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Bush "Surge" Successful - in Shifting Violence Elsewhere

by Jim Lobe Sectarian violence and attacks on U.S. forces have also become so intense over the past two months in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, that U.S. commanders felt compelled in March to divert hundreds of soldiers from elsewhere in the country

In Baqouba, Al-Qaeda Reigns

by Dahr Jamail Refugees from Baqouba city who have now found shelter in Damascus describe their hometown as a 'dead city' where armed men roam the streets and al-Qaeda reigns

Iraq's Yazidi Minority Demand Protection

'Our community has been forgotten and has been threatened on a daily basis. We don't have anywhere to go and if things continue as they are, the only thing we can do is to wait for someone to kill us in the coming months'

Target Global Warming, Target Exxon

by Paul Rogat Loeb The arguments emerge from the standard echo chamber of Hannity, Rush, and Fox News. But the spokespeople who articulate them in these venues -- and others more mainstream -- have been overwhelmingly sponsored by Exxon

Is Global Warming a Sin?'

by Alexander Cockburn There is still zero empirical evidence that anthropogenic production of carbon dioxide is making any measurable contribution to the world's present warming trend. The greenhouse fearmongers rely on unverified, crudely oversimplified models to finger mankind's sinful contribution -- and carbon trafficking, just like the old indulgences, is powered by guilt, credulity, cynicism and greed

How to Stop the Next Campus Killings

by Alexander Cockburn Cho Seung-Hui was on a prescription drug for his psychological problems. What exactly it was has not yet been disclosed, though the likelihood of it being an anti-depressant is high, since doctors on campuses dispense prescriptions for them like confetti

World Bank's Corruption Fighters Say Wolfowitz Undermining Credibility

by Emad Mekay Dozens of World Bank employees in a department entrusted with charting anti-corruption policies weighed in Thursday on the nepotism scandal surrounding Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, saying that their credibility was wearing away because of the escalating controversy

Rudy's White House Hopes Dogged by New Wife's Old Job

by Alexander Cockburn Americans like their First Family to have a dog. They think it means at least one honest creature is lodged at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Nixon used to put sesame seeds in the turn-ups of his trousers so his spaniel, King Timahoe, would nuzzle him in public. Giuliani has been saying that as president, he would regard Judi as co-president -- present at cabinet meetings, her hand next to his on the driving wheel. There are a lot of dog lovers who now see Judi's hand as one grasping an instrument of dog torture, unfit for any high calling

Israeli PM Olmert Approval Rate at 2%

by Peter Hirschberg The vast majority of Israelis believe that Olmert badly mismanaged the war and that the military's inability to halt Hezbollah rocket fire damaged Israel's deterrent image not only in the eyes of the Arab states, but also in the eyes of its allies, especially the United States.

Cheney's Daughter Rages Against Syria

by Jim Lobe Just a week after Vice President Dick Cheney accused Congress' senior Democrat and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi of bad behavior for visiting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, his daughter and former senior State Department official, Elizabeth Cheney, called Thursday for a global diplomatic embargo against Damascus

1 in 3 Native Women Sexually Assaulted

by Jim Lobe Native American women are at least 2.5 times as likely to be sexually assaulted in their lifetime as other women in the United States, according to a major new report by Amnesty International

U.S. Meddling a Major Factor in Somalia Crisis

by Ivan Eland The U.S. media have focused to date almost exclusively on the rising Islamist movement in Somalia and U.S. 'covert' assistance to the Ethiopian invasion that supported Somalia's transitional government against the stronger Islamists. The media should be focusing on one of the major causes of the Somali mess: U.S. government meddling

Pundits Should Take a Clue From Jon Stewart

by Steve Young The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz said that McCain 'didn't necessarily lose' by his performance on this week's 'Daily Show.' Maybe, if you call not being able to justify your own 'beliefs' not necessarily losing . But Kurtz not appreciating the importance of the job Stewart did and McCain's incapability to 'stand behind his beliefs,' was his own loss

Who Will Replace Imus?

by Steve Young Don Imus's replacement has yet to be named but my guess it will be someone with a no-risk, good-natured approach who has never offended anyone (on the left). And we need look no further that Radio's top talk show hosts; to those who have never ventured into the need-to-be-made-an-example-of territory because they know better than to joke about minorities.

