as we can.

    Stephen at To The Barricades left Renaissance Woman holding the fort while he is away on business. Her post honoring her dad on Memorial Day was one of the most moving I've read in a very long time.

    posted by Mary at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK |

    Wednesday, May 28, 2003  

    Portland FCC Protest!

    Hey, Portlandians! This Thursday there is going to be a protest focused on the upcoming FCC vote. I got this email from the folk at


    WHAT: CodePink Clear Channel Protest

    WHEN: Thursday, May 29th 2003 4:30 PM - (the Thursday before the FCC votes to dramatically deregulate the media)

    WHERE: Portland, Oregon - Clear Channel offices on SW Macadam

    Portland, Oregon Code Pink is planning an action at the Clear Channel offices on SW Macadam in Portland. We did an action there on May 8th (see Clear Channel) and will do something similar. All of Portland is invited to join us. Pink is optional. Stay tuned!

    Location: Clear Channel offices on SW Macadam Portland Oregon


    And even if you can't get to the protest, I encourage you to call the Senators on the Commerce Committee as they can stop Michael Powell in his tracks.

    posted by Mary at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK |


    Big Air Fred has some ideas about how to recapture the Democratic party.

    Wampum talks about the administration assault on affirmative action in, of all places, an energy bill.

    Ruminate This finds another good comment on the upcoming FCC media consolidation vote.

    TBogg talks about a very nasty email.

    Talk Left on the possibility that the US may target Iran next. Also, Ashcroft's latest death penalty escapades.

    Dwight Meredith on Ivory Tower politicians.

    On Daily Kos, we get more on new US best friend Uzbekistan. A place which, as Kos points out, leftists will doubtless be accused of coddling when we have to invade the place a decade or so hence. Then we learn that, surprisingly, the Bush administration has very little regard for freedom of speech. Also, Rumsfeld finally cops that yes, all the WMDs may have been destroyed just prior to the war. I can just see Hussein's to-do list for that morning... "Arrange flank attack to slow advancing US troops, check. Get family and some cash out of Baghdad, check. Destroy WMDs, check. Flee for my very life, check..."

    posted by Natasha at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK |

    Skimmin' off BuzzFlash

    The National Restaurant Association raises millions at 'charity' golf games to use in their relentless lobbying against any move to increase the minimum wage. Because poor workers are less likely to quit, or steal food instead of buying it, or something like that.

    The Veterans Administration moves to cut health benefits for thousands of soldiers, and will no longer honor the guarantee of lifetime care for enlistees.

    Senator Byrd becomes a liberal icon, in an ongoing display of candor and attention to detail that puts most of the current crop of presidential wanna-bes to shame.

    Having been put on notice that the US troops could give a damn whether or not they steal every last piece of Iraqi history, looters have set to unearthing artifacts at archeological sites. Many of these sites are now so disturbed that future work at those locations will be very difficult, presuming that anything remains to be found. Turns out that the answer to Rumsfeld's semi-rhetorical question about the concentration of vases in Iraq is... quite a lot, you unspeakable barbarian.

    In case, like me, you missed it, yet another promise regarding Iraq is on the way to the dustbin. Namely, the guarantee of its territorial integrity. Ted Rall goes on to explain why this will cause problems:

    ...On May 23 U.S. and British occupation authorities formally endorsed the permanent partition of Iraq, setting the stage for Kurdish statehood. Even as U.S. civilian administrator Paul Bremer officially dissolved Iraq's armed forces, allied commander Lt. Gen. David McKiernan announced that the peshmerga would be allowed to keep its automatic weapons and heavy artillery--becoming Kurdistan's de facto army. A few days later, Kurdish leaders announced plans to continue expanding their territory. "Now we are back in Mosul," regional governor Nechirvan Barzani told The New York Times. "We control Senjar and Mosul provinces. We want to add the other parts of Kurdistan."

    The most significant "other part" lies across the Iraqi-Turkish border. If Turkish Kurds armed by their Iraqi counterparts fight to attach southeastern Turkey to Iraqi Kurdistan, bloody civil wars and ethnic cleansing could sweep across Turkey to Eastern Europe and the Caucasus--potentially claiming hundreds of thousands of lives. ...

