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June 2004White Whine: Reflections on the Brain-Rotting
Dear Faithful American,
The torture scandal continues to grow, and with it the outrage of the Arab world. As our leaders continue to blame a few rogue soldiers, a cycle of mutual suspicion and dehumanization between the Arab world and the United States deepens.
We need to send a message directly from us, the people of the United States, to the people of Iraq and the Arab world telling them that, as Americans, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in demanding justice for these sinful abuses committed in our name.
To do this, we've filmed a television ad with Christian,
Jewish and Muslim faith leaders to be broadcast on Arabic-language
television in the Middle East. You can view the ad by clinking the
link below (if it doesn't work, cut and paste it into your browser).
If you feel the message expresses what is in your heart, let the
world know by endorsing the ad. You can even donate to help put
it on the air.
As the number of endorsers grows, we will add that figure to the end of the ad. The more people who endorse the message, the more effective it will be. Please send this e- mail to anyone you think might want to get involved.
US heading for another election fiasco as reforms fail
By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
Independent 22 April 2004
The United States may be on the way to another Florida-style
Such is the conclusion of a damning new report by the US Commission on Civil Rights, a bipartisan government body which previously looked into the Florida mess and found alarming evidence of voter disenfranchisement among poor and minority groups, incorrectly compiled voter rolls and other glaring irregularities. "Many of the problems that the commission previously cautioned should be corrected yet prevail ... Unless the government acts now, many of those previously disenfranchised stand to be excluded again," the report said.
The commission's criticisms focused on the failure to implement President George Bush's Help America Vote Act (Hava), passed in October 2002, which promised $4bn (£2.3bn) to help states overhaul antiquated voting machinery - notably the notorious punchcard devices that caused so much trouble in Florida - and sought to set up a nationwide system of provisional voting for people who believe they have a right to vote but find themselves omitted from the official list.
It said that out of 22 key deadlines that have come and gone since the act's passage, only five have been met. Most seriously, an oversight committee designed to advise states on streamlining their voting procedures and implementing the act's provisions was not appointed until last December, 11 months behind schedule. Most states are unlikely to make reforms before the presidential election on 2 November.
In addition, the Bush White House has consistently proposed less money than promised by the act, so states that have passed their own reform legislation have found themselves crucially short of money for implementation.
On signing the act 18 months ago, Mr Bush said: "When problems arise in the administration of elections we have a responsibility to fix them. Every registered voter deserves to have confidence that the system is fair and elections are honest, that every vote is recorded, and that the rules are consistently applied."
Almost half of the states have requested exemptions
from updating their
The commission report can only heighten the anxieties
of an electorate
The debate over the health of America's electoral procedures is turning into a partisan fight, with Republicans dismissing the concerns as Democratic politicing unworthy of serious examination. When the Commission on Civil Rights convened an expert panel in Washington this month to discuss its report, the Republican Party delegation walked out before the proceedings began, one panel participant, Rebecca Mercuri, a Harvard University voting machinery expert, said.
In Florida during the 2000 election, thousands of
KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation
Well .. is anything dealing with Eugenics really funny ... but I thought you'd like this.
The American Prospect
Bell Curve' -- Levant Version
Wherein our intrepid correspondent unearths some fascinating right-wing research.
By Tony Hendra Web Exclusive: 05.06.04
Satire by Tony Hendra.
From an unexpected quarter comes some rare good news for embattled U.S. military commanders trying to contain the widening prison-abuse scandals in Iraq. The conservative San Diego-based scientific review No Junk Science published an article today by a team of researchers from the Adolf Coors Center for Studying Arabs at Pepperdine and the Charles Murray Institute of Eugenics at West Texas Christian University. The study presents "overwhelming evidence" that Arabs are not, by any prevailing scientific standard, human.
The idea that there is something uniquely "different" about Arabs has been roiling conservative think-tanks and intellectual circles for some years. An internal paper circulated at the American Enterprise Institute in 1997 posed the question bluntly: Is it prejudice that leads so many people with long experience and intimate knowledge of the Arab world -- Americans, British, French, and Israelis -- to think of Arabs as animals? Or simply that they are perceiving at a non-cognitive level what is biologically the case?
The Coors Center launched several lines of research to explore this question. They ranged from the socio-political, assembling statistics on why Arab populations resist progressive opportunities in favor of self-destructive behaviors (supporting oppressive governments, voluntarily adopting barbaric laws and medieval social structures, embracing "martyrdom," etc.), to the archeological. One provocative Pepperdine monograph demonstrated radical differences in ancient embodiments of divinity as conceived by pre-European BCE populations and BCE precursors of Arab populations. Greco-Roman, Celtic, Indo-Aryan, and Nordic divinities were predominantly anthropomorphic, while the divinities of ancient pre-Arabic peoples of North Africa and the Levant -- with the sole exception of Israel -- were predominantly animal (e.g., the myriad half-animal gods of the Egyptians). If ancient peoples projected an idealized version of themselves into their deities, would not a pantheon of half-human, half-animal deities suggests a population that was at best only half-human?
