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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

January 19, 2005
Read During Lunch

Jennifer Van Bergen's discussion in this article:

[...] preliminary draft of a soon-to-be published scholarly legal article written by a former military officer who currently presides in a U.S. federal court concludes that the Abu Ghraib prison abuses were the reasonably foreseeable results of a decision by President Bush to ignore the mandates of the Geneva Conventions relating to prisoners of war.

Interesting paragraph:

The United States signed and ratified the Geneva Conventions in 1956. In 1996, Congress passed the War Crimes Act, criminalizing breaches of the Conventions. A "grave breach" of Geneva is a federal crime, punishable by imprisonment "for life or any term of years," and Geneva explicitly states that no nation "bound by the Convention can offer any valid pretext, legal or other, for not respecting the Convention in all its parts."

Let's get this straight. The Bush Administration claims they're waging "war" on "terrorists" but when they take "prisoners" in that "war" they're different kinds of prisoners, not Geneva Conventions prisoners, so...if they storm someone's house at night, arrest him, and haul him to prison, they have no responsibility to prove the guy ever did anything wrong or to refrain from torturing and humiliating him?

There's a name for that, you know.

And let's not forget that the CIA is reportedly exempt from the Geneva Conventions anyhow.

Or that civilian companies implicated in torture are being severely punished...with juicy new Pentagon contracts.

(While I was at Counterpunch, I glanced through Alexander Cockburn's short article, We Aren't Dealing With Rationality on the subject of the Bush Administration and Iraq.)

Recapping: The national media? Is an embarrassing, conservative mess.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:54 PM | Comments (1)
January 17, 2005
Holiday Celebration

To celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr's (observed) birthday holiday, we get the history of civil rights from a decidedly Republican perspective. You should read it...your tax dollars are at work again.

To celebrate our "war on terror," let's cheer for the treatment of returning veterans.

To further celebrate spreading USofA "culture" around the world, we get the story of Wal-Mart...not quite winning the hearts and minds of a Mexican community. (But, you know, hooray for Libertarians who actually question the Wal-Mart "success" story. Via Jonathan Dresner.)

To celebrate democracy here at home, let's peek in on a day on C-SPAN when torture and voting fraud are under discussion.

To celebrate our fabulous relationship with our allies in the U.K., let's take a peek at what they think of us today.

And while we're at it, let's just celebrate Anti-American behavior.

Bah.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)
January 16, 2005
Follow-ups

We've all blogged the media's failures. Eric Alterman can always be counted on to keep up the pressure on the mainstream media, pointing out how the deluge of hysterical right-wing inmates has taken over the asylum.

Tsunami victims. Looks like aid pledges from Western countries are already proving to be smoke and mirrors. But there's a lot to consider when you think about foreign aid.

(And, speaking of money, how about those proposed Defense budget "cuts", anyhow?)

(And, speaking of money, what about that Bush Administration plan to create 5.5 million jobs by giving tax cuts to rich people, by the end of 2004? How's that working for you? If you look at the article, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that making the Bush Administration's rich friends richer has slowed down economic recovery in the USofA pretty substantially.)

Kyoto. Is it about how to decrease pollution or a way of keeping technologically underdeveloped countries underdeveloped? Signs are...murky.

NEW DELHI, December 7, 2004 — Late last year, officials at the World Bank decided it was time to practice what they had been preaching about reducing carbon emissions. NEW DELHI, December 7, 2004 — Late last year, officials at the World Bank decided it was time to practice what they had been preaching about reducing carbon emissions. In the ironically named village of Powerguda, the villagers had recently begun to collect and sell to a local mill the seeds of a native tree called the Pongamia pinnata. The seeds produce a natural oil that can be used as an alternative to diesel fuel. And unlike diesel and other fossil fuels, pongamia oil produces little carbon emissions when burned. By providing the raw material for an alternative to relatively dirty diesel, Powerguda was effectively reducing the overall carbon load in the atmosphere—at least in the eyes of the World Bank. And it was this theoretical tiny reduction in worldwide carbon emissions that the Bank decided to buy to offset the carbon emissions resulting from its conference. The price tag to the World Bank: $645. For that the bank got the village's entire potential carbon emission savings for the next 10 years.

Torture. Don't ever believe the Bush White House is against it. Also, in the U.K., they're starting an investigation over whether their government had to "buy" the freedom of British Gunatanamo detainees from the USofA.

(If you read all the way down, you'll see that he's to be extradited to Alabama. The article has this to say about Alabama:

June 1995: Chain gangs are re-introduced to the Alabama penal system after a 30-year gap.

Charming country we live in, isn't it?)

I talked about Mark (son of Margaret) Thatcher's arrest on suspicion that he was involved in an plot that centered around a violent overthrow of the government in Equatorial Guinea. He's had his trial and it's pretty clear he was guilty from the plea-bargain deal. (As I recall, I talked about him in context of the corrupt sons of world leaders. It's not too difficult to picture the son of another world leader having been arrested on similar charges if an election or two had gone differently, is it? When you read about Mark Thatcher's history, it bears a striking resemblance to the behavior of the scions of a rather well-known USofA family.)

Which, for some odd reason, reminds me that I recently read a gossipy story speculating that GWBush is "grooming" brother Neil for the presidency some day...and I look in disbelief at the Silverado mess and wonder just how crazy people really are.

And, last but not least another entry into the What Oughta The Democrats Be Doing Sweepstakes.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)
Color Me Amazed

I don't have a Financial Times subscription, so I couldn't access the original article, but the report that the USofA was the single largest offender in the "oil-for-food program" fraud? Surprises me not at all. Anyone who thinks the government of this country wouldn't do almost anything for oil and gas is...delusional.

I'm also unsurprised by the report that the Bush Administration has ordered the Social Security Agency to participate in its own destruction.

Nor that said Administration has already been caught telling factual lies about the situation. (You should read and consider a lot of information and opinions before deciding what you believe, but I can't recommend believing what the SSA will be telling us. And that's a shame, because most people will do just that.)

I'm still pondering over whether these suggestions to force people to save toward retirement are viable. There are unquestionably some flaws, and some things I find distasteful, but there are some good ideas there, as well.

And anyone who thinks the legal system in this country hasn't gone insane? Hasn't been following this story. I've been reading about it off and on for two or three years and I still find myself amazed. The wind blows, pollen spreads from one plant to another, and the farmer gets sued for harvesting and selling his crop.

Another North Dakota farmer, Tom Wiley, explains the situation this way: "Farmers are being sued for having GMOs on their property that they did not buy, do not want, will not use and cannot sell."

Typical. In the drive to protect "corporate rights," actual people are getting badly hurt.

Just because I'm spiteful like that, I've already gloated over the 'approval/disapproval' comparisons between GWBush and every other second-term president in the last fifty or sixty years.

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I encourage you to read the analysis and discussion.

I especially encourage you to read the "Top Domestic Priorities" page and contemplate how people who cite "terror defenses" as their first priority could have voted for the Administration who has, so far, failed to do anything significant domestically to protect us against terrorist attacks.

Or the results of the survey asking people who, among USofA citizens, were going to "win" or "lose" as a resut of Bush finally being elected.

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Posted by AnneZook at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)