    Turkey, as you may remember, is exceedingly interested in Mosul and Kirkuk. They say that it's concern for ethnic kinsmen living in the area, but the fact of the matter is that the Kurdish portions of Iraq have about a third of the country's oil. A big gleaming prize for the Turks, an outright necessity for an independent Kurdish state. But Ted, what else have we won?

    ...On May 2 influential Mullah Murtada Sadr, son of an ayatollah famously murdered under Saddam, called for Sharia law in Iraq. "The banning of alcohol and the wearing of the veil should be spread to all and not only to Muslims," Sadr told followers in Kufa, near Najaf. "Alcohol and the display of a woman's body are forbidden for us Muslims, as they are for Christians, upon whom I call to give up these banned things." In Baghdad Imam Mohammed al-Fartussi upped the ante on May 16, threatening those who show "indecent films" and "sinful women" who consort with foreigners, especially Americans. "If in a week from now they do not change their attitude, the murder of these women is sanctioned (by Islam)," Fartussi raged. "This warning also goes out to sellers of alcohol, radios and televisions. The torching of cinemas would be permitted."

    Shiite militias that control Baghdad's vast Sadr City slum are already enforcing the mullahs' diktats. Sheik Kadhem al-Fartusi, who asserts that "Islam and all religions forbid alcohol," runs a local gang that beats liquor vendors and men who refuse to grow beards. "He's the primary shaker and mover here," U.S. Special Operations Maj. Arthur P. Vidal told The Times. Special ops troops pay Fartusi's religious police with "bricks of Iraqi dinars." ...

    Body and Soul has short but pithy post about what the radicalization of Iraq has meant for women who are now virtually absent from the newly dangerous public life.

    posted by Natasha at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK |

    Tuesday, May 27, 2003  


    The US government can't even seem to manage the funds entrusted to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And they want to take over Iraq, with a side of Iran, after the disastrous Afghanistan starter? How about they concentrate on fixing this:

    The Blackfeet Nation Indian tribe in Montana has only seen a fraction of the billions of dollars owed to its members by the federal government, thanks to what Federal District Court Justice Royce C. Lamberth called the "most egregious misconduct by the federal government" he has ever seen....

    The Village Voice talks about the administration's nuclear based hydrogen economy, and how it could litter the landscape with sites that can be summed up as follows:

    ..."Why would a safe reactor require Price-Anderson liability protection but not containment protection?" Lochbaum asked.

    The Asia Times talks about Katrina Leung, Republican fundraiser, Chinese spy, and generally an all-around gal. Also, a recent defense deal cements the growing alliance between Israel and India, at the behest of the US.

    ActionAid reports that GM crops may add to debt of poor farmers.

    Brad DeLong brings us Krugman's take on the Republican-led destruction of the social safety net, and some comments on the G7.

    Electrolite draws our attention to a post by Kevin Drum that sums up the deep blue funk of liberals all over, and a flip response by Matthew Yglesias. In the comments at the Yglesias thread, Graydon made the following memorable remarks, no less pithy for having had the usual degree of editing given to comment postings:

    ...Y'all don't have a left, ok? The things the 'left' are talking about -- care of the weak, widespread opportunity, equality before the law -- aren't 'left' positions, they're civilization....

    Later: ...Trade, real opportunity, the rule of law, these things will produce more wealth, have produced wealth to a degree undreamed of to the wildest imaginings of the men who put cities to the sack for ten thousand years. Raiding only moves wealth around and breaks the mechanisms which produce it. This does not change no matter how certain one is that God wants you to have that money, or that any social mechanism which can tell you what to do is wrong, or that people who do not do what your plans require would require of them are bad people.

    posted by Natasha at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK |

    Water, Water, Everywhere...

    A meeting of the newly testy G8 will commence in Evian, France, to discuss (among other things) water policy and debt relief. Protestors are already gathering at the gates. Among the issues that it would behoove them to pay attention to:

    ...Over 2 million people die annually from diseases related to unsafe water or inadequate sanitation, according to Water Aid.

