Saturday, March 05, 2005
Streets in El Alto, a largely indigenous city that is traditionally the flashpoint for antigovernment protests, have been blockaded for two days, with demonstrators demanding that the government immediately close down the French-owned utility that runs the city's water service. In January, the government canceled a 20-year contract with the company, Aguas del Illimani, but allowed it to close its operations gradually. The protesters, angry that the company had failed to provide affordable hook-up fees to people without water, want it to leave immediately. Juan Forero (NYT)Now we have people starving to death in a world with plenty of food, soon we'll be seeing people die of thirst as the greedy bastards try to privatize water delivery and price it out of the reach of the poor.
Jack Clark 9:43 PM [+]
In truth, in Iran as elsewhere in the Middle East today, America's sins were principally those of omission, not commission. Of course, the Eisenhower administration had toppled the popular government of Mohammed Mosaddegh in 1953 -- an event that has reached mythic proportions in Iranian minds.This is the most jaw-droppingly assinine thing I've read in quite some time. With the blithe phrase "Of course," Kenneth Pollack dismisses the toppling of a democratically elected government and installation of a brutal dictatorship as not enough to enter into the realm of "commission," as something that the citizens of this country shouldn't really be blaming the US for. This is ludicrous, even if what he goes on to write were true, that
Thereafter, however, the United States paid little attention to what the reinstalled shah did. The Kennedy administration pressed him to reform, and got some traction for a brief time. But during the Johnson and especially the Nixon years, Washington simply stopped caring how the shah ruled. This was little understood by Iranians, who believed the United States was manipulating every development in their country. Oh really? We didn't train the Shah's secret police, the Savak? We didn't provide him with other economic or military assistance?
Jack Clark 9:30 PM [+]
United Nations troops killed at least 50 militiamen in a stepped-up campaign to clear northeastern Congo of rogue gunmen who have preyed on residents and are suspected in the recent slaying of nine peacekeepers, United Nations officials said Wednesday.
As far as I'm concerned, the world should go in there and kill all the cowardly bastards who are committing these atrocities.
...The militia, which belongs to the ethnic Lendu political party, the Nationalist and Integrationist Front, has been terrorizing villages of the rival Hema tribe for months. The fighters have killed dozens of people, looted and burned homes and forced more than 70,000 people to flee to the hills since December.
..."This group continues to loot, kill and rape these people, making life miserable," Ms. Nabaa said. "It's time to put an end to this militia."
Jack Clark 9:23 PM [+]
On the one hand,
Brazil is the world's leading producer of beef, coffee, sugar and oranges, and the No. 2 producer of soybeans after the United States.And on the other, millions of Brazilians suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
Jack Clark 9:14 PM [+]
When a once-in-a-century natural disaster swept away the lives of more than 100,000 poor Asians last December, the developed world opened its hearts and its checkbooks. Yet when it comes to Africa, where hundreds of thousands of poor men, women and children die needlessly each year from preventable diseases, or unnatural disasters like civil wars, much of the developed world seems to have a heart of stone.Hmm... the New York Times gets some religion on the dominant moral issue of our time. Well, it has to do a lot better than this. All these deaths are not an accident of nature. These deaths are an expected outcome of deliberate policies.
...In the next few months, Mr. Bush could take a giant step towards altering the way the world views America by joining Mr. Blair in pushing for more help in Africa. It's past time; the continent is dying. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is anything but, some 1,000 people die every day of preventable diseases like malaria and diarrhea. That's the equivalent of a tsunami every five months, in that one country alone. Throughout the continent of Africa, thousands of people die needlessly every day from diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
One hundred years ago, before we had the medical know-how to eradicate these illnesses, this might have been acceptable. But we are the first generation able to afford to end poverty and the diseases it spawns. It's past time we step up to the plate. We are all responsible for choosing to view the tsunami victims in Southeast Asia as more deserving of our help than the malaria victims in Africa. Jeffrey Sachs, the economist who heads the United Nations' Millennium Development Project to end global poverty, rightly takes issue with the press in his book "The End of Poverty": "Every morning," Mr. Sachs writes, "our newspapers could report, 'More than 20,000 people perished yesterday of extreme poverty.' "
So, on this page, we'd like to make a first step.
