Monday, October 18, 2004


I've been mulling over what to do with the blog since I am finding it a bit more difficult to keep up with news and post in a timely, consistent manner. I was hoping to use this recent hiatus to think about changes and implement them. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. I'm still stuck in the same situation and I'm not sure what I'm going to (eventually) do about it.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue blogging as usual. Or at least try. I also considered taking time away until after the elections, but decided it'd be better to come back before and go from here.

What's below is some reading from recent weeks. Most of it will look familiar if you've been paying attention to media and blogs. If not, all the better.

* Knight Ridder reports that, according to Iraqi Health Ministry figures, "U.S. and multinational forces and Iraqi police are killing twice as many Iraqis - most of them civilians - as attacks by insurgents." This report is based on numbers calculated between April and September, but the trend does not look like it will reverse itself anytime soon. In fact, judging from the increase in military attacks on Fallujah and other anti-occupation hotspots, the ratio may tilt even more towards US-inflicted casualties now.

* Another Knight Ridder report confirms that the Bush administration went to war in Iraq with no plan on how to deal with a post-Saddam scenario or rehabilitate the country. The general outline of this story has long been known, as a July 2003 report about the aimlessness of the occupation attests.

* The AP boils down a dozen reports by governmental and non-governmental organizations on the situation in Iraq, finding that all of them have a negative tone that roots the problems on the ground with the inability of the US government to provide a stable environment and reconstructed economy following the toppling of Saddam Hussein. This story provides the sort of context needed for understanding an earlier Washington Post report about the growing pessimism on Iraq.

* The Washington Post summarizes the final report of the Iraq Survey Group (aka the Duelfer report) as concluding that the "1991 Persian Gulf War and subsequent U.N. inspections destroyed Iraq's illicit weapons capability and, for the most part, Saddam Hussein did not try to rebuild it." Of course, there were no WMD and the only thing the Bush administration can claim at this point in its revisionist frenzy is that Hussein had a "desire" to restart his weapons program, should the opportunity have presented itself. See also: Scott Ritter on the "source Duelfer didn't quote."

* The NY Times ran a very long article on "How the White House Embraced Disputed Arms Intelligence" in its October 3rd edition. Worth reading.

* "Soaring rates of disease and a crippled health system are posing a new crisis for the people of Iraq, threatening to kill more than have died in the aftermath of the war," reports Jeremy Laurance of the Independent. "Deadly infections including typhoid and tuberculosis are rampaging through the country, according to the first official report into the state of health in the country." It goes without saying that this is precisely what aid agencies warned would happen prior to the war.

* Greg Mitchell breaks down the tale of Wall Street Journal correspondent Farnaz Fassihi's revealing email from Iraq.

* "About half of the roughly $5 billion in Iraq reconstruction funds disbursed by the US government in the first half of this year cannot be accounted for, according to an audit commissioned by the United Nations, which could not find records for numerous rebuilding projects and other payments," reports the Boston Globe.

* In the Atlantic Monthly, William Langewiesche reports on life inside the Green Zone, where attacks by insurgents are beginning to appear.

* Mother Jones profiles some Iraqi veterans who are breaking ranks and speaking out against the war.

* What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? wonders Juan Cole.

* Mary Jacoby provides the "inside story of the Army platoon that refused to carry out a 'death sentence' mission" for Salon.

* Reuters reports on how excavations around Iraq are being used to gather evidence about Saddam Hussein's crimes against humanity.

* David R. Francis of the CS Monitor examines the question of those "enduring" US military bases in Iraq.

* Who's the flip-flopper? On Iraq, it's Bush, not Kerry.

* War crimes caught on tape? Sure looks like it.

* Seymour Hersh implicated the United States in a plethora of war crimes during a recent appearance at UC Berkeley.

* Neil Lewis details the torture techniques being used at Gitmo in the NY Times.

