World Events

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Friday, January 31, 2003

Bush approves nuclear response
Washington Times - A classified document signed by President Bush specifically allows for the use of nuclear weapons in response to biological or chemical attacks, apparently changing a decades-old U.S. policy of deliberate ambiguity, it was learned by The Washington Times.

posted by Paul West 7:19 AM

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

A Rising Tide of Anti-American Feeling
(Todd Richissin, Baltimore Sun, January 28, 2003)
"I just hate it and can't help that," says Manuel Baczynski, 31, who quickly adds: "Make it clear I don't hate Americans. I hate America for what it is doing." . . . This is something both very old from Europe and very new. Americans are accustomed to encountering resentment here, but what is happening now is in many ways different. European historians, intellectuals and political leaders are in general agreement that no longer are anti-American voices merely a vocal minority mired in the hate portion of a love-hate relationship. . . . The anti-American sentiments now come from the wealthy and the economically hard-pressed, from the highly educated and the barely so, from young people just opening their eyes to the world and from those who lived through World War II, Vietnam, the rise of communism and its fall. . . . They start with President Bush himself. There is a widespread belief that he is belligerent and lacks an adequate comprehension of the wars of Europe's past, demonstrated not only by his stance on Iraq but by his attitude toward those who oppose military action. . . . "There is a clear distinction in Germany and Europe between the campaign against international terrorism and war," Voigt says. "We've said Germany gives its unlimited solidarity in the stand against terrorism. The United States government says war with Iraq is an extension of the war on terrorism. We don't see the evidence of it. We don't buy it." . . . "What's different now is, we don't have the common bond with the Europeans we once had that served to keep us together," Kohut says, referring to the fall of the Soviet Union. "Terrorism has not served that role." . . . If anti-Americanism is already in bloom in Europe, its seeds were sown almost immediately after Bush took office. . . . The president's dismissal of the Kyoto Treaty, designed to slow global warming, was deeply resented in Europe. Resented, too, was Bush's refusal to accede to an international criminal court, which would have tried individuals accused of crimes against humanity, and his decision to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. . . . "The pictures that are presented show this joy for war," says Bertram. "That may be fair or not fair, but that is the perception people get, that this administration has a cavalier attitude toward war that doesn't match reality." . . . Those feelings have been exacerbated by Bush's tendency to draw a linguistic picture of the world that Europeans see as unnecessarily provocative. The president's remarks about an "axis of evil" do not play well abroad. . . . Anti-Americanism in Europe goes beyond the president. It is born of a contradictory desire for American culture and resentment of its ubiquity. Cultural differences about the role of religion in governing plays a part, with many Europeans believing that the religious right in the United States is driving American policy.

posted by Lorenzo 2:01 PM

Monday, January 27, 2003

The US Media: A Weapon of Mass Deception
(Gorddon Arnaut, Media Monitors Network, September 11, 2002)
Reading the US media's reporting on the Iraq question is very informative. Not because the coverage is so fact-filled, but because it so clearly illustrates just how propagandized and subservient the US press has become. . . . Rivers of ink have been spent hyperventilating about the supposed Iraqi threat, but how much actual evidence has been presented? Where are the facts? . . . Now just how stupid do Dick Cheney and The New York Times think the American people are? I guess we are supposed to take this bit of innuendo at face value? From a guy whose trigger finger has been twitching in plain view for months now? . . . And what about the most crucial question of all? Is Iraq a threat, or not? The media refuses to even allow this into the debate. By not asking this question, the media is saying, in effect, "The question of Iraq being a threat is beyond debate. So let's move on to the how and when of this war." . . . This is completely opposite to what the objective facts in the case tell us. There is indeed much to debate as to whether Iraq poses any threat or not. . . . Thousands of questions could be asked, hundreds of sources unearthed, and dozens of revelations brought to light. The only trouble is, it might expose as so much rubbish the Bushites' entire yarn about Iraq. . . . And we couldn't have that could we? Not in a media culture where kowtowing to the ruling class takes precedence over honest reporting and journalistic duty.

