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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

June 18, 2005
Here and There, and A Little Outrage

Looks like one of our "allies" in the "war on terror," not content with just slaughtering 700 or more of its citizens (and maybe torturing any prisoners it took) is about to add "so-called democrats" to its enemies list.

I'll bet the Bush Administration is jealous they can't do the same thing to shut up dissent here in the USofA. Certainly the cries of how "un-American" we all are when we question this insane war and of how we're "aiding the terrorists" when we protest against torture do continue to arise. We must be annoying to our oil-and-blood-soaked corporate masters, the way we're not shutting up, don't you think?

By the way, The national campaign to impeach George W. Bush story seems to be getting legs. I can't remember how many places I've read about impeachment in the last week.

And while we're in the USofA, let's take a look at this story about Bolton's nuke-happy replacement. Reading the article, I learn that cutting back on any of our thousands of nuclear weapons will leave us seriously exposed to attack. Because five thousand nukes, instead of six thousand, is so meagre, doncha know. Also, we need to nuke any supplies of biological weapons we find, because adding radiation mutations to a dangerous biological toxin is the accepted way to deal with such a threat. (Basically, the article explains how the warmongers were still in Cold War mode before 9/11, and now they want to be able to nuke everyone, not just unfriendly formerly Soviet satellites and China.)

Can't remember if I blogged that story about the USofA soldier in a "training exercise" who got beaten up by other soldiers who apparently didn't know it was for training and that he wasn't a terrorist? Anyhow. He was given a medical disability discharge because of his injuries and he's not happy about it. He wants back in.

A) This proves the military isn't actually training soldiers not to abuse prisoners.

B> The guy was given a "safe word" that his abusers apparently had not been given? Is the person who arranged this farce being investigated for total stupidity or anything? There has to be more to this story.

B) What's that bit at the end about Halliburton getting yet another multi-million dollar DoD contract? Are they the only corporation left in this country, or what?

At the giant Paris guns and ammo show (really, the Paris Air Show), we see discussion of the tension between Israel and the USofA that's barely hinted at in our major news outlets.

In short, we want veto power over Israel's weapons exports.

Must be tough for Israel. If not for the USofA, this invented country would have either been overrun or would still be sitting inside their tiny borders. If they want to hold onto the extra land they've grabbed, they need us on their side. So, they have to sneak around when they're breaking our rules. (Not the least because they're spying on us and the publicity is making the gov'mint look bad.) (Although it's hardly unusual even for "allies" to spy on one another.)

Over to Sri Lanka, and that post-tsunami reconstruction story, what do we find?

"... as the weeks and months have gone by the reconstruction effort has slowed to a crawl, hampered by bureaucracy, incompetence and corruption, much of it on the part of the Sri Lankan Government.

I'm not sure I can, or should, add much to the article itself. Just to note that when you hand human beings huge sums of money, not many of us are up to the challenge of altruism. And when you wave billions under the nose of a government, problems occur. The nasty glare of prominent, international scrutiny might help.

Mocking the Downing Street Memo. What the article has to say is worth considering. Especially the part about the Left's refusal to soil its hands with mere "media" over the past decades. As the lunatic fringe of the Right poured more and more money into buying up, consolidating, and supplementing the mainstream media, the Left was pushed out. (Face it, when those ridiculous stories about "liberal bias in the press" first surfaced decades ago, the inept Democratic "leadership" should have responded, but the Left is concerned with "balance" and "truth," and while it was wondering if the allegations were true, it lost the battle.)

There are liberals (and progressives) with money. Maybe instead of establishing Air America and "liberal" television stations, they would have been better off spending their money taking back the established media that people already trust?

I've been wondering about that for a while now.

And, by the way, the assault on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting story isn't going away. How many times does a Republican Administration have to drink the kool-aid on this one before they learn you really shouldn't tamper with Barney? (My personal hope is that PBS gets its mad on and comes out with a slate of really hard-hitting political shows.)

Drat. You know, I forgot all about doing shorter entries on one topic at a time, didn't I? Anyhow, now I'm going to start ignoring the headlines for the weekend. Or a couple of hours.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)
Huh

Remember when I said the leaking of the Downing Street Memos was revenge on the Bush Administration for giving Mr. Blair the shaft?

I think the leaks were regarded as politically motivated.