Newsweek's Shocking Ignorance of Shock Jocks

by Steve Young Shock jocks are tasteless for the sake of tastelessness. Other than the 'shock' itself the material has no value at all. Picture Andrew Dice Clay on the radio. In effect, other than their rancor and boorishness, there is no there, there. That doesn't mean there can't be political shock jocks ala the SJ template: Michael Savage. Glen Beck is trying hard but shock jockeying calls for a bit more pithy calculation and Beck doesn't seem smart enough to jump through that hoop.

Was That Really You, Geraldo?

by Steve Young Like a pair of aggrieved bears, O'Reilly and Geraldo roared at each other over a recent drunk-driving fatal crash in Virginia. Bill had already turned the tragedy into a political hammer to nail illegal aliens. Geraldo took eye-popping-out umbrage that Bill would take advantage of someone else's misery to make political hay. Perhaps Geraldo had never watched Bill's show before or actually listened to the words coming out of Bill's mouth when he was a guest

Virgina Tech Killings Came Day After NRA Convention Warning of Massacre

by Michael Winship Over the next days and weeks and months, there will be much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments but what will be done? If the past is any guide, the majority who favor stricter control will in all likelihood be shouted down by the vitriol, and the electoral and lobbying money power, of the well-armed few. Oh well, we all too probably will say. Until the next time. And the time after that. Unless we make a noise. Now

Pentagon Told Defense Contractor to Hire Wolfowitz' Companion

by Emad Mekay An unidentified U.S. Defense Department official directed subordinates to hire four specific outside contractors for Iraq-related work, including Shaha Riza, the girlfriend of then-Deputy Secretary of Defense and current World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz

Global Media, Activists, Call for Wolfowitz's Ouster

by Emad Mekay 'Don't try to make Africa his saving grace,' said Njoki Njoroge Njehu, executive director of Nairobi-based Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Center. 'African politicians do African peoples no favors by making excuses for corruption and for the corrupt; Wolfowitz must resign'

Iraqis Dying From Lack of Basic Emergency Services

There is also a shortage of ambulances and ambulance drivers to transfer patients to hospitals during attacks. The emergency services often depend on civilians, who typically lack any medical knowledge, to transport the injured to nearby hospitals. Sometimes, by the time they reach hospitals the injured are dead simply because they were put in a car incorrectly, doctors say

1 in 10 Russian Deaths Linked to Drug, Alcohol Abuse

by Kester Kenn Klomegah Almost 100,000 people die annually in Russia directly from drug overdoses and abuse, the Federal Drug Control Service (FDCS) has said, with some 90,000 people annually die of poisoning with psychoactive substances

Wolfowitz Scandal Takes Bank Hypocrisy to New Heights

by Sameer Dossani Over the years, the World Bank's hypocrisy has been so extreme as to be taken for granted. The ironies of talking about ending global poverty, interest rates and export policies while staying at five-star hotels and attending lavishly catered meetings do get a bit tiresome for Bank-watchers like me to keep pointing out. But the latest developments involving World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz and his former partner, Shaha Riza, take this everyday hypocrisy to new heights

World Bank Headquarters in Crisis Mode Over Wolfowitz

by Emad Mekay There is a crisis atmosphere at World Bank headquarters here in Washington, with dozens of emergency staff meetings, more calls for the embattled president Paul Wolfowitz to step down, and clearer displays of rebellion inside the Bank

Americans Have Weak Grasp of Current Affairs, Survey Finds

by Jim Lobe Despite the emergence of 24-hour cable television news and fast-growing use of internet news sources, the U.S. public's knowledge of national and international personalities and issues is little changed from nearly 20 years ago

Remembering Yeltsin: Hero, Clown, War Criminal

by Julio Godoy Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev summed it best when he spoke of Yeltsin as 'a tragic destiny.' Yeltsin had 'major deeds for the good as well as serious mistakes behind him,' Gorbachev said

Abortion No Longer a Crime in Mexico City

by Diego Cevallos The decriminalization of abortion in the city enjoys a high level of support despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of Mexicans profess Roman Catholicism, whose leaders excommunicate those who practice abortion