    At last year's summit, the G8 leaders drew up a programme for improving the provision of water for drinking and sanitation across Africa, as part of its action plan for the continent. This year, leaders have promised to revisit the issue, and each country's advisors are to file a progress report.

    According to Water Aid, that progress has not been good. The G8's words are not being matched by action. Its spending on water and sanitation is actually falling, now accounting for less than 5% of the aid they provide. Meanwhile, developing countries in Africa are making the provision of clean water and sanitation a low priority on their own action plans for development - a mistake which will undermine the G8's other work on education and health.

    Clean water underpins almost every other aspect of structural and social development. Children can't go to school if they're suffering from water blindness or too busy fetching drinking water from a well 15 miles away....

    Yet how much hope can be held out that attention will be paid to the water problems of people on the other side of the globe, when the US has relentlessly squeezed Mexico out of the flow of the Colorado river?

    ...Only 90 miles of the 1,450-mile-long Colorado River are in Mexico, where the river empties into the Gulf of California. In his introduction, Ward summarizes what has happened to that delta: "Cut off from the river's replenishing waters by the grasp of large western cities, power companies, and agricultural interests, the delta's biologically rich wetlands quickly deteriorated. Major dams upriver endangered numerous plant and animal species and also threatened the livelihood of the Cocopah Indians, who rely on the river for sustenance."...

    Water is also a hot topic in India, where rival states compete for scarcer resources. Not aided in the least by the hulking presence of a very thirsty Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kerala.

    Tanzania will abandon its free water policy. The government is extremely concerned that the entire water supply will be contaminated within five years.

    Also in Africa, the Catholic Church has been urged to take a stand against water privatization.

    Hungary plans water privatization guidelines.

    The BBC maps out problem areas around the world.

    Lisa Simeone writing for the Baltimore Sun explores the watery causes of unrest around the world, including Israel's conflicts with its neighbors.

    Leah Wells writing for Counterpunch also talks about why Iraqi war protestors should have also been carrying signs that said no war for water, and further develops the involvement of water giant Bechtel. She quotes:

    ...Jeffrey Rothfeder, author of explained in an article to the Boston Globe in January 2002 that "a freshwater crisis has already begun that threatens to leave much of the world dry in the next twenty years. One-third of the world's population is starved for water. In Israel, extraction has surpassed replacement by 2.5 billion meters in the last 25 years. There are 250 million new cases of water-related diseases annually, chiefly cholera and dysentery, and ten million deaths. What's more, vital regions are destabilized as contending countries dispute who controls limited water resources."

    Rothfeder, quoting another World Bank official, former Vice President Ismail Serageldin, reminded readers that "the next world war will be over water."

    posted by Natasha at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK |


    Some background on the Russia-China summit, which was new President Hu Jintao's first official visit outside the country. The meetting culminated in a joint declaration of increased cooperation, by which they mean in part that an oil pipeline will be put in from Siberia to China. Both countries expressed a strong desire that there not be nuclear weapons in the Korean peninsula, and experienced a Bush Sr. moment as they called for a novus ordo seclorum.

    Additionally, China is looking to streamline its military, principally with the aid of Russia. As should surprise no one in this new era of preemption and defensiveness, Japan is also looking to repeal their constitutional renunciation of war and have a real military again, a notion which unsettles nearly all of its neighbors. It's unlikely that such an announcement is entirely unrelated to the increased military rumblings of longtime rival, China, though the situation in North Korea is a prime motivator.

    Trade between the China and Russia has been hampered due to SARS precautions lately. China has tracked down important clues in the spread of the disease, and has banned the practice of eating wild animals, a suspected cause.

    President Hu will be meeting India's Prime Minister Vajpayee for a European summit to try and iron out an old border dispute, discuss increased security cooperation, and strengthen trade ties.

    An official denial has been issued regarding US accusations that a Chinese company helped an Iranian company acquire missile technology.

    Two foreign democracy activists have been arrested and charged with that most fashionable of crimes, terrorism.

    In a move sure to delight investors, China's securities market is now open to foreign investment after the government approval of two foreign financial services firms to trade in the country's exchange.

