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Archive for August, 2006|Monthly archive page

Goldman Sachs: “You’re Rich Cuz He’s Poor”

In Children and Youth, Culture jamming, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Election 2006, Election 2008, International politics, International Trade, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Misc., New York City, US Politics on August 31, 2006 at 11:20 pm

To those that say gettin rich doesn’t mean someone else is gettin poor, looks like Goldman Sachs suggests you shove that sentiment where the sun don’t shine.

“The most important contributor to higher profit margins over the past five years has been a decline in labor’s share of national income.”

Ah-nold: It’s My Party and I’ll Invite Who I Want!

In Culture jamming, Election 2006, Election 2008, Misc., Sexuality, Uncategorized, US Politics on August 31, 2006 at 3:01 pm

This is hands-downs the weirdest party of the 21st century, so far.  According to the Press-Telegram, via the Hotline:

Aside from the Dalai Lama, scheduled speakers at this year’s SchwarzeneggerShriver Conference on Women include Martha Stewart, Tyra Banks, and Tim Russert

Can you imagine the people that are gonna show up for this?  I really believe Weird Al, or perhaps former Liberian president Charles Taylor, would be the only way to make this a more awkward crowd of attendees.

Sen. Conrad Burns: “[Terrorists May Not Wear T-Shirts, But] They Do Drive Taxis and Kill at Night”

In Afghanistan, Children and Youth, Culture jamming, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Election 2006, Election 2008, Global War On Terror, Immigration, International politics, International Public Health, International Trade, Iraq War, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Misc., Netroots, New York City, Race, Terrorism, US Politics on August 31, 2006 at 2:40 pm

To follow up on the madness that BigDaddyChris posted up on earlier concerning the Muslim American that was harrassed for wearing an innocent t-shirt that happened to have “we will not be silent” in Arabic, as well as English, here is powerful shit from TPMCafe’s Election Central

GOP Senator Conrad Burns really does have a knack for talking himself into some political jams. A spokesman for a Muslim group has just now sharply criticized Burns for his remark, just reported this morning, that America confronts a “faceless enemy” of terrorists who “drive taxi cabs in the daytime and kill at night.” In an interview with Election Central, the spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, slammed Burns’s comments: “It just adds to the overall atmosphere of anti-Muslim hysteria and xenophobia.”

[…]

“It doesn’t help our nation either domestically or internationally,” Hooper said. “These types of comments are picked up by news sources around the world, they’re spread on the internet, and people hear about them. It’s no longer that some local politician can say something to pander to a local audience, because their views will be published internationally.”

A31 Remembered

In Culture jamming, Election 2006, New York City, US Politics on August 31, 2006 at 12:35 pm

A31

Today is the 2-year anniversary of A31 (the day that well over a thousand people were arrested in NYC for protesting the Republican National Convention).

I found this interesting Wikipedia Page on the week of the RNC here.

For those that don’t know:

2004 Republican National Convention protest activity includes the broad range of marches, rallies, performances, demonstrations, exhibits, and acts of civil disobedience in New York City to protest the 2004 Republican National Convention and the nomination of President George W. Bush for the 2004 U.S. presidential election, as well as a much smaller number of people who marched to support Bush at the convention.

Hundreds of groups organized protests, including United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of more than 800 anti-war and social justice groups, and International ANSWER. So far, over 1800 individuals have been arrested by the authorities, a record for a political convention in the U.S. [citation needed] However nearly all of these charges were eventually dropped.

People who were involved, as well as all activists, should think back on this and reflect.  Have things gotten better?  Have they gotten worse?  What was done right or wrong?

With the upcoming elections in mind, it’s important to ask ourselves questions like this, and think about ways to make change in the future…..

Attention: Terrorists Don’t Wear Terrorist T-shirts

In Race, Terrorism on August 31, 2006 at 9:57 am

Newspapers are reporting that a man was harassed by security and airline officials recently for wearing a t-shirt that had some arabic writing on it. The t-shirt said “We will not be silent” in both Arabic and English.

BBC writes:

He said he had cleared security at John F Kennedy airport for a flight back to his home in California when he was approached by two men who wanted to check his ID and boarding pass.

Mr Jarrar said he was told a number of passengers had complained about his T-shirt – apparently concerned at what the Arabic phrase meant – and asked him to remove it.

