Today's Washington Post includes an op-ed by famed civil rights leader Andrew Young on Paul Wolfowitz' troubles at the World Bank.
I can't believe someone of Young's stature could defend the corrupt hypocritical actions of Paul Wolfowitz in pushing through pay raises and cushy State department positions for his girl friend/lover Shaha Riza.
"We must get beyond the current crisis at the World Bank, a careful examination of which will show that Wolfowitz was operating in what he felt was the best interest of the institution and with the guidance of its ethics committee.
"This crisis also should not redound to the detriment of Wolfowitz's companion, Shaha Riza, a British Muslim woman who is an admired World Bank professional and a champion of human rights in the Muslim world."
Notwithstanding Andrew Young's wishes to "get beyond the current crisis," I want the World Bank to cashier Wolfowitz forthwith and be rid of his duplicitous hypocritical dealings. Upon assuming the presidency of the World Bank, after being appointed by George Bush, Wolfowitz made a big point of stressing that the World Bank should not lend aid to countries whom Wolfowitz accused of "corruption." This was at the very same time, we now know, that Wolfowitz was arranging for Shaha Riza to get a pay raise to over $200,000 per year. If Wolfwoitz stays, how can anyone objectively look at the World Bank and not see double dealings and corruption?
Monday, April 30, 2007
Today's Washington Post includes an op-ed by famed civil rights leader Andrew Young on Paul Wolfowitz' troubles at the World Bank.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Why must the United States through George Bush continue to hold prisoners at Guantanamo who have done nothing wrong and who have been cleared by U.S. authorities? To claim that these men are being held because no country wants to take them is transparently specious. If they have done nothing wrong, why not allow them to live in the U.S.? Or why not seek the help of the United Nations.
Craig Whitlock in today's Washington Post Foreign Service reports on the plight of those unfortunates who happened by chance to be thrown into the pit at Guantanamo. Who knows, they may never be released. I wrote on the hopelessness of Guantanamo on April 27, 2007.
"Since February, the Pentagon has notified about 85 inmates or their attorneys that they are eligible to leave after being cleared by military review panels. But only a handful have gone home, including a Moroccan and an Afghan who were released Tuesday. Eighty-two remain at Guantanamo and face indefinite waits as U.S. officials struggle to figure out when and where to deport them, and under what conditions."
"Some human rights advocates said the Bush administration could speed things up by asking the United Nations or another international body for help. Manfred Nowak, an Austrian law professor who serves as the U.N. special monitor on torture, said European allies and other countries would continue to duck requests to accept released prisoners as long as the U.S. government approaches them separately. An international commission responsible for finding a solution, he said, might carry more weight."
"If the U.S. is willing to do something to close down Guantanamo, then it should be done in a cooperative manner with the international community," Nowak said. "It's a question of burden-sharing. Otherwise, every individual country that the U.S. approaches says, 'Why us?' ""
What type of person do we have working for the CIA? The answer is disconcerting and upsetting after reading Michael F. Scheuer's opinion piece today in the Washington Post.
Scheuer's bio says he was the founding head of the CIA's bin Laden unit. His job was to catch or kill Osama bin Laden prior to the attack on 9/11. Scheuer, I think, correctly calls George Tenet to account for trying to shift the blame for that attack. But Scheuer also reveals his own dark side. In trying to get to Osama bin Laden, Scheuer expresses his disdain for innocent civilians who might be killed.
"I did not -- and do not -- care about collateral casualties in such situations, as most of the nearby civilians would be the families that bin Laden's men had brought to a war zone. But Tenet did care. (emphases added) "You can't kill everyone," he would say. That's an admirable humanitarian concern in the abstract, but it does nothing to protect the United States. Indeed, thousands of American families would not be mourning today had there been more ferocity and less sentimentality among the Clinton team."
Okay, let's see how Scheuer would feel if he were one of the "collateral casualties." Scheuer tries to justify this killing in two ways. First, he says most of the civilians would be members of bin Laden's family. Oh, this is a good argument. Children deserve to die because they are merely related to bin Laden? No, this is a baseless and foolish argument. The children and families did nothing wrong. What justifies Scheuer and the CIA in killing them?
Second, Scheuer argues that such collateral killings would be justified if bin Laden himself were killed, thus preventing thousands of American families from losing loved ones in the 9/11 attack. Suppose the CIA reckoned that 1,000 bin Laden family members would be killed. Would Scheuer still justify the killings? Suppose the number were 5,000? Could Scheuer still argue that they should be killed? Then the question becomes are the lives of Americans worth more than the lives of Afghans or Saudis? Apparently Scheuer's ethics would have him answer yes.
I hope Scheuer is not typical of the person who works for the CIA. Otherwise, the United States has a dysfunctional monster running amok in the world.
I heard Lynn Neary this morning on Weekend Edition Sunday on NPR. Is there no one on NPR who can adequately enunciate and pronounce the English language? Ms. Neary cannot say the word, "veto." She insists on "ve-do." I know that many of the brightest were born and raised in Brooklyn, but that does not justify keeping one's speech pattern in the Flatbush Avenue 1960's mode. No one should be allowed on NPR unless he/she passes an English articulation test. Unless we want our children to mangle the English language like some NPR anchors. Lynn Neary is not the only one who fails.