Baghdad Walls Will Only Increase Violence, Iraqis Say

Abu Ahmed, who claims to be a spokesman for insurgent group the Islamic Army, said that the construction of concrete barriers would not stop them fighting U.S. troops and those who support them. 'They want to divide the country by sects and also they have this idea that by isolating districts it will make it easier to catch Muslim fighters. The government is deeply wrong because it will just make us stronger'

Arctic Ice Retreating 30 Years Ahead of Projections

Arctic sea ice is melting much more quickly than projected by even the most advanced computer models, a new government funded study has found. Comparing actual ice observations with climate models, the scientists conclude that the Arctic could be seasonally free of sea ice as early as 2020

Thousands of Afghans Protest Coalition Killings

by Abdul Samad Rohani and S. Mudassir Ali Shah On April 30, thousands of furious people took to the streets to denounce a 'cold blooded massacre' of dozens of civilians by coalition troops in western Herat provinces, which has been relatively calm

DHS Holding Families With Children in Prison-Like Conditions

by Megan McKenna The recent string of raids to net and jail the undocumented is part of a new strategy that targets immigrant families, including asylum-seekers, in the name of national security. The separation of parents from their children that has resulted in many cases has led to a nationwide outcry and a recognition that we need to re-examine how we treat immigrants in detention, particularly families

U.S. Bagdad Crackdown Only Increasing Stature of Muqtada al-Sadr

by Amir Soltani Sheikholeslami Single-handedly, President Bush has converted Muqtada al-Sadr into a giant. A political neophyte dismissed by Iraqis as a zatut (an ignoramous), lacking religious standing or academic credentials, condemned for issuing fatwas sanctifying looting in Baghdad and suspected of the murder of Ayatollah Khoei's son, Muqtada al-Sadr would not have a tongue or a leg to stand on were it not for his ability to conceal his own crimes under a vast pool of blood. After every military confrontation -- even those where the Mahdi's army incurred heavy losses in Najaf and Karbala in 2004 -- he has been able to capitalize on the corpse of the dead to boost his power, popularity and prestige

Army Fast Becoming "Broken," Say Military Brass

by Jim Lobe An increasing number of senior retired officers, some of whom had previously expressed optimism that the active-duty force of some 500,000 soldiers could handle U.S. commitments in the 'global war on terror,' now say the current situation today reminds them of 1980, when the service's top officer, Gen. Edward Meyer, publicly declared that the country had a 'hollow Army'

Iraqis Blame U.S. for Baghdad Bloody Wednesday

by Ali al-Fadhily U.S. leaders and Iraqi government officials again accused terrorists and the Saddamists of the bombing. But many people around Baghdad are blaming the occupation forces and the U.S.-backed Iraqi government. 'We do not know who is killing us, but we do know who is responsible for our safety,' Kaka Kadir, who lost a 15-year-old son in the attack

To Drill or Not to Drill Off the Florida Coast

by Mark Weisenmiller No one person, organization or government department seems to know for certain how much natural gas and undiscovered oil lies beneath the Gulf of Mexico -- the location of the drilling area for the proposed Craig-Dorgan bill -- but a 'best guess' estimate is that the outer-rim continental section of the body of water has an estimated 86 billion barrels

PBS Yanks Show on "Islamism" at Last Minute

by Khody Akhavi 'The writing is alarmist and overreaching without adequate context and specific information to justify the tone and degree of generalization,' wrote Crossroads series producer Leo Eaton to Gaffney in an evaluation of the documentary's final cut. 'There are awkwardly phrased assertions, convoluted reasoning, and implications of connections between subjects without evidence'

Baghdad Refugees Speak of Escape from Hell

by Dahr Jamail Hussein, who left three months back, described Baghdad as a city of ghosts where black banners of death announcements can be seen hanging on most streets. The city, he said, lives on an hour of electricity a day, and there are no jobs to be had

Historic Peace Deal for Northern Ireland

by Sanjay Suri For DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to come together at a table to talk power sharing in a new government is necessarily historic. And if they can, so can others in conflict situations that have seemed impossible to resolve