News24.com writes:

One of the officials told him, “Going to an airport with a T-shirt in Arabic script is like going to a bank and wearing a T-shirt that says ‘I’m a robber’,” he said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

That’s disgusting.

Edit: Keeley posted Raed Jarrar’s blog in the comments below.  I just wanted to add it here to make it more visible.  Read both Keeley’s comments and Jarrar’s post on the incident.  Behavior like this has to stop!

South Africa Faces “Grave Constitutional Crisis;” Minister of Health Continues Breaking the Law

In Children and Youth, Culture of Corruption, Disaster Relief, Economic Justice, HIV/SIDA, Housing, Immigration, International politics, International Public Health, International Trade, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Misc., New York City, Race, Sexuality, The War On Drugs on August 30, 2006 at 6:40 pm

[Lucio Verani is a volunteer for Friends of TAC-North America and works as an administrative assistant at The Rockefeller University. Previously, Lucio volunteered for TAC in South Africa, interned with the Atlanta Harm Reduction Center and worked for the National School of Public Health in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He can be contacted at lucio_verani@yahoo.com.]

Two developments this week have highlighted the serious incompetence of the South African government’s response to the HIV/AIDS crisis.

First, the South African government is illegally withholding AIDS treatment from its prisoners. The South African Constitution states that healthcare is a right, and based on this, the South African government was ordered on June 26th, to implement emergency treatment programs in Durban’s Westville Prison. The government then appealed this judgment, but the judge, agreeing with the Treatment Action Campaign(TAC) and the AIDS Law Project, handed an interim-order (valid until the government’s original appeal could be ruled upon), which forced government to begin implementing an emergency treatment plan by August 14. The government then illegally appealed this interim-order, and on Monday, August 28th, the courts once again ruled against the government, saying:

If the refusal to comply does not result from instruction from the first respondent, the Government of the Republic of South Africa, then the remaining respondents must be disciplined, either administratively or in an employment context, for their delinquency. If the Government of the Republic of South Africa has given such an instruction then we face a grave constitutional crisis involving a serious threat to the doctrine of the separation of powers. Should that continue the members of the judiciary will have to consider whether their oath of office requires them to continue on the bench.”

Secondly, on Tuesday, August 29th, South Africa’s Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala Msimang (commonly known as Manto), was condemned by the South African Medical Association for making illegal and unscientific pronouncements. Manto is a lunatic that deserves to be fired. She is equivocating on the supposed “issue” of proper nutrition versus access to timely HIV medications. Manto highlights the side-effects of antiretrovirals (for treating AIDS), talks about the benefits of nutrition and then says it is each person’s democratic right to choose if they will maintain a healthy diet or try to get on antiretrovirals. Recently, US Senator Barack Obama met with members of TAC in the Khayeltisha township of Cape Town and afterwards declared that “[O]n the treatment side the information being provided by the minister of health is not accurate… It is not an issue of Western science versus African science, it is just science and it’s not right [what Manto is doing].” In addition to offering her poorly informed sisters and brothers this “false-choice” between proper nutrition and HIV treatment, the Minister has refused to distance herself from HIV/AIDS denialists and people who sell multivitamins or traditional remedies as cures for AIDS.

TAC recently held an international Day of Action calling for the Health Minister to be fired and for prisoners to receive treatment. TAC’s explanation of their demands can be found here. The document provides a brief overview of why Minister Manto must be fired and then tried in court for the culpable homicide of one of the Westville prisoners, who died after receiving treatment far too late. According to TAC and the AIDS Law Project, at least four of the 14 remaining plaintiffs in prison are in critical condition, and their lawyers have been denied access to them for the past two weeks. Please e-mail, news-subscribe@tac.org.za in order to sign-up for the TAC Newsletter, the source of most of this information. This newsletter will help you support the most credible HIV/AIDS advocacy organization in the world. Until South Africa’s politicians take the lead on this issue, it will be up to international civil society to support South African civil society in leading the way. Your help is desperately needed.

Finally, I would like people to read the below chart on HIV treatment rates in Africa and the accompanying explanation. This conclusively shows that the South African government is lying when they claim to run the world’s most comprehensive AIDS program.