Here's part of her bio on NPR's site:
"Lynn Neary is a correspondent in NPR's Arts and Information Unit and covers books, movies, television, and arts-related issues and features. Since joining NPR in 1982 Neary has been heard frequently as a host on NPR's renowned news programs. Neary was All Things Considered weekend host from 1984 to 1992, a position she moved to after serving as newscaster for NPR's Morning Edition since 1982. In 1992, she co-hosted the NPR/National Geographic Society series Radio Expeditions with Alex Chadwick. She has also anchored NPR's nationwide daily call-in program Talk of the Nation as well as Morning Edition, weekday All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition Sunday."
Saturday, April 28, 2007
There has been lots of interest in George Tenet's forthcoming book, "At the Center of the Storm," to be released this coming Monday. Karen DeYoung writes in the Washington Post that Tenet thought the plan to invade Iraq was hatched well before September 11, 2001, and that his "slam dunk" comments were taken out of context and used by Bush to blame Tenet for faulty intelligence leading up to the Iraq invasion.
However right Tenet may be about the phony basis used by Bush/Cheney for the unjustified invasion and bombing of Iraq, he is certainly wrong when he tries to justify the CIA's use of "torture." Of course Tenet does not use that word but instead calls the CIA's methods "the most aggressive" techniques. Tenet says these methods were used only on "a handful of the worst terrorists on the planet."
What is surprising is that there still are people like Tenet who think these "most aggressive techniques" are somehow justifiable. Have these people ever read the history of the Inquisition in Portugal and Spain? How people totally innocent will under the most aggressive techniques admit they were witches, and in consort with Satan and other dark forces of the imagination?
Let's put these aggressive methods to the test. Let's take Tenet and Cheney and Bush and Rumsfeld and Rice and John Yoo (who as a lawyer tried to justify the use of these methods of torture) and let's subject them to water-boarding. Let's see who is the first to admit consorting with Osama bin Laden. Let's see who is the first to admit the most horrible crimes of murder and treason.
Better yet, instead of water-boarding which might be too "aggressive," let's put their delicate hands in a vice and turn the screw. No lives or organs would be in danger, only fingers and small bones. Then let's observe who is the first to yell uncle.
Friday, April 27, 2007
The New York Times today reports an AP story on capture of a top leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. What is noteworthy is that the CIA apparently captured Abd al-Hadi (al-Iraqi) and then handed him over to the Defense Department which then took him to Guantanamo.
Whoever is the next president must close Guantanamo. Karen J. Greenberg blogs in Tomdispatch.com and asks will Guantanamo ever be closed. Guantanamo is a stain on the American tradition of the rule of law. At Guantanamo, the inmates and prisoners are to date outside the rule of law, meaning that the solid principles of American legal jurisprudence, such as the inalienable right of habeas corpus, the barring of evidence on torture, and the right to access to legal counsel, all these have disappeared and vanished in the Guantanamo kangaroo court proceedings.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
William Glaberson writes in today's The New York Times that the Department of Justice wants stricter controls on Guantanamo inmates' access to their lawyers.
"Saying that visits by civilian lawyers and attorney-client mail have caused “intractable problems and threats to security at Guantánamo,” a Justice Department filing proposes new limits on the lawyers’ contact with their clients and access to evidence in their cases that would replace more expansive rules that have governed them since they began visiting Guantánamo detainees in large numbers in 2004. "
For every one of us who are trained as lawyers, this move is reprehensible and disgusting. The belief in the rule of law where the accused have access to legal counsel has to be one of the main tenets of every lawyer's beliefs. By eliminating legal counsel from an accused, the state can do anything it wants, without fear of being held itself to the rule of law.
The DOJ's proposal shows how little it values the rule of law and the proposition that everyone, no matter how serious a crime he/she has been accused of, has a right to a fair trial and diligent representation.
David Broder in his column in the Washington Post today calls Sen. Harry Reid "the Democrats' Gonzales" because Reid told the truth and said the war was lost. The catastrophic situation in Iraq is obvious. We all know it, notwithstanding Bush's hollow talking points to the contrary.
If I recall, Broder made a habit of going along with Bush and Cheney on the war in Iraq. Where was he when the war criminals were clamoring for war? Broder took their bait, and he protested not a peep.
Broder is way past his prime. To compare Harry Reid to that lying and dissimulating Gonzales shows how off base he is. Just like Gonzales, Broder should resign.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Just like the Bush regime, the Maliki government in Iraq refuses to release numbers of civilian casualties for the last few months. The BBC reports today that the United Nations Mission in Iraq complains that the Maliki regime is stonewalling on its number of civilian deaths and injuries for the last three months.