From a transcription of an interview with Michael Smith, the London Times reporter who originated the story, inWaPo. (via Atrios)

He doesn't specifically say that Mr. Blair's government leaked them for revenge on the Bush Administration, though he certainly implies that's what the Bush Administration thinks.

(I don't know why I bother linking to stories that have already appeared on Eschaton. Presumably, 90% of the world o'blog has already seen them there. Still.)

How the neocons decided on this war, A RawStory timeline. (Via RealNewsOnline.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)
June 17, 2005
Friday

By the way, I've changed my mind on that whole, "repeal the 22nd Amendment" thing. Let's go ahead and repeal it.

Then we can re-elect Bill Clinton, and give the Rightwingnuts a collective conniption fit.

Jerome talks to us about Father's Day.

Sheesh. The news has been bad recently. Last night I curled up with my latest Amazon shipment, which included G. K. Chesterton's ManAlive! (I love it when I find a "new" book by one of my favorite authors.) I think I'll repeat that maneuver as soon as I get home this evening so I can start early with my practice of avoiding the headlines on weekends.

Have a nice weekend, everyone.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:03 PM | Comments (2)
What's Happening Over There?

The first reporter to reach Nagasaki after the dropping of the atom bomb did write a story. Looks like it's finally being published.

Iran needed extended polling hours so everyone could vote. That's encouraging.

I know, yesterday was the Day of the African Child, but you shouldn't stop thinking about it.

Sri Lanka is putting import duties on vehicles brought in to aid tsunami victims.

Britain's Daily Telegraph said Sri Lankan customs had charged $5,000 a day while the vehicles were processed.

Sounds to me like the Sri Lankan government is engaging in a little profiteering.

In Nigeria, the USofA and the UK have closed their consulates. Never a good omen.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)
June 16, 2005
Did You Read This?

At King of Zembla, an entry on Representative Cynthia McKinney's pointed speech to the House, a speech that could have been titled, "How Did We Get Into This War, Anyhow?"

From Econbrowser, "Contango, backwardation, and all that good stuff, about things that affect the price of oil. I read it once, quickly. I'm going to have to read it again, more carefully.

Max Blumenthal points out that, "Edith Is Missing, Too."

I know you read Whiskey Bar's Billmon on "Blowback," right?

At the ACSBlog, you should have read, "Marty Lederman: "GTMO: Where Was the Law? Whither the UCMJ?"

Big Brass Blog has a lot more on the Senate's lynching apology, including names of six Southern (color me so surprised) Senators who apparently refused to sign.

And, speaking of racism, Colorado Luis has a good entry on Denver's contentious Columbus Day parade.

Dr. Fallon, at In The Dark, gives us a bit more on that African "debt relief" proposal.

At the Rittenhouse Review, we're told that the Rightwing element in the Senate is after those dangerous Lefties at the Red Cross.

Had this come from a source not famed for lying, misrepresentation, distortion, and outright bigotry, I might have considered it. But I have to consider the source...and to consider that maybe what's really frightening the Rightwingnuts is that the Democrats are finding their feet, finding their voices, and finding their power. And I think that's a problem for the wingnuts. (Although I'm not ruling out the fact that Limbaugh and his ilk are actually better off when they're in opposition. Their brand of hatemongering really needs to be "persecuted" and "repressed" to come over properly.)

Vietnam and Iraq. (Via Cliopatria.)

No wonder my Bloglines subscription for the Fablog doesn't work any more. David E has had to take drastic measures to rid himself of the spammers.

Oh. My. God.

(There's no point in linking to David Neiwert because everyone who is anyone reads him already.)

Posted by AnneZook at 05:52 PM | Comments (2)
Day of the African Child

By the children.

Among the things I'm brooding on is my knee-jerk reflex to "send aid" to countries in need where we've sent aid to that country for decades and where a few corrupt officials have stolen it to enrich themselves.

Maybe when the need is desperate enough that even the corrupt have to acknowledge it, things will change.

Or, not. Because the children keep dying and the men who are living on their yachts don't seem to care.

(The men who constantly throw themselves blindly into attempts to exterminate one another don't seem to care, either. What is it with this whole "killing people" thing?)

Libya wants more aid than it can get, but some Libyans realize that they'll have to do something about corruption first. That's a start. They are making that decision, which is probably the only way these problems can be resolved.

And, speaking of corruption, Africa is a continent rich in rich in resources. Surely there's some way we can help them develop these resources without our corporations grabbing 90% of the profits?

