Excuse me, but I'm confused...
first I find this
500,000 protest Bush's visit to Rome6/4/04 UPI article
Rome, Italy, Jun. 4 (UPI) -- Thousands filled Rome's streets Friday to protest President Bush's visit and their own country's involvement in the Iraq war, CNN reported.
Police deployed some 10,000 officers around Rome as an estimated 500,000 protested Bush's arrival and Italy's active support of the U.S. war in Iraq.and then this:
Anti-Bush demo only moderate success6/4/04 UPI article
ROME, June 4 (UPI) -- Rome police and protesters gave widely different estimates of the size of Friday's anti-Bush demonstration, but the turnout fell short of expectations.
Police told the Italian media that around 7,000 protesters against the U.S. president's visit had marched through the center of Rome behind a huge, multicolored banner that read: "No Bush, no war."
The protest organizers, however, claimed the number was closer to 200,000. Independent estimates said the figure was more like 10,000.
rootsie on 06.04.04 @ 09:31 PM CST [link
Sierra Leone War Crimes Trial Opens Without Chief Suspect
By SOMINI SENGUPTA
Published: June 4, 2004 new york times
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, June 3 - A international war crimes tribunal set up to try those responsible for this country's long and crippling conflict opened here on Thursday morning, with vows from the court's chief prosecutor to slay what he repeatedly called "the beast of impunity."
Yet missing from the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone was its leading suspect: Charles G. Taylor, the exiled former president of Liberia and the man accused of fomenting the rebel insurgency in the 1991-2002 war that killed an estimated 50,000 people.
Mr. Taylor, indicted more than a year ago on 17 counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, enslavement and the recruitment of child soldiers, has been given asylum in Nigeria. Three men indicted as his top collaborators in Sierra Leone are dead or missing.
Instead, the first defendants appearing before the court on Thursday were three men who led Sierra Leone's feared pro-government militia, including the country's former interior minister, Sam Hinga Norman. Mr. Norman's militia, the Civil Defense Force, is accused of cannibalism, rape and the indiscriminate killing of civilians. Mr. Norman faces eight counts of crimes against humanity.
"The ghosts of thousands of the murdered dead stand among us," David Crane, an American prosecutor, told the three-judge panel in his opening statement. "They cry out for a fair and transparent trial to let the world know what took place, here in Sierra Leone."new york times
rootsie on 06.04.04 @ 12:44 PM CST [more..
From 'Terrorism' to 'Global Insurgency'-Rumsfeld's rhetorical shift is ominous
Inside America's Animal House
Masked and Anonymous
By CHRIS FLOYD
Every now and then the mask slips, and we see the true face of the system that marshals the world. For an instant, the heavy paint of sober wisdom and moral purpose falls away, and there, suddenly, with jolting clarity, is the snarling rictus of an ape.
Last week gave us two such moments: a quantum collision, where past and present co-exist temporarily, their overlapping images phasing in and out of synch: now Nixon now Bush now Kissinger now Rumsfeld, mouths, eyes, snarls morphing and shifting, with only one image holding constant between the eras--the twisted, shivered bodies of dead innocents.
First was the release of long-secret phone transcripts from Henry Kissinger's heyday as Richard Nixon's National Security Adviser. The transcripts were obtained by the National Security Archive, the independent research center that has uses America's remarkable Freedom of Information Act (now under fierce assault by the Bush Regime) to unearth mountains of death and dishonor once locked in secret government files.
Most of the news stories about the release centered on the Nixon Gang's panicky efforts to deal with bad publicity from the rape-and-slaughter rampage by U.S. troops in My Lai. As in today's Iraqi torture scandal, the panic was sparked by the existence of photographs confirming atrocities that were long known to the top brass: in this case, pictures of mutilated bodies in a burned-out village. And as with Abu Ghraib, the great statesmen were concerned wholly with "containing" the PR damage, not stopping the systematic abuses--which were, after all, being carried out at their command. Then as now, rump-covering was the order of the day.