So both Bush and Maliki want to keep this information from the public. Bush publicly criticized the Lancet/John Hopkins numbers released last year that counted about 650,000 Iraqis killed since the Bush invasion in March 2003. I wrote on this subject on March 27, 2007, indicating that researchers compiled numbers based on scientifically acceptable principles. Now Maliki is saying that reports of Iraqi casualties are exaggerated, at the same time as his regime refuses to release its own figures.
Both Maliki and Bush are trying to keep the truth from the rest of the world that the Iraq War is going badly. Bush continues to say that we are better off with Saddam Hussein gone. How can he still maintain this position in light of almost one million Iraqi deaths? I doubt even Saddam Hussein killed as many people as has George Bush's war.
The BBC reports that aid agencies say that there is a looming humanitarian crisis in Somalia as thousands of families flee the Ethiopian shelling in Mogadishu. And today BBC.com reports that the interim puppet government set up by the United States and Ethiopia is preventing international emergency aid from reaching the refugees.
Why don't we see this story prominently reported on The NewsHour or on other major networks? The real heart of the story is that the Bush administration could not bear to see peace and tranquillity take hold in Somalia and in its capital Mogadishu after 16 years of chaos and warlord violence. The problem was that the first stable Somali government was Islamic. So the U.S. sent in its warplanes last December to bomb and kill members of the ruling Council of Islamic Courts and then the U.S. incited Ethiopia to violate international law and invade Somalia.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Stephen R. Weisman writes in today's The New York Times that Paul Wolfowitz has hired attorney Robert S. Bennett to represent him in his efforts to keep his job as President of the World Bank. I guess the salary that Wolfie is receiving is more than any other employer would pay him. He seems desperate to keep his job.
Wolfowitz was instrumental in getting his girl friend, Shaha Riza, a job at the State Department and a raise in salary to around $200,000. I wrote in a previous post that Wolfowitz should resign. For someone like Wolfie who made a point upon beginning his World Bank position that rooting out "corruption" would be the main emphasis in the Bank's consideration of making loans, it is the epitome of hypocrisy for Wolfowitz to engage in securing salary increases and cushy positions for his intimate sexual lover.
Steve Clemons writes in his blog The Washington Note that normally the State Department requires a security clearance for anyone having access to its offices. This requirement applies to all employees. However, the State Department has no record of ever granting a clearance to Shaha Riza. Clemons quotes the excellent analysis of this affair by Sidney Blumenthal in Salon.
The upshot for Steve Clemons:
"Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, or Rep. Henry Waxman, who is one of the best and most tenacious investigators of government abuses, or some other concerned member of Congress should call for a Department of Defense investigation into Riza's security clearance, Wolfowitz's role in fast-tracking the clearance, and the State Department's seeming absence of any record confirming her clearance when Shaha Riza was granted unescorted access at the Department of State."
Monday, April 23, 2007
Dan Froomkin's White House Watch in today's Washingtonpost.com describes last Saturday night's White House Correspondents' Dinner as "a delusional dinner." Froomkin points out the inappropriateness of reporters laughing and drinking with the objects of their reporting, as well as the hypocritical seriousness of Bush about Virginia Tech with not one word from his lips on the omnipresent and continuous blood-letting in Iraq.
"But I was struck by what seemed to be among the sentiments emanating from the head-table:
* That a has-been impressionist was a more appropriate choice for entertainment than the acerbic and brilliant political satirist who last year hurt some people's feelings.
* That the tragic Virginia Tech massacre required solemn observation and expressions of great respect, while the seemingly endless war that often claims as many victims in a day deserved virtually no mention at all.
* That a night full of journalists sucking up to their sources is not just defensible but actually honorable because of all the aggressive reporting that goes on every other day."
I commented several days ago on this Correspondents' Dinner, and complained that because it is crammed with apparent conflicts of interest, it should be cancelled. Reporters have a duty to readers to report the truth even though it means making enemies of those in power who are consequently held to account. By cozying up to Bush and Co. and drinking and joking with those guys, reporters will be less likely to hold Bush & Co. to account.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Today the BBC reports that the latest violence in Somalia between Ethiopian forces and Somalia's Islamists has left more than 60 people dead.
"Somalia's Elman Human Rights Organisation described the violence as the worst in recent years.
"I call on the both sides to stop the fighting and shelling without any condition," chairman Sudan Ali Ahmed said to Associated Press news agency.
One resident, Ali Haji, said: "Ethiopians are trying to kill me because I am Somali, and insurgents are not happy because I am not picking up a gun and fighting with them. I have lost all hope." "
In June 2006, the Union of Islamic Courts took over Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, and for the first time in about 16 years, there was relative peace and calm. According to a BBC report,
"Local Islamic courts were set up by businessmen who wanted someone to catch and punish thieves and people who do not respect their contracts.
Some of these courts joined to form the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and their small groups of gunmen became Somalia's strongest fighting force. "
"After years of lawlessness, many Somalis are happy to have some kind of law and order. The prices of many basic foods have fallen because gunmen no longer extort money from lorries taking goods to markets."