But it was the Charles Murray Institute that provided the clincher, thanks to huge advances in one particular application of DNA research: population genetics. Population genetics has incontrovertibly established a Homo sapiens family tree of relatively recent origin -- beginning about 60,000 years ago in Ethiopia -- by reading mutations (or polymorphisms) on the Y (or male) chromosome. Both the approximate dates and the destinations of migrations out of northeast Africa into Asia, Australia, the Americas, and Europe can be tracked by these genetic markers. The admirable implication is that racial and ethnic categories are meaningless: We are all descended from the same distinct individuals and -- whether black, white, brown, yellow, Jew, Christian, Hindu, or Muslim -- constitute one human family.
Except, say the DNA experts of the Charles Murray Institute, the Arabs. According to their research results (which have been subjected to peer review by Dinesh D'Souza), Arab male DNA does not carry the common polymorphisms of Homo sapiens. Instead it carries DNA markers from another hominid species altogether, Homo erectus. More commonly known as Neanderthal man, the species was displaced and/or eradicated by Homo sapiens in every region of the world -- with the exception, apparently, of the Middle East. Whether they represent a pure strain of Homo erectus that somehow survived the predations of Homo sapiens or came about through interbreeding between an errant Mediterranean strain of Homo sapiens and indigenous Neanderthals, Arabs are the sole surviving subhumans on the planet.
If true, the findings could have a dramatic impact on the prison-abuse investigation and its legal ramifications, as well as on the treatment and detention of Arab prisoners in general. Kenneth Starr, Dean of Pepperdine Law School, says: "This study annihilates the 'inalienable' and 'human' rights of Arabs, including (but not limited to) property rights, right of assembly, free speech, freedom of religion, privacy, due process, the right to an attorney, and, most importantly in this matter, the rights of combatants. The authors of the Geneva Conventions wrote the rules for humans, not hominids. We are under no obligation to observe the rules of war for a species without rights, nor do we have any criminal liability for our actions toward them in any court from Virginia to The Hague."
Beltway progressives, sensing the evaporation of a major campaign issue, have fired back that even if Arabs are non-human, there is still no reason to treat them inhumanely. "Be kind to animals," is the thought. Animal-rights ethicist Peter Singer of Princeton goes further, arguing that the rights of other species -- regardless of whether they are hominids -- are if anything superior to those of humans: "Centuries and millennia of oppression and exploitation of all other species by humans require us to make massive restitution to them. Arabs in this respect are no different than cows, chickens, shrimp, or oysters."
Harder heads, however, point out more draconian consequences of the scientific breakthrough. A source in the office of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who requested anonymity for reasons of national security, says: "Where animal populations prey on humans, controlling populations by culling herds -- or even, in certain cases or locations, extermination -- is a legitimate response. This could finally bring the enormous firepower and human resources of the NRA front and center in the war on terrorism. The idea of open season is long overdue."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld doesn't go quite that far. He puts the situation differently: "For me it's simple. The burden of proof is on these prisoners or on the thugs in Guantanamo or on these whining widows and orphans in Fallujah who want us to pay them off or on any other Arab who tangles with us -- you prove your human, we'll respect your rights. Otherwise -- you're dead meat."
The Charles Murray Institute is under enormous public pressure to release its lab results, but has so far refused to do so, citing the confidentiality of its DNA sources. The exhaustive study analyzed DNA samples from a comprehensive cross-section of Arab nations; the sole exception was the Saudi Royal Family, which exempted itself on religious grounds. The authors of the article have thus been forced to admit the possibility -- though they stress it's highly unlikely -- that the Saudi Royal Family may be human.
Interviewed in Ohio at a fund-raising dinner thrown for him by the Diebold Corporation, President Bush steered clear of the more incendiary aspects of the research, but he did pointedly use the phrase "human dignity" three times in his response to a reporter's question. He also expressed doubts about the major role played in the study by "the evolution thing." Said the President, "The jury's still out on that."
Tony Hendra is an author and an actor. His latest book, Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul (Random House), will be on sale May 18.
Copyright © 2004 by The American Prospect, Inc.
Preferred Citation: Tony Hendra, "'Bell Curve' -- Levant Version",
The American Prospect Online, May 6, 2004. This article may not
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Properties of Privilege
By Tim Wise
To truly understand a nation, a culture, or its people,
it helps to know what they take for granted.