posted by Lorenzo 1:12 PM

Thursday, January 23, 2003

British Muslims warn of 'conflict for generations'
(Jeevan Vasagar, The Guardian, January 14, 2003)
Britain's biggest Muslim organisation yesterday warned Tony Blair that war with Iraq would cause community relations to deteriorate and breed "bitterness and conflict for generations to come". . . . "It is generally believed the real American objective behind such an invasion is to change the political map of the Middle East, appropriate its oil wealth and appoint Israel as a regional superpower exercising total hegemony over the entire Middle East and beyond," he [Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain] wrote. . . . Seven out of 10 British Muslims believe the war on terror is a war on Islam, according to an ICM poll published last month. . . . Mr Sacranie said he did not believe there should be war even if Iraq was found to possess weapons of mass destruction. . . . "If WMD are being got rid of, all countries have to get rid of them, and war is not the way to go about this. . . . "If we are talking about the region, Israel has chemical, biological and nuclear weapons."

posted by Lorenzo 5:17 PM

Wednesday, January 22, 2003


A peace protester's placard outside the House of Commons
[this image was sent to us in an email . . . photographer unknown]

[Note: The above image came with the following message.]

Forbidden Union of Bush and Blair -- psychopathic, personable people who have no conscience.

posted by Lorenzo 10:10 AM

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

America's Unfree Press
[Note: The following was received from an acquaintance via email.]

(Transmitted below are excerpts from Kofi Annan's address yesterday to the UN Security Council -- in the presence of Colin Powell. He says a lot, diplomatically, in very few words.)

"Internationally, we are seeing an increasing use of what I call the "T' word -- "terrorism" -- to demonize political opponents, to throttle freedom of speech and the press and to delegitimize political grievances. Any sacrifice of freedom or the rule of law within states -- or any generation of new disputes between states in the name of anti-terrorism -- is to hand the terrorists a victory that no act of theirs could possibly bring....

"Important and urgent questions are being asked about the collateral damage from the 'war on terrorism' -- damage to the presumption of innocence, to precious human rights, to the rule of law and to the very fabric of democratic governance.... There is a danger that, in pursuit of security, we end up sacrificing crucial liberties, thereby weakening our common security, not strengthening it, and thereby corroding the vessel of democratic government from within....

"Just as terrorism must never be excused, so must genuine grievances never be ignored.... We must act with determination to address, indeed solve, the political disputes and long-standing conflicts which underlie, fuel and generate support for terrorism."

The New York Times article on yesterday's UN Security Council session, as reproduced in today's International Herald Tribune, quoted exhaustively from Colin Powell's remarks on the need for war against Iraq. It did not mention that Kofi Annan spoke at all. For these quotes, I am indebted to Agence France Presse. [JW]

posted by Lorenzo 6:47 PM

The CIA's "Operation Cyclone" - Stirring the Hornet's Nest of Islamic Unrest
(, October 27, 2002)
[Zbigniew] Brzezinski not long ago revealed that on July 3, 1979, unknown to the American public and Congress, President Jimmy Carter [winner of the Nobel Peace Prize!] secretly authorised $500million to create an international terrorist movement that would spread Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and "destabilise" the Soviet Union... The CIA called this Operation Cyclone and in the following years poured $4billion into setting up Islamic training schools in Pakistan (Taliban means "student"). . . . Young zealots were sent to the CIA's spy training camp in Virginia, where future members of al-Qaeda were taught "sabotage skills" - terrorism. . . . Others were recruited at an Islamic school in Brooklyn, New York, within sight of the fated Twin Towers. . . . In Pakistan, they were directed by British MI6 officers and trained by the SAS. . . . No American newspaper dares suggest that the prisoners in Camp X-Ray are the product of this policy, nor that it was one of the factors that led to the attacks of September 11. . . . The al-Qaeda training camps are kindergartens compared with the world's leading university of terrorism at Fort Benning in Georgia. Known until recently as the School of the Americas, its graduates include almost half the cabinet ministers of the genocidal regimes in Guatemala, two thirds of the El Salvadorean army officers who committed, according to the United Nations, the worst atrocities of that country's civil war, and the head of Pinochet's secret police, who ran Chile's concentration camps. . . . There is terrible irony at work here. The humane response of people all over the world to the terrorism of September 11 has long been hijacked by those running a rapacious great power with a history of terrorism second to none. Global supremacy, not the defeat of terrorism, is the goal; only the politically blind believe otherwise.