Country

UNAIDS/WHO estimates

People receiving
treatment in
December 2005

People needing
treatment in 2005

Treatment coverage

Under 25% coverage: RED

Under 50% coverage: YELLOW

Above 50% coverage: GREEN

 

 

 

Algeria

<500

1,000

39%

Angola

2,500-3,500

52,000

6%

Benin

3,500-6,000

14,000

33%

Botswana

67,000-77,000

84,000

85%

Burkina Faso

9,000

34,000

24%

Burundi

6,000-7,000

46,000

14%

Cameroon

21,000-26,000

108,000

22%

Cape Verde

<500

Central African Republic

1,500-2,000

49,000

3%

Chad

5,000-8,000

38,000

17%

Congo

2,000-3,500

18,000

17%

Côte d’Ivoire

18,000-19,000

111,000

17%

Democratic Republic
of the Congo

7,000-8,500

209,000

4%

Djibouti

<500

2,000

16%

Egypt

<500

2,000

12%

Equatorial Guinea

<200

4,200

0%

Eritrea

<1,000

11,000

5%

Ethiopia

19,000-22,000

278,000

7%

Gabon

2,000-2,500

8,650

23%

Gambia

<200

1,500

10%

Ghana

4,000-5,000

61,000

7%

Guinea

2,000-2,500

23,000

9%

Guinea Bissau

<200

4,800

1%

Kenya

60,000-72,000

273,000

24%

Lesotho

7,500-9,000

58,000

14%

Liberia

<500

15,000

3%

Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

<1,000

1,500

35%

Madagascar

<200

20,000

0%

Malawi

31,000-35,000

169,000

20%

Mali

5,500-9,000

22,000

32%

Mauritania

<500

1,500

40%

Mauritius

<200

Morocco

<1,000

2,000

48%

Mozambique

19,000-21,000

216,000

9%

Namibia

27,000-31,000

41,000

71%

Niger

<1,000

12,000

5%

Nigeria

37,000-45,000

636,000

7%

Rwanda

18,000-20,000

49,000

39%

Sao Tome and Principe

<200

Senegal

3,000-5,500

9,000

47%

Seychelles

<200

Sierra Leone

<500

9,600

2%

Somalia

6,000

1%

South Africa

178,000-235,000

983,000

21%

Sudan

<500

62,000

1%

Swaziland

12,000-14,000

42,000

31%

Togo

5,000-8,000

25,000

27%

Tunisia

<500

<1,000

34%

Uganda

71,000-79,000

148,000

51%

United Republic of Tanzania

20,000-23,000

315,000

7%

Zambia

45,000-52,000

183,000

27%

Zimbabwe

22,000-27,000

321,000

8%

“[Gregg Gonsalves from the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa used UNAIDS/WHO statistics to code] countries with greater than 50% coverage in GREEN (i.e. Namibia, Botswana and Uganda); countries with less than 50% (but more than 25%) coverage in YELLOW (i.e. Algeria, Benin, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, and Zambia) and those with less than 25% coverage in RED (i.e. South Africa and all the rest).  So when the Health Minister of South Africa says her country is treating more people than any other country in the region, she is correct in terms of absolute numbers, but South Africa is not out of the RED yet-it is behind all the countries in YELLOW AND GREEN and even within those countries with less than 25% coverage, still Kenya, Gabon, Cameroon, Burkina Faso are ahead of South Africa!  That means 19 countries in the region are doing better than South Africa in terms of the percentage of people on ART who are in need of it. Finally, South Africa has the greatest absolute number of people in need of treatment (i.e. 983,000 people), dwarfing any other countries' number waiting for treatment with the closest rival being Nigeria with 636,000 people still in need of ART.” –posted by Gregg on the Health GAP list-serve, August 26, 2006.
To subscribe to the Health GAP list-serve, send an email to info@healthgap.org

Irish Dissidents Call Off Meeting, Sinn Fein Still Playin’ it Cool

In International politics, Misc., Northern Ireland on August 30, 2006 at 5:32 pm

We posted the other day about a group of dissident Irish Nationalists/republicans (not Republicans in U.S. terms) looking to form an alliance to challenge the current leadership Sinn Fein, the political arm of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. The meeting was called off, and now the mudslinging in the press will continue:

Dissident republicans planning a united front against the peace process abandoned a meeting scheduled for last night… The organisers of the meeting had hoped to bring together those who are opposed to mainstream republicanism and elements who feel disillusioned with current Sinn Fein policies.