    While the US has long been known as the buyer of last resort, US firms are hoping that China's ever expanding consumer market will take up the next link in the chain.

    The country has added a new internet service that allows non-english speakers to be able to access and search for chinese-character domains.

    A tenth 5-year plan will add chip-making facilities to the country's industrial base.

    Chinese citizens have been warned against seeking work in Malaysia, as that country has tightened policies regarding migrant workers, making it more difficult to find employment, and increasing the risk of prosecution or expulsion.

    And they can be added to the list of developing nations that regret our textile and apparel tarriffs.

    But as a consolation prize, Bridgestone will be putting a $16 million plant in Changzhou. All part of the globalization funhouse wherein manufacturing jobs steadily migrate out of the US.

    In news related to our main topic only in the mind of the Google database, a bull wreaks havoc in a china shop. Literally.

    posted by Natasha at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK |


    The reform movement pronounced DOA, as the Guardian reports on the not-so-slow-motion train wreck that is our foreign policy with Iran:

    ...Washington's rhetoric could not have come at a more awkward time for President Mohammed Khatami and his allies in parliament. As the political and constitutional battle between reformists and Islamists comes to a head, the US intervention is a distraction and a pretext for muffling dissent.

    Reformist MPs, who form a parliamentary majority, are threatening to resign en masse after repeated obstruction by conservatives on the guardian council, an unelected body but possessing a constitutional veto over legislative change.

    The final straw came last month when the council rejected two bills proposed by President Khatami that would have ended clerical authority over the judiciary and the electoral process.

    Conservatives portray the threat to resign as naive and dangerous, damaging Iran's national security at a time when the US military encircles Iran. The state prosecutor warned MPs that they might face legal action if their resignations threatened "national interests".

    If the MPs do stay, they will enter February's elections with nothing to show for their promises of change. If they step down, the conservatives may choose to impose emergency rule to pre-empt protest. ...

    Tisdall puts himself in someone else's place:

    Imagine for a moment that you are a senior official in Iran's foreign ministry. ... You have a big problem, a problem that Iran's president, Mohammad Khatami, admits is "huge and serious". The problem is the Bush administration and, specifically, its insistence that Iran is running "an alarming clandestine nuclear weapons programme". You fear that this, coupled with daily US claims that Iran is aiding al-Qaida, is leading in only one direction. US news reports reaching your desk indicate that the Pentagon is now advocating "regime change" in Iran.

    Reading dispatches from Geneva, you note that the US abruptly walked out of low-level talks there last week, the only bilateral forum for two countries lacking formal diplomatic relations. You worry that bridge-building by Iran's UN ambassador is getting nowhere. You understand that while Britain and the EU are telling Washington that engagement, not confrontation, is the way forward, the reality, as Iraq showed, is that if George Bush decides to do it his way, there is little the Europeans or indeed Russia can ultimately do to stop him.

    What is certain is that at almost all points of the compass, the unmatchable US military machine besieges Iran's borders. The Pentagon is sponsoring the Iraq-based Mojahedin e-Khalq, a group long dedicated to insurrection in the Islamic republic that the state department describes as terrorists. And you are fully aware that Israel is warning Washington that unless something changes soon, Iran may acquire the bomb within two years. As the temperature in the office rises, as flies buzz around the desk like F-16s in a dogfight and as beads of sweat form on furrowed brow, it seems only one conclusion is possible. The question with which you endlessly pestered your foreign missions before and during the invasion of Iraq - "who's next?" - appears now to have but one answer. It's us. ...

    And the Asia Times documents recent moves towards regime change, including a figurehead in waiting:

    ...They are also pursuing links with the Iranian exile community centered in southern California, which has rallied increasingly around Reza Pahlavi, the son of the former Shah of Iran who was overthrown by the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

    According to a recent story in the US Jewish newspaper The Forward, Pahlavi has cultivated senior officials in Israel's Likud government with which the neo-conservatives in Washington - both in the administration and outside it - are closely allied....