posted by Lorenzo 6:36 PM

Friday, January 17, 2003

Edward Said: An unacceptable helplessness
(Edward Said, Al-Ahram, 16 - 22 January 2003)
An enormous, deliberately intimidating force is being built up by America overseas, while inside the country, economic and social bad news multiply with a joint relentlessness. The huge capitalist machine seems to be faltering, even as it grinds down the vast majority of citizens. Nonetheless, George Bush proposes another large tax cut for the one per cent of the population that is comparatively rich. The public education system is in a major crisis, and health insurance for 50 million Americans simply does not exist. Israel asks for 15 billion dollars in additional loan guarantees and military aid. And the unemployment rates in the US mount inexorably, as more jobs are lost every day. . . . Nevertheless, preparations for an unimaginably costly war continue and continue without either public approval or dramatically noticeable disapproval. . . . The clash of civilisations that George Bush and his minions are trying to fabricate as a cover for a preemptive oil and hegemony war against Iraq is supposed to result in a triumph of democratic nation-building, regime change and forcible modernisation à l'américaine. Never mind the bombs and the ravages of the sanctions which are unmentioned. . . . Meanwhile, the soul-and-body destroying situation in Palestine worsens all the time. There seems no force capable of stopping Sharon and Mofaz, who bellow their defiance to the whole world. . . . the entire village of Al-Daba' in the Qalqilya area of the West Bank is about to be wiped out by 60- ton American-made Israeli bulldozers: 250 Palestinians will lose their 42 houses, 700 dunums of agricultural land, a mosque, and an elementary school for 132 children. The United Nations stands by, looking on as its resolutions are flouted on an hourly basis. Typically, alas, George Bush identifies with Sharon, not with the 16-year-old Palestinian kid who is used as a human shield by Israeli soldiers. . . . What could be more discouraging for the average Gazan who goes on resisting Israeli occupation than to see his or her leaders kneel as supplicants before the Americans? . . . In this entire panorama of desolation, what catches the eye is the utter passivity and helplessness of the Arab world as a whole. The American government and its servants issue statement after statement of purpose, they move troops and material, they transport tanks and destroyers, but the Arabs individually and collectively can barely muster a bland refusal (at most they say, no, you cannot use military bases in our territory) only to reverse themselves a few days later. . . . Why is there such silence and such astounding helplessness? . . . The Pentagon has made no secret that its plans are to re-draw the map of the whole Arab world, perhaps changing other regimes and many borders in the process. No one can be shielded from the cataclysm when it comes (if it comes, which is not yet a complete certainty). And yet, there is only long silence followed by a few vague bleats of polite demurral in response. After all, millions of people will be affected. America contemptuously plans for their future without consulting them. Do we reserve such racist derision? . . . This is not only unacceptable: it is impossible to believe. How can a region of almost 300 million Arabs wait passively for the blows to fall without attempting a collective roar of resistance and a loud proclamation of an alternative view? Has the Arab will completely dissolved? . . . We are on the eve of a catastrophe that our political, moral and religious leaders can only just denounce a little bit while, behind whispers and winks and closed doors, they make plans somehow to ride out the storm. They think of survival, and perhaps of heaven. But who is in charge of the present, the worldly, the land, the water, the air and the lives dependent on each other for existence? No one seems to be in charge. . . . Will no one come out into the light of day to express a vision for our future that isn't based on a script written by Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, those two symbols of vacant power and overweening arrogance? I hope someone is listening.

posted by Lorenzo 12:26 PM

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

World Wide Anti-War Protests Looming
(Jason Hopps, Reuters, January 14, 2003)
In a series of rallies organisers hope will dwarf the widespread anti-nuclear marches of the 1980s, peace activists are planning to fill cities across Europe and the United States under a "Don't attack Iraq" banner. . . . D-Day for the peace movement in Europe will be February 15, when simultaneous protests in several capitals are expected to draw hundreds of thousands of marchers. . . . "February 15th is an international day of action...I think we could see record numbers at the biggest anti-war demonstration London has ever seen," said Andrew Burgin, spokesman for Britain's Stop the War Coalition. . . . On that day, big protests are also planned for Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Madrid and the Swiss capital Berne. . . . In France, some 40 groups, including unions, anti-racist organisations and the Communist and Green political parties, are planning a nationwide peace protest on January 18 timed to coincide with the anniversary of the start of the 1991 Gulf War. . . . In the United States, organisers expect tens of thousands of people at a January 18 protest in Washington, the third large-scale demonstration in the U.S. capital since October. . . . "An attack on Iraq has been inevitable for a long period," said Burgin. "The question for Prime Minister Tony Blair's government and other European governments is 'will they survive the growing opposition to the war?'" he said. . . . Political analysts say a well-organised peace movement could provide serious problems for governments -- especially Blair's, America's staunchest ally since the September 11 attacks -- where public opinion is stacked against an attack not sanctioned by the United Nations. . . . "The combination of a war that might not be backed by the U.N. with domestic public opinion that is opposed means the British government will be under a very difficult situation if a million people start marching in the streets," he said.