[…]

“Censorship did not work for the Brits and it is not going to work for the Provos,” he said. Mr Murray said that the idea behind the meeting was to “get a debate going”. A spokesman for Sinn Fein said that the party had no problem with the meeting.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out on our side of the pond, particularly in the historic Sinn Fein strongholds of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

For an intro to the dissident groups’ concerns and complaints, check out this good overview.  And for more on Sinn Fein’s reactions to this, read up on the internal review they’re currently undertaking.
(note: “Provos” refers to the Provisional IRA, the branch that has been active throughout The Troubles of the last 30 years and the group affiliated with Sinn Fein.)

Privatization of Disaster

In Culture of Corruption, Disaster Relief, Economic Justice, Election 2006, Election 2008, Environment, Housing, Hurricane Katrina, International Public Health, Labor, Laws & Regulation, US Politics on August 30, 2006 at 10:37 am

“The Red Cross has just announced a new disaster-response partnership with Wal-Mart. When the next hurricane hits, it will be a co-production of Big Aid and Big Box. This, apparently, is the lesson learned from the government’s calamitous response to Hurricane Katrina: Businesses do disaster better.”

This is how Naomi Klein starts a piece she wrote earlier this week on disaster relief. But she goes on to show that just because Wal-Mart may do disaster relief better, the end result isn’t better for taxpayers and the country as a whole.

She describes privatization of disaster relief as follows:

Largely under the public radar, billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on the construction of a privatized disaster-response infrastructure…

I call it the Disaster Capitalism Complex. Whatever you might need in a serious crunch, these contractors can provide it: generators, water tanks, cots, port-a-potties, mobile homes, communications systems, helicopters, medicine, men with guns.

This state-within-a-state has been built almost exclusively with money from public contracts, including the training of its staff (overwhelmingly former civil servants, politicians and soldiers). Yet it is all privately owned; taxpayers have absolutely no control over it or claim to it. So far, that reality hasn’t sunk in because when these companies are getting their bills paid by government contracts, the Disaster Capitalism Complex provides its services to the public free of charge.

But here’s the catch: The U.S. government is going broke, in no small part thanks to this kind of loony spending. The national debt is $8-trillion; the federal budget deficit is at least $260-billion. That means that sooner rather than later, the contracts are going to dry up. And no one knows this better than the companies themselves. Ralph Sheridan, chief executive of Good Harbor Partners, one of hundreds of new counter-terrorism companies, explains that “expenditures by governments are episodic and come in bubbles.” Insiders call it the “homeland security bubble.”

When it bursts, firms such as Bechtel, Fluor and Blackwater will lose their primary revenue stream. They will still have all their high-tech gear giving them the ability to respond to disasters — while the government will have let that precious skill whither away — but now they will rent back the tax-funded infrastructure at whatever price they choose.

Does this mean that the next time a disaster hits, we will be even less equipped to handle it? It looks like that may be the case.

Meanwhile, in other disaster relief funding news, the Washington Post reports today that FEMA is trying to cut corners and hold back funding on some of the repair and renewal projects in New Orleans and other areas damaged by Katrina. They report:

Someone had to pay to remove 3,000 dead trees in New Orleans. The trees, insisted the Federal Emergency Management Agency, couldn’t have been killed by Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters because they weren’t toppled to a certain angle. New Orleans would have to pay…

Through hundreds of such disputes large and small, the most costly disaster in U.S. history is fast becoming its most contentious, with appeals and disputes worth nearly a billion dollars bogging down repairs of critical public systems and delaying the return of residents.

Current and former officials at all levels blame FEMA workers’ inexperience with eligibility rules, weaknesses in U.S. disaster laws and inconsistent treatment by Congress for much of the wrangling.

But why are the workers inexperienced? Well, that sort of leads us back to Naomi Klein’s article. The WaPo article describes the situation as follows:

Elsewhere [outisde of New Orleans] local officials say a parade of new FEMA officials — the overstretched agency rotates workers every 90 days or so and relies on temporary employees as well — leads to constantly changing decisions on project approvals and paperwork.