    The US government has now plainly stated its belief that Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons, and accuses the government of interfering in Iraq. Which is a dreadful crime, because as everyone knows, only the US and Britain get to interfere in Iraq. In this article, their alleged support for Al Qaida is outlined in terms that would require the firebombing of Florida and Maine, who've also proven that their borders are not impervious.

    Meanwhile, the newly emboldened conservative city council of Tehran vows to clean up the cultural centres. By which they mean that they want to get rid of "joyful music." Good going, Rummy.

    Update: Neal Pollack lays out our options. Ha. Thanks to Atrios

    posted by Natasha at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK |

    Notable Interview

    Liberal Oasis scores another exceptional interview. This time he interviewed Sidney Blumenthal and wow, it is really a meaty discussion. Sid's comments about the Democrats certainly rings true to me:

    [However,] the Democrats lack an internal confidence. If you don't stand up for yourself, people won't think that you will stand up for them.

    Yes, I believe this gets to the crux of the problem with why people trust the Republicans more on terrorism than Democrats. If you can't stand up to the thuggery of the Republicans, what will you do when confrounted by real enemies?

    Congratulations, LO! What an absolutely bangup job.

    Go read the whole interview! Also, if you haven't read the excerpts from Blumenthal's book that were printed up in Salon, you can pick up their interview and links to the excerpts here.

    posted by Mary at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK |

    Sunday, May 25, 2003  

    There's more of us than I thought.

    As a side tip, I encourage devout Discordians to make a pilgrimage to Caesars' Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. There you will find, between a gaming room and the beginning of the shops, a fountain with the statues of deities set at the compass points. One of these deities is Eris Discordia, golden apple held high, looking appropriately mischievous. (Compulsive photo-archivers are warned that the lighting in these places makes it tricky to be assured of picture quality. Especially with those obnoxious little disposables they have at the vending machines.)

    As to the state of my faith, I have long refused to Partake of Hot Dog Buns on Friday, in disobedient adherence to the Goddess' command not to do so. Yet I've been prudently neglecting to pray, so I'm not too worried about smiting, which Eris isn't much into anyway. OTOH, the compulsion to bless the Bush administration has been growing daily.

    If the preceding paragraph made no sense, go to the link above, and read more. But if the permalink is broken, go to Elayne's website and scroll down to the Friday, May 23rd, 2003 entry on Discordianism.

    Yours in Eris; Sister Sanity the Chased, Bokononist Illuminata, Episkopos of the Wild Green Yonder

    posted by Natasha at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK |


    Lisa at Ruminate This is back, with our very own Mary having done a fine job of pinch hitting, and she comes out swinging at the electronic voting legislation and FCC deregulation, aka, how to get filthy rich at taxpayer expense.

    Long story; short pier complains about links going dark and upper class welfare. Which reminds me that back when William Burton was still blogging, he wrote a tremendous post about how paid content would be the end of the Internet as we know it.

    Go to the Whiskey Bar to hear about the US' new Mr. Creosote budget plan, as well as our preliminary ideas for democracy in Iraq.

    Talk Left has loads of good posts up, but please be sure to read about the 8 wrongfully accused Egyptian men whose public defamation has nearly ruined their business.

    Pandagon on how conservatives want everyone to be tolerant of their intolerance.

    Avedon at the Sideshow explains moral relativism in terms even a neocon could understand.

    BusyBusyBusy brings us the short versions of: Thomas Friedman, William Safire, California prison guards, Peter Beinart, and Norah Vincent.

    At Daily Kos: RonK explains how much money $10 trillion is and why it's a big deal. Steve Gilliard tells us that it's a bad idea not to pay Iraqi soldiers.

    Jeanne at Body & Soul explains the horrors of standardized testing. She also muses about whether Halliburton or the Dixie Chicks are better patriots, followed immediately by two posts on the topic of the administration's nuclear material problems.

    Al-Muhajabah talks about the case where Florida denied a driver's license to a woman who refused to be photographed without a veil, and has this follow up. Also, a list of interesting links.

    While I've been busy, I failed to notice that the Better Rhetor closed up shop indefinitely earlier this month. Before he left, however, he brought us an example of a student poem that's a challenge to all our pessimism about the future.

