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19 years Ago

Bio-Weapons Inspections

Published by marco on

Next stop for the War on Terror Express? Iraq. Why? Ostensibly because Iraq refuses to allow inspectors into the country to look into the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. Forget the incredible irony of the double-standard at work here. Forget that Iraq has been under crippling sanctions for over a decade. Let’s just take for granted that fewer weapons of mass destruction in this world is good.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the agenda of the U.S. The previous unalloyed statement needs a... [More]

The ABCs of Jihad

Published by kavorka on

The Washington Post reports on the problems related to retracting textbook lessons long in circulation in Afghanistan.

While the stated policy (ie. the constitution) is to keep religion and education separated, this is of course not applied to propoganda material. Textbooks which taught counting with tanks and bullets and were filled with Islamic tenets extolling the glory of holy war against the Soviet invaders, were specially made in the US at the University of Omaha. While the aid package... [More]

U.S. Nuclear Policy

Published by marco on

The LA Times recently leaked a document called the “Nuclear Posture Review” (excerpts, briefing). In it, contingencies are discussed about using nuclear weapons in the current campaign, under which conditions they’d be used and against whom and which types are needed and must be developed/tested further.

I suppose the obvious questions is why can’t the U.S. just say they wouldn’t use nuclear weapons? I mean, I thought they were the good guys. I understand about carrying a big stick, but when... [More]

How Crazy is Ashcroft?

Published by marco on

Well, let’s recap. Almost a year ago, it was reported that Ashcroft Holds Prayer Meetings at White House. These are Pentacostal prayer meetings, are not enforced on staff, and in no way blur the separation of church and state. Ahem.

More recently, John Ashcroft’s Perilous Nipples by Mark Morford of the SF Gate explains that Ashcroft is afraid of nudity:

“…order[ed] his very own Justice Department to spend $8,000 to purchase heavy blue drapes to cover the two large, noble, partially naked... [More]”

Somalia Accused

Published by marco on

The New York Newsday reported a Stunning Turn of Events… recently. In a somewhat transparent attempt to provide some continuity from the attack on Afghanistan to a continued war in Somalia, the Pentagon announced recently that a GPS from a soldier killed in Somalia (and whose name Black Hawk Down has entered into the public consciousness) has been found in Afghanistan. Whereas this should be more than is needed to satisfy an unquestioning public, an Army reporter noted immediately that the... [More]

Church Blames Gays

Published by marco on

The New York Newsday is reporting that Vatican Reaffirms Anti-homosexual Stand. In a stunning turnaround of events, the church has admitted that it has deep-rooted problems and has accepted all blame for them, vowing to do better and fix their problems. Just kidding.

“Noting that most reported cases of sex abuse have involved priests and boys, Catholic officials in Rome have reaffirmed their stand against homosexuality, saying gays should not become priests.”

I knew it was the gays. Damn it,... [More]

I am lying

Published by marco on

By this point, you should have heard of the new hit spin-off from the Department of Defense (formerly called the War Department) called the Office of Strategic Influence. As reported in the New York Times in Pentagon Readies Efforts to Sway Sentiment Abroad, this office would be in charge of:

<q> … developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and... [More]

Stability Trumps Democracy

Published by marco on

America Sells Itself Out for Stability on the New York Newsday is a fantastic piece by Ralph Peters, “a retired Army officer and the author of two books on strategy”. He very succintly and calmly points out that quite a lot of the U.S. problems in the world today stem directly from a foreign policy that supports ideals exactly opposite to those the U.S. espouses.

While the premise is not new, his approach is much more factual and far less hyperbolic. He arrives at the modern-day reality that the... [More]

Venzuela In Danger

Published by marco on

John Pilger published an article on March 7, 2002 in the New Statesman about President Chavez of Venezuela. It seems that Venezuela is having trouble learning the lessons of its neighbors in the 20th Century. The story is the same as that told many times before. Democratically-elected left-leaning government nationalizes private oil industry and implements land reforms (which involves giving unused lands away to those that might make use of it) in order to address crippling poverty in over 80%... [More]

Corporate Welfare in Colombia

Published by marco on

Sometimes it’s so hard to keep track of U.S. foreign policy. Especially when trying to figure out where tax money is being spent on making war. There are so many levels of funding available:

  1. Foreign aid to oppresive regimes to “stabilize” the local government (think Saudi Arabia)
  2. Overt military aid in the form of actual hardware (think Israel)
  3. U.S. military “advisors” in the field (think CIA and who knows where they all are)
  4. U.S. Troop deployment (bases in over 100 countries, but recently,... [More]