After all, sometimes the things that go unspoken are
What's more, when people take certain things for
Thus, every February I encounter people who are
In other words, the normalcy of the white narrative,
Sorta' like those who e-mail me on a semi-regular basis
Again, these dear souls ignore what is obvious to
Likewise the ongoing backlash against affirmative
We are to believe that before affirmative action things
So if the University of Michigan gives applicants of
But when the same school gives out 16 points to kids
What's more, the whites who received all those bonus
This is why Jennifer Gratz, the lead plaintiff in the
"Lesser qualified" whites are acceptable, you see,
This kind of logic also explains the effort of whites
This, despite the unmentioned fact that about 93
While there are plenty of whites unable to afford
But to place blame where it really belongs, on rich
Better to blame the dark-skinned for our hardship,
Whites, as it turns out, take most everything for
We take for granted that we won't be racially profiled
We take it for granted that our terrorism won't result
We take it for granted that our dishonesty will be
Thus, Jayson Blair's deceptions at the New York Times
We take it for granted that we will never be viewed as
So, for example, while politicians who pursue the
We take it for granted that "classical music" is a
We take it for granted that the only controversy
That the only physical descriptions of Jesus in the
It is the same problem posed by the anthropological
But to even bring this up is to send most white
Which is all fine and good, until you realize that
But never fear: we needn't grapple with that because we
Consider the classic and widely distributed Robert
It would all be quite funny were it not so
What else but a tenuous (at best) grip on reality can
Now we know? Hell, some folks always knew what that was
What else but delusion on a scale necessitating
That's what privilege is, for all those who constantly
It's the ability to assume that you belong and that
And it's the ability to ignore all evidence to the
It is Times New Roman font, one inch margins, left hand
Only by rebelling against it, and insisting on our own
Tim Wise is an antiracist activist, essayist and
The Kill Zone: Moving Wounded in Fallujah
and there will be another one as soon as i can knock it out....we went back in and even crazier stuff happened.
i miss you all.
The first thing you notice is the silence. An unnerving, horrible
We passed the last mujaheedin patrol two blocks ago, and they waved
We drop out of the truck and start walking, our passports held high
The team is made up of myself, a British woman, and an Iraqi woman. On the way in, I grab the Brits hand and squeeze it. For luck, I say, and I think I will remember the wink she gives me for the rest of my life.
No one, and I mean no one, is on the empty streets. We advance cautiously for about fifty yards, and then someone opens the door of a house, gesturing frantically around a corner with wild eyes. We can see what he is pointing at: a man lies in the street, covered in blood, a Kalashnikov still slung around his body. To retrieve him, however, will mean walking into American sniper fire.
If we carefully look through cracks in the brick wall that leads to the street, we can see them. Three soldiers in shooting positions, aiming straight down the way toward the victim. The situation is further complicated by a car that stands abandoned behind the prone man, all four doors hanging open as if the occupants have suddenly fled. Around it are scattered several RPGs and rockets. So if we attempt to do anything, the Americans will assume we are enemy fighters.
The Brit tries first. HELLO!, she yells. Can you
We leave the safety of the wall and enter the street. The three Americans
Entering Fallujah was difficult, but not impossible. We came in along
We are a group of six internationals bringing medical supplies to
As we get closer, every crossroads is guarded by groups of masked
This venture has been arranged by a friend of ours, an Iraqi activist
When we first arrive in Fallujah, we go immediately to a hospital,
A car screeches around the corner and slams to a stop in front of
We are also shown an ambulance that the Iraqis claim was shot up
Our Iraqi host soon wades through the crowd to find us. I need
volunteers!, he shouts, his preferred method of communication,
We return successfully to the hospital with the dead body, to find
By now night has fallen. Nevertheless, on the next ambulance run,
our team of three volunteers to help. As we mount the van, I squeeze
But there are no shots fired, and we arrive at another clinic in
As soon as we arrive the hospital staff tell us that there is a pregnant
Riding in the back, I can see the flash of the gun as bullets pierce
Thats the last trip for that night, as the ambulance is, for
It is now late, and since there is not much we can do at the clinic, we retire to our quarters for the night. We are led along dark streets, keeping close to the walls, while red and orange military flares shoot overhead and rocketfire is heard in the distance. We are put up in a familys house, where we sit down to a much needed dinner in Fallujah.
The next morning we begin to load our bus, the same one we arrived
We jump on board a truck, carrying a white Red Crescent flag. Our
Where before there were a few Marines, now there are scores. A whole line of houses are occupied, and soldiers are visible on every roof, scanning the horizon with field glasses. We leave the truck and start walking, repeating the same lines: We are an international emergency medical team! Please do not shoot us!
Three Marines run down the front stairs of a house and approach us
We find a middle aged unarmed man nearby lying in the street, shot
The Marines also ask us a favor: they have a family in a house that
they are occupying, and they cannot give them food or water. Can we
The Brit and I wait for her on the curb, the only two people on the otherwise empty streets. The day is hot and dry, and it seems bizarre to be just sitting there in the dust in the middle of a war. But we feel we are doing the right thing at the moment.
As the family in the house emerges, gunfire starts up very nearby,
By then it is time to go. The bus is loaded with injured persons, including the burn victim, and we say our goodbyes to the hospital staff. Word is sent out to the mujahadeen guarding the roads to let us through safely, and we begin the journey back to Baghdad.
There is only one hitch on the return trip, when we take a wrong
Our first stop in Baghdad is the Italian hospital, to drop off the most severe injuries. An Italian friend meets us there and she greets me in her usual fashion. Fuck you bastard, she says, I am worrying about you all the night. Yeah, well, I was worrying about me all the night too.