But hidden in the pile of power-talk--and virtually ignored by the press--was an extraordinary historical snapshot of a war crime in the moment of conception. It's 1970. Nixon is angry: the Air Force is not killing enough people in Cambodia, the country he's just illegally invaded without the slightest pretense of Congressional approval. The flyboys are doing "milk runs," their intelligence-gathering for targets is too tame, too by-the-book:. There are "other methods of getting intelligence," Nixon tells Kissinger. "You understand what I mean?" "Yes, I do," pipes the loyal retainer.
Nixon then orders Kissinger to send every available plane into Cambodia--bombers, fighters, helicopters, prop planes--to "crack the hell out of them," smother the entire country with deadly fire: "I want them to hit everything." Kissinger dutifully calls his own top aide, General Alexander Haig, and tells him to try to implement the plan: "He wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia," Kissinger says. "It's an order, it's to be done. Anything that flies on anything that moves."
"Anything that flies on anything that moves." That's how the system works--beneath the mask. A blustering fool issues an order--and thousands upon thousands of innocent people die. An entire country is ripped to shreds, and into the smoking ruins steps a fanatical band of crazed extremists--the Khmer Rouge--who murder a million more.
Just hours after the transcripts' release, the image of Kissinger in 1970, jowls pressed to the phone, calmly ordering mass death, morphed into the squinting visage of Pentagon chief Don Rumsfeld, addressing West Point graduates in 2004, exhorting the young cadets to a life of honor and moral purpose-- without a single mention of the rape-and-torture gulag he's strung across the world at the order of his own hell-cracking master, George W. Bush. Rumsfeld also issued this stark warning to the world: the illegal invasion of Iraq is just "the beginning" of what is no longer merely a "war on terror" but is now an all-out death-struggle with what Rumsfeld called--in a major slip of the mask--"global insurgency."
Note carefully the change in rhetoric--the change in target--from "terrorism" to "insurgency." An "insurgent" is someone who rises up within a given domain to resist or overthrow the ruling power. George Washington was an insurgent; so was Pol Pot. But a perceived "global insurgency" can only be aimed at a global power--one whose domain encompasses the entire planet. What Rumsfeld is clearly saying is that anyone anywhere who resists the world-spanning will of the American Empire will be subject to "the path of action." That's the blood-and-iron terminology that Bush himself used to describe his policies in the official "National Security Strategy" he issued--just months before killing more than 10,000 civilians in Iraq.
No doubt the definition of "global insurgent" will prove to be every bit as elastic as "terrorist," in a world where Iraqi prisoners--70-90 percent of them completely innocent, according to the Red Cross--were "Gitmo-ized," treated just like the dubiously accused terrorists in America's lawless Guantanamo concentration camp; a world where even U.S. citizens simply disappear into the maw of military custody, held without charges, indefinitely, on the president's express order. If America controls your country and you don't like it, then you're an insurgent. If you're an American who doesn't like to control other countries, then you're an insurgent too. And the war against you is "just beginning."
"Global insurgency. Crack the hell out of them. The path of action. Anything that flies on anything that moves." They should chisel these words on the Capital Dome, spraypaint them across the pristine walls of the White House walls, teach them in every classroom across the land--for this is the system, this is the true constitution of the National Security State, this is the authentic voice of the American Establishment, the great and the good, the best and brightest. This is what they do, what they've always done. From the Indians to the Iraqis, anyone who gets in the way of their power and privilege--individuals, tribes, whole nations--gets trampled, broken, ruined, slaughtered. "Anything that flies on anything that moves."
Then again, there's nothing uniquely "American" about these criminal policies, and the hypocrisy that attends them. It's how elites have behaved from time immemorial, from the days of the apes: baring their teeth and pounding their chests, ruling through fear and violence, beating, biting, raping, killing--whatever it takes to maintain their perch at the top of the tree. They disguise their savagery--even from themselves--with masks of pomp and piety, with earnest protestations of their "good hearts," their nobility, their enlightenment, their altruism. But what moves them is the spirit of the beast, the blind gut-lust for dominance, the ape-remnants that live on in our brains. They're too weak, too stupefied with corruption to rise above this inherent bestiality.
