The Iraq War was supposed to pacify the Middle East and guarantee future U.S. oil supplies. It hasn't worked out that way. In fact, the "Global War Against Terror" and the U.S. War in Iraq has generated an increased terrorist threat, including this latest sabotage of an Iraqi oil pipeline.
DEATH OF AN AMERICAN HEROINE
Marla Ruzicka, a native Californian, felt that innocent civilians should not suffer in wartime—especially not because of errors committed by the United States. The founder of an CIVIC, (Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict), Ruzicka, 28, was killed with Faiz Salim, the head of CIVIC’s Baghdad office, when a car bomb exploded in Baghdad last weekend. Marla had already convinced Congress to put aside $7.5 million for victims unintentionally killed by U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. But a more important accomplishment may have been her discovery that despite claims to the contrary, the Pentagon has apparently been keeping secret statistics on the number of civilians accidentally killed by U.S. forces. She had managed to obtain information from the U.S. military about the number of civilians killed during hostilities after the end of major combat operations. The information she received related only to a brief period in the Baghdad area, but was important in establishing that the U.S. did in fact record civilian injuries. She was trying to get the U.S. government to publicly release these statistics about all areas of Iraq when she was killed.(Reuters Alertnet, April 18, 2005)
-Ruzicka Remembered in Salon
-Faiz Salim on the scene in Baghdad on January 1, 2005
TERRORIST RISK ON THE RISE IN IRAQ AND ELSEWHERE
Danger has risen in 31 nations, many of them in western Europe, insurance broker Aon says in a new risk map. Aon's map, published for the second year running, divides the world into five categories of risk - low, guarded, elevated, high and severe. Since last year, Iraq has shot from fifth to first place in the rankings, with 2,922 terror incidents recorded in the 12 months to February 2005. Other countries where the risk is considered severe include India, Pakistan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia and Colombia. They are joined by Nepal and Somalia, which have been upgraded to the worst category since the 2004 survey.(BBC, April 18, 2005)
-Aon's website, with access to downloadable map
The Nation's Naomi Klein reports on a new U.S. government office that specializes in pre-emptive reconstruction. The idea is to give American companies advance contracts to be on call in case they are needed to change the social fabric of countries that don't conform to the administration's notions of free market economics and democratic practices. Such countries are prime candidates to become involved in real conflicts with the U.S. under President Bush's policy of pre-emption. The advance planning would give private companies a jump ahead of the competition--much as Halliburton won from the administration in Iraq.
(Naomi Klein, The Nation, April 18, 2005)
AON SEES LONDON AS RISKY AS KABUL
Paul Bassett, an executive director of Aon, said that events such as the Madrid train bombing in March last year and the murder of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker, by an Islamic fundamentalist in November, meant that almost half of the countries with an increased risk of terrorist attack were in Europe.“We’re seeing increased recruiting of radical Islamists in Europe for a tour of duty in Iraq, then these people returning to their own country, feeling motivated and recruiting others,” said Mr Bassett, a former bomb disposal expert. (Times of London, April 18, 2005)
-CONCEALING THE STATE DEPARTMENT'S DATA ON TERRORISM
Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson notes in his Counterterrorism blog that rather than admit that the GWOT is not working, Condoleeza Rice's State Department has decided to conceal the State Department's Congressionally-mandated annual report on terrorist incidents from public scrutiny. The reason: the number of incidents leaped from 172 significant attacks in 2003, to 655 in 2004. However, as Johnson points out, 300 of those incidents took place in Kashmir. The most meaningful leap in terrorism, Johnson adds, has been Iraq. (Larry Johnson, Counterterrorism Blog, April 14, 2005)
JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION’S SEMINAR ON INSURGENCY AND JIHAD
Michael Scheuer , Harlan Ullman, Phebe Marr, Pat Lang, Stephen Ulph and Mahan Abedin analyze the worsening insurgency in Iraq and its regional impact, moderated by Jamestown President Glen Howard. In an extraordinarily sensible analysis, former Special Forces officer, Pat Lang, notes that the current strategy appears to be to keep overstretched U.S. forces pinned down, while attacks against Iraqis render any rational government impossible. The largely Sunni insurgents know they can't win the war. What they want is for the Shia to award them a disproportionate influence in exchange for halting the mayhem. The conference is presented in downloadable MP3 audio files ready for an Ipod.