Theaters Against War (THAW) hosts:
Resistance 101: Theater, activism, change
A Pro-Peace & justice Teach-in
April 15th and 17th, 2004 at City University New York-Hunter College
The University as a Creative Zone for Peace and DialogueHi Everyone -
I have helped organize this great teach-in for artists and activists and anyone who wants to know about the role of arts (especially theater) during these times that call for greater resistance and public demand for accountability. There will be many well known, fun performers, academics and artists.
Hope you all can come and as always - tell a friend - or three - or six.
Students! Artists! Citizens!
April 15, 2004 Noon to 6 pm:
4:30 6 pm: Interactive workshops
7:30 pm: April Freedom Follies THAWs monthly Pro-Peace Party and Cabaret
For ways to participate, location details, and updates, go to www.THAWaction.org
ALL EVENTS ARE FREE
Educate -- Organize
My New Year is Yours
I had no idea others celebrated Navroze
By Kayhan Irani
Originally published on iranian.com
It started with an online conversation with a friend last year, around this time.
We are both Parsis -- Zoroastrians from the Indian subcontinent -- and were celebrating Navroze, or New Year, on March 21, 2003. We were talking about the proper gestures to make when receiving and giving blessings during a Navroze ritual, and were both equally hesitant to identify any definite gestures.
I have run into this particular issue regularly -- I was raised in New York City around a small moderate Zoroastrian community and never received any formal training or intense guidance regarding ceremonial practice and ritual. In fact, many times I am left feeling like a child, attempting to cross the street alone for the first time, looking to those around me to provide clues as to when I should move and what I should do. After much speculation and laughter between the two of us, it was concluded that neither of us were much help.
She then happened to mention the Mayor's proclamation, made last year in New York, which formally recognized the diverse religions and cultures that celebrate New Year during the vernal equinox.
I was momentarily taken aback by her revelation -- strangely saddened that my small, somewhat obscure, yet special day, may be investigated and pried into by those in the public who might take an interest. I soon got over the passing cloud of romantic exclusivity, and entered into the warm realization that this unique day was not exclusive at all -- but rather, totally inclusive and supremely mixed.
Before she read me the proclamation, I was aware that Iranians, (Zoroastrians and those of different religions), celebrated Navroze -- but I had no idea that Afghans, Kurds (of many nationalities), and others in the Middle East as well as in Central Asia celebrated Navroze (spelled and pronounced differently depending on culture).
That's when it hit me: every year when my family gathers to celebrate the coming of spring and to share our love, so many others are gathering for the very same reason. It is no matter that we are all culturally diverse and even have different religions -- it is the fact that we, all of us, as a collective are taking the same time to be united and peaceful and joyous. The importance is not what gestures we make or how our rituals differ, but that we all do a united SOMETHING.
Growing up I had a somewhat blended Navroze celebration. My parents were born and raised in India but moved to Iran after their marriage -- returning to the country which my father's parents actually emigrated from -- and from which my mother's ancestors came from hundreds of years ago.
Within the Parsi community in India, there are different categories: one includes families who have been in India for generations, (like my mother's). Another category is recent immigrants from Iran, such as my father's parents. Actually it is a tradition now, for these newer Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran, to change their last name to Irani (literally meaning from Iran) when they come to India.
The Parsis of India developed a unique culture of their own, and it is this culture that laid the basis for our family's Navroze celebration; however their time in Iran influenced our celebration as well. They adopted and integrated some Iranian customs. For example, most Parsis include a "Ses," which is a tray holding a container of rosewater, a pot to hold the red paste with which one does a tili, (the red dot adorning the forehead on an auspicious occasion) and a cone filled with sugar lumps.
Most Iranians set a table with seven symbolic items in their celebrations. My mother had both; so I was somewhat different from other Parsis I knew, in that my personal celebration spanned two different countries and cultures. Usually my family also participated in our temple's larger celebration, which brought the religious community together on one evening for prayer and feasting. Up until recently it was separate from the Iranian Zoroastrians; however we do now have joint celebrations.
So all my life I have been aware of two cultures that recognized Navroze -- but definitely thought it was sacred only to Zoroastrians. I've never thought much about Navroze otherwise. Mostly I thought about my family and the Parsi community around me, and perhaps of my relatives in India.
Along with thoughts of family and friends, while ringing in the New Year, one is supposed to give thanks for the blessings they have received in the past year and to also think about those who may not have been blessed with as much. To be honest, when I reflected, I had in me the abstract notion of those who have less, and those whose lives may be harder than mine; but never could I isolate specifics about whom I had in mind.
But the news in last year's mayoral proclamation allowed me to identify with many more people, worldwide -- not just my family and friends -- and allowed me to tap into the special vein that was uniting all of "us," which is the belief in the sacredness of the day.
It was quite mind expanding for me to think about the countless people whose thoughts and prayers were traveling to the heavens along with mine on the same day. All those around the globe may celebrate Navroze in a similar or different manner; however the sentiment behind the ritual and pomp is the same: showing gratitude for all we have and creating blessings for the coming year.