Then this past December, Ethiopia invaded Somalia with its tanks and war planes. Ethiopia is mainly a Christian nation. Somalia is entirely Sunni Islamic. Washington and Bush secretly backed the Ethiopians and their push into Mogadishu. Since then, Mogadishu's peace and tranquillity have given way to street fighting, mayhem and civilian slaughter.
Bush obviously prefers this societal chaos to peaceful Islamic rule.
The United States, through Bush, has caused civilian casualties and civilian upheaval by its meddling, all because Bush sees everything through his simplistic "War on Terror" glasses.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Mr. Bush is constantly trying to scare American society with the slogan, "If we don't fight them over there, they will follow us home and fight us over here." The slogan is both laughable and dumb. As if some insurgent from Falluja is going to hop on a Delta flight, land in L.A., and start shooting.
This is dirty lying politics. However, it is the expression of a Rovian cynical strategy of trying to play to listeners' fears of having to deal with IEDs and suicide bombers in the streets of Peoria. The strategy is reprehensible, but Bush doesn't care about anything save his "legacy." And to think we have 20 more months of this war criminal.
Friday, April 20, 2007
The White House Correspondents Association holds its annual gala dinner tomorrow night in Wash. D.C. The president usually attends, as well as all his attendants, such as Karl Rove. The "correspondents," such as David Gregory, Pete Williams, Katie Couric, Tim Russert, and the like, all normally show up. Everyone has a great time, good food, plentiful drinks, nice desserts. Usually there is a comedian or satirist to entertain. Last year, it was Stephen Colbert. This year, it is Rich Little.
Paul Fahri in the Washington Post last January writes about the "safe" choice of Rich Little, as one who will not embarrass Bush or bring up Bush's war in Iraq.
The choice of Rich Little brings up the gross inappropriateness of news correspondents rubbing shoulders with administration big shots at such a "happy" get-together. I don't believe there should be a White House Correspondents dinner. It is incestuous and corrupting. How can a correspondent report objectively on Bush and his gang the morning after the reporter engages in social bantering with those very same people at the White House Correspondents Dinner? No wonder that we the public suspect the objective reporting of these correspondents/reporters, such as when they write stories that overlook the public opposition to the War in Iraq and Bush's disastrous policies to privacy, torture and world hegemony.
I wrote yesterday, April 19, 2007, of the news reports that the Iran Supreme Court overturned the murder convictions of six who were found guilty by lower Iranian courts of murdering people they found "morally corrupt." I, as many Iranian lawyers indicated in my post, find this judicial action to be morally repugnant and unjustifiable. However, I do not use it to justify a campaign of vilification of the Iranian nation or the Iranian people.
In previous posts, I have observed that the Bush regime seeks every opportunity to claim that Iran is supplying IEDs and other weapons to Iraqi insurgents. I have asked where is the evidence for what I consider wild baseless assertions. I have found no credible evidence for linking Iraqi insurgent activity to Iran. The whole Bush campaign seems designed to provoke a war with Iran, another example of Bush's apparent militaristic desire for world hegemony.
This is a most serious world situation that Bush, Cheney & Co. are fomenting. World war could be the result. So John Mc Cain's comments on Wednesday about Iran are nothing short of alarming. David Corn points me to the story by Scott Harper in The Georgetown Times, South Carolina's oldest newspaper, about Mc Cain's comments while campaigning in that state:
"Another man — wondering if an attack on Iran is in the works — wanted to know when America is going to “send an air mail message to Tehran.” McCain began his answer by changing the words to a popular Beach Boys song.“Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran,” he sang to the tune of Barbara Ann. “Iran is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. That alone should concern us but now they are trying for nuclear capabilities. I totally support the President when he says we will not allow Iran to destroy Israel.” He stopped short of answering the actual question and did not say if he supports an invasion of Iran."
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Nazila Fathi of The New York Times has a story today on the overturning by the Iranian Supreme Court of the murder convictions of six Iranians who had been found guilty of killing five people whom they found "morally corrupt." Iranian lawyers complained loudly against the decision:
"“The psychological consequences of this case in the city have been great, and a lot of people have lost their confidence in the judicial system,” Nemat Ahmadi, a lawyer associated with the case, said in a telephone interview. . . "
"“The roots of the problems are in our laws,” said Mohammad Seifzadeh, a lawyer and a member of the Association for Defenders of Human Rights in Tehran. “Such cases happen as long as we have laws that allow the killer to decide whether the victim is corrupt or not. Ironically, such laws show that the establishment is not capable of bringing justice, and so it leaves it to ordinary people to do it.”"
Fathi writes, "Iran’s Islamic penal code, which is a parallel system to its civic code, says murder charges can be dropped if the accused can prove the killing was carried out because the victim was morally corrupt."
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
I wrote yesterday April 17, 2007, of the phenomenon of George W. Bush as the new High Priest of United States.
Now today, Dan Froomkin blogs in the Washington Post on what I call Bush's role as HIGH PRIEST for the nation. Froomkin gives the URL for the text of Bush's "sermon" to the grieving students, friends and relatives at Virginia Tech. Froomkin remarks that Bush sounds more like a preacher than a president.