A Selective Definition of Voter Fraud

by Joe Conason Harassing minority voters with bogus claims of fraud is a venerable GOP tradition, as anyone familiar with the career of the late Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist must know. Back in the early '60s, when Rehnquist was just another ambitious lawyer in Arizona, he ran a partisan campaign to confront black and Hispanic voters over their 'qualifications.' Along with many of today's generation of Republican leaders, he was a stalwart of the 1964 Goldwater campaign, which garnered its handful of Southern electoral votes by opposing the Voting Rights Act

Jesse's Nod Won't Help Obama

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Jesse Jackson's recent endorsement of Barack Obama for president matters less among black voters than strategies for dealing with key issues in the African-American community such as unemployment, health care and prison reform

President Bubble

by Michael Winship The bubble even afflicts powerful folks not in government, like Don Imus. Had he emerged from bubbledom and listened to his better angels, rather than his egregious producer Bernard McGuirk or the publicity-eager media mavens and politicos who worshipped at his airwave altar, he might yet be spouting invective, touting candidates and best sellers and raking in cash for CBS and NBC

Rapper Snoop Dogg Also Deserves Imus Treatment

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Within hours of Imus ladling out his bile against the Rutgers women, my mailbox filled up with these postings demanding his scalp. Yet, I have not received one angry email since Snoop made his 'B' and 'H' dig against Imus. I haven't heard any outraged calls for Geffen to pull the album, or threats of a boycott if they don't. I've heard no denunciations from Sharpton, Jackson or the National Association of Black Journalists, and not a peep from women's groups about him

Nothing Unique About Imus' Race Trash Talk

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Even if Imus had made a sincere, bare-the-chest, heartfelt apology it wouldn't amount to much. That's the standard ploy that shock jocks, GOP bigwigs, and assorted public personalities employ when they get caught with their racial pants down. On a few occasions, the offenders have been reprimanded, suspended, and even dumped. However, that's rare. Imus has been syndicated on dozens of stations for more than a decade by MSNBC. Though the network gently distanced itself from Imus, it won't likely show him the broadcast door

U.S. Ignored Car Bomb Deaths in Touting Drop in Iraq Violence

by Eli Clifton The Bush administration and proponents of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq have claimed that the increased military presence in Baghdad and al-Anbar province has reduced sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and lowered civilian casualties. But not all of the numbers are being included. It has emerged that the Bush administration does not count car bombing victims among Iraq's civilian casualties and the Iraqi government is withholding from the United Nations its statistics on Iraqi casualties

Massacre Exposes America's Campus Violence

by Earl Ofari Hutchinson The 23 murders or non-negligent manslaughters that have taken place on American campuses was only the tip of iceberg of campus violence. Only 25 percent of the violent crimes were actually reported. A significant number of faculty and students flatly told the researchers that they actually feared for their safety. One of their biggest fears was gun violence

Stunned Korean American Community Reacts to Virginia Tech Shootings

by Aruna Lee While the tragedy at Virginia Tech has stunned the nation, for the Korean-American community the news that the shooter was one of their own has caused both shock and humiliation. Many say they fear a backlash against Koreans in retaliation for the murders

Democrats' Timetable Allows Iraq War to Continue Indefinitely

by Gareth Porter The language on a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq voted out of the House-Senate conference committee this week contains large loopholes that would apparently allow U.S. troops to continue carrying out military operations in Iraq's Sunni heartland indefinitely

Wolfowitz Hires Lawyer, Begs for More Time

by Emad Mekay Off balance for weeks, Wolfowitz announced his latest move in a message he sent to his staff early Tuesday, asking for their 'continued patience'

Canada Backs off Global Warming Pledge

by Stephen Leahy Environmentalists are criticizing a Canadian proposal to reduce greenhouse houses by 20 percent by 2020, saying the proposal is even weaker than last year's 'green plan,' which was widely rejected

Arab Leaders Propose Another Land-for-Peace Deal With Israel

by Thalif Deen A new initiative on the existing agreement, this time by Saudi Arabia, once again calls on Israel to return all lands captured in the 1967 war; the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem; and the right of Palestinians to return to their homes in what is now Israel. In return, the Israelis will be guaranteed permanent peace and diplomatic recognition of their nation state

Supreme Ct: We Won't Consider Habeas Corpus for Gitmo, but Maybe Later

by William Fisher The human rights community has responded angrily to the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the cases of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba until they have exhausted all other legal avenues. The effect of the high court's decision Monday is to deny civil judicial review to the 300-plus prisoners still held at the controversial U.S. military base until their cases have gone through the process set up by the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), which allows limited civil court appeals of decisions reached by military review panels

Basra Split Between Warring Shiite

by Ali al-Fadhily Oil-rich Basra in the south of Iraq is getting caught up in an increasingly more fierce battle between warring Shia groups. A group led by anti-occupation Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who recently ordered his politicians to quit the Iraqi government in a defiance of the U.S.-led occupation, has said his group will no more accept Basra Governor Mohammad al-Wai'ili because he is a member of the Shia al-Fadhila Party

Hundreds of Thousands Protest Occupation Anniversary in S Iraq

by Ali al-Fadhily Demonstrations against the occupation and the United States by hundreds of thousands of angry Shias in Najaf, Kut and other cities across the south Apr. 9 mark a sharp break from a policy of cooperation. Protesters demanded an end to the U.S.-led occupation, burnt U.S. flags and chanted Death to America

Government Insurance Plans Ill-Prepared for Climate Perils

Not only has our federal government thus far failed to take action to prevent the worst consequences of unchecked global warming pollution, but it has failed fundamentally to take reasonable precautions against global warming-induced storms and drought, and the high costs that will be borne by families, businesses and ultimately, taxpayers

Giuliani's Dubious Leadership

by Joe Conason Giuliani's fundamental argument is that 9/11 endowed him with special qualifications for the job he is seeking. During the months and years leading up to 9/11 he made decisions as mayor that would later prove disastrous

McCain's Magic Carpet Ride

by Joe Conason According to McCain, there is always an opportunity to succeed, provided that we are willing to sacrifice thousands more young Americans and hundreds of billions more dollars. But then again, he thinks we didn't expend enough lives and dollars in Vietnam, either

Iraq Medical Waste Resold by Dump Scavengers

'There isn't much blood in the rubbish [so it's safe]. We find some good metal things which we can sell in the market. Some people buy syringes with needles from us. I don't think the needles can harm us because they must have been sterilized already,' Raghed Sarmad told IRIN while rummaging through medical waste left near the main gate of Baghdad's Yarmouk Hospital

Bush Blames the Troops

by Robert Scheer Blame it on the military, but make it look like you're supporting the troops. That's been the convenient gambit of failed emperors throughout history as they witnessed their empires decline. Not surprisingly, then, it's become the standard rhetorical trick employed by President Bush in shirking responsibility for the Iraq debacle of his making

Heck of a Job, Wolfie

by Robert Scheer The long-rumored disarray in Wolfowitz's personal life seems to have surfaced only recently, with the news of an exorbitant bonus for his lover, precisely because there is so much dissatisfaction at the bank. The call for Wolfowitz's dismissal has been raised most forcefully by the bank's officially recognized staff association.

Iraqis Finally Unite -- Against the U.S.

by Robert Scheer Meanwhile, back in liberated Iraq, the anniversary of Saddam Hussein's overthrow was marked by only one sign of public response: In the Shiite holy city of Najaf, hundreds of thousands gathered to burn American flags and otherwise denounce the United States

Supreme Court Makes Tortured Decision

by Robert Scheer On April 2, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down the habeas corpus plea of a Canadian national, captured in Afghanistan when he was 15 years old, because the possible deprivation of his human rights was not conducted on "U.S. soil." The court, with three judges dissenting, cited a law passed by the Republican-controlled Congress last year that the fate of Guantanamo prisoners will be determined by secret military tribunals outside the purview of U.S. courts

UN Left With Job of Cleaning up 1 Million Unexploded Israeli Bombs in Lebanon

byDahr Jamail Close to a million unexploded bombs are estimated to litter southern Lebanon, according to UN forces engaged in the hazardous task of removing them

200,000 Israeli Families Relying on Food Handouts

About 200,000 Israeli families -- 11 percent of the population -- rely on 200 NGOs for their daily meals, according to LATET and Israel's Ministry of Social Affairs. Some NGOs run soup kitchens in poor neighborhoods while others collect food from private and corporate donors and distribute it to the needy. But NGOs say their strong response is counter-productive because it encourages the Israeli government to do less to help its more vulnerable citizens

Does Cheney Have a Problem With Women?

by Michael Winship In the case of Cheney, a curious double standard seems to be at play. Here's a fellow with powerful women in his life: his wife Lynn, a former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, his daughter Elizabeth a former deputy assistant secretary of state. His other daughter, Mary, was a high-ranking aide to her father during the 2004 re-election campaign. You might cringe at their politics but these are not women of small accomplishment (although doubtless helped along their career paths by the incumbent veep). Yet look at the way Vice President Cheney reacted to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- a trip that came amongst similar sorties to Damascus by various Republican congressmen -- visits that went unassailed by Cheney and the White House

Pelosi Makes Syria Visit That Bush Should Have

by Ivan Eland Instead of publicly condemning Speaker Pelosi for carrying out the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's heretofore-languishing recommendation of actually talking to Syria to resolve bilateral issues, the president should be happy that someone in the U.S. government is willing to take risks

Gore Slams Canada's New Climate Plan as "Fraud"

Gore said he was surprised to see that the Conservative plan uses the concept of 'intensity reduction,' which he said is a 'poll-tested phrase' developed in Houston by the so-called think tanks financed by polluters

Neo-Cons Furious Over Peaceful Outcome of Iran Hostage Crisis

by Khody Akhavi It's the consequences of Britain's ostensible 'soft power' approach with Iran that enrage neo-conservative columnists like Charles Krauthammer the most. For him, the 'humiliation' suffered by the British is evidence that the international community and "its great institutions" are a sham, and that multilateralism is a dead end

Final IPCC Report Predicts Catastrophic Future From Climate Change

by Julio Godoy The final version of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released in Brussels warns that without drastic reduction of greenhouse gases, the resulting global warming would decimate flora and fauna, and imperil the lives of hundreds of millions of people. The risks are particularly severe in regions around the Equator, in Africa, the river deltas of South East Asia, the Amazons region in Latin America and in low islands and other territories located near the oceans

Supreme Court: EPA Can Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions

by Jim Lobe What the EPA does with Monday's ruling remains unclear, and some observers, noting that the federal rule-making process can often be dragged out for months or even years, suggested that the agency may well do nothing before the end of Bush's term, 21 months from now. The agency said it was 'reviewing' the decision Monday afternoon. Justice Stevens, the author of the majority opinion, wrote that the agency could still decide against regulating greenhouse emissions but only if it determined that they don't contribute to global warming or provided some other reasonable explanation

Attacks on Pelosi a Flashback to Elliott Abrams' Attack on '87 Speaker

by Jim Lobe It was then-House Speaker Jim Wright who, with the quiet encouragement of Republican realists, notably Reagan's White House chief of staff, Howard Baker, Secretary of State George Shultz and his special Central America envoy, Philip Habib, sought to promote peace-making efforts as the Reagan administration was persisting in its efforts to isolate and overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua

Wolfowitz' Putting Our Worst Foot Forward

by Joe Conason Under the deal set up by her boyfriend, Riza would automatically receive 'outstanding'ratings, with a top position waiting for her on her return to the World Bank as soon as Wolfowitz's term expires. Neo-conservatives apparently believe fervently in merit and competition and hate affirmative action, unless their own careers (or the careers of their lovers) are at stake

Does Bush Restraint on Brit Sailor Hostages Show Tilt to Iran Diplomacy?

by Gareth Porter In the past two weeks, the Bush administration has signaled its keen interest in talks with Iran by its failure to make an issue of the Iranian seizure of 15 British sailors and marines in what the British said was Iraqi territorial waters on Mar. 21. In contrast to its seemingly confrontational approach to Iran in January and February, the administration chose not to exploit the incident to increase tensions

Black Market In Tobacco Making Prisons More Violent

by Dwight E. Abbott At 172,000 convicts, California has the largest prison population in our nation, filled with some of the most criminally sophisticated men and women in this country. Rather than limiting prisoners to smokeless tobacco products only, as most of the other states have done, state officials decided California would be one of only a few states to ban all tobacco products