What should we do with such dangerous creatures in a civilized society? Why, put them in a cage, of course. counterpunch.org
rootsie on 06.04.04 @ 12:23 PM CST [link
Thursday, June 3rd
Let's Get Real About George Soros
It took me few hours on the internet one afternoon to get a fair idea of what George Soros is about. Interspersed with the hysterical accolades he gets for his amazing generosity for liberal and even leftist causes in the United States,the latest in a long line of conquests, I found a few articles that give a much darker picture. Now wait a minute...Carlyle Group? Rothschilds? CFR? Who IS this guy? What he is is your typical Cold Warrior spook. Under the guise of anti-Communism, a bunch of fascist super-capitalist spooks have been running around the globe making mischief since the end of World War II. It is my guess that Soros, an impoverished Jewish immigrant from Hungary, was recruited by...somebody. CIA? MI5? I'm not the only one who thinks probably. How did this itinerant laborer end up at the London School of Economics? He has had a hand in destabilizing governments and crushing economies from Brazil and Haiti and Peru to Russia and Georgia and Ukraine to Malaysia and Thailand. And he shows all the anti-democratic impulses of his ilk, cozying up to death-squad torturers in the name of averting the Communist Threat.
Now he is the darling of the Clintons, Dean (he gave him a pile of money), virtually the entire Western press, and even ostensibly 'leftist' organizations like MoveOn.Org. He says he wants to 'bring down Bush.' Highly doubtful. The evidence points to the fact that he did bring down the Republic of Georgia recently, and had a hand in Haiti...He has probably figured out that throwing money at liberals is pretty much the same as throwing it at conservatives, and you get better press. One hopes that American liberals are just ignorant rather than complicit, but George Soros' hijinks across the planet serve the purposes of capitalism and northern hegemony very well, and liberals and conservatives alike. O yeah, as the owner of Harken Energy, he made GW a pile of money back in the day...
I would say that a ten minute search on the internet is about all it would take to raise questions in any reasonable person's mind. Too bad us paranoid 'conspiracy theorists' are the only ones who bother...
This is a digest of my research.
*"Soros foundations and financial machinations are partly responsible for the destruction of socialism in Eastern Europe and the former USSR. He has set his sights on China. He was part of the full court press that dismantled Yugoslavia."
*"Calling himself a philanthropist, billionaire George Soros' role is to tighten the ideological stranglehold of globalization and the New World Order while promoting his own financial gain."
*"Soros is a leading figure on the Council of Foreign Relations, the World Economic Forum, and Human Rights Watch (HRW)."
*"A Soros foundation now runs CIA-created Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty jointly with the U.S. and RFE/RL, which has expanded into the Caucasus and Asia."
*"Soros works openly with the United States Institute of Peace-an overt arm of the CIA."
* "In 1997 he earned the rare distinction of being singled out as a villain by a head of state, Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad, for taking part in a highly profitable attack on that nation's currency."
* "His companies control real estate in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico; banking in Venezuela; and are some of the most profitable currency traders in the world, giving rise to the general belief that his highly placed friends assisted him in his financial endeavors"
*"George Soros has been blamed for the destruction of the Thai economy in 1997. One Thai activist said, "We regard George Soros as a kind of Dracula. He sucks the blood from the people." The Chinese call him "the crocodile," because his economic and ideological efforts in China were so insatiate, and because his financial speculation created millions of dollars in profits as it ravished the Thai and Malaysian economies."
*"It was Soros who saved George W. Bush's bacon when his management of an oil exploration company was ending in failure. Soros was the owner of Harken Energy Corporation, and it was he who bought the rapidly depreciating stocks just prior to the company's collapse. The future president cashed out at almost one million dollars. Soros said he did it to buy "political influence."
rootsie on 06.03.04 @ 09:21 PM CST [more..
America is First in Deranged
"My criticism of the United States is not concerned with how it wishes to order its own society, but about how its activities spill over into the rest of the world. Its actions in the world too often resemble those of an ugly drunk pushing his way into your living room and puking all over the carpet."
Insanity in America
By JOHN CHUCKMANcounterpunch.org
It's always satisfying to have a pet theory supported by new data. A large and authoritative study, just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, confirms a favorite hypothesis of mine, that there is more mental illness and insanity, far more, in America than you find in other advanced societies.
