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France is likely to be followed by Holland in rejecting the new European Constitution. The problem: political leaders failed to heed growing public anxiety over the effects of economic globalization on their lives and on security in the workplace.
THE FIZZLE ON NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL
A note from Daryl Kimball, President of the Arms Control Association, begins, "The 2005 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) RevCon in New York comes to a close today failing to produce agreement on any substantive reports or statements. This represents one of if not the most acute failures in the history of the NPT, with none of the three "main committees" reaching agreement on key treaty issues (disarmament, nonproliferation and regional security, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy under strict and verifiable control).
Why? During the first three weeks, the conference could not agree on an agenda or work programme because the United States sought to block discussion of nuclear disarmament-related commitments and decisions from the 2000 and 1995 NPT Review Conferences, leading Egypt and other non-aligned states to insist that the conference should refer to them and discuss them. (READ MORE>>>)
FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY ROBIN COOK ON WASHINGTON'S BROKEN PROMISES
Not a day goes by without a member of team Bush lecturing us on the threat from weapons of mass destruction and assuring us of the absolute primacy they give to halting proliferation. How odd then...(Robin Cook, The Guardian, May 27, 2005)
CONCERN OVER NORTH KOREA
North Korea declared its possession of a nuclear deterrent on Feb. 10, 2005, though the claim is difficult to confirm. Six-party disarmament talks, which include North and South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States, have been deadlocked since the last talks in June 2004. In May 2005, U.S. intelligence officials detected increased activity and North Korea hinted that it would perform an underground test...(CDI.org, May 31, 2005)
The one thing that can be said about the U.S. policy to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons is that it is not working. George Perkovich analyzes the situation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (May 2005)
EUROPE FACES ITS OWN ELITE BLUE VS. RURAL RED DIVIDE
While voters in Paris and other major French cities supported the European constitution, more rural communities raised questions about the impact that increased globalization was likely to have on their lives. The bottom line assessment: the elite in Paris had lost touch with the priorities of its political base. Sound familiar? Michael Weinstein provides a background (Power and Interest News Report, May 31, 2005)
LE MONDE DIPLOMATIQUE ON FRANCE'S CONSTITUTIONAL RESISTANCE
There is an ever-widening gulf between an institutional organisation common to all 25 states, with which the political, administrative and intellectual elites are at ease, and ordinary people, who not only have no sense of belonging to a single whole but see the EU and Brussels as foreign, even hostile, entities...
(Bernard Cassen, Le Monde Diplomatique--in English--May 2005)
FOR THE FRENCH, THE DEBATE BECOMES MUDDLED IN INTELLECTUAL GAMESMANSHIP
I was on a French television talk show the other night," Roger Cohen writes in the International Herald Tribune, "when Bernard Kouchner, the genial gadfly of French politics, made the modest suggestion that perhaps everyone could agree that the class struggle was over. "No," retorted Gérard Mordillat..."(Roger Cohen, IHT, May 31, 2005)
THE GUARDIAN ON THE FEAR THAT GLOBALIZATION MEANS LOSING YOUR JOB
"France is presenting all the signs of serious social crisis," said Le Monde's political commentator, Raphaelle Bacqué."This was not just a rejection of Europe's institutions expressing itself. It was also the fear everyone feels about unemployment and globalisation. And it was the profound mistrust of the electorate for their political representatives." (Jon Henley,The Guardian, May31, 2005)
VANITY FAIR AND DEEP THROAT
The man who leaked critical information to Washington Post reporters on Watergate was actually the second in command at the FBI. W. Mark Felt is now 91. (John O'Connor,Vanity Fair, May 31, 2005)
RUMSFELD VS. THE EXPERTS ON SHRINKING THE U.S. DEFENSE POSTURE
The Defense Secretary's first clash with the military was over the troop strength actually needed to win the War in Iraq. Rumsfeld and his assistant, Paul Wolfowitz, insisted that the war would be over in a flash, and that only a fraction of the troops requested by U.S. military commanders was needed to finish the job. Events proved Rumsfeld wrong and a seemingly endless quagmire, reminiscent of Vietnam resulted. Now the Def-Sec wants to cut U.S. bases and troop strengths around the world. David Isenberg analyzes the situation in Asia Times (David Isenberg, Asia Times, May 31, 2005)
--CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE REPORT
on base closings
Kosovo Albanian politics remain fractious and worse. Mutual distrust between the two leading parties, President Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), is distracting politicians from seeking a consensus position for the approaching negotiations on final status. Recent weeks have seen an escalation in tension between them so bitter that it risks spiralling into killings. (International Crisis Group, May 26, 2005)
CHINA LOOKS TO THE MIDDLE EAST
With the War in Iraq alienating much of the Arab world, oil-starved China is could fill the void created by the loss of American influence. John Calabrese explores the risks and rewards for the Jamestown Foundation (May 24, 2005)