Gag order ad infinitum

Published by marco on

Examples abound of things that are happening (or have happened, fait accompli) that are morally and ethically offensive, but that’s that and move right along. Nat Hentoff wrote Big John Wants Your Reading List for the Village Voice revealing that Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act (oh yeah, it passed, remember?) “…would grant FBI agents across the country breathtaking authority to obtain an order from the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] court . . . requiring any person or business... [More]”

Say Goodbye to Satire

Published by marco on

I remember that immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center, it was generally agreed upon in the mainstream press that irony was dead. I also remember thinking that that was ridiculous. Irony is alive and well. Recent events have borne that out, with increasingly dangerous and heavily ironic things happening all of the time.

 Now, in recent days, I’ve seen something that leads me to think that the “irony is dead” mantra was simply a case of mistaken identity. It’s irony’s close... [More]

Voice of reason shouted down

Published by marco on

The New York Newsday published Democrats Raise Questions On War a little while ago. It seems that some have in Congress (especially that troublemaker Daschle) have had the temerity to ask about long-term goals of the administration. This drew the baleful eye of the guardians of a patriotic America in which we all act as one and do not ask questions because it interrupted their slavering, gleeful capering over their new shiny hoards of weapons and money.

It seems the relatively straightforward... [More]

Go along to get along

Published by marco on

The latest Adbusters issue has Intimidation discussing the Orwellian clampdown that is taking shape in Western society today.

“The supposedly immovable object called citizens’ rights met an irresistible force called “preventative justice.” And it got crushed. … The program isn’t to break bones, but to set limits − what we can say, endorse, speak up against”

More and more we hear the story of the man who was detained for hours or days because he made another person “nervous”. That nervous... [More]

Silicon, Hummers and the Environment

Published by marco on

So, how’s the environment been doing lately? With which side of the war on the environment has the U.S. decided to cast its lot? Well, the new Hummer is out. It’s got a 6.0 V8 engine. What kind of fuel economy does it get? Well, that’s a good question. Here’s the answer found on the official Hummer site (emphasis added).

“Because it is a class 3 truck, a type of vehicle that is often classified as a work truck, the EPA does not rate the mileage.. Typically, work trucks site and idle while... [More]”

War on Drugs = Support Terrorism

Published by marco on

 In a glorious case of turnabout-is-fair-play, the Libertarian Party has launched its own ad campaign, similar in style to the one launched by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) that equates buying drugs with supporting terrorism. One of the ads (PDF document), featuring the haggard visage of the U.S. drug czar (who is highly in favor of punitive controls of drugs − i.e. continuing the drug war) with the caption:

<q>This week, I had lunch with the President, testified before... [More]

Palmer Raids and Bolsheviks

Published by marco on

The Smithsonian Magazine ran Crackdown! (abstract only, sorry) in their February 2002 issue, talking about the red scares in 1919 and 1920. Though they don’t make an explicit connection to today’s situation, the timing of the article makes the implication clear: if we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. (I know, sooo melodramatic).

<q> Invoking the wartime Espionage Act of 1917 and the 1918 Sedition Act, Palmer sought to flush out “Reds” and socialist supporters remotely... [More]

Big Business gets Bigger

Published by marco on

Media Mergers

Mega Media Merger Mania on AlterNet covers a February 19th federal court ruling that deregulates the media industry even further. Two rules were struck down:

<q>The first is a 60-year old Federal Communications Commission rule that limits the number of broadcast TV stations a single company can own. The cap is currently set so that a single company cannot reach more than 35 percent of the national TV audience. The second FCC rule prevented a company from owning both a cable... [More]

Chomsky on Drugs and Terror

Published by marco on

Alternet has a quick interview with Noam Chomsky called Noam Chomsky on the Drug-Terror Link. Several questions are asked about the U.S. government’s latest attempts to link drugs with terror. He reminds us that, in fact, the connection is there, but mostly that the U.S. has been a huge proponent of drug operations throughout the world since World War II.

<q>Terrorism is now being used and has been used pretty much the same way communism was used. If you want to press some agenda, you play the... [More]

Axis of Evil

Published by marco on

The “Axis of Evil” described by George Bush in his first State of the Union has been received differently throughout the world. Those nations that were included in it were surprised to be singled out, considering several countries the U.S. is allied with are far worse proponents of terror than they are. Just not the good kind of terror. The kind the U.S. is willing to support. Are you listening, Iran? Also, if you might have ICBM capabilities, then your evil existence justifies (no it doesn’t)... [More]

You are a terrorist

Published by marco on

So I’m sitting there reading the morning paper the other day, flipping through the sports section. Suddenly, right after the page listing the lovely adult stars that are coming to a club near me, I see a half-page ad letting me know that if I use drugs, I’m funding terrorism. I quickly checked to make sure which drugs they’re talking about and, luckily, the pack of cigarettes and bottle of scotch I’d been steadily working my way through weren’t on the list.