Yesterday, more than 20,000 people perished of extreme poverty.
Jack Clark 9:03 PM [+]
Friday, March 04, 2005
The bankruptcy legislation being debated by the Senate is intended to make it harder for people to walk away from their credit card and other debts. But legal specialists say the proposed law leaves open an increasingly popular loophole that lets wealthy people protect substantial assets from creditors even after filing for bankruptcy. And of course, to "support out troops,"
Republicans in the Senate beat back the first in a series of Democratic amendments aimed at softening the effects of the bankruptcy bill on military personnel...Yeah, and you can bet your bottom dollar those hurt by this bill are exactly the people who vote for Bush!
Jack Clark 10:15 PM [+]
Suppose that a moderate senator thinks he has struck a deal for fully funded private accounts that don't directly undermine traditional Social Security. Almost surely, he would be kidding himself: by the time the conference committees were done with the legislation, the funding would be gone or greatly reduced, the accounts would be bigger, traditional benefits would have been cut, and the whole thing would have turned into a privatization wish list.
Paul Krugman really nails it, doesn't he?
Even if that didn't happen, private accounts, once established, would be used as a tool to whittle down traditional guaranteed benefits. For example, conservatives would use the existence of private accounts, together with rosy scenarios about rates of return, to argue that guaranteed benefits could be cut without hurting retirees.
Jack Clark 10:10 PM [+]
Americans say President Bush does not share the priorities of most of the country on either domestic or foreign issues, are increasingly resistant to his proposal to revamp Social Security and say they are uneasy with Mr. Bush's ability to make the right decisions about the retirement program, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
Yup, support someone who's trying to bankrupt you and kill your kids in unnecessary wars.
...For all that, Mr. Bush's approval rating remains unchanged, at 49 percent, from a month ago, suggesting that the disagreement with Mr. Bush's ideas has yet to take a toll on America's view of him.
Jack Clark 9:48 PM [+]
Some more Iranian history for you right-wingers in denial:
In 1953, under orders from President Eisenhower, the CIA organized a military coup that overthrew the government. Soon Mohammed Mossadegh was imprisoned and later placed under house-arrest for life. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, backed by the United States, took his place and held on to power for the next 25 years. The thriving democracy that existed in Iran was crushed.
Since Clinton's Secretary of State said so, it must be a lie, right you neo-cons?
On the economic front, the Shah denationalized Iran’s oil industry, 60% of which went to American firms. Politically, he was so brutally effective with his US-trained SAVAK secret police that almost all of the democratic and secular opposition was eliminated. When the revolution finally ousted the autocratic Shah in 1979, the new regime was soon dominated by hard-lined Islamists led by Ayatollah Khomeini.
For years, the US denied its involvement in the 1953 coup, but in 2000 the Clinton administration finally issued a statement that recognized the US role in the failure of democracy in Iran. In a speech before the American-Iranian Council in March 2000, then Secretary of State Madeline Albright admitted, “In 1953 the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran's popular Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. The Eisenhower Administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons; but the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development. And it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs.”
Jack Clark 9:32 PM [+]
1. He would follow in the great tradition of World Bank president Robert McNamara, who also helped kill tens of thousands of people in a poor country most Americans couldn't find on a map before getting the job.
Actually, this is already done. Just as we use our military to kill by martial violence the Third World poor, we use the World Bank to kill them by economic violence (aka neoliberalism).
...10. He can develop a pre-emptive poverty doctrine where the World Bank could invade countries that fail to make themselves safe for U.S. business, modeled on the U.S. pre-emptive war doctrine he helped craft.
Jack Clark 9:27 PM [+]
Read this for a definitive debunking of the right-wing Christian false claim that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of American law.
Jack Clark 3:36 PM [+]
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Free-market competition is the best choice where profit, efficiency, capital distribution and innovation are the goals. The breakup of AT&T's government-protected monopoly in 1984 unleashed healthy market forces to sort out rightful winners and losers in the telecommunications industry. I can envision a day when the U.S. Postal Service is privatized.This is a GREAT exposition of why just a "free market" is not appropriate, indeed is harmful to moral values.