One reason for mistakes is that FEMA has suffered a “brain drain” of top officials familiar with the complex rules to retirements and agency upheaval in recent years, said David Fukutomi, a FEMA consultant who is serving as a spokesman….

The state of Louisiana had only 14 disaster recovery employees before the storm and is relying on 173 contract workers provided by James Lee Witt Associates, the firm headed by the Clinton administration FEMA director, to help it manage the process, Jones said. FEMA has more than 700 people in the Gulf states working on the program, about 90 percent of them interim or contract workers, Fukutomi said.

So in summary, privatization leads to debt, unskilled workers, chaos, disputes, and a dependency on private companies to save us when something bad happens again. And when something does happen, the best services will go to people who can pay the most.

To top it off, disaster relief isn’t the only industry that is being sold off by the government to private companies. You can add border patrol, healthcare, homeland security, and more to the list. Naomi Klein puts it best when she says:

The model, of course, is the U.S. healthcare system, in which the wealthy can access best-in-class treatment in spa-like environments while 46-million Americans lack health insurance. As emergency-response, the model is already at work in the global AIDS pandemic: private-sector prowess helped produce lifesaving drugs (with heavy public subsidies), then set prices so high that the vast majority of the world’s infected cannot afford treatment.

If that is the corporate world’s track record on slow-motion disasters, why should we expect different values to govern fast-moving disasters, like hurricanes or even terrorist attacks?

Santorum, re-defined

In Children and Youth, Culture jamming, Culture of Corruption, Election 2006, Election 2008, International Public Health, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Misc., Netroots, Sexuality, US Politics on August 30, 2006 at 9:36 am

The earlier post about Rick Santorum reminded me of the redefinition of his name. Check the new standard definition here, the urban dictionary version here, and epistomology of the term here.

Short history: “The santorum crusade began in April 2003 when the Pennsylvanian senator told reporters from the Associated Press that he hoped the United States Supreme Court would uphold anti-gay sodomy laws and compared consensual gay sex to incest, bigamy, adultery, and ‘man-on-dog’ sex. The comments inspired a suggestion from a Savage Love reader that a sex act be named for Santorum ‘so that the episode would never be forgotten.'”

MSM Duped.

In Children and Youth, Culture jamming, Culture of Corruption, Election 2006, Election 2008, International politics, International Public Health, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Misc., Netroots, Sexuality, US Politics on August 30, 2006 at 8:49 am

and nevermind why we use his middle name like he’s John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, or even Mark David Chapman…

Glenn McCoy

And AMERICAblog lists here the stories the media missed by covering this non-story.

Santorum: “Rendell and Ricky Sitting in a Tree…”

In Culture of Corruption, Election 2006, Election 2008, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Misc., US Politics on August 30, 2006 at 8:19 am

Democratic PA Gov, and former DNC Chairman, Ed Rendell has gotta keep his mouth shut, cuz Santorum didn’t really even need to frame this one to make it look this bad. If Rendell is looking to hedge his bets for an ’08 VP bid and needs to be friendly with Santorum for that (who will go for the White House himself if he wins this election), than I’m writing him off — Santorum needs to be marganilized, not passively endorsed.  If there’s another reason Eddie’d spout this BS, than I look forward to hearing why.

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum’s new best friend appears to be Ed Rendell, the Democratic governor whom Republicans such as Santorum hope to defeat. Santorum yesterday repeatedly invoked Rendell’s recent remarks to a conservative magazine, which quoted the governor as saying, “Santorum delivers.”

An interesting bit later in the article, that’s worth pointing out: “But Santorum, who ran for Congress in 1990 pledging not to accept a pay raise, has since received cost-of-living increases worth $37,000.”