posted by Lorenzo 1:38 PM

John Le Carre: The United States of America has gone mad
(John Le Carre, The Times Online, January 15, 2003)
America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War. . . . As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded. . . . The imminent war was planned years before bin Laden struck, but it was he who made it possible. Without bin Laden, the Bush junta would still be trying to explain such tricky matters as how it came to be elected in the first place; Enron; its shameless favouring of the already-too-rich; its reckless disregard for the world’s poor, the ecology and a raft of unilaterally abrogated international treaties. They might also have to be telling us why they support Israel in its continuing disregard for UN resolutions. . . . But bin Laden conveniently swept all that under the carpet. . . . How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America’s anger from bin Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history. But they swung it. . . . But the American public is not merely being misled. It is being browbeaten and kept in a state of ignorance and fear. The carefully orchestrated neurosis should carry Bush and his fellow conspirators nicely into the next election. . . . The religious cant that will send American troops into battle is perhaps the most sickening aspect of this surreal war-to-be. Bush has an arm-lock on God. And God has very particular political opinions. God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America’s Middle Eastern policy, and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a terrorist. . . . To be a member of the team you must also believe in Absolute Good and Absolute Evil, and Bush, with a lot of help from his friends, family and God, is there to tell us which is which. What Bush won’t tell us is the truth about why we’re going to war. What is at stake is not an Axis of Evil — but oil, money and people’s lives. Saddam’s misfortune is to sit on the second biggest oilfield in the world. Bush wants it, and who helps him get it will receive a piece of the cake. . . . Baghdad represents no clear and present danger to its neighbours, and none to the US or Britain. Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, if he’s still got them, will be peanuts by comparison with the stuff Israel or America could hurl at him at five minutes’ notice. What is at stake is not an imminent military or terrorist threat, but the economic imperative of US growth. . . . Last Friday a friend of mine in California drove to his local supermarket with a sticker on his car saying: “Peace is also Patriotic”. It was gone by the time he’d finished shopping.

posted by Lorenzo 12:57 PM

(Eric S. Margolis,, December 19, 2002)
It took Soviet forces only a few days to occupy Afghanistan. They installed a puppet ruler, Babrak Karmal. Moscow proclaimed it had invaded Afghanistan to 'liberate' it from 'feudalism and Islamic extremism,' and 'nests of terrorists and bandits.' . . . Soviet propaganda churned out films of Red Army soldiers playing with children, building schools, dispensing medical care. Afghan women were to be liberated from the veil and other backwards Islamic customs. The Soviet Union and its local communist allies would bring Afghanistan into the 20th Century. . . . Two years later, Afghans had risen against their Soviet 'liberators' and were waging a low-intensity guerilla war. Unable to control the countryside, Moscow poured more troops into Afghanistan. . . . Fast forward to December, 2002 and a disturbing sense of dŽjˆ vu. A new foreign army has easily occupied Afghanistan, overthrown 'feudal' Taliban and installed a puppet regime in Kabul. Western media churns out the same rosy, agitprop stories the Soviets did about liberating Afghanistan, freeing women, educating children. The only real difference is that kids in today's TV clips are waving American instead of Soviet flags. Invaders have changed; the propaganda remains the same. . . . America's Afghan adventure has gotten off to as poor a start as that of the Soviet Union. The US-installed ruler of Kabul, veteran CIA 'asset' Hamid Karzai, must be protected from his own people by up to 200 US bodyguards. Much of Afghanistan is in chaos, fought over by feuding warlords and drug barons. . . . There are almost daily attacks on US occupation forces. My old mujihadin sources say US casualties and equipment losses in Afghanistan are far higher than Washington is reporting - and rising. . . . CIA is trying to assassinate Afghan nationalist leaders opposed to the Karzai regime in Kabul, in particular my old acquaintance Gulbadin Hekmatyar. . . . The Chief of the Russian General Staff and head of intelligence directed the Alliance in its final attack on Taliban last fall. Russia then supplied Alliance forces with $100 million of arms, and is currently providing $85 milion of helicopters, tanks, artillery, spare parts, as well as military advisors and technicians. Russia now dominates much of northern Afghanistan. . . . Anti-American Afghan forces - Taliban, al-Qaida, and others - have regrouped and are mounting ever larger attacks on US troops and, reports the UN, even re-opening training camps. Taliban mujihadin are using the same sophisticated early alert system they developed to monitor Soviet forces in the 1980's to warn of American search and destroy missions before they leave base. As a result, US troops keep chasing shadows. . . . The ongoing cost of Afghan operations is a closely guarded secret. Earlier this year, the cost of stationing 8,000 US troops, backed by warplanes and naval units, was estimated at US $5 billion monthly! . . . CIA spends millions every month to bribe Pushtun warlords. Costs will rise as the US expands bases in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan - all placed along the planned US owned pipeline that will bring Central Asian oil south through Afghanistan. . . . The UN reports Taliban and al-Qaida on the offensive, Afghan women remain veiled, and the country in a dangerous mess. Declaring victory in Afghanistan may have been premature.