The study, led by a Harvard Medical School researcher, found evidence of mental problems in 26.4% of people in the United States, versus, for example, 8.2% of people in Italy. The researchers were concerned with matters such as lack of access to treatment and under-treatment, but for those concerned about a safe and decent world, I think the salient finding is simply America's high percentage. The world is being led by a nation where more than one-quarter of the people have genuine mental problems.
The finding is strangely both comforting and disturbing.
It is comforting because it helps explain why Americans continue supporting a man proven wrong every time he opens his mouth, a man who has de-stabilized parts of the world in the name of creating stability, a man claiming sound business principles who has pitched the United States into deficit free-fall, and a man who arouses suspicion and fear throughout the world.
The study is comforting, too, because it helps explain an opposition candidate like John Kerry. How can liberals generate excitement over this stale, fly-buzzed doughnut of a candidate? I suppose the same way they get excited every time Bush's polls dip by something little more than statistical noise. Perhaps the same way a man like Michael Moore - who makes gobs of money playing to the suspicions and prejudices of the paranoid segment of America's great political market - could so eagerly embrace a crypto-Nazi like General Wesley Clark as "his candidate"?
The finding is comforting in explaining all those Americans shocked and appalled over The New York Times' recent apology for its drum-beating, pre-invasion coverage of Iraq's non-existent weapons. Here is a newspaper that, more often than not, comes down on the wrong side of human rights, always protects Establishment interests, always ignores abuses until they can no longer be ignored, and yet it somehow retains a reputation in America as guardian of treasured values and as the nation's newspaper of record.full article
rootsie on 06.03.04 @ 05:06 PM CST [link
The Long Shadow of CIA Torture Research
By ALFRED W. McCOY *Crucial Author
The photos from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison are snapshots, not of simple brutality or a breakdown in discipline, but of CIA torture techniques that have metastasized, over the past 50 years, like an undetected cancer inside the US intelligence community.
From 1950 to 1962, the CIA led massive, secret research into coercion and consciousness that reached a billion dollars at peak. After experiments with hallucinogenic drugs, electric shocks, and sensory deprivation, this CIA research produced a new method of torture that was psychological, not physical--best described as "no touch torture."
The CIA's discovery of psychological torture was a counter-intuitive break-through--indeed, the first real revolution in this cruel science since the 17th century. In its modern application, the physical approach required interrogators to inflict pain, usually by crude beatings that often produced heightened resistance or unreliable information. Under the CIA's new psychological paradigm, however, interrogators used two essential methods, disorientation and self-inflicted pain, to make victims feel responsible for their own suffering.
In the CIA's first stage, interrogators employ simple, non-violent techniques to disorient the subject. To induce temporal confusion, interrogators use hooding or sleep deprivation. To intensify disorientation, interrogators often escalate to attacks on personal identity by sexual humiliation.
Once the subject is disoriented, interrogators move on to a second stage with simple, self-inflicted discomfort such as standing for hours with arms extended. In this phase, the idea is to make victims feel responsible for their own pain and thus induce them to alleviate it by capitulating to the interrogator's power.
In his statement on reforms at Abu Ghraib last week, General Geoffrey Miller, former chief of the Guantanamo detention center and now prison commander in Iraq, offered an unwitting summary of this two-phase torture. "We will no longer, in any circumstances, hood any of the detainees," the general said. "We will no longer use stress positions in any of our interrogations. And we will no longer use sleep deprivation in any of our interrogations."
Although seemingly less brutal, "no touch" torture leaves deep psychological scars on both victims and interrogators. The victims often need long treatment to recover from trauma far more crippling than physical pain. The perpetrators can suffer a dangerous expansion of ego, leading to escalating cruelty and lasting emotional problems.
After codification in the CIA's "Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation" manual in 1963, the new method was disseminated globally to police in Asia and Latin America through USAID's Office of Public Safety (OPS). Following allegations of torture by USAID's police trainees in Brazil, the US Senate closed down OPS in 1975.