* "On September 11th, nineteen hijackers commandeered four airliners and guided three of them into important symbols of American power with lethal precision," recaps M. Junaid Alam. "An unsuspecting citizenry, quite unaware of events outside the national purview, suddenly found 3,000 of its countrymen killed at the hands of a few fanatics from a far off part of the world. One would expect that, in a democratic country which prides itself on freedom of speech and press, wide-ranging diversity of opinions, and quality of intellectual debate and scholarship, one of the responses to the horrific attacks would be a rigorous and reflective discussion of why they happened. Three years on, what we have instead is the ceaseless, unchallenged mass production - and consumption - of a core set of noxious lies about September 11th that form the foundation of a perpetual, bloody, boundless, and winless war."

* Peter Bergen chronicles the long hunt for Osama in the Atlantic Monthly.

* Wars for oil? Damn right, says Michael Klare. And it's only going to get worse.

* Sam Gardiner, author of the "Truth From These Podia" report, which found that the Bush administration made up or distorted more than 50 news stories related to the war in Iraq, explains in Salon how the Bush administration treats the American public as an enemy with its use of media control and propaganda.

* Interesting profiles of John Kerry and George Bush have run in the NY Times Magazine the past two weeks. PBS' Frontline also ran a two-hour documentary on the political careers of Bush and Kerry that you can watch online.

* The LA Times reported last week that the "conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose television outlets reach nearly a quarter of the nation's homes with TV, is ordering its stations to preempt regular programming just days before the Nov. 2 election to air a film that attacks Sen. John F. Kerry's activism against the Vietnam War." As one would expect, this news has touched off a firestorm of controversy and activism.

* Joshua Green reviews Karl Rove's shady history in the Atlantic Monthly.

* After the "Rathergate" hubbub, CBS News has apparently decided to throw in the towel and stop its reporting of relevant news related to the Presidential election. FAIR has more on this outrage.

* The Guardian has revived the story of Prescott Bush's links with the Nazis.

* A new report from researchers at the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley contends that "modern-day slavery is alive and well in the United States," where more than 10,000 people work under coercive or forced conditions.

* Writing in the Daily Star of Lebanon, Rami G. Khouri looks back on four years of intifada.

* In an interview with Ha'aretz, Ariel Sharon's senior adviser Dov Weisglass revealed that Israel's proposed Gaza withdrawal is a ploy to "freeze the peace process" and "prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state."

* Hasan Abu Nimah explores those double standards at the heart of reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the wake of car bombings in Taba and the IDF's destructive operations in Gaza.

* John Dugard, the UN's special rappateur for human rights in Palestine, has issued another report charging that the construction of Israel's separation barrier is motivated by a desire to steal Palestinian land, not prevent suicide bombings.

* Bill and Kathleen Christison observe that "the U.S. relationship with Israel continues to be treated, at all levels of political discourse in the United States, as a sideshow to larger strategic questions." This, they warn, "is extremely dangerous. There will be no resolution to the war on terror, and no easing of the hatred of the United States by our own allies and by the Arab and Muslim world, until there is a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that gives as much justice to Palestinians as to Israelis. We ignore the direct danger Israel poses to us at our own peril. Our drive for empire already came back to bite us three years ago on September 11, and it will come back again as long as we fail to distinguish our own interests from Israel's."

* Is Iran Next? Tom Barry addresses the question that won't go away for In These Times.

* Bill Quigley summarizes the findings of a new report by Pax Christi USA on the situation in Haiti, where human rights conditions "are worse...than they have been in years."

* The Independent reports that an international study has found that "almost a third of amphibians face extinction - and pollution is cited as the biggest cause. The three-year survey, involving 500 scientists from more than 60 countries, has found that a third of the 5,743 known species are threatened with being wiped out and at least 427 are so critically endangered that they could disappear tomorrow."

* According to a study by analysts at Cornell University and the University of Massachusetts for the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the "United States will lose more than 400,000 jobs this year to Mexico, China, India and other Asian nations as multinational corporations restructure operations and shift production overseas," reports Agence France Presse.