(Jamestown Foundation, April 14, 2005)
-transcript first panel in pdf format
-transcript second panel in pdf format
The U.S. fails to keep up in the Information Revolution
Thomas Bleha reports in the upcoming issue of Foreign Affairs: “In the first three years of the Bush administration, the United States dropped from 4th to 13th place in global rankings of broadband Internet usage. Today, most U.S. homes can access only "basic" broadband, among the slowest, most expensive, and least reliable in the developed world, and the United States has fallen even further behind in mobile-phone-based Internet access. The lag is arguably the result of the Bush administration's failure to make a priority of developing these networks…”(Thomas Bleha, Foreign Affairs, May-June 2005)
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ARMAGEDDON
When Hollywood takes a look at reality, poetic license is the order of the day. Experts get it right, but Hollywood delivers the crowds. The result in an increasingly entertainment-driven age is likely to be general befuddlement. (Josh Schollmeyer, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May-June 2005)
FANNING EXTREMISM IN PAKISTAN
Instead of empowering liberal, democratic voices, the Pakistani government has co-opted the religious right and continues to rely on it to counter civilian opposition. By depriving democratic forces of an even playing field and continuing to ignore the need for state policies that would encourage and indeed reflect the country's religious diversity, the government has allowed religious extremist organizations and jihadi groups, and the madrasas that provide them an endless stream of recruits, to flourish. It has failed to protect a vulnerable judiciary and equip its law-enforcement agencies with the tools they need to eliminate sectarian terrorism. (International Crisis Group, April 18, 2005)
CHINA WORRIES ABOUT ENCIRCLEMENT
Beijing's worst nightmares seems to be coming true. Having apparently steadied the course in the Middle East, the Bush administration is turning to Asia to tame its long-standing "strategic competitor." While this particular term has been shelved since 9/11 – and Sino-U.S. relations have improved thanks to China's cooperation with Washington's global anti-terrorist campaign – there are signs at least from Beijing's perspective that Washington is spearheading multi-pronged tactics to contain the fast-rising Asian giant.
In the eyes of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership, the new doctrine of encirclement and containment was spelled out during a visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Tokyo, part of a recent tour through Asia. Echoing President Bush's State of the Union address, which pushed a foreign policy predicated upon "spreading democracy," Rice noted in a speech at Sophia University that "even China must eventually embrace some form of open, genuinely representative government." And she dropped hints that the U.S. would somehow bring about a democratic China through joint actions with its Asian allies.(Jamestown Foundation, April 12, 2005)
CHINA HAS ITS OWN ECONOMIC PROBLEMS, AND THEY MAY SOON BE OURS
Excessive credit, investment, exports and bad loans could inflict major disruptions on the Chinese and global economy in the years immediately ahead, according to a new analysis by CSIS senior adviser Richard McCormack. There are parallels to what happened to Japan in the late l980s. “China’s economic planners are also running enormous risks for China and for the global trading system as a whole by attempting to accomplish with a turbo-charged export-led strategy in one generation the economic developments that should have been the work of two,” writes McCormack, who based his assessments on two decades of high level experience and consultations in the region.