Poverty Rate Unchanged, Bush Says “Told Ya So, Nanny-Nanny Poo-Poo”

In Children and Youth, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Election 2006, Election 2008, Housing, Immigration, International politics, International Public Health, International Trade, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Misc., New York City, Race, US Politics on August 29, 2006 at 11:05 am

“The nation’s poverty rate was essentially unchanged last year, the first year it hasn’t increased since before President Bush took office… However, the number of people without health insurance increased to 46.6 million in 2005. About 45.3 million people were without insurance the year before.” NYT

It doesn’t take much to realize that the latter statement is equally as important as the first. Three-quarters of all bankruptcies are filed because of one of three occurances: divorce, job loss, and, yes, medical bills. With last year’s bankruptcy protection devolution, we can expect poverty not to skyrocket just yet, bankruptcies to fall (as we historically think of and measure them), but employment and the food-on-the-table and gas-in-the-tank metrics to show dramatic drops.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Should’ve put this up earlier.  Tony Snow discussing the president: “Does he often talk about poverty? No,” Snow said. “There hasn’t been a direct discussion of poverty, but he is focused on eliminating the barriers that stand in the way of people making progress.”

I Agree with the Heritage Foundation (and I Don’t Think I’m Embarrassed)

In Children and Youth, Culture jamming, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Election 2006, Election 2008, Global War On Terror, International politics, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Misc., US Politics on August 28, 2006 at 8:38 pm

Surprisingly, I don’t think I’m embarrassed byagreeing with them on this one.

Following Bush’s Lead, The Yes Men Make Empty Promises to New Orleans

In Children and Youth, Culture jamming, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Election 2006, Election 2008, Environment, Housing, International politics, International Public Health, International Trade, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Misc., Netroots, Race, The War On Drugs, US Politics on August 28, 2006 at 8:32 pm

From Talking Points Muckraker:

A team of political hoaxers fooled New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco, and a thousand construction-industry members today.

Posing as fictitious senior HUD official Rene Oswin, Andy Bichlbaum — a member of the Group the Yes Men — promised big (and unlikely) changes in New Orleans to a privately-organized conference in Kenner, Louisiana. Among his expansive promises, according to CNN:

– Energy giants Exxon and Shell would spend $8.6 billion “to finance wetlands rebuilding from $60 billion in profits this year.”

– Wal-Mart would withdraw its stores from poor neighborhoods and “help nurture local businesses to replace them.”

– the federal government would spend $180 million to fund “at least one well-equipped public health clinic for every housing development.”

– the feds would reverse plans to replace public schools with private and charter schools, and instead create a national tax base to supplement local taxes.

If you haven’t seen it, their movie is well worth watching.

“Enemies of the U.S., Unite!” Says Santorum

In Afghanistan, Culture of Corruption, Election 2006, Election 2008, Global War On Terror, International politics, International Public Health, Iraq War, Laws & Regulation, Misc., New York City, Race, Terrorism on August 28, 2006 at 5:30 pm

What could possibly be more dangerous than giving geographically and ideologically varied “enemies of the United States” a reason to unite against us. These groups Santorum is calling out to brawl in the school yard have not necessarily had historic ties, but will see in us a common enemy that is ignorantly clumping them all together, as more Republicans continue to box “Islamofascists” together.

We need responsible diplomacy, not a cock-sure Senator.  Do what you can to say goodbye to Ricky.

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum on Monday drew parallels between World War II and the current war against “Islamic fascism,” saying they both require fighting a common foe in multiple countries.

“Were the Japanese imperialists with their mind-set and their ideology the same as the Nazis? Obviously not. Were they the same as the fascists in Italy? Obviously not. But they were still a common enemy,” the Republican told about 250 people at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon.

“We’re at war with Islamic fascism,” said Santorum, who is seeking a third term this year. “Afghanistan and Iraq and southern Lebanon and every country around the world is a front.”

A diarist at DailyKos discussed this dangerous far-Right framing recently, but I can’t seem to find it. Post the link as a comment if you have it available.

Irish Nationalist Re-alignment; Re-evaluating the IRAs “Tiocfaidh Ar La”

In International politics, Laws & Regulation, Misc., Northern Ireland, US Politics on August 28, 2006 at 3:20 pm

“Tiocfaidh ar la” is the slogan of the Provisional IRA and is Irish Gaelic for “Our day will come.” The splinter groups mentioned below feel that day (of a united, 32-county Ireland) must be expedited and is nowhere in sight under the current Sinn Fein/Provisional IRA strategy. Tomorrow’s meeting has the potential for explosive and long-term effects.

Recently-defected Provisional IRA members will join forces with Real IRA and Continuity IRA activists at a public meeting in Co Derry on Tuesday in what they believe could lead to a ground-breaking challenge to the peace process.