Sometimes, though, society properly wants everyone to succeed. Do we really want some children to win while others lose? Is it desirable for some elderly people get adequate food and medical care while others don't? Should competition determine who gets mental-health or drug-addiction treatment, the chance to go to college or proper prenatal care?
Free-market competition works fine for those capable of competing. But children, the elderly, the mentally ill, the unemployed and other groups can't effectively compete for their own prosperity. A true nation frees capable individuals to be productive, yet joins together to support and encourage those who aren't productive yet, are no longer productive or who need help in order to regain productivity. You are free to rise as far as you want individually, but we should unite as a nation to mitigate the worst of life's ills: uneducated and exploited children, desperate and suffering elderly, abandonment of the mentally and physically ill, hunger and destitution for the able-bodied but unfortunate.
Jack Clark 9:39 PM [+]
To remember why the United States is no favorite in Tehran, one needs to go back at least to 1953 when the U.S. and Great Britain overthrew Iran's democratically elected Premier Mohammad Mossadeq as part of a plan to insure access to Iranian oil. They then emplaced the young Shah in power who, with his notorious secret police, proved second to none in cruelty. The Shah ruled from 1953 to 1979. Much resentment can build up over a whole generation. His regime fell like a house of cards, when supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini rose up to do some regime change of their own.
Nice quick primer for the right-wingers out there.
Iranians also remember Washington's strong support for Saddam Hussein's Iraq after it decided to make war on Iran in 1980. U.S. support for Iraq (which included crucial intelligence support for the war and an implicit condoning of Saddam's use of chemical weapons) was perhaps the crucial factor in staving off an Iranian victory. Imagine then, the threat Iranians see, should the Bush administration succeed in establishing up to 14 permanent military bases in neighboring Iraq. Any Iranian can look at a map of the Middle East (including occupied Iraq) and conclude that this administration might indeed be willing to pay the necessary price in blood and treasure to influence what happens to the black gold under Iranian as well as Iraqi sands. And with four more years to play with, a lot can be done along those lines. The obvious question is: How to deter it? Well, once again, Iran can hardly be blind to the fact that a small nation like North Korea has so far deterred U.S. action by producing, or at least claiming to have produced, nuclear weapons.
Jack Clark 9:33 PM [+]
OK, first the delusional columnist writes:
According to a former top Bush administration official, Russian special forces teams moved weapons of mass destruction out of Iraq to Syria.But then he writes:
'I am absolutely sure that Russian Spetsnatz units moved WMD out of Iraq before the war,' stated John Shaw, the former deputy undersecretary for international technology security.
...Shaw's assertions match the information provided by U.S. military forces that satellite surveillance showed extensive large-vehicle traffic crossing the Syrian border prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
First they saw it, and then they didn't, I guess. Hard to keep all the lies straight, isn't it fellas? (And if the CIA did see such traffic, why didn't they bomb it, intercept it and/or track it into Syria to later destroy it?) If I've ever read a made-up story, this is it.
There is no question that the Russian effort to remove Iraqi WMD systems was the most successful intelligence operation of the 21st century.
The Russians were able to move hundreds of tons of chemical, biological and nuclear materials without being discovered by CIA satellites or NSA radio listening posts.
'There is a clear sense on how effective they were,' noted Shaw.
'The fact that the CIA did not know shows just how successful the Russian operation was,' he concluded.
Jack Clark 9:21 PM [+]
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
The Justice Department is urging a federal judge in Brooklyn to dismiss a lawsuit aimed at forcing a re-examination of one of the most contentious issues of the Vietnam War, the use of the defoliant Agent Orange.
Life without parole for the Dow Chemical war criminals would suffice for me.
...The judge... asked from the bench whether precedents concerning the treatment of makers of Zyklon B, the hydrogen cyanide gas used in Nazi death camps, might be applicable to the claims against the companies that supplied Agent Orange to the military.
After World War II, two manufacturers of Zyklon B were convicted of war crimes and executed.
Jack Clark 9:10 PM [+]
One year after the coup d'etat against Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the nation's first democratically elected president, the situation is dismal.
Another place rarely mentioned in the news, where the Bushian death machine is operating at full throttle.