posted by Lorenzo 12:34 PM

Monday, January 13, 2003

Arab boycott of American consumer goods spreads
(David Pallister, The Guardian, January 8, 2003)
An informal Arab boycott of American consumer goods has been slowly gathering pace around the Middle East over the past two years as a protest against US support for Israel. . . . Some US companies have reported a drop in sales of between 25 and 40%. The targets include McDonald's and Burger King, Tide and Ariel detergents, Pampers nappies, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Marlboro cigarettes, Hasbro toys, L'Oréal, Johnson & Johnson, Timberland, Starbucks and Heinz. . . . Two of the six McDonald's franchises in Jordan have closed for lack of business and KFC and McDonald's branches in the Omani capital Muscat said sales had fallen by up to 65%. . . . been given added impetus by declarations from Muslim scholars like Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi of Qatar and Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah. He has called on Arabs to replace US products with European and Asian goods in appreciation of the political support of those countries. . . . In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, preacher Sheikh Omar bin Saeed al-Badna has preached that the boycott would be good for the kingdom's local economy. . . . In Beirut, students have protested outside the city's four Starbucks shops, with leaflets spelling out the pro-Israeli sentiments of its chief executive, Howard Shultz, and claiming he is "an active Zionist". . . . The Egyptian Doctors' Syndicate, in what it accepts is a symbolic protest, has sent doctors and pharmacies a list of US-made medical products with alternative local or European products. . . . in Syria, which has one of the more active coordinated campaigns, the government has formally endorsed it.

posted by Lorenzo 5:47 PM

Best get used to war
(Michael Howard, The Guardian, January 13, 2003)
But in 19th-century Germany a different analysis had been developed by Hegel and his disciples. As the state had come into being through war, they argued, so it could only survive through war. . . . This is Bobbitt's starting point: "Law and strategy," he writes, "are mutually affecting." Legitimacy itself "is a constitutional idea that is sensitive to strategic events" - not least to one so cataclysmic as losing a war. Nevertheless, although wars create states, it is the state that creates legitimacy and it is legitimacy that maintains "peace." If states can no longer maintain their legitimacy, there will be another war, the outcome of which will create a new legitimacy. To ignore the legal aspect of international order is a recipe for permanent war preached by Hitler. To ignore the strategic aspect, as did Woodrow Wilson, is at best to forfeit the capacity to create an international order reflecting one's own value system; at worst, to see it destroyed. . . . So as the development of guns had destroyed the feudal order, and the development of railways the dynastic order, now the development of computers has destroyed the nation-state. Now nation-states are mutating into what Bobbitt terms "market states". Bobbitt provides no single scenario for the future but multiples: we are required to choose among a range of dystopias. We are also required to choose among a range of possible wars, because Bobbitt is under no illusion that market-states will provide perpetual peace. At worst there may be cataclysms, at best a continuation of the low-key global violence to which we have become accustomed over the past 10 years and from which not even the most powerful communities will be able to escape. The best they can do is reduce their vulnerability, and the only victory they can look forward to is avoidance of defeat. . . . Bobbitt believes that mankind could be facing a tragedy without precedent in its history. It is not clear that he is wrong.

posted by Lorenzo 5:26 PM

Friday, January 10, 2003

Who Wudda Thunk it...