    Steve Soto says that in 2004, Dems should go straight for the jugular. Let's hope that someone at the DLC listens.

    A while ago I linked to a post where Wil Wheaton was talking about a DLC survey he received that was bogglingly poorly designed. I now have a copy of it sitting with my mail, and was astonished to see it. Just as he described, they've sent me a multi-page survey with a short amount of room for comments, and an envelope that's only big enough to fit a check in. Incompetent sodding bastards.

    posted by Natasha at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK |

    Stop Michael Powell's FCC madness

    You know things are getting pretty strange these days when you find teaming up with the NRA to try to stop Michael Powell from irreparably damaging our national media.

    The problem is Michael Powell is another free market fundamentalist and cannot believe that overwhelming opposition to his plan should be a reason to pause on his relentless march to further deregulate the media. Since MoveOn and the NRA have started their campaigns, hundreds of thousands of Americans have weighed in on this issue and 97% of the comments have been against the rule change. Despite that, Michael Powell has enough votes on the Committee to ram this change through.

    What will stop this madness? I think the only thing left is to make sure your representatives know that you are adamantly against the change. Check out the Center For Public Integrity's website to get fully informed on this issue. They also have the complete list of Senators on the Commerce committee that can put a stop to this.

    Remember, the date that Powell has set for this critical vote is June 2nd. We have one more week to make a difference.

    posted by Mary at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK |

    Iran in the Crosshairs

    The Guardian tells us about America's plans for Iran:

    The Pentagon plan would involve overt means, such as anti-government broadcasts transmitted to Iran, and covert means, possibly including support for the Iraq-based armed opposition movement Mojahedin Khalq (MEK), even though it is designated a terrorist group by the state department.

    The state department and Britain have objected to the plan, saying that it would backfire, undermining the moderates around President Mohamed Khatami.

    And we all know how great it usually works out when the US backs a terrorist group to achieve a short term goal. As has been pointed out in these pages before, the only thing the people of Iran want less than government by mullahs is government by US puppets. They still carry pictures of Dr. Mossadeqh, overthrown in a CIA aided coup in the 50's, at pro-democracy rallies.

    What happens when the US starts saber rattling, anyway? Well, stuff like this:

    Clothing shops and factories have been given a written order to stop producing clothes that stray from the strict female dress codes, the head of a clothing trade union in Tehran told a local newspaper. ...

    Or like this:

    The Iranian press said a list of 15,000 sites had been drawn up by the government and sent to internet service providers.

    Ministers were quoted as saying that they wanted to "block access to immoral sites as well as political sites which rudely make fun of religious and political figures in the country." ...

    Or this:

    Before setting up and running the prominent Rooznegar blog, Mr Motallebi was a staff reporter on a reformist newspaper called Hayat-e-No which was shut down by the Iranian authorities in January.

    On 20 April he was arrested, reportedly because of interviews with the press on his website and for defending another former Hayat-e-No journalist who ran a cartoon in a newspaper that offended the government.

    It happens because the only thing the Iranian government has going for it is that it isn't the US, and that it's one of the few factions of that society tough enough to keep the US out. The more people are reminded of that, the more the US proves the Ayatollahs right by threatening the country, the stronger the status quo.

    We've missed several good opportunities in the last couple years to keep our mouths shut. No wonder people over there believe we want that government to stay.

    posted by Natasha at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK |

    Batten Down The Hatches

    The anti-abortion movement prepares to start a 70 acre campus devoted to the scientific issues surrounding abortion. Where are they finding the money? Partly by tricking baseball players into endorsing their fundraising drives:

    The "Battin' 1000" campaign is aimed at raising money and buildup by incorporating the most American of pastimes: baseball.

    Begun in February to coincide with spring training, it sorts donors into the "American Group" and the "National Group" and makes money by garnering the public support of professional players. So far, 88 have linked their names with the fight against abortion, a move some sports agents say is unheard of because the heated topic could cost athletes lucrative corporate endorsements.

    Of 10 active players on the list, ESPN said, Abraham Nunez of the Pittsburgh Pirates was the only one who agreed to speak on camera during "Outside the Lines."

    Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda "made a mistake" by attaching his name to the fund-raiser, said his representative, William Goldberg.

    "He assumed it was a scholarship fund, that it was to raise money for baseball programs," Goldberg said. In an ugly back-and-forth with American Life, Goldberg said Lasorda had not been properly informed by Battin' 1000 officials that the campaign had to do with abortion.

    The group replied to Goldberg, saying that if he wanted Lasorda's name removed from fund-raising material, he'd have to foot the bill.

    If you haven't made a donation to a group that supports a woman's right to choose this year, there are a couple of fine groups at the top left corner of this page.

    posted by Natasha at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK |

    Testing our kids to death

    This past week the NY Times has been covering the initial results of the No Child Left Behind act. As with so many of the Bush administration's ideas, the name of the act hides the truly destructive policy dreamt up by the gang who hate the Common Man. Wednesday Bob Somerby remarked on the exceptional article by Michael Winerip and on Friday Somerby did an outstanding job of showing why the new act is so bad for kids.

    Guess what, citizens? In third-grade classrooms, kids aren't all instructed from the same books! And they aren't all instructed on the same reading level! Nor is it desirable that they should be. There is a wide range of ability and achievement among nine-year old children, and nothing schools could ever do could ever change that fact. In most schools, as in Leggett's, kids get their reading instruction with other kids who are on the same "reading level." (In a large school like Leggett's, with five teachers per grade, the kids may even change classrooms for reading.) Those 23 kids will get exactly, precisely the same instruction whether their classroom door says "3" or "4". As Leggett and Winerip both understand, there is almost never any real reason for retaining a nine-year old student. [Emphasis in the original.]

    Who gets punished when schools fail? Well, the kids do, by being held behind.

    And how effective are these tests? It turned out that the tests in Texas were considered too easy and this past year the standards were made more rigorous. So what are the consequences for the public schools in Texas? Thursday, the NY Times told us that the results were so bad that they changed the rules post-exam. Evidently, having most kids pass is not considered good since then you don't have your winners and your losers. Must have those losers.

    I continue to believe that the real intend of this act is to destroy our public schools and to promote private schools. Private schools are exempt from this yearly testing. I suspect that if private schools had to also test every year, this law would be overturned fast.

    I do not know how a lifetime love of learning can arise in schools that have to focus on teaching to take tests year after year after year. This act is yet one more way our country is failing our children and robbing them of their future.

    posted by Mary at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK |

    Environmental news

    Grist Magazine has an interview with Howard Dean about where he stands on the environment. Dean seems to understand that the environment deserves to be a key issue in the upcoming election:

    Grist: Will your environmental agenda be central to your campaign?

    Dean: Yes, it will be central because my campaign is about a long-range vision for the country and you can't have a serious long-range vision for the country if you don't talk about the environment. Everything that they do in the Bush administration is about results a year from now or two years from now. There's very little discussion of what's going to happen 10 or 20 years from now, when we will see the consequences of many of Bush's current environmental policies. The way he runs the country's finances shows the same myopia -- these enormous deficits as far as the eye can see. All he wants to do is make it through 2008.

    Yes, indeed. The environment is the future. And Bush is racking up deficits for both the environment and our national treasury as far as the eye can see. He truly must believe that the world will be ending in 2010 so there is no need to build or conserve for the future.

    Grist had another article that I found very interesting about Republicans who are Green and are fighting for the soul of their party.

    As long as one party takes the environmental vote for granted and the other party ignores it, we'll continue to see our hard-won gains eroded by shortsighted politicians of both parties. We must make both Republicans and Democrats compete for our support and hold both parties accountable for their performance.

    It is definitely dangerous for our future when we have one party that is so reactionary and capable of putting all our struggles to improve the environment to waste. I hope that Martha Marks can reclaim her party, but I think that it has been hijacked by those who could not care less and I don't think they ever plan to let it out of their control again.

    However, it gives me some hope that as long as there are some Republicans willing to buck their party and vote against the partyline, perhaps we Americans can reclaim our country. Because it is essential for our world that the warmongering future-killers are shut down and soon.

    posted by Mary at 7:55 AM | PERMALINK |