After OPS was abolished, the Agency continued to disseminate its torture methods through the US Army's Mobile Training Teams, which were active in Central America during the 1980s. In 1997, the Baltimore Sun published chilling extracts of the "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual" that these Army teams had distributed to allied militaries for 20 years.
rootsie on 06.03.04 @ 05:06 PM CST [more..
The ABC's of Hatred
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMANnew york times
Published: June 3, 2004
Surely the most chilling aspect of the latest terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia against foreigners at the Khobar oil center was in reports from the scene about how the Saudi militants tried to kill or capture only the non-Muslims, and let Muslims and Arabs go. The Associated Press quoted a Lebanese woman, Orora Naoufal, who was taken hostage in her apartment, as saying that the gunmen released her when they learned of her nationality. They told her they were interested in harming only "infidels" and Westerners.
Now where would the terrorists have learned such intolerance and discrimination? Answer: in the Saudi public school system and religious curriculum.article
rootsie on 06.03.04 @ 12:18 PM CST [more..
Mobs Storm Congo Base; U.N. Troops Kill 2
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: June 3, 2004new york times
KINSHASA, Congo (AP) -- U.N. troops opened fire on rioters Thursday, killing two, as a mob broke into their base and tens of thousands of protesters overran Congo's capital, outraged at the United Nations over the rebel capture of an eastern city.
In an attempt to defuse the crisis over the takeover of Bukavu, rebel commanders said they would withdraw their troops from the strategic city and return it to the control of the United Nations and the central government.
The fall of Bukavu to commanders once allied to Rwanda threatens to plunge the Central African country back into civil war. President Joseph Kabila accused Rwanda -- Congo's chief adversary in the 1998-2002 war -- of backing the Wednesday capture of the city.
Rwanda denies any role, and U.N. officials say they have not seen any evidence of Rwandan involvement. A U.N. spokesman said he could not confirm whether rebel forces had begun their promised withdrawal from Bukavu.articleUN Observer Killed in Congo:Rebel Chief Rejects Deadline-New York Times
rootsie on 06.03.04 @ 11:37 AM CST [more..
LA 'on the road to Falluja'?
By Anita Rice
BBC News and Current Affairs bbc news
The LA murder rate is going up and the police chief has requested more officers. But California is broke and cannot afford to recruit.
Civil rights lawyer Connie Rice warns that with too few officers to "police humanely", parts of the city may as well be in Falluja.
Los Angeles is notorious for gang violence, but even by LA standards 2002 was gruesome. With 658 murders in just that one year, it became America's murder capital.
Of those murders, almost half were directly related to gang turf wars involving drugs and guns. And of those gangs, most are based in south-central or south-east LA.
With a spiralling murder rate and poor police-community relations following the Rodney King riots and the Rampart corruption scandal, the city appointed a new chief to clean up its act.
Amid much fanfare and hype William Bratton - the man credited with cleaning up New York's once-soaring crime rate under the political stewardship of former mayor Rudy Giuliani - was brought in to get LA under control.
Chief Bratton immediately appointed a second deputy charged with concentrating some officers in gang areas and targeting gangs. He also prioritised improving relations with minority communities.
'Shovelling quicksand' full article
rootsie on 06.03.04 @ 11:12 AM CST [link
Wednesday, June 2nd
The Return of the Draft, a Bipartisan Production
June 1, 2004
By JACOB LEVICH
Barring a sudden reversal in the direction of US foreign policy, a strong bipartisan push to reinstate the draft can be expected soon after the November elections. Whether or not Bush wins is irrelevant. The logic of empire requires more boots on the ground, and conscription looks like the only way to get them.
In fact the campaign for the draft is already under way, though election-year politics have dictated a nuanced approach. Long-dormant draft boards have been quietly reactivated and restaffed -- even as the Bush administration continues to claim, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, that current troop levels are sufficient.
Meanwhile, a consensus behind conscription is building on Capitol Hill. Senators Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) and Joseph Biden (D-Del), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are among many prominent politicians suddenly calling for a "national debate" on the draft. Open supporters of the draft include Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC) and Reps. Nydia Velazsquez (D-NY), Pete Stark (D-Cal), and Charles Rangel (D-NY). HR 163 and S 89, Democrat-sponsored bills to restore conscription, are quietly working their way through committee. According to The Hill, Republicans are ready to sign on as soon as they get the nod from the Bush administration.