posted by A Curmudgeon 10:41 PM

A Year in the Life of the New World Order: Reflections on 2002 and Projections for 2003
By Mike Schelstrate
It is time to reflect on the events of the past year, and consider what may be on the horizon for the upcoming year. The year 2002 was an active year for the Globalists. Further planning and preparation for the next phase of the takeover of America, and establishment of the New World Order, continued at a breakneck pace. A series of major distractions included the string of widely publicized child kidnappings, a sniper attack in the Washington corridor, and culminated with the Trent Lott debacle. 2002 was also the year of the rollout of Northern Command, the reorganization of the domestic military complex that will enable the government to take complete control of the population using foreign troops within days. The most important story of the year is the passage of the Homeland Security Act. This horrendous decimation of the constitution breezed through the lame-duck session of Congress without even a cursory glance at the contents by our representatives.

...first major prediction is that Israel will attack Iraq, possibly with a nuclear device. The Bush war hawks in the Pentagon had planned war with Iraq long before he took control of the presidential office. This is documented fact. Their goal is not only toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein. A complete makeover of the Middle East is the desired result for this aggression. The only remaining decision is how to convince the public that they are justified in this upcoming attack.

The other major prediction that my investigations have uncovered is that there will be another extremely severe “terrorist” attack larger than September 11 this year. Where this event may occur is unknown at this time. My personal opinion is that Western Europe is the most likely location.

*****Knowing not a thing about the credibility of the author and the possibility, ne likelihood, that the wackos are starting to come out of the woodwork more each day, I still have to look at what this fellow is saying and scratch my head...wondering how much sense it makes and whether he bears listening to, or not...*****

posted by A Curmudgeon 10:31 PM

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Think Muslim, drink Muslim, says new rival to Coke
(Jon Henley and Jeevan Vasagar, The Guardian, January 8, 2003)
The world's biggest soft drinks manufacturer is being targeted by Muslim campaigners because of its economic ties with Israel and because the war on terror has made all American brands a focus for resentment in the Muslim world. . . . The makers of Mecca-Cola are taking advantage of this by promising that 10% of the profits will go to a Palestinian children's charity. "Don't drink stupid," reads Mecca-Cola's label, "drink committed." . . . Mr Mathlouthi told the Guardian he now had orders for 16m bottles of Mecca-Cola. "Demand has been phenomenal." . . . He described Britain as "a huge market for us, which will soon be bigger even than France. We have just signed a contract to send 20 lorries a month - that's about 2m bottles - to Britain . . . Mecca's marketing originally targeted thousands of small épiceries in France's predominantly Muslim, neighbourhoods. "I was counting on the Arab and Muslim community, on honest people who wanted to contribute to a non-violent cause by allowing people to buy alternatives to American products," he said. . . . Coke's reputation in the Arab world has been shaky since it opened the first franchised soft drinks plant in Israel in the 1960s, and activists have made repeated calls for boycotts. Coca-Cola bosses acknowledge the current boycott has made an impact on sales in the Middle East. Now the protest is spreading to Europe. . . . Masood Shadjareh, chairman of the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission, which is backing calls to shun US brands, predicted huge interest in the new brand. "The Muslim community is targeting Coca-Cola because people feel that the only thing they can do is to hit America economically," he said.

posted by Lorenzo 8:16 AM

Islamic Women Vote in Historic Bahrain Election
(The Good News Network)
The first legislative elections in Bahrain in thirty years were a landmark for women as the tiny Islamic island kingdom became the first ever Gulf Arab state to allow women the right to vote and run for national office. . . . Despite a voter boycott by activist groups disillusioned that the reforms did not go far enough, turn out at the polls was higher than expected and peaceful. Leaders of the boycott praised the King for adopting a constitution that allows dissenting views and called the elections a “positive step” toward governance rooted in freedom.