[…]

Real IRA, INLA and Continuity IRA members, who will attend the meeting, said they hoped to develop a way forward and put an end to the marginalisation of dissident republicans. Political activists with no military involvement are also involved in organising the meeting and will be in attendance.

[…]

Ex-IRA hunger-striker Marion Price, now a member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, said dissident republicanism was strengthening. “There have been more new faces at meetings. Anti-(Good Friday) Agreement ranks are definitely swelling. There has been so much bickering in the past between anti-Agreement republicans. It’s time it stopped. Far more unites than divides us. For the sake of republicanism, we need to find a common way forward. Unity is strength.”

The Provisional IRA is what most people think of simply as the IRA (an overlooked technicality for those outside the fray). This is largely an argument centered around the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the negotiations leading up to it between Irish Nationalist and Loyalist forces. The Agreement laid out a plan for a power-sharing executive in the North of Ireland, among other things. The Agreement has never been effectively implemented, and these groups largely see this Agreement as useless.
The groups leading the meeting tomorrow splintered off at various times in recent years because they felt the IRA and its political wing, Sinn Fein, were appeasing the British and were selling out — Sinn Fein, they say, faltered towards the ultimate goal of uniting the six counties in the North of Ireland with the remaining 26 ccounties in the South, to form a united Ireland.

If these dissident groups create a united against the British and the pro-Agreement republicans, there very may well be a dramatic surge in violence in the North of Ireland in the coming years.

Read another release about the meeting here.

US “Welcomes Coup” Against Pakistan’s Musharraf; Faces “Total Failure in Afghanistan”

In Afghanistan, Culture of Corruption, Election 2006, Election 2008, Global War On Terror, International politics, Laws & Regulation, Misc., New York City, Terrorism, US Politics on August 28, 2006 at 2:42 pm

Asia Times has a thorough piece about the difficulties the GWOT faces in Afghanistan, specifically in the fallout of the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti against the direct orders of General Perez Musharraf.

The killing of Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, a prominent politician who served many times in top government positions, at the hands of Pakistani security agencies on the weekend will ignite the movement for a “free Balochistan”.

At the same time, it deals a powerful blow from the Pakistani military establishment against President General Pervez Musharraf for him to step down.

[…]

Apparently, Musharraf directed that Bugti be isolated rather than killed as he did not want him to be turned into a martyr. He reasoned it would be better to have Bugti on the run than the clamor for a Baloch nation being intensified.

News of Bugti’s death, therefore, not only inflamed Balochis, but caught the army’s top brass by surprise. They are now bracing for a spurt in nationalist activities in Balochistan.

For Musharraf, the killing, which can only be interpreted as being deliberate and against his orders, sends a powerful message from elements in the army that all is not well in the barracks. There have been rumors of coup plot for some while. The general is unlikely to step down. Rather, he will hit back at those undermining him.
[…]

Bugti’s killing is likely to impact US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operations in Balochistan, which has become a strategic back yard for the Taliban.

Musharraf is expected to stop the FBI’s activities immediately, leaving his relations with the US even further strained. Musharraf is due to meet President George W Bush in Washington next month at an important stage in the “war on terror”.

[…]

Contacts told Asia Times Online they expected that very soon the Taliban would announce the revival of the “Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan” in that country’s southwest, from where a countrywide offensive will be staged.

For Washington, this would mean a total failure in Afghanistan – and Pakistan in large part would be held to blame. This is because the US has based much of its strategy on information fed to it by the Pakistani establishment.

[…]

It has emerged that during an earlier exchange of notes between Pakistani intelligence organizations and the US, American officials named a top retired Pakistani army official as orchestrating the Taliban’s strategies. The implication was that this was done with the tacit approval of the Pakistani establishment.

[…]

Musharraf certainly has some explaining to do in Washington. There are strong rumors from Washington that the Americans would welcome a “coup” against Musharraf, with the hope that his replacement would be more effective in the “war on terror”.