Because the draft is potentially a catalyst for student protest, many leftists are happy to believe that the Establishment would never dare to reintroduce it. But that view fails to take into account the tremendous post-Seattle expansion of the state's repressive apparatus. Now that protest pens, mass arrests, chemical crowd control, and embedded journalists have become the norm at major demonstrations, the powerful may well believe that they have little to fear from free speech. people against the draft
rootsie on 06.02.04 @ 03:23 PM CST [more..
The Perfect U.S. Ambassador for Iraq
John Negroponte's record in Honduras does not inspire confidence about his appointment as US ambassador to Iraq
Duncan Campbell the guardian
Wednesday June 2, 2004
Suspicious deaths in custody. Allegations of torture. Claims of a military out of control. These are some of the key issues that will face John Negroponte, US ambassador to the United Nations, when he takes over this month as US ambassador to Iraq.
Suspicious deaths in custody. Allegations of torture. Claims of a military out of control. Those were some of the key issues that faced John Negroponte 20 years ago when he was US ambassador to Honduras. So it is worth examining how he reacted then when faced with evidence of extra-judicial killings, torture and human rights abuses.
Central America in the early 80s was, for a few years, the centre of the world in much the way that the Middle East now is. There had been a revolution in Nicaragua in which a dictator had been removed by the Sandinistas, who had then embarked on a political path that was anathema to the US.
The country became a magnet for the international left, who saw hopeful signs in the revolution. El Salvador and Guatemala were in turmoil as leftwing guerrillas battled with the military in their efforts to overturn years of military oppression and corruption. In those days the enemy, as far as the US was concerned, was international communism rather than al-Qaida, but the rhetoric of "good" versus "evil" took a similar pattern to today's.
Into this world in 1981 came diplomat John Negroponte as ambassador to Honduras. At the time, the US was covertly backing the contras, the counter-revolutionaries who opposed the Sandinistas. Honduras was a vital base for them. An air base was built at El Aguacate, where they could be trained and which was used, according to Honduran human rights activists, as a detention centre where torture took place. It was also used as a burial ground for 185 dissidents, whose remains were only discovered in 2001.
rootsie on 06.02.04 @ 03:23 PM CST [more..
Tuesday, June 1st
My goodness what's gotten into the New York Times??
Dooh Nibor Economics
By PAUL KRUGMANnew york times
Last week The Washington Post got hold of an Office of Management and Budget memo that directed federal agencies to prepare for post-election cuts in programs that George Bush has been touting on the campaign trail. These include nutrition for women, infants and children; Head Start; and homeland security. The numbers match those on a computer printout leaked earlier this year — one that administration officials claimed did not reflect policy.
Beyond the routine mendacity, the case of the leaked memo points us to a larger truth: whatever they may say in public, administration officials know that sustaining Mr. Bush's tax cuts will require large cuts in popular government programs. And for the vast majority of Americans, the losses from these cuts will outweigh any gains from lower taxes.
It has long been clear that the Bush administration's claim that it can simultaneously pursue war, large tax cuts and a "compassionate" agenda doesn't add up. Now we have direct confirmation that the White House is engaged in bait and switch, that it intends to pursue a not at all compassionate agenda after this year's election.
That agenda is to impose Dooh Nibor economics — Robin Hood in reverse. The end result of current policies will be a large-scale transfer of income from the middle class to the very affluent, in which about 80 percent of the population will lose and the bulk of the gains will go to people with incomes of more than $200,000 per year.
rootsie on 06.01.04 @ 08:33 PM CST [more..
Growing Wealth Gap Rates an 'Orange Alert'
In just 14 days the problems of the poorest countries in the world -- starvation, lack of education, scarcity of potable water, etc. -- could be solved if each nation donated its military spending budget for just that period of time -- 14 days.
Rich-poor gulf widens
'Inequality Matters' conference puts nations on alert
By Thomas Kostigen, CBS.MarketWatch.com cbs market watch
Thursday is when the Inequality Matters conference begins in New York City to discuss the biggest wealth and income gap -- and its consequences on society -- since the Hoover Administration. The Congressional Budget Office says the income gap in the United States is now the widest in 75 years.