(Richard McCormack, Center for Strategic and International Studies, April 13, 2005)
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY CAUTIONS THAT THE PLANET IS ON THE BRINK OF SOMETHING UGLY
The leading prelate of the Anglican Church argues that environmental damage risks plunging the world into political chaos. “When we speak about environmental crisis,” warns Rowan Williams, ”we are not to think only of spiraling poverty and mortality, but about brutal and uncontainable conflict. An economics that ignores environmental degradation invites social degradation - in plain terms, violence…”(Rowan Williams, The Independent, April 18, 2005)
SILENCE ON GLOBAL WARMING
The rest of the world has pretty much accepted global warming as a matter of fact. So why has the U.S. media kept quiet about what could turn out to be the greatest problem facing this century? (Ross Gelbspan, Mother Jones, May-June 2005)
BROOKINGS INSTITUTION ON RESTORING FISCAL SANITY
Taking a look at the cost of an aging population: the good news is that you may live longer. The bad news is that you may live longer. (Transcript for introduction of new book on the topic. April 14, 2005)
Under attack for questionable ethical choices, Republican Congressman Tom Delay relishes gun-toting support at the National Rifle Association's annual convention
There may be nothing that is actually illegal in Republican Congressman Tom Delay’s political organization paying his wife a half-million dollars for her input to his political thinking, or for that matter, in Delay's accepting expensive freebies from people likely to benefit from legislation that he advocates, or even his efforts to emasculate the House ethics committee and the U.S. judiciary as a precaution against censure. Still, Delay clearly felt a sigh of relief after receiving a pat on the back and heart-felt support from the National Rifle Association. As Wayne Slater reports in the Dallas Morning News, “Here on full display - with 5 acres of guns and a few thousand rock-ribbed Republicans - was a crucial part of Tom DeLay's political support machine. When he stepped on stage Saturday night to address the National Rifle Association, members leapt to their feet to greet the House majority leader with thunderous applause."I hope the national media saw that," DeLay said…(Wayne Slater, Dallas Morning News, April 18, 2005)
TIME MAGAZINE DETAILS DELAY'S THIRST FOR PERKS
Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff was all too happy to act as Delay's travel agent, and to ply Delay with costly freebies. The critical question is whether Delay solicited the gifts or passively allowed himself to be bribed. (Karen Tumulty, Time Magazine, April 18, 2005)--The Abramoff web
INVOKING GOD IN THE SERVICE OF MAMMON
Lisa Lambert reports in TomDispatch.com on the recent trend to use the Apocalypse as a powerful sales incentive. Writes Lambert: "Because certain trees are sprouting in the Middle East, the world will soon end. Because the European Union has grown to its current size, fiery death and plagues of locusts are about to descend on the planet. Because Israel established a homeland, non-believers will, in a short while, suffer agonizing horrors before being damned to an eternity of pain. And now a word from our sponsor -- a real estate agent helping Christians find their dream homes..." (Lisa Lambert, TomDispatch.com and the San Francisco Chronicle, April 17, 2005)
A QUESTION OF FAITH: YOURS OR MINE?
Bringing Religious Warfare to America
Ayatollah Khomeiny, Lebanon's Hizbollah, Israel's Hammas and a slew of Balkan war criminals believe that religion should be an integral part of politics, so what's the big deal about Republican Senate majority leader Bill Frist's invoking faith in God to bash a few Democrats in his party's efforts to overturn 200 years of tradition in the U.S. Senate? The Boston Globe observed that Frist's efforts to invoke belief in God as an argument in a political spat with Democrats over the filibuster is "
“even more scary than it is smarmy. " (Boston Globe, Saturday April 16, 2005)The New York Times noted that :"Right-wing Christian groups and the Republican politicians they bankroll have done much since the last election to impose their particular religious views on all Americans. But nothing comes close to the shameful declaration of religious war by Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, over the selection of judges for federal courts. Senator Frist is to appear on a telecast sponsored by the Family Research Council, which styles itself a religious organization but is really just another Washington lobbying concern…” (New York Times editorial, Saturday, April 16, 2005)
THE "FAMILY RESARCH COUNCIL" DETERMINED TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT
President Tony Perkins will join Dr. James Dobson, Founder and Chairman of Focus on the Family, Dr. Al Mohler, head of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, KY on Sunday, April 24 at 7 p.m. (ET) for "Justice Sunday-Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith," a live nationwide simulcast event…"For years.” Says FRC’s president Tony Perkins, “ activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the ACLU, have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms. Federal judges have systematically grabbed power, usurping the constitutional authority that resides in the other two branches of government and, ultimately, in the American people.“We now have a President who is committed to nominate judicial candidates who are not activists, but strict constructionists..." (FRC, April 2005)
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