"Here is the text of his nine-minute remarks, in which he sounded more like a preacher than a president.
"In this time of anguish, I hope you know that people all over this country are thinking about you, and asking God to provide comfort for all who have been affected," he said.
"Across the town of Blacksburg and in towns all across America, houses of worship from every faith have opened their doors and have lifted you up in prayer. People who have never met you are praying for you; they're praying for your friends who have fallen and who are injured. There's a power in these prayers, real power. In times like this, we can find comfort in the grace and guidance of a loving God. . . .
"May God bless you. May God bless and keep the souls of the lost. And may His love touch all those who suffer and grieve."
I wrote on March 5, 2007, about my impatience with news personalities and/or announcers on TV and radio who are sloppy and lazy with their pronunciation and articulation of the English language.
One of the worst offenders has to be Susan Page of USA Today who filled in for Diane Rehm today April 18, 2007, in a program on Talking about Race. Pick any word where a "t" follows an "n" and Susan Page omits the "t." Examples are too numerous, but here are some of them: Atlanta becomes "A-lana," Bill Clinton becomes "Bill Clinon," and internet becomes "innernet."
Is this the way we want our children to speak? Do we want our schools to permit this laziness? If the answer is no, why do we tolerate people on radio and/or TV getting away with this sloppiness?
Bush is meeting with Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi today about the supplemental budget request to continue his damned war in Iraq but claims he is not negotiating. I guess this means Bush wants to issue a fiat about war funding to the Democrats. And no dissent or time-tables, please! This guy Bush thinks he is king. He is the modern incarnation of the Roman tyrant Julius Caesar who thought he could take over the Roman republic by force of the Roman army. Similarly Bush thinks he can bypass the input of Congress. That's why Bush gives his speeches only to the army.
Here's a suggestion made by Dick Orenstein, a letter writer to the New York Times yesterday. April 17, 2007.
"No big fuss, just adjust the tax rates up to pay for the troops and their activities. Then let’s see who wants to support the troops! That will bring the cost of the war into everyone’s sight!"
Give Bush all the money he wants, but make it "pay-as-you-go," to be financed by current taxes. Do not add one cent to the budget deficit by spending on this unjust war.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Did Bush need to intrude into the memorial service for the 32 Virginia Tech students killed yesterday by an apparently deranged gunman? He jumps at every such opportunity to portray himself to the electorate as the great High Priest of the Nation.
By painting himself in religious overtones, Bush can achieve his own political ends. That's why he publicly calls upon the deity so that he can appear virtuous in the eyes of voting-age believers. That's why he loves to lead prayer services. Here's the AP story as reported in the WashPo:
"Laura and I have come to Blacksburg today with hearts full of sorrow," he said in six-minute remarks at a convocation on the campus where 32 people were gunned down in two separate attacks the day before.
"This is a day of mourning for the Virginia Tech community and it is a day of sadness for our entire nation," Bush said. "In this time of anguish, I hope you know that people all over this country are thinking about you and asking God to provide comfort for all who have been affected."
Monday, April 16, 2007
I get the impression that Cokie Roberts takes every chance she can to demean the Democrats and their plan to end the war in Iraq. This morning on NPR, Cokie Roberts asserts that both Bush and Cheney over the weekend have made "strong cases" against the Democrats' plan to set a timetable for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
That's a lot of bull. And Cokie Roberts should know it. This is plain old spin that listeners of NPR have had to suffer from Cokie Roberts over the years.
Bush/Cheney have never made a "strong case" against the Democrats, unless we consider their false claim that Iraq had WMD.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
In today's Washington Post Robin Wright reports that Bush and Cheney have decided against releasing the five Iranians captured by U.S. forces in Iraq in January.
"At a meeting of the president's foreign policy team Tuesday, the administration decided the five Iranians will remain in custody and go through a periodic six-month review used for the 250 other foreign detainees held in Iraq, U.S. officials said. The next review is not expected until July, officials say."
There is no evidence that these five Iranians have done anything wrong. They were arrested solely because they were Iranians in Iraq. They were in Iraq at the permission of the Iraqi government. Their continued detention shows again the contempt Bush, Cheney and their followers have for the rule of law and individual freedoms.
I had a discussion yesterday at lunch with some lawyer friends about the firing of Don Imus after he was called to account for his racist and sexually demeaning characterization of the Rutgers Ladies Basketball team as a "bunch of nappy-headed ho's."
As readers may know from my previous post, I called for CBS and MSNBC to fire Imus. These comments show Imus to be a bully, a racist and a misogynist. This is not a question of free speech. Imus can say any mean thing he wants, but if he expresses these comments on national air waves, he should expect to pay the price.