UPDATE: ” ‘All those weapons and aid that the US has given to Pakistan to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban, [the Pakistan Army] is using against the nationalists in Balochistan,’ adds Mr. Akbar Mengal [a member of the provincial assembly from the Balochistan Nationalist Party]. US officials have conceded as much to the Western media in the recent past, saying it cannot always control how the Pakistani Army uses its weapons.” – Christian Science Monitor

Tom & Jerry to “Just Say No”

In Children and Youth, Culture jamming, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Misc. on August 28, 2006 at 2:23 pm

Missed this last week:

The cartoon channel Boomerang, which is owned by Turner Broadcasting, has bowed to pressure by a special interest group and is editing out any scenes from the classic Tom and Jerry cartoons that show any of the main characters smoking. What? Are you serious? Yes I am. The rationale, of course, is that somehow a smoking cartoon cat will cause children to want to light up. The part of all of this that makes me the angriest is that any scene with a “bad guy” smoking a cigar will be left in! Hypocrisy anyone?

My question is that smoking is no good, but the violence is somehow OK? Wikipedia has, “The (Tom & Jerry) shorts are famous for using some of the most destructive and violent gags ever devised for theatrical animation: Jerry slicing Tom in half, Tom using everything from axes, pistols, rifles, dynamite, and poison to try and murder Jerry, Jerry stuffing Tom’s tail in a waffle iron, and so on. A well-used and favoured joke is when Tom hits Jerry with something such as a hammer when he is occupied (usually eating) and is initially perplexed as he continues unaffected- and he then feels the effects moments later.” T&J is the basis for The Simpson’s uber-violent “Itchy & Scratchy.”

UPDATE: My So-Called Strife says this is “Nuckin’ Futz” and lays out pics of the other offensive material in this cartoon, that will not be edited out.

FISA To Target The Press, But First a Word From Our Sponsor

In Culture jamming, Culture of Corruption, Election 2006, Election 2008, Immigration, International politics, International Trade, Iraq War, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Misc., Netroots, Terrorism, US Politics on August 28, 2006 at 1:31 pm

Scary:

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) can be used to monitor U.S. persons who engage in unlawful collection of classified or controlled information even if they are not acting on behalf of a foreign power.

That is the upshot of an August 14 ruling (pdf) disclosed last week in the case of two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

[…]

Instead, Judge Ellis expanded the scope of the term “agent of a foreign power” to include someone who clandestinely gathers restricted information in a probable violation of the Espionage Act, even if there is no reason to suppose he is a spy or a terrorist.

By the Court’s logic, it does not take an big imaginative leap to envision the application of FISA surveillance to members of the press or others who deliberately solicit classified or controlled information or who report on classified programs in willful defiance of official directives to the contrary.

[…]

The new order also called for a leak investigation to determine the sources of a August 2004 CBS News story about the AIPAC case.

Now can we please have the discussion about the current administration’s use of the NSA wiretapping to not only spy on the press and political operatives, but… ready… also on their own supporters. Much of what has come out is almost run-of-the-mill at this point, the clincher will be the revelation that the White House via the NSA has been spying on their presumed allies at DC/international law firms, telecom cos, etc. That, I think, is the only reason they wouldn’t have gotten FISA approval before, during, or even after the wiretapping had been conducted. Allies of the administration could presumably keep a secret, but in this situation it seems even the allies were intentionally kept in the dark.

’06 congress swings; ’07 investigations and indictments; ’08 Dem candidate brings an oversized box of band-aids, a dozen flowers, and gets down on one knee to say I’m sorry to the international community. That is not weak, that is taking responsibility for an administration that will refuse to until their very last breath.

We have been on the attack since Sept 11, 2001 and it seems much of the rest of the world has been doing out police work to route future acts of terrorism. Diplomacy, however, has gone eons backwards. Saying sorry is a humbling experience, but Iranian and North Korean leaders wouldn’t take that as any sign of weakness. If anything it would stregthen our standing in the international community and bring more force to our side.

Biden: “My State was Slave State!”

In Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Election 2006, Election 2008, International politics, Laws & Regulation, Misc., Race, US Politics on August 28, 2006 at 12:45 pm

Joe Biden argues that he ain’t no stinkin’ northeast liberal, he says, “My state was a slave state… my state is anything but a northeast liberal state.” Acting like he hadn’t already done enough to harpoon his chances for ’08. Let’s see if any of this trickles into the campaign of his son, Beau Biden, for Deleware State Attorney General. The Question and Answer blog (“Free Markets, Free People”) calls the Biden that delivered Strom Thurman’s eulogy an “idiot“.