Friday, September 05, 2003

Where to begin?

I should be back on a regular blog schedule now. Hopefully.

* Iraq defectors may have provided US intelligence with bogus information and calculated disinformation in the run-up to war. "Oops," as Robert Scheer says.

* Lacking "hard evidence of weapons of mass destruction," David Kay's forthcoming report on Iraqi weapons capabilities will claim that "Hussein's regime spread nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons plans and parts throughout the country to deceive the United Nations," the Boston Globe reports. "Once freed of inspections and international sanctions, the weapons programs were intended to be pulled together quickly to manufacture substantial quantities of deadly gases and germs," Kay will argue.

* Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times confirms that the Bush administration failed to do any serious planning for a post-Saddam Iraq. Yes, this is old news.

* Casualties in Iraq? Oh, they're no big deal, according to the wizzes at Fox News.

* Halliburton's Iraq deals are greater than previously thought. The company is being paid more than $1.5 billion to rebuild Iraq, and has won quite a few no-bid contracts. It's nice to have connections.

* "For the first time since the all-volunteer Army began in 1973, significant numbers of U.S. combat soldiers may have to start serving back-to-back overseas tours of up to a year each in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and South Korea," reports USA Today.

* "While the dead are honored, the men and women injured in Iraq and Afghanistan have become the new disappeared," declares Bill Berkowitz. In Iraq, nearly 10 American troops are wounded each day.

* But the casualties are worth it, right? We're bringing democracy to Iraq. Yep. Gunpoint Democracy.

* US taxpayers are, of course, going to be footing the bulk of the Iraq bill unless the UN hops on board to help defray costs. Not taking into account externalities like the increase in gas prices, this year's bill "works out to $281 per man, woman, and child" in the US, according to the CSM.

* In related news: next year's federal deficit is likely to surpass $500bn.

* The Pentagon's spending on "Black Ops" is at its highest level since the end of the Reagan era.

* The controversial Office of Special Plans (OSP) has been renamed as the Northern Gulf Affairs Office. Convenient way to deflect all that criticism, eh?

* The Taliban is still causing problems in Afghanistan, and receiving a good amount of support from Pakistan.

* "Top White House officials personally approved the evacuation of dozens of influential Saudis, including relatives of Osama bin Laden, from the United States in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks when most flights were still grounded," reports the NY Times. This story was first reported by the New Yorker nearly two years ago.

* "Like the Israelis," observes Amira Hass, "the Palestinians too are all exposed to the terror of missiles and bombs exploding in the heart of the civilian population centers." 80% of the Palestinians killed since the beginning of the intifada have had no connection to "armed actions" against Israelis or the IDF. Perhaps someone should send Tom Delay a memo about this.

* Dick Cheney probably lied to Congress in an attempt to obscure his work on the Energy Task Force. Still waiting for him to explain what those 2001 Iraqi maps are all about...

* Here's the report which unveiled the EPA's lying in the aftermath of 9/11 about the NYC health situation.

* Crime in the US is at its lowest level in 30 years.

* An additional 1.4 million people in the US fell into poverty last year, half of which were children. In all, nearly 35 million people live under the poverty line, approximately 12.4% of the population.

* US workers are the most productive in the world. They're not compensated accordingly, though: since 1973, productivity has grown by 66% while median wages have risen a mere 7%. And, unfortunately, things are likely to get worse before they get better. Here's more on the state of Labor.

* There are jobs down in Cuba though -- helping to build a more permanent military detention and interrogation camp at Gitmo.

* 40 years after the March on Washington, and Ward Connerly is evoking Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy to push through Proposition 54 in California. According to the Black Commentator, this "colorblind" initiative is set "to impose yet another layer of unreality on the American body politic in order to obscure the true state of the nation." I wonder what Martin would think about efforts like 54...

* Recent conservative meme #1: Bush bashing is worse than Clinton bashing. Take Back the Media, one of the alleged culprits of this phenomenon, responds. Recent conservative meme #2: Cruz Bustamante is a racist because of his connections to MEChA. Rodolfo F. Acuna responds.

* A federal appeals court has blocked the FCC from imposing its new media ownership limits. Nevertheless, American TV networks are getting ready to hit back at FCC critics with a PR campaign to persuade the public that the loosening of media ownership restrictions is a good thing.