posted by Lorenzo 8:09 AM

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Sweden Offers Free-speech Refuge To U.S. Officials
(Dennis Hans,, 12-11-02 . . . this is a parody, but I wish it was true :-)
Intimidated bureaucrats regain their voice as protected guests of a genuinely democratic regime.
Blaine Williams [former CIA analyst] is the first of dozens of former U.S. government employees expected to take refuge in Sweden over the next several months, courtesy of a bold project of the new social democratic government. . . . "Swedes have always been generous in providing economic aid to countries with underdeveloped economies," said Erland Carlsson, the parliamentarian who conceived the Palme Plan. "But we've done little to promote democratic development in underdeveloped democracies." . . . Some leaders of underdeveloped democracies have welcomed Sweden's "democracy teams," encouraging their efforts to create a culture of candor and transparency in the corridors of power. Those efforts comprise the overt component of the Palme Plan. . . . "Palme believed that if the national security bureaucracy had not been cowed into silence in the face of a torrent of deceit from a determined White House, the U.S. would never have invaded and destroyed Vietnam. . . . The White House has squelched dissent, imposed conformity and silence, demanded skewed analyses to justify its hard line, and repeatedly exaggerated or falsified intelligence information to inflate the Saddam threat. . . . What most alarmed the Swedish MP was that none of the analysts were willing to be quoted by name. Some were too frightened even to be quoted anonymously. . . . "I couldn't help thinking that if these informed, respected patriots could raise their voices openly and in unison, they'd stop the administration's chicken hawks in their tracks," . . . "We'll offer U.S. bureaucrats and their families safe passage to Sweden and a secure environment from which they can speak freely and publicly to the folks back home. They can stay here at our expense until a climate of openness and honesty prevails in the Bush administration." . . . In addition to Williams, 28 other bureaucrats and their families are en route to Stockholm. All were spirited out of Washington by a team of Swedish secret agents who had honed their rescue skills in Yugoslavia and the Congo. . . . "I can assure you," Williams told Swedish viewers, "that no one at CIA believes a word Bush said. What's more, no one at CIA believes that Bush believes a word Bush said." . . . Strong words, and Williams anticipates an echo chamber as more of Sweden's newest residents regain their voice. But he wonders if members of the U.S. news media, particularly those he calls "the boobs on the tube," will dare to listen.

posted by Lorenzo 9:43 AM

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Sowing seeds of hatred
(Dr M S Jillani, September 19, 2002)
The picture described above should not be seen with coloured glasses. It is based upon questions that occur to observers of global power politics in the context of growing competition in a world with limited resources. Since the natural endowments are being depleted fast, their habitual consumers and wasters are looking for possessions which would guarantee the supply of needed merchandise for some time to come. President Bush's address to the General Assembly, if seen in the light of these compulsions makes the matter very grave. Marauders looking for resources to maintain and enhance their life-style can adopt deadly means. What happened to Red Indians in America, or to their environment, or to the aborigines in Australia are examples of unprincipled atrocities that can be unleashed upon original proprietors of resources. . . . Analysis apart, the fact remains that the West is threatening the Muslim world without naming it. . . . Many more such indictments can be framed against Iraq, and for that matter any country. By this time, everybody knows that Mr Bush has some 'secret' reason to attack Iraq irrespective of support at the UN Security Council. There does not seem to exist much patience in the US administration for giving negotiations or the compliance with the United Nations resolutions a chance to avoid bloodshed of innocent civilians (Mr Saddam Hussein does not dwell in the middle of a desert or the Antarctic). One only hopes that the price of misadventures against Iraq and terrorists (read Muslims) has been calculated. Aggression against any Muslim country will only produce more terrorists, aggravate anti-US sentiments, push friends of the United States into a corner and lead to polarisation which could destabilise a large part of the world by making its people insecure.

posted by Lorenzo 1:05 PM

Bush Is A Threat To World Peace - Nobel Author Grass
(Gunter Grass, Rense,com, January 4, 2003)
WamS: Mr Grass, what is your impression of George W Bush? . . . Grass: I regard this man as dangerous, a threat to world peace. He reminds me of one of those figures in Shakespeare's historical dramas, whose only ambition is to come before his father--the old, dying king--to step up and say, "Look, I finished your project!" He is determined to bring the Gulf War to a higher level of completion by instigating a second one, Bush jr is guided by private, familial motives: he is driven by what he inherited by his father. Also Bush's economic interests play a role. The family is deeply involved in the business of oil. Above all, what's behind the push for a war with Iraq are political and economic interests. . . . After the collapse of socialism, capitalism remained without a rival. This unusual situation unleashed its greedy and--above all--its suicidal power. The belief is now that everything--and everyone--is fair game. On the stock exchange what happens next is nothing more or less than the destruction of Capital--and with it the destruction of industry, jobs, and human resources. If a firm announces a lay-off of 200 workers, their stock price climbs. That is insanity! The present form of market-blind Capitalism has brought forth its own enemy, its own Frankenstein monster. This system could collapse any day.

posted by Lorenzo 7:44 AM

Act now against war
(George Monbiot, The Guardian, January 7, 2003)
Unless the UN inspectors find something before January 27, this will be a war without even the flimsiest of pretexts: an unprovoked attack whose purpose is to enhance the wealth and power of an American kleptocracy. Far from promoting peace, it could be the first in a series of imperial wars. The gravest global crisis since the end of the cold war is three weeks away, and most of us seem to be asking why someone else doesn't do something about it. . . . Bush knows that the Americans' approval of his war depends, in part, upon its credibility overseas: opinion polls have shown that many of those who would support an international attack would withdraw that support if they perceived that the US was acting alone. An international attack, in this case, means an attack supported by Britain. If Blair pulled out, Bush could be forced to think again. Blair will pull out only if he perceives that the political cost of sticking with Bush is greater than the cost of deserting him. Bush's war, in other words, depends upon our indifference. . . . Even if we cannot stop the attack upon Iraq, we must ensure that it becomes so politically costly that there will never be another like it. And this means that the usual demos will no longer suffice. . . . CND and the Stop the War Coalition have suggested an hour's stoppage on the day after the war begins. Many activists are now talking about building on this, and seeking to provoke wider strike action - even a general strike. . . . But peaceful, well-focused and widespread nuisance, even if it irritates other members of the public, forces the issue to the front of people's minds, and ensures that no one can contemplate the war without also contemplating the opposition to the war. We must oblige people to recognise that something unprecedented in recent times is taking place, that Bush, assisted by Blair's moral slipstreaming, is seeking to summon a war from a largely peaceful world. We will fail unless we stage a political drama commensurate with the scale of the threat. . . . there comes a point at which political commitment is meaningless unless you are prepared to act on it. . . . But if our action is confined to shaking our heads at the television set, Blair might as well have a universal mandate. Are you out there? Or are you waiting for someone else to act on your behalf?

posted by Lorenzo 7:25 AM

Monday, January 06, 2003

assertions of liberty in support of an uncensored internet
[Note: If you don't already know about website you will be well-served to check it out. The following is from their "About" page.]
DEEPLY ALARMED that state-sponsored censorship of the Internet is rapidly spreading with the assistance of transnational corporations . . . "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers" . . . CONCERNED that governments and transnationals are colluding to maintain the status quo . . . WE ARE CONVINCED that the international hacking community has a moral imperative to act, and we DECLARE:






Issued July 4, 2001 by Hacktivismo and the CULT OF THE DEAD COW.

posted by Lorenzo 11:25 AM

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Time for some introspection from the Brits...who always seem to be able to put things in their proper perspective...such as:
No more heroes
People have been complaining for years that the British honours system is an anachronistic charade, designed for elitist days of empire, when patronage and status were very important. To remedy this, in recent years honours have been awarded to 'ordinary people'... This is meant to inject a little democratic spirit into the whole affair. ...another change? Rather than rewarding heroism, the honours system is seemingly becoming about celebrating victimhood.

Do mention the War
In the week 22 to 28 December, on terrestrial [British] TV alone, moviewise we had The First of the Few, Operation Daybreak, In Harm's Way, Films Hell is for Heroes, They were Expendable, Action in the North Atlantic, Dad's Army, The Great Escape and Casablanca. Documentaries included Glenn Miller's Last Flight, The Battle of the Hood and Bismarck: Sink the Bismarck! and The Battle of the Hood and Bismarck: Mighty Hood. Channel 5 had a 'Heroes of World War Two Night', and throughout, and still going as I write this, two instalments of The World At War every morning.

and finally...

Is it a bird, a plane - or a bore?
There is at present a new Superman movie in the pipeline. Called the Death of Superman, it will herald the Man of Steel's long-awaited return to the big screen. And what a time to do it. 'Now, more than ever, we need our heroes', said Jim Hambrick, a collector of Superman memorabilia, in The Times (London) last week. 'Since September 11 the appreciation for those who protect others has had a tremendous impact on [the image of] Superman, because he is directly associated with all that.' I disagree. The last thing we need now is the return of that airborne social worker in fancy dress telling us how to live our lives. The Superman I remember from comics and films was a dull, pious man who went around telling people not to drink and smoke. While one of his greatest foes was Nick O'Teen (surely coded anti-Irishness?), in Superman III, when he turns bad, the audience knows things are wrong because he is shown, gasp, drinking whiskey in a bar and making advances to a woman. Superman is the embodiment of Puritan America.

posted by A Curmudgeon 9:06 AM

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