What was on the list, you ask? I... [More]

Osama confesses?

Published by marco on

DAWN published an interview with Osama Bin Laden, given on November 9, 2001. In it, he declares:

<q>I wish to declare that if America used chemical or nuclear weapons against us, then we may retort with chemical and nuclear weapons. We have the weapons as deterrent.</q>

The Telegraph has an analysis of a video that has been circulating for the last few weeks in Islamicist circles. I can’t tell from the quotes if this is the same interview of not. A lot of the quotes match up, but the... [More]

King Ashcroft?

Published by marco on

It’s only the Constitution by Nat Hentoff on AlterNet provides more details on John Ashcroft’s plain for domestic vigilance. One of the more interesting provisions is “roving wiretaps”:

<q> … a single warrant for a suspect’s telephone must include any and all types of phones he or she uses in any and all locations, including pay phones. If a suspect uses a relative’s phone or your phone, that owner becomes part of the investigative database. So does anyone using the same pay phone or any pay... [More]

Cheney’s Not Talking

Published by marco on

The New York Times published Cheney Is Set to Battle Congress…, which covers statements he made in a series of interviews over the weekend. Apparently, he feels that, as a public servant, with the public paying his salary, when he has meetings with other public officers (Secretary of Energy, for instance) about public energy policy, Congress has no right to know about it. In fact:

<q>We’ve seen it in cases like this before, where it’s demanded that presidents cough up and compromise on... [More]

National ID System Woes

Published by marco on

Newhouse News Service published Database Flaws Could Hamper Any National ID System… by Margie Wylie about the data-integrity problems that existing large databases contain. For example, the large database used to generate credit reports is rife with errors:

<q> … A 1998 study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that 29 percent of credit reports contain serious errors — for example, false delinquencies — that could cause credit to be denied. Some 20 percent of credit... [More]

Somalia ‘93

Published by marco on

The reviews of Black Hawk Down seem to be uniformly good. The film purports to document the downing of a helicopter (or two?) during the U.S. invasion intervention aid effort in Somalia in 1993. The movie begs research because Hollywood covering such a story, especially now with the word “terrorist” as ready to spring from the mouths of officials as “communist” was from Joe McCarthy’s, seems ripe for misinterpretation, if not deliberate obfuscation of fact. Also, recent reports indicate that,... [More]

Ashcroft against FOIA

Published by marco on

Alternet published The Day Ashcroft Foiled the FOIA about one of the more disturbing actions of the U.S. Attorney General. On October 12th, 2001:

<q>In a memo that slipped beneath the political radar, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft vigorously urged federal agencies to resist most Freedom of Information Act requests made by American citizens. … When coupled with President Bush’s Nov. 1 executive order that allows him to seal all presidential records since 1980, the effect is positively... [More]

A War Mentality

Published by marco on

Mark Morford has a new article, Everyday Mundane Warmongering… talking about how easy it is to forget that there’s a war going on. The bombing continues in Afghanistan (and Iraq). The Phillipines has edged out Somalia, Iraq and Yemen as the next likely target of American attack. Apparently, the increase in military funding there wasn’t sufficient to hold back the rebels, so away we go.

<q>So now we simply forget about the war, accept its nagging everpresence, like getting used to a bad... [More]

Deliberate Myths

Published by marco on

Plastic.com has a discussion called The Power of a Good Myth referring to a Yahoo News article called Facts Find Sept. 11 Myths Misleading. The article touches on the interesting phenomenon of “if you say it, it’s true” kind of myths that crop up.

For example:

<q>After Sept. 11, says Laura Bush, divorce is down, weddings are up and “families have come together.‘’ … In fact, fewer folks are taking vows and more are splitting up, says the available data, and hounds are twice as likely as... [More]

U.S. Domestic Air Travel

Published by marco on

The Chicago Sun Times reports in New bag checks to begin Friday that “each of the 3.8 million pieces of checked luggage on U.S. domestic flights every day will have to be screened for explosives”.

Unfortunately, with only 2 days to go, there is no indication yet of what the actual implementation of this bag-check is going to be. One of the proposed methods involves using expensive bomb-screening machines that are in extremely short supply. Couple the new law requiring that each bag be checked... [More]