This morning in the Washington Post, columnist Colbert I. King takes aim at "prominent media figures who have appeared on Imus's show in the past and who say they would appear on his show again if given a chance." I too voice my displeasure at those big shots in the media and in politics who would too readily let Imus walk without holding him to account. These media and political personalities are in essence enablers. Many of these same people would give Bush and Cheney a pass, merely because they like to be around people with fame and power. These are the very people who would overlook the transgressions of Imus.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Here's Paul Wolfowitz, former neo-con-in-chief and chief engine for the war in Iraq, pushing for the World Bank to punish countries by denying World Bank aid where he suspected corruption. This is the very same Paul Wolfowitz who set up his girl friend in the State Department at a salary and benefits higher than that of Condoleeza Rice. This case should set the defining standards for hypocrisy. The American diplomat punishes poor African nations on the verge of starvation with cessation of World Bank aid, but helps his girl friend obtain a cushy deal from the State Department by using his political insider clout.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Paul Wolfowitz must resign as president of the World Bank. According to Knissah Williams and Sabrina Valle in the Washington Post today, Wolfowitz played a role in obtaining a large raise for a World Bank employee, Ms. Shaha Riza, with whom he had a romantic relationship. His involvement in securing monetary benefits for a girl friend shows that Wolfowitz lacks common good business sense.
Wolfowitz was former Deputy Secretary of Defense and assistant to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Wolfowitz was one of the main architects and engines for Bush's invasion and bombing of Iraq.
Wolfowitz exhibited poor judgment in causing the United States to go to war on the basis of false assertions about Iraq's possession of WMD. He shows the same poor judgment in his handling of personnel matters for the World Bank.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Once again the U.S. military is accusing Iran of supplying rockets and sophisticated shaped charges to the insurgents in Iraq, even to the Sunni insurgents! The BBC reports:
"Sunni militants are being armed with Iranian-made munitions, US military spokesman Maj Gen William Caldwell told reporters in Baghdad."
But once again, the evidence presented by the U.S. army is light or non-existent. There is no hard or clear evidence showing Iran supplying weapons or charges, and the claim that Iran is arming Sunni insurgents is ridiculous on its face. Iran is a Shia nation. The Sunnis are currently killing Shia in Iraq, and the Shia are killing Sunnis. Why would Iran want to supply arms to deadly enemies of its Shia co-religionists?
General Caldwell needs to show hard evidence, not mere hearsay. Until that time, American reporters, commentators and newscasters on radio and TV need to be on their guard as to the flimsy non-evidence evidence. This stuff needs to be presented with a healthy dollop of scepticism. It should not be parroted or presented as the absolute truth.
The BBC reports that Jalal Sharafi, the Iranian diplomat kidnapped several weeks ago in Iraq, shows possible signs of being tortured. The BBC reports that:
"[t]he head of the International Red Cross in Tehran says he saw wounds on [Sharafi] who has alleged that US forces in Iraq tortured him."
"Iranian television has shown pictures of Mr Sharafi receiving treatment in hospital and quotes a doctor's report saying there are signs someone drilled holes in his feet as well as broke his nose, injured his ear and wounded his neck and back."
The U.S. says it had nothing to do with Sharafi's kidnapping. It denies that any U.S. personnel committed acts of torture against Sharafi.
"The United States had nothing to do with Mr Sharafi's detention and we welcome his return to Iran," said Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman, last week. He dismissed the claims as "just the latest theatrics of a government trying to deflect attention away from its own unacceptable actions". An unnamed US intelligence official also denied any claims of abuse, saying: "The CIA does not conduct or condone torture."
Sharafi's claim is different and harsher than the reports of "harsh" treatment meted out to the 15 British sailors/marines by the Iranians. Mr. Sharafi did not receive a brand new suit, nor did he apparently have the chance to write letters home. Compare Sharafi's treatment to what seems to be the worst treatment suffered by the British sailors at the hands of the Iranians, the "harsh" treatment inflicted upon Arthur Batchelor. The BBC reports:
" . . . Arthur Batchelor, 20, the youngest of the British sailors to be held captive, told the Daily Mirror about his "nightmare" at the hands of his captors and how he "cried like a baby" in his cell. He told the newspaper: "A guard kept flicking my neck with his index finger and thumb. I thought the worst, we've all seen the videos. I was frozen in terror and just stared into the darkness of my blindfold."
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting points out that the NewsHour on PBS gave the president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation air time for an interview with Ray Suarez on April 5th, even though there might be a conflict of interest between the NewsHour and the Foundation.
"Following its March 28 broadcast of no less than four segments sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NewsHour airs an entire interview with the foundation's president. Apparently the show's producers consider their fine print disclosure that "the NewsHour health unit is funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation" to be immunization from their blatant shilling for a sponsor."
Monday, April 9, 2007
Does anyone think George Bush's immigration plan has any chance of becoming law? You must still believe in tooth fairies. For one thing, Bush offers a chance of citizenship to the 12 million undocumented Latinos in the U.S., but only if they return to their countries of origin, apply through the local U.S. consulate, and PAY A FINE OF $10,000! If you were undocumented, would you even consider this non-starter proposal? No undocumented person is going to do this. No undocumented person is going to voluntarily leave the U.S. where he/she is employed and go back and get on line. Bush's proposal is DEAD IN THE WATER.