The Caribbean Community of nations (CARICOM) just last week expressed deep concern over ''the deteriorating human-rights situation in Haiti,'' including ''serious abuses at the hands of the police'' and ``the indefinite detention of Lavalas (Aristide's party) leaders and activists.''
...Haitians supportive of Aristide are being slaughtered in the neighborhoods. The Latortue government and Minister of Justice Bernard Gousse celebrated the anniversary of the coup by condoning the execution of more than 25 Aristide supporters in various poor areas of Port-au-Prince this weekend. The police, who are now largely made up of former military and death squad members, conduct ''operations'' in Aristide strongholds that constitute little more than summary executions.
Jack Clark 9:00 PM [+]
Monday, February 28, 2005
Brian Tetrault was 44 when he was led into a dim county jail cell in upstate New York in 2001, charged with taking some skis and other items from his ex-wife's home. A former nuclear scientist who had struggled with Parkinson's disease, he began to die almost immediately, and state investigators would later discover why: The jail's medical director had cut off all but a few of the 32 pills he needed each day to quell his tremors.
Executives of this company should be charged with MURDER. Yet another example of how we mistreat the "least of these" and are slated for a subterranean-type afterlife.
Over the next 10 days, Mr. Tetrault slid into a stupor, soaked in his own sweat and urine. But he never saw the jail doctor again, and the nurses dismissed him as a faker. After his heart finally stopped, investigators said, correction officers at the Schenectady jail doctored records to make it appear he had been released before he died.
Two months later, Victoria Williams Smith, the mother of a teenage boy, was booked into another upstate jail, in Dutchess County, charged with smuggling drugs to her husband in prison. She, too, had only 10 days to live after she began complaining of chest pains. She phoned friends in desperation: The medical director would not prescribe anything more potent than Bengay or the arthritis medicine she had brought with her, investigators said. A nurse scorned her pleas to be hospitalized as a ploy to get drugs. When at last an ambulance was called, Ms. Smith was on the floor of her cell, shaking from a heart attack that would kill her within the hour. She was 35.
In these two harrowing deaths, state investigators concluded, the culprit was a for-profit corporation, Prison Health Services, that had moved aggressively into New York State in the last decade, winning jail contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars with an enticing sales pitch: Take the messy and expensive job of providing medical care from overmatched government officials, and give it to an experienced nationwide outfit that could recruit doctors, battle lawsuits and keep costs down.
A yearlong examination of Prison Health by The New York Times reveals repeated instances of medical care that has been flawed and sometimes lethal. The company's performance around the nation has provoked criticism from judges and sheriffs, lawsuits from inmates' families and whistle-blowers, and condemnations by federal, state and local authorities. The company has paid millions of dollars in fines and settlements.
Jack Clark 9:44 PM [+]
The Iraq war's dampening effect on recruiting has led to a plan by the Marine Corps to put hundreds of additional recruiters on the streets over the next several months and offer new re-enlistment bonuses of up to $35,000, military officials said Thursday.
Yeah, these damn parents won't let us dupe their young 'uns into becoming cannon fodder. How the hell are we supposed to feed the Bushian Eternal War Machine?
..."What the recruiters are telling us is that they have to spend more time with the parents," General Hagee said. "Parents have influence, and rightly so, on the decision these young men and young women are going to make. They're saying, 'It's not maybe a bad idea to join the Marine Corps, but why don't you consider it a year from now, or two years from now; let's think about this.' "
..."The parents have always been the challenge," said Gunnery Sgt. Larry Pyles, who has been a recruiter for five years in the DuPage South office in Naperville, Ill.
Jack Clark 12:21 AM [+]
Sunday, February 27, 2005
America's leading media conservative, Rush Limbaugh, met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul on Thursday, in an unprecedented session that saw the country's first democratically elected leader telling the top talk host about the importance of America's continuing presence in the region.I'm rarely left speechless, but this just about does it. Well, not quite. One thought: Afghanistan is now the largest producer of opium in the world, and all of a sudden Rush goes there. Maybe he's switched drugs, and is looking to buy wholesale, or get some free samples?
Jack Clark 11:32 PM [+]