While the richest one percent of the U.S. population saw its financial wealth grow 109 percent from 1983 to 2001, the bottom two-fifths watched as its wealth fell 46 percent.
Alarming? You bet. And here's why: The number of Americans without health insurance climbed 33 percent during the 1990's, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The biggest indicator of a healthy society -- average life expectancy -- has dropped. People in the U.S. now don't live even as long as people in Costa Rica. Meanwhile the U.S. infant mortality rate has risen, so much so Cuba has a better success rate of bringing healthy children into the world.
Citing those facts and figures, James Lardner, who heads Inequality.org, says "there is no way you can deny the power of money." He, along with Bill Moyers, Barbara Ehrenreich and numerous other leaders, activists and institutions hope to bring some of these startling facts "to the front burner of politics."
rootsie on 06.01.04 @ 08:19 PM CST [more..
Media Fall Short on Iraq, Venezuela
by Mark Weisbrotcommon dreams.org
Last week the New York Times published an 1100-word note "From the Editors" criticizing its own reporting on the build-up to the Iraq war and the early stages of the occupation. On Sunday the newspaper's Public Editor went further, citing "flawed journalism" and stories that "pushed Pentagon assertions so aggressively you could almost sense epaulets sprouting on the shoulders of editors."
This kind of self-criticism is important, because the media played an important role in convincing the American public -- and probably the Congress as well -- that the war was justified. Unfortunately, these kinds of mistakes are not limited to the New York Times -- or to reporting on Iraq.
Venezuela is a case in point. The Bush administration has been pushing for "regime change" in Venezuela for years now, painting a false and exaggerated picture of the reality there. As in the case of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and links to Al-Qaeda, the Administration has gotten a lot of help from the media.
Reporting on Venezuela relies overwhelmingly on opposition sources, many of them about as reliable as Ahmed Chalabi. Although there are any number of scholars and academics -- both Venezuelan and international -- who could offer coherent arguments on the other side, their arguments almost never appear. For balance, we usually get at most a poor person on the street describing why he likes Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, or a sound bite from Chavez himself denouncing "imperialist intervention."
Opposition allegations are repeated constantly, often without rebuttal, and sometimes reported as facts. At the same time, some of the most vital information is hardly reported or not reported at all. For example, the opposition's efforts to recall President Chavez hit a snag in March when more than 800,000 signatures for the recall were invalidated. These signatures were not thrown out but were sent to a "repair process," currently being tallied, in which signers would get a second chance to claim invalidated signatures.
rootsie on 06.01.04 @ 08:05 PM CST [more..
The Great Escape
I guess now that the New York Times has made its big apology it feels under some obligation to let slip some real information. Only two and a half years late, after thousands of others reported it, and were called paranoid nut cases for doing so.
By CRAIG UNGERnew york times
Americans who think the 9/11 commission is going to answer all the crucial questions about the terrorist attacks are likely to be sorely disappointed — especially if they're interested in the secret evacuation of Saudis by plane that began just after Sept. 11.
We knew that 15 out of 19 hijackers were Saudis. We knew that Osama bin Laden, a Saudi, was behind 9/11. Yet we did not conduct a police-style investigation of the departing Saudis, of whom two dozen were members. of the bin Laden family. That is not to say that they were complicit in the attacks.
Unfortunately, though, we may never know the real story. The investigative panel has already concluded that there is "no credible evidence that any chartered flights of Saudi Arabian nationals departed the United States before the reopening of national airspace." But the real point is that there were still some restrictions on American airspace when the Saudi flights began.
In addition, new evidence shows that the evacuation involved more than the departure of 142 Saudis on six charter flights that the commission is investigating. According to newly released documents, 160 Saudis left the United States on 55 flights immediately after 9/11 — making a total of about 300 people who left with the apparent approval of the Bush administration, far more than has been reported before. The records were released by the Department of Homeland Security in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative, nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington.
rootsie on 06.01.04 @ 07:54 PM CST [more..