BACK TO THE "PATRIOT" ACT
The new draft bill now before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee would give police authorization to seize private records, regardless of whether a connection to terrorism was implied or not. Since many of the provisions can be exercised in secret, a la Guantanamo, citizens who may have checked out the wrong book in a library or attended a religious service in the wrong place, will have little opportunity to defend themselves. University of Washington law professor, Anita Ramasastry, provides a draft of the new law, and explains why it's a bad idea. (Anita Ramasastry, FindLaw.com, May 31, 2005)
FOREIGN COMPANIES INVESTED MORE THAN $620 MILLION OVER A 6-YEAR PERIOD TRYING TO GET CONGRESS TO CHANGE U.S. POLICY
From 1998 to mid-2004, London-based BP plc spent $33 million lobbying the U.S. government—the third-highest amount among foreign entities. Surprisingly, this international energy giant lobbied nearly as much on matters related to the environment and Superfund as it did on oil and gas issues. One likely explanation: BP and its U.S. affiliates are listed as the potentially responsible parties for 162 Superfund pollution sites that, collectively, have cost the Environmental Protection Agency $1.1 billion in analysis and clean-up costs. All told, records reveal, 22 foreign companies listed as potentially responsible parties for 275 Superfund sites in 40 U.S. states reported lobbying on the same issue or directly to the EPA. (Center for Public Integrity, May 20, 2005)
WHEN THE U.S. TRIED TO MATCH RUSSIA AT PSYCHIC WARFARE
Jon Ronson, writing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, reviews "Men Who Stare at Goats," an account of when the U.S. Army gambled $20 million on learning about levitation, mind reading and other forms of psi-war. (Jon Ronson, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, May/June 2005)
WHO IS AL ZARQAWI?
Alex Debat, writing in In The National Interest, provides a brief history of the principal strategist of the current insurgency in Iraq. Notes Debat: " By opening a new front in the global jihad, which serves as the lifeline of Al-Qaeda’s ideological staying power, the Iraq War, despite its many accomplishments, has provided the organization with a much-needed replacement for its Afghan base..."(Alex Debat, In The National Interest, May 2005)
U.S. Marines from the 1st Division remember the men they lost in Iraq. With casualties rising steadily, the death toll from the Iraq war now stands at 1,582 U.S. servicemen and women dead, more than 12,000 wounded, and more than 20,000 Iraqis killed.
IRAQ: WINNING ENEMIES AND LOSING FRIENDS
U.S. authorities still haven't come up with a credible explanation of what possessed them to use stun grenades and armed force to arrest the family of the only Sunni political leader ready to support the U.S.-backed administration in Iraq. Iraqi blogger, River Bend comments: "Remember Muhsin Abdul Hameed? He’s the head of the Iraqi Islamic Party in Iraq- a Sunni political party that was basically the only blatantly Sunni party taking part in post-occupation politics in Iraq. For those who have forgotten, Abdul Hameed was chosen as one of the rotating presidents back in 2003. Mohsin was actually, er, Mr. February 2004, if you will.
"The last couple of days, we’ve been hearing about raids and detentions in various areas. One of these areas is Amriya. We’ve been hearing about random detentions of ‘suspects’ who may be any male between the ages 15 – 65 and looting by Iraqi forces of houses. It’s like the first months after the occupation when the American forces were conducting raids.
"We woke up this morning to the interesting news that Muhsin Abdul Hameed had also been detained! A member of the former Iraqi Governing Council, a rotating puppet president, and *The Sunni*. He is The Sunni they hold up to all Sunnis as an example of cooperation and collaboration. Well, he’s the religious Sunni. There is a tribal Sunni (supposedly to appease the Arab Sunni tribes) and that is Ghazi Al Yawir and there is the religious Sunni- Muhsin Abdul Hameed.
"The Americans are saying Muhsin was “detained and interviewed”, which makes one think his car was gently pulled over and he was asked a few questions. What actually happened was that his house was raided early morning, doors broken down, windows shattered and he and his three sons had bags placed over their heads and were dragged away. They showed the house, and his wife, today on Arabiya and the house was a disaster. The cabinets were broken, tables overturned, books and papers scattered, etc. An outraged Muhsin was on tv a few minutes ago talking about how the troops pushed him to the floor and how he had an American boot on his neck for twenty minutes.
Talabani was seemingly irritated. He wondered why no one asked him about the arrest before it occurred- as if the he is personally consulted on every other raid and detention. The detention is disturbing. Now I am not personally fond of Muhsin Abdul Hameed- he looks somewhat like a dried potato, and he’s a Puppet. It is disturbing, though, because if this was really a mistake, then just imagine how many other ‘mistakes’ are being unfairly detained and possibly tortured in places like Abu Ghraib. Abdul Hameed is one of their own and even he wasn’t safe from a raid, humiliation and detention. He was out the same day, but other Iraqis don’t have the luxury of a huffy Talabani and outraged political party.
Was it meant to send a message to Sunnis? That’s what some people are saying. Many people believe it was meant to tell Sunnis, “None of you are safe- even the ones who work with us.” It’s just difficult to believe this is one big misunderstanding or mistake. (RiverBend, Baghdad Burning, May 30, 2005)