Anyhow. Raising money, aid, whether public or private is important, but it's equally important that we put some actual thought into acceptable, achievable reforms for the countries in need. For the children.

We need to talk about different approaches with the African nations. Empty gestures and 'deals' rigged to profit us aren't the answer.

I do realize that "aid packages" that require the recipients to spend, for example, 70% of the aid dollars back in the USofA can serve two purposes. They give us back our money (meaning, the "aid" actually costs us much less than the advertised dollar figure) and they conceivably can help us monitor how the money is being spent. At least, that's how I think it's supposed to work. I know it doesn't actually seem to work that way.

War, famine, and disease are the daily reality for many of the children in these areas.

We can help with some of this.

For instance, we all know that AIDS funding doesn't help if we ignorantly refuse to support groups that discuss condoms or abortion. The world needs, forgive, me a more "reality-based" approach to disease than that. Internationally, other groups are also fighting the battle and we should be helping. We should be working together. (Instead, we're embroiled in a pissing match because they don't approve of us torturing people. Sigh.)

Famine...that's a different problem. I don't know how much of the food supply problem might be connected with global warming, but I know I believe the USofA throws away, every day, enough food to feed most of the African continent. (There are thousands of organizations trying to help. Even if you don't have a dime to spare, you can click through, today and every day.)

I don't know what the answers are. I just know that on the Day of the African Child, we should all be considering how we can help the children.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)
Because I Do Think, Sometimes

I get this. Really I do, and it moved me.

I think about these things.

I think about the potential for freedom for Iraq's people. I think about the potential of a free world.

And I think about the price that has to be paid for freedom. The problem is that part of that price must come from those who want to be free and we have no way of knowing just how many Iraqis are really willing to pay that price. It seems to me that if people want to be free, if they're willing to fight and maybe die to be free, the appropriate thing to do would be to let them make that decision, wouldn't it?

A civil war is brewing in Iraq and it doesn't seem to promise anything but years of pain and death and suffering for the Iraqis, so what has this invasion to do with "bringing freedom" anyhow?

This is the wrong war at the wrong time being fought in the wrong way.

The people of Iraq, many of whose lives weren't that wonderful to begin with, are paying the price of our arrogant, decision to turn their country into a battleground. We deliberately turned Iraq into a lightning rod for Middle East terrorist groups, in a selfish desire to keep them away from USofA soil.

It was the thought of our government that they'd rather fight an all-out war on someone else's soil. I understand that. I really do.

But where is it written that it's our choice to pick a country we don't like and to decide to turn it into a battleground? What gives us the right?

Nothing gives us the right, okay? This invasion was unconscionable.

The Iraqi people weren't consulted. They didn't get a vote. They don't have a choice. And they're dying by the thousands.

We had the option. We had a choice. And we chose to invade their country and kill tens of thousands of them.

It's just wrong.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:58 AM | Comments (5)
June 15, 2005
News. Mostly Bad.

Twenty-eight million children could die. Maybe I'm not smart enough to think about such complex problems, maybe I'm burning out from too much time contemplating the problems of the world, or maybe I just need more coffee, but I look at that and I just feel tired.

I tell myself that the very fact that they're debating between marriage and filing charges in the rape case means there's been progress. I mean...at least no one's talking about stoning her to death, right? Right? I mean, I wouldn’t want to overreact and act like a lunatic member of the women's studies set or anything, you know?

But it's not progress when only six Senators manage to find time to attend a voice vote to apologize for not passing an anti-lynching law. It's an embarrassment, that's what it is. (I've read the reports that they were using a voice vote to hide the names of 12 Senator who didn't want to go on record voting for the resolution*, and I still want to know who they were.)

For the (Republican-controlled) Senate to even move on this right now...it's just another cosmetic attempt to pretend to care out this country's history of violent racism without actually doing anything. The Republican Party Just. Doesn't. Care.

The Democrats who missed the voice vote are included in my scorn. How can they pretend they're Democrats if they don't understand why actually voting on this was important? (But why do I bother? Mustang Bobby has it.)

(* Sounds less plausible now that we know almost every Senator skipped the vote. I don't want to believe it's true. I don't want to believe that in the 21st century, we still have elected officials afraid to stand up and say that mob rule and racial murder are acceptable.)

I still like John Edwards.

When I started reading the interview, I suspect that reading Breaking Rank wasn't going to improve my opinion of the human race much, but by the end of the article, I was impressed. Now I need to get the book.