Furthermore, the Bush Wall is odious. The United States is hated universally in the Islamic World. The Bush Wall creates a similar level of hatred in the Latin American World for North Americans. Think of the two hated walls that have been built in the last 60 years: The Berlin Wall. The Israeli Wall. Now add to these the Bush Wall. Bush pretends to be the defender of freedom, yet the Bush Wall shows him to be the worst offender. Bush is the enemy of freedom, just like communists in East Germany, and those neo-con Israelis who clamored for a wall imprisoning the Palestinians.
Freedom requires no wall. Freedom demands that a human being have an inalienable right to travel and go anywhere, without being hassled by artificial borders and cruel policies of ICE.
Don Imus should be fired for his racially invidious comments about the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team. He called them, "nappy headed ho's." This guy Imus is no neophyte, he has years of experience, and he has transgressed the racial insult boundaries before. CBS and MSNBC should dump him forthwith.
Sunday, April 8, 2007
Think Progress reports on Bill Kristol's comments on Fox News that the United States came closer this past week to war with Iran. Kristol is one of the leading intellectual proponents of world war with Iran, no doubt as a way for the U.S. to maintain its hegemony over the rest of the world.
The Guardian of London says that the U.S. offered Tony Blair the use of U.S. war planes as help in obtaining the release of the 15 British sailors/marines held by Iran.
"In the first few days after the captives were seized and British diplomats were getting no news from Tehran on their whereabouts, Pentagon officials asked their British counterparts: what do you want us to do? They offered a series of military options, a list which remains top secret given the mounting risk of war between the US and Iran. But one of the options was for US combat aircraft to mount aggressive patrols over Iranian Revolutionary Guard bases in Iran, to underline the seriousness of the situation."
Thanks to the gods that Tony Blair and the British military rejected this reckless and foolish U.S. offer. The United States might actually find itself in a world war this week with Iran, as Kristol, Bush, Cheney and all the other war-mongering neo-cons, want so much.
Saturday, April 7, 2007
What do you make about the accusation of an Iranian diplomat, kidnapped in Iraq by men in Iraqi Army uniforms, that he was tortured by the CIA and others while he was in custody? Here is the story on the BBC.co.uk.
"An Iranian diplomat freed last week after being abducted in Iraq in February has said he was tortured by his captors, including CIA agents. Jalal Sharafi, the second secretary at Iran's embassy in Baghdad, told Iranian media the agents had interrogated him on his country's role in Iraq."
"Mr Sharafi told the Irna state news agency he was subjected to torture "day and night". "I was kidnapped on a Baghdad street while shopping by officials who had Iraqi defence ministry ID cards and were riding in American forces vehicles," he said."
I listened to Margaret Warner on The Newshour last night interview a former U.S. military officer as to the propriety or impropriety of cooperating with the Iranians in the way that the released group of 15 British sailors/marines did recently. But for me that was not the main story. Rather I wanted The Newshour to investigate the discrepancies between the captured sailors' statements while in Iranian custody and their statements at the news conference yesterday in England.
Margaret Warner kept asking the same question, "what may soldiers say or do while in captivity?" This was not arduous reporting. I wanted her to do some hard reporting. As I suggested in a previous blog, I am most suspicious of governments, including that of Tony Blair, spinning what really happened for political or domestic gain. Why wasn't there any report on The Newshour about only six sailors/marines in attendance at the news conference? Why didn't Margaret Warner investigate why Faye Turney was not present to answer questions?
I watched the TV excerpts from the news conference of the British sailors/marines last night. For one thing, there were only six of the 15 giving their experiences and recounting their version of the events. Where were the other ten? Specifically where was Faye Turney, the female sailor who wrote the two handwritten notes back to her family from Iran? Did the British military authorities order them not to talk? Is there hidden information that the authorities fear will be made public?
Second, why did the five spokesmen read from prepared reports? It is almost as if someone else wrote the reports, someone maybe in higher military authority, and ordered the returned junior officers to read the pre-authorized accounts for public consumption. Admittedly, some readers might find this suspicion too darkly paranoiac, but stranger things have happened with the military and with governments as intransigent as Tony Blair's.
Friday, April 6, 2007
Now it seems like the British sailors/marines are being forced to condemn Iran for arresting them, including blindfolding, cuffing and jailing. The spin begins. The BBC here gives personal recollections of some of the sailors during the captivity. I see no torture nor extreme treatment. Look for your self.