Philippines Festival Draws Crucifixion Fans Worldwide

by Kalinga Seneviratne The ritual in which penitents drag a wooden cross for almost a mile culminates in their being nailed to a wooden cross rigged up atop a makeshift Calvary. The only concession to the original are nails made of stainless steel and soaked in alcohol to ward off infections and cloth straps around limbs for additional support. Penitents are taken down only when they feel cleansed of their sins. Scores of other shirtless male penitents also converge on the hill, blood oozing from their backs from whipping

Iraq's Enforced Democracy

by Stephen Zunes The failures of Iraqi democratization as advocated by the Bush administration should not be blamed primarily on the Iraqis. Nor should they be used to reinforce racist notions that Arabs or Muslims are somehow incapable of building democratic institutions and living in a democratic society. Rather, democracy from the outset has been more of a self-serving rationalization for American strategic and economic interests in the region than a genuine concern for the right of the Iraq people to democratic self-governance

Israeli Documentary Reveals Egyptian POWs Slaughtered After 1967 War

by Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani Israeli Television's Channel One aired a documentary film Feb. 26 about the Arab-Israeli war of June 1967 titled Unit Shakid. The film made the claim that Israeli soldiers -- under the command of current Israeli infrastructure minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer -- massacred some 250 unarmed Egyptian POWs in the immediate wake of the conflict

Bush Fails to Find Backing From Mideast Sunni Leaders

by Jim Lobe At the Arab League summit in Riyadh, Saudi King Abdullah, on whom the administration in recent months has come increasingly to rely for rallying the region's 'moderates' against the Iran-led 'Quartet of Evil,' shocked official Washington when, in his opening remarks, he called the U.S. military presence in Iraq an 'illegitimate foreign occupation'

Enviros Target Nestle Bottled Water Operations

by Eli Clifton Nestle has consistently failed to obtain explicit consent from communities affected by bottling operations at nearby water sources that serve the communities' water needs, says The Sierra Club, which urges the company to allow communities to vote with regards to Nestle's activities and ensure that the company does not use its disproportionate power to influence the communities' decisions

Asians Waited Anxiously on News of Virginia Tech Identity

by Andrew Lam 'Every time there's an incident like this, every ethnic group is on pins and needles,' said Khalil Abdullah, an African-American colleague. An Anglo shooter may be an individual, a loner, but God forbid if a person of color goes on a shooting rampage. His whole tribe would be implicated. 'I still recall my aunts when President Kennedy was assassinated. They were praying that it wasn't a Negro.' Many ethnic communities do not feel that they belong to the core of the American fabric, Abdullah added. 'The action of an individual can cancel out the good image of an entire group'

Iran Hardliners Split Over Release of Brit Sailors

by Kimia Sanati Reformists have been criticizing the government of Ahmadinejad throughout the twelve day standoff -- as much as strict media censorship would allow -- for mismanagement. While stressing Iran's right to be sensitive to its territorial rights and welcoming the release of the sailors, reformists generally maintain that the crisis escalated unnecessarily and could have been avoided or managed and ended more gracefully, efficiently and at less cost for Iran

Wolfowitz Deflects Questions About Role in Scandal

by Emad Mekay As the World Bank handed out a communique that talked about transparency and equity, beleaguered Bank President Paul Wolfowitz deflected a barrage of questions from journalists seeking more information about allegations of nepotism involving a Bank employee who is personally involved with him

Neo-Con Allies Regroup Behind Wolfowitz

Analysis by Emad Mekay Right-wing publications that have previously backed Wolfowitz's crusade promoting the war on Iraq have also come to his aid, citing a new campaign he is leading. David Frum, a fellow neo-conservative and a former presidential speech writer for President Bush, wrote in the National Review Online, a neo-conservative outlet, asking for understanding

Wolfowitz Gave Top Jobs to Iraq War Backers

by Emad Mekay and Jim Lobe Persistent efforts by Wolfowitz to recruit a new country manager for Iraq despite concerns over staff security there -- as well as the Bank's attempts last month to suppress reports about an incident in which a Bank employee was injured in Baghdad, apparently to avoid derailing his recruitment efforts -- have lent credence to critics' charges that he has been more than eager to line up the institution and its resources behind U.S. policy there

World Bank Staff Seeks Wolfowitz's Ouster

by Emad Mekay The association said it feared that the Board may not act quickly enough, and called for the release of all relevant documents, including a memorandum from Wolfowitz to the human resources vice president instructing him to second Riza to the U.S. State Department on a generous package that brought her salary to $193,000 a year -- $7,000 more than that earned by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Wolfowitz Denies Cutting Funds for World Bank Contraception

by Emad Mekay Despite denials by World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz Thursday, newly disclosed internal documents indicate that the Bank may have in fact reversed a longstanding policy of promoting family planning on his watch

Wolfowitz's Nepotism Deals Began While at Pentagon

by Emad Mekay The nepotism controversy besetting World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and his long-time partner and colleague Shaha Riza heightened Monday with new revelations that Riza may have had a history of flouting Bank rules while financially benefiting from jobs associated with Wolfowitz's former post at the Pentagon

Wolfowitz Accused of Nepotism at World Bank

by Emad Mekay A controversial raise for a World Bank employee who has been romantically involved with the Bank's President Paul Wolfowitz was not the work of the Bank's Ethics Committee, as originally alleged by Wolfowitz's office, according to the watchdog group that leaked the information

Bush - Congress Showdown Over Iraq Set With Senate Vote

by Jim Lobe With the Apr 26 vote by the Senate to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq in October, the stage has been set for a prolonged confrontation between the Democratic-led Congress and Bush over the future of the war

Lawsuits Could Sink Bush's Faith-Based Initiatives

by Bill Berkowitz Bush has dole out more than $2 billion in federal funding to religious organizations for services as extensive as alcohol- and drug-related treatment programs, 'abstinence-only' sex education projects, job training efforts, and 'healthy marriage' proposals. In addition, federal, state, and local governments have embarked on a broad campaign to recruit, train, and assist religious charities in writing grant applications, creating non-profit entities, training volunteers and building an infrastructure that would qualify for government grants

Iraq Gov't Denies Gays are Targets of Killings

In an interview, one member of the Mehdi Army, Ali Hassany, said that the militia will target Iraq's gays and lesbians. 'They deserve death. Those people are an embarrassment to our society. Killing such people is a job for their families, but if they cannot do so by their own hands, we will do it,' Hassany said

BCCI Was Link Between Saddam and Osama - And Bush

by Lucy Komisar Now that the U.S. Congress is investigating the truth of President George W. Bush's statements about the Iraq war, they might look into one of his most startling assertions: that there was a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Critics dismissed that as an invention. They were wrong. There was a link, but not the one Bush was selling. The link between Hussein and Bin Laden was their banker, BCCI. But the link went beyond the dictator and the jihadist -- it passed through Saudi Arabia and stretched all the way to George W. Bush and his father

Military Panel: Climate Change Threatens U.S. National Security

Global climate change presents a serious national security threat that could affect Americans at home, impact U.S. military operations, and heighten global tensions, finds a study released April 16, by a blue-ribbon panel of 11 of the most senior retired U.S. admirals and generals

U.S. Chemical Plants Must Meet New Anti-Terrorism Standards

For the first time, high risk chemical facilities will have to abide by federal security regulations to safeguard against terrorist attacks, according to a rule issued Monday by the Department of Homeland Security, as required by Congress. The rule meets with the approval of chemical companies, but critics worry that rail transport of hazardous chemicals is not covered

In Absence of Iraqi Police, Vigilante Groups Springing Up

'Our mission is to keep peace in our neighborhood. We keep in contact with the other vigilantes in the neighborhood to make sure there is no danger. Should something untoward happen, we start putting our defense mechanisms in motion,' Azawi said, a retired fireman and father of five

Security Council to Take Up Climate Change

by Thalif Deen The UN Security Council, whose primary mandate is to prevent wars and preserve world peace, will once again break tradition next week when it debates the newest threat to international security: climate change

Bush Cuts to Population Funds Undermine Terror War

by Thalif Deen Testifying before a House Committee on Appropriations panel on foreign operations last week, Lawrence Smith Jr., president of the Population Institute, points out that intelligence and security experts -- including the CIA -- have repeatedly warned that countries at the bottom of the development ladder, with high fertility rates and very large youth populations, are ripe for terrorist recruitment

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