But last year's celebration became more poignant than ever. With the knowledge of the proclamation being made, I was educated to the fact that those other cultures and people celebrating the day with me this year may also have been fighting for their lives, their sovereignty, their voice. The abstract notion of those who have less became all too clear, and it is still as poignant this year.
The Afghans may be remembering this day perhaps under fire or direct occupation of their towns and villages, but were finally able to celebrate the holiday, as of last year, since the Taliban's restrictions are no longer in place. The Iraqi Kurds rang in last New Year under fire, bombed by Saddam Hussein's forces and perhaps by the USA as well; and are most definitely bringing in this New Year under much hardship from intolerance and violence.
I am aware that the Kurds, the Afghans, and many other cultures celebrating New Year have been oppressed for many more years than just the past two but it was the definite knowledge that the country in which I live, the very country that I lift up and give thanks to for all my opportunity and blessings, this very same country has been the source of much grief and turmoil for others who would like to be able to simply gather and give thanks quietly and peacefully.
My new understanding that last year's proclamation brought, not only of the diversity in the expression of New Year but in the actual hopes, fears, dreams and wishes swirling around on this complicated day, led me to think along even broader lines. Especially since this year, on the 20th of March, one day after the official start of Navroze, thousands would be marching in New York in peace and unity to commemorate the one year anniversary of the war waged against Iraq and demand peace.
I wonder where the New Year's thoughts are of those who have recently experienced war and trauma. Perhaps they are thinking of what they have just lived through and asking for the strength to endure some more, just a bit more. Perhaps they are asking to be blessed with a future, with a new day where they may once again plan and have hopes. Who knows?
I know that my own internal ritual has changed forever. I can no longer celebrate Navroze thinking only of my immediate community and family. No, my mind will be traveling the globe seeking out those other little beams of light energy sent towards the Heavens. My prayers will link on to that chain of prayers making its way across time and space and I will be united with many others I have never, and may never meet.
It is wonderful to know that so many peoples that may not usually
stand together as "we" are now aware that we are a WE, an
US, united in giving reverence to a higher power, united in sending
out energy of peace and love together that no ritual can trump.
CIVIL WAR NOW LOOMS IN
BOTH PALESTINE AND IRAQ
"We are entering a dark and sinister period of Iraqi history...
A Convenient Carnage
All This Talk of Civil War, Now This
By ROBERT FISK*
The Independent - 2nd March 2004 - Odd, isn't it? There never has
been a civil war in Iraq. I have never heard a single word of animosity
between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq.
Al-Qa'ida has never uttered a threat against Shias - even though
Somehow I don't believe it. No, I don't believe the Americans were
I think of the French OAS in Algeria in 1962, setting off bombs among
And I'm afraid I also think of Ireland and the bombings in Dublin
But the bombs in Karbala and Baghdad were clearly co-ordinated. The same brain worked behind them. Was it a Sunni brain? When the occupation authorities' spokesman suggested yesterday that it was the work of al-Qa'ida, he must have known what he was saying: that al-Qa'ida is a Sunni movement, that the victims were Shias.
It's not that I believe al-Qa'ida incapable of such a bloodbath.
But I ask
So what about al-Qa'ida? Repeatedly, the Americans have told us that
The US press have dutifully repeated this. The Iraqi police keep announcing that they have found the bombers' passports, so can we have the numbers?
We are entering a dark and sinister period of Iraqi history. But
* Robert Fisk is a reporter for The Independent and author of
Pity the Nation.
By Roni Ben Efrat
When Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his decision to
withdraw unilaterally from the Gaza Strip and dismantle 17 settlements,
there was reason, one might think, for celebration in certain quarters.
Yet few rejoiced. There is the uneasy feeling that his words do not bode
an end to the 37-year-old Occupation, rather further entanglement.
Some call the would-be withdrawal an escape, some call it a threat
against the Palestinians, and some call it a means to strengthen
Israel's hold on the West Bank. One thing it is not: a step toward
resolving the conflict.
In Israeli eyes, Gaza was always damaged goods. The campaign slogan
of Yitzhak Rabin in 1992 was "Pull Gaza out of Tel Aviv".
Under present conditions, however, Sharon will find it almost impossible
Hurdle 1: The White House
The Bush Administration will not give voice to its opposition. It
Hurdle 2: Sharons Coalition
Without such a package deal, the right wing will not go along. As
There are indications that such is Sharon's thinking. For example,
Two historical footnotes:
Barak had one major asset, however, that Sharon does not: Bill Clinton
The explanation for such odd behavior may lie, after all, with the
Unlike the scorpion in this parable, Israel has reasons to sting
A YEAR OF SILENCE SINCE RACHEL CORRIE DIED
Elizabeth Corrie, Herald Tribune, 3/4/04
ATLANTA, Georgia Only a year ago, the month of March would have held the same positive associations for me as it has for many - the beginning of the end of winter, the promise of springtime and even summer. This year, and for every year for the rest of my life, the approach of March will mean something else entirely - the anniversary of the brutal death of my cousin, Rachel Corrie.
On March 16, 2003, an Israeli soldier and his commander ran over Rachel with a nine-ton Caterpillar bulldozer while she stood - unarmed, clearly visible in her orange fluorescent jacket - protecting a Palestinian home slated for demolition by the Israeli army. The death of Rachel Corrie, and the response that her case has - and has not - received, reveal several disturbing, indeed immoral and criminal, truths.
First, Rachel died while attempting to prevent the demolition of a home, a common practice of the Israeli Army's collective punishment that has left more than 12,000 Palestinians homeless since the beginning of the second uprising in September 2000. This practice violates international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Second, Rachel was run over by a Caterpillar bulldozer, manufactured in the United States and sent to Israel as part of the regular U.S. aid package to Israel, which amounts to $3 billion to $4 billion annually, all of it from U.S. taxpayers. The use of Caterpillar bulldozers to destroy civilian homes, not to mention to run over unarmed human rights activists, violates U.S. law, including the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which prohibits the use of military aid against civilians...
As we approach March 16, residents and citizens of the United States should ask themselves how it is that an unarmed U.S. citizen can be killed with impunity by a soldier from an allied nation receiving massive U.S. aid, using a product manufactured in the United States by a U.S. corporation and paid for with U.S. tax dollars. When three Americans were killed, presumably by Palestinians, in an explosion on Oct. 15, 2003, as they traveled through Gaza, the FBI came within 24 hours to investigate the deaths. After one year, neither the FBI nor any other U.S.-led team has done anything to investigate the death of an American killed by an Israeli...
Elizabeth Corrie is an administrator and teacher in a school in Atlanta.
MARCH 20th ALERT - IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED
As tens of thousands of people from around the Northeast prepare to join us for the antiwar demonstration in New York City on March 20th, we need to call your attention to some important information. We have worked out an agreement with the NYC Police Department for the assembly area and March route. At the same time, the police told us they are planning on constructing barricades on Madison Ave. In other words, as people gather for the demonstration the police will direct everyone into barricaded areas within each block, and then use them again for the post-march rally.
Based on many experiences over the past ten years or so, we believe this is not a good plan and raised our objections to their plan at our last meeting with the police. The use of these barricades is part of the national assault on everyone's civil liberties and ability to dissent; mounting a campaign to stop their use is directly connected to the issues we are raising on March 20th. It is especially important to protest their use now in NYC where police efforts to contain protesters last year were criticized by a wide spectrum of people and forced public and media scrutiny of police tactics. We must do everything possible to make sure the police are not allowed to curtail peaceful protest this year.
The use of barricades undermines our constitutionally protected right to assemble. They break us into small units; make it very hard for people to find one another as they are assembling and for contingents to form. Because the police control when they are opened (or closed) they can be used to break up the flow of the march and in that way make us look smaller than we really are. The police say they use the barricades for safety reasons. We agree on their need to maintain a lane on Madison Ave. for emergency vehicles, we have no problem with that. That lane is set aside precisely to help the police should emergency access be needed. The barricades do not provide easier or quicker access for the police. In fact, sometimes the barricades can lead to tensions and in so doing make an otherwise safe situation less safe. We urge you to stand up for your right to unimpeded access: join us in this effort to stop the use of police barricades at the March 20th demonstration.
Here's what you can do:
a) Contact both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Let them know you oppose the use of police barricades. They should publicly state that no barricades will be used, and at a minimum they should agree to meet with the demonstration organizers to discuss the situation. Call or fax them TODAY!
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly
b) Circulate this memo widely. It is important that we get word out quickly and to as many people as possible.
c) Do everything you can to help build the March 20th demonstration. Hand out leaflets, make phone calls, use your email address book, and make announcements at meetings or events you attend.
Our strongest tool is our numbers.
We do not know if we will be able to stop the police from using the barricades on March 20th, although we do know that we must take a strong, unified stand about their use! And whatever the outcome of this effort is, whether the police use the barricades or not, we are confident that March 20th will be a powerful day as people from many diverse communities come together to express our common concerns. Our strength is in both our diversity and our numbers....and we will be on the streets of New York on March 20th in tremendous numbers.
does contain much ugliness and despair, but artists have the divine
privilege of reshaping the world to incorporate
U.S. Embargos Extended to Editing Articles
by Mary Curtius
Washington, DC -- Saturday, February 21, 2004 -- For U.S. publishers, changing so much as a comma in an author's work can be more than a delicate process. Now it can be a crime, punishable by fines of up to $500,000 or jail terms as long as 10 years.
In a move that pits national-security concerns against academic freedom and the international flow of information, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control recently declared that publishers cannot edit works written in nations under trade embargoes. Although publishing the articles is legal, editing is a "service" and it is illegal to perform services for embargoed nations, the agency has ruled.
One publisher decided to challenge the government last week -- opting to risk criminal prosecution by editing articles submitted from the five embargoed nations: Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya and Cuba.
Weighing the Risks
"By not publishing articles coming from the five countries under trade embargo, we were, in effect, in violation of our own ethical guidelines that say that the basis for deciding what to publish is the quality of the science in the material and excludes the national origin of that material," Bovenschulte said.
If the government decides to prosecute, he said, "I think we are going to be in good company."
Other publishers are choosing to follow the letter of the law.
"We are an ethical operation," said Michael Lightner, vice president for publications of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). "We operate under the laws of the countries in which we do business." His journals will publish articles from embargoed countries in unedited form.
The different responses reflect the confusion and anxiety in academic circles over the government's new interpretation of the law.
In a statement issued Friday in response to questions from the Los Angeles Times, that adviser, John Marburger III, indicated unease with the regulations.
Marburger said he supports "the use of economic sanctions against state sponsors of terrorism," but added, "I'm concerned about the impact interpretations of such sanctions may have on scientific publishing and, therefore, scientific openness. We are working on this issue, and hope to achieve a satisfactory resolution."
Richard Newcomb, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, said the office does not see its ruling as involving First Amendment rights or inhibiting academic exchanges. Rather, he said, the regulations are a technical interpretation of how Congress intended embargoes to be enforced against rogue states.
"This was a straight-up ruling," Newcomb said. "... It is something we can regulate."
But the notion that publishing articles does not involve editing them is mind-boggling to many in the business.
"We were really stunned to find out this was a legal issue,"
said Bovenschulte of the American Chemical Society. He said his initial
reaction was to impose a moratorium on articles from embargoed nations.
But the society instead decided to risk running afoul of the law.
© 2004 The Los Angeles Times
Summer - Winter 2003
Career officer from the Pentagon [the Hofstra peace list]
Date: Wed, 6 Aug 2003 23:03:39 -0400
This is an article by a Karen Kwiatkowski, a recently retired Air Force Lieutenant colonel. It originally appeared on Ohio.com (of all places, with all due respect). It has some insights into how policy regarding the Middle East, specifically Iraq, was manufactured in the last year or so.
Subject: A View from the Inside Career officer does eye-opening stint inside Pentagon >By Karen Kwiatkowski.
After eight years of Bill Clinton, many military officers breathed a sigh
of relief when George W. Bush was named president. I was in that plurality.
At one time, I would have believed the administration's accusations
of anti-Americanism against anyone who questioned the integrity and
good faith of President Bush, Vice President Cheney or Defense Secretary
What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and
discipline. If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of
``intelligence'' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the
post-Hussein occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false
steps, one need look no further than the process inside the Office
of the Secretary of Defense. I can identify three prevailing themes.
Cross-agency cliques: Much has been written about the role of the
founding members of the Project for a New American Century, the Center
for Security Policy and the American Enterprise Institute and their
new positions in the Bush administration. Certainly, appointees sharing
particular viewpoints are expected to congregate, and an overwhelming
number of these appointees having such organizational ties is neither
conspiratorial nor unusual. What is unusual is the way this network
operates solely with its membership across the various agencies --
in particular the State Department, the National Security Council
and the Office of the Vice President.
How Did We Become So Hateful?
By James Brooks
The Crime and the Cover-Up
House Democrats Storm Out of Ways and Means Committee
Chairman Calls Capitol Police to Restore Order
By Juliette Eilperin and Albert B. Crenshaw
The Washington Post
Friday 18 July 2003
Months of political tension in the House of Representatives erupted into open warfare today when Democrats stormed out of a Ways and Means Committee session and the panel's chairman called in the Capitol Police.
The day began with a fairly ordinary procedural fight over an otherwise-innocuous pension bill. Committee Democrats complained that the Republican majority had not given them enough time to review a substitute bill that they had received shortly before midnight Thursday. Most of the Democrats then moved to a nearby library to plot strategy after they demanded that Republicans read the legislation line by line.
Infuriated, Ways and Means Committee Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) instructed the Capitol Police to remove the Democrats from the ornate library. Republicans said Democrats were being disorderly and did not have the right to occupy the libary.
After the one remaining Ways and Means Democrat got in a spat with a GOP committee member, Thomas dispensed with the reading of the bill altogether and pushed through the legislation, without a single Democratic vote.
The dispute highlights how rapidly relations between Democrats and Republicans have deteriorated in recent months. Virtually shut out from legislating and chafing over repeated procedural slights, House Democrats have adopted combative tactics to draw attention to what they see as Republican heavy-handedness.
By any standards, today represented a low point in the history of congressional comity. Democrats accused the GOP of running a police state; Republicans recounted how one Democratic member of the panel called a Republican colleague "you little fruitcake" in the midst of the standoff.
The blowup occurred as the panel began to mark up a wide-ranging pension bill sponsored by Reps. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.). The changes narrowed the original bill, but retained most of its key provisions.
Ranking Democrat Charles B. Rangel (N.Y.) immediately complained about the timing, saying the measure was not on the House calendar for next week and there was no need to rush.
But Thomas refused to put action off.
At that point, the Democrats objected to a normally perfunctory motion to dispense with the reading of the 200-page original bill and the 91-page substitute. Thomas ruled that reading of the original could be dispensed with since it had been distributed weeks ago, but conceded that the Democrats could demand a line-by-line reading of the substitute.
The reading began, with Thomas interrupting at one point to say loudly, "In the House, the minority can delay. They cannot deny." When the Democrats left for the library, Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.) stayed behind to prevent the Republicans from obtaining unanimous consent to dispense with the reading.
After several minutes, Thomas again asked unanimous consent to dispense with the reading, and instantly brought down his gavel. Stark said later that he had objected, and Thomas had replied, "You're too late."
Thomas then recognized Portman for an opening statement on the bill. Stark attempted to make a "parliamentary inquiry," and Thomas ignored him. Stark then joined the other Democrats in the nearby room.
With no Democrats present, Thomas and the rest of the Republicans approved the substitute and then the final bill unanimously by voice vote and adjourned.
Committee Democrats, meanwhile, held court with the press next door. Sitting under a gilded ceiling and surrounded by cases of tax books, more than a dozen members recounted how they had been slighted by the GOP.
The lone Capitol Police officer dispatched to the scene surveyed the situation and consulted with his superior, who in turn appealed to the Sergeant at Arms office. Sergeant at Arms representative Don Kellaher slipped into the room less than 45 minutes later, saying his office decided "this is a committee matter" and would take no action.
Rather than concluding the fracas, however, this simply emboldened House Democrats. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) used a point of personal privilege to introduce a resolution on the House floor protesting the incident. This set in motion a heated debate this afternoon, in which each side accused the other of debasing Congress as an institution.
The measure before the committee would make a number of changes to the nation's pension and retirement-saving system, including acceleration of increases in various contribution limits enacted in 2001 and scheduled to be phased in over the next five years. Under it, individuals would be able to contribute an annual maximum to $15,000 to a 401(k) plan and $5,000 to an IRA, beginning next year. People aged 50 and over could contribute even more.
Including these and other provisions, the bill would cost the government $10.3 billion over the next five years.
Is the American Economy Really the Best Off in the World?
Philippe Legrain, chief economist of "Britain in Europe," the campaign for Britain to join the euro; writing in the New Republic (June 11, 2003):
Pause for a second. Allow some awkward facts to intrude. Which economy
has performed better in recent years--Europe's or America's? Surprise:
According to the International Monetary Fund, an institution more often
accused of imposing Washington's ways than of knocking them, Europe's
has. Over the past three years, living standards, as measured by GDP per
person, have risen by 5.8 percent in the European Union but by only 1
percent in the United States. An unfair comparison, perhaps, given America's
recent recession? Then look at how the European Union and the United States
size up since 1995, a period that includes the go-go late '90s, when America
apparently advanced by leaps and bounds. While living standards in the
United States have risen by a healthy 16.1 percent over the past eight
years, they are up by 18.3 percent in the European Union. Another statistical
sleight of hand? Not at all. Pick any year between 1995 and 2000 as your
starting point, and the conclusion is the same: Europe's economy has outperformed
To be fair, on a different measure, the United States has outpaced Europe.
Its economy has grown by an average of 3.2 percent per year since 1995,
whereas Europe's economy has swelled by only 2.3 percent. These headline
figures transfix pundits and policymakers alike. But this apparent success
is deceptive. Not only are U.S. growth figures inflated because American
number-crunchers have done more than their European counterparts to take
into account improvements in the quality of goods and services, but America's
population is also growing much faster than Europe's. It has increased
by nearly one-tenth in the past eight years, whereas Europe's population
has scarcely grown at all. So, although America's pie is growing faster
than Europe's, so too is the number of mouths it has to feed. Most people,
though, care about higher living standards, not higher economic growth.
If size were all that mattered, the United States could simply annex Canada
and, presto, its economy would be larger, whether people in Peoria felt
any better or not.
U.S. economic triumphalism is based on more than just GDP growth, of
course. Boosters claim that it has enjoyed markedly faster productivity
growth, too. Really? It is tough enough to measure how fast productivity
is growing in the United States--remember all those wrangles about whether
the step up in productivity in the late '90s was a giant leap, a modest
bounce, or an illusion. International comparisons are harder still. Even
so, the Conference Board, a New York-based business-research group that
is hardly a fan of European ways, has taken a stab at it. Their figures
show that, although the average U.S. labor-productivity growth of 1.9
percent per year since 1995 exceeds the EU average of 1.3 percent, five
individual European countries have done better than the United States.
Belgium managed 2.2 percent per year, Austria 2.4 percent, Finland 2.6
percent, Greece 3.2 percent, and Ireland 5.1 percent. If you take a longer
time span, 1990 to 2002, not only does the European Union as a whole outpace
the United States, so do ten of the 14 individual EU member states for
which statistics are available. (The Conference Board does not include
figures for Luxembourg.)
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