I see where some Britons are wondering why the sailors, when in Iran, said nice things about the Iranians, as if that in se were a punishable offense. Why are some Britons so hostile towards Iran? Why does the official position of the British government incorporate such animosity towards Iran and the Iranians? Was it reasonable for Iran to arrest the British sailors or not? Did they stray into Iranian sovereign waters or not? If they did, which is a 50/50 possibility, then the actions of Iran are reasonable and justified, and Tony Blair and some in the U.K. should quit whining.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
I have previously commented on the Iranian capture of the 15 British sailors. So who were the winners and losers in their arrest and release? The losers included:
- Tony Blair. He could have freed his sailors on the first day by just apologizing to the Iranians. Who knows the exact position of the British sailors? In Iraqi waters, in Iranian waters? The line separating the two has always been contested and far from a black line easily identified on maps. Here is the views of one of the authorities whom Gary Leupp in Counterpunch quotes:
"There is no agreed boundary in the Northern Gulf, either between Iran and Iraq or between Iraq and Kuwait. The Iran-Iraq border has been agreed inside the Shatt al-Arab waterway, because there it is also the land border. But that agreement does not extend beyond the low tide line of the coast. "Even that very limited agreement is arguably no longer in force. Since it was reached in 1975, a war has been fought over it, and ten-year reviews--- necessary because waters and sandbanks in this region move about dramatically---have never been carried out."
Since the sailors' exact position was never known for sure, why wouldn't Blair simply apologize, and say something like, " I am sorry if our sailors advanced into Iranian waters. We don't like any country to enter our territorial waters, so we can understand Iranian impatience and its subsequent action." So why wouldn't Blair apologize? Are the Iranians too "evil" for Blair to apologize to them? Is it because Blair shares Bush's hatred for the Iranians? Blair thus emerges from this debacle as parlously intransigent, much like a George Bush.
- the British military. After seeing the 15 sailors dressed in new civilian suits upon their release, I ask myself why U.K. or any other nation should recruit an army and navy and put lethal weapons in the hands of these young people. The military insists on solving international disputes with bullets and bombs. This is what leads to world wars.
- George Bush and Dick Cheney. Because Mr. Ahmadinejad released the 15 sailors, and because diplomatic measures saved the day, Bush and Cheney have lost their chance to pursue their inchoate bellicose plans for military actions against Iran.
The winners are:
- Ali Larijani, the Iranian chief of diplomacy, who persuaded the Iranians to release the sailors.
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, because he comes across as looking reasonable and generous in his treatment of the 15 sailors. He even spoke to each of the 15 upon their release. If this was Bush, the captives would all be in orange jump suits with bags over their heads. At least Ahmadinejad got them all new suits to wear on the trip home.
- Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, who avoided harsh and intemperate language, and who worked with Mr. Larijani to solve the dispute diplomatically.
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
I see where George Bush today criticized the Democrats as irresponsible for putting conditions on the supplemental war funding bill:
"Democrat leaders in Congress seem more interested in fighting political battles in Washington than in providing our troops what they need to fight the battles in Iraq," Bush said. "In a time of war, it's irresponsible for the Democrat leadership — Democratic leadership in Congress to delay for months on end while our troops in combat are waiting for the funds."
We all know that Bush is the irresponsible one for risking the lives and limbs of soldiers and marines by sending them into this catastrophic military adventure that is Iraq. If Bush believes the war is justified, and that we Democrats are "irresponsible," then let him and Cheney don uniforms and walk the streets of Baghdad with the troops that he has so cavalierly sent, and I don't mean like Mc Cain who, accompanied by blackhawk choppers and 100 mean guys with guns, was mocked even by local Iraqis. Oh, and don't forget to enlist the Bush twins.
Monday, April 2, 2007
Sunday, April 1, 2007
So Tony Blair wants to look strong in his last few months in office, so he refuses to apologize to the Iranians. And George Bush, ever anxious to confront another Moslem country, can't control himself, butts in and calls the Iranian arrest of the British sailors/marines "inexcusable."
Mr. Bush, free the five Iranians that you had arrested in the Iranian liason office in Irbil last January. They have already been incarcerated for three months.
And Mr. Blair, lower your rhetoric and apologize for your British sailors' intrusion into Iranian waters. Both you and Mr. Bush opine Iraqi waters, the Iranians say their waters. Who knows which is true? So eat some humble pie, Mr. Blair, and apologize to the Iranians. And Mr. Bush, please butt out.
Maybe then the U.K., the U.S. and Iran can lower tensions and behave vis-a-vis in a reasonable way in the world community.
Posted by BOB EDER at 3:30 PM PERMALINK
We all know there are Americans who are against Latinos speaking Spanish in the U.S. As a boy growing up in Brooklyn, I remember the same prejudice against people speaking Italian or "Puerto Rican." But it is the mark of the uneducated to put down someone for speaking a foreign language in public.
Now we have Newt Gingrich (in an article by Kasie Hunt of the AP as reported in the WashPo) speaking to a group of cheering Republican Women saying that there should not be bi-lingual education in the schools, and that, furthermore, the government should not print voter information in languages other than English.
Hey, I thought we wanted our kids to be educated and be bi-lingual? That's why we send them to schools that teach French, German, Spanish, et al. That's why we require them to have two or more years of a foreign language in high school. But in the world according to Gingrich and a lot of his cheering anti-Latino supporters, the school language requirement is bull, just meant for show. Education and bi-lingualism count for nothing in the "real" world outside of academia.
I congratulate the hundreds of thousands of Latinos who actually are bi-lingual, who want their kids to learn English, but who value Spanish as an equally great and important language. Too bad that so many Americans speak only English.