Molly Ivins is pretty wound up today. I sympathize. She keeps telling everyone the true, in simple, easy to understand words, but it doesn't change anything.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)
June 14, 2005
Otherwise Annoyed

CAFTA. Looks like what we should be asking is where the "free" part is.

Debt Relief (Short version: Let our corporations in or we'll bring you down.)

Global Warming: The USofA is responsible for too many of the contributing factors.

White House response: Sounds like Someone Else's Problem, to us.

(So. My bet is the DSM and related documents have been released mostly to punish the Bush Administration for not being willing to pay back the political favors they owe Mr. Blair. Any takers?)

The Bush Administration and the neocon agenda: Failing on all counts.

Voting 'irregularities' in Ohio. The evidence keeps mounting (Let me repeat myself. Clear, verifiable, paper ballots protect democracy for both sides of the aisle.)

People. Just one more business resource to be used up and tossed aside.

Guns, guns, and more guns We're bringing peace and democracy to the world!

As in the case of recent decisions to provide new F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan while pledging comparable high-tech military hardware to its rival, India, U.S. arms sometimes go to long-standing rivals who may use these weapons against each other if another conflict breaks out. The fact that F-16s can be outfitted to carry nuclear weapons makes these sales all the more dangerous.

When will the insanity stop?

Meanwhile, the tens of millions of U.S. arms transfers to Uzbekistan exemplify the negative consequences of arming repressive regimes.

Too late.

Bolivia. Okay, there's corruption in high places (Anyone want to pretend that the corporations making billions there haven't contributed to it?) and unrest in the streets. Reading the article, you'll see that the "developed world" has a lot to answer for. (I mean, am I the only one wondering how "billions" can be made in a country and yet leave most of the population in danger of starving and the government dying under a load of massive debt? Am I the only one who finds that morally reprehensible?)

Posted by AnneZook at 07:01 PM | Comments (0)
Horowitz!

He's in a snit because he's not an editor at the NYTimes and Harvard, somewhat inexplicably, has declined to add his brainpower to their establishment.

Apparently the intellectual vacuum between his ears (the one that decided the entire world and its works were unable to present him with anything "interesting" to study) hasn't occurred to him as a possible factor.

I'm picturing the academic world that this man and the rest of the lunatic right wing are struggling to create. Naturally, a few things will have to change to accommodate the rightwing's belief system.

In a first-grade math class:

Teacher: Okay, two plus two is four. (Disclaimer: This concept is supported by only a percentage of the population and does not take into account the beliefs of the Association For More Recognition of Negative Numbers, whose lawsuit to terminate the practice of assuming that a number is positive unless specifically designated as negative is currently before the Supreme Court.)

In a third-grade geography class:

Teacher: And that's the International Date Line. That's how it can be "today" in Kansas, but it's "tomorrow" in England. (Disclaimer: This concept is supported by only a percentage of the population and may be detrimental to the belief system of the Flat-Earth Society. Students choosing to skip this question on moral grounds on the final examination will not be penalized.)

In a sixth-grade history class:

Teacher: Now we've covered the causes of the Civil War. (Disclaimer: Please note that the dates, facts, results, and conduct of this war, also known as, "The War Between The States" are under dispute. Any answer a student chooses to give to this question on the final examination will be awarded 100%.) Extra credit will be given to students arguing that Abraham Lincoln should have been lynched.

In a ninth-grade biology class:

Teacher: I know a lot of things, but I'm not allowed to tell you any of them.

Did everyone bring their Game Boys? Good. Girls, do you all have the latest copy of the Wife and Mother series, Shopping for Bargains? Good. Boys? You each have your free copy of First Strike: North Vietnam, right? Excellent.

Please play quietly until the Xanax kicks in.

In a twelfth-grade English class:

Teacher: This semester we're beginning with short stories. The first one will be, Huckleberry Finn (revised, abridged, sanitized edition), the story of a boy's discovery of how wonderful life was in America in the 19th century.

After that, we'll tackle James Fenimore Cooper's, The Last of the Mohicans (revised, edited, condensed, rewritten), the tragic tale of America's savage Indian population that destroyed itself with inter-tribe warfare in spite of the enlightened assistance offered by the first Americans.

We'll follow those with Herman Melville's Moby Dick (fixed up, shortened, content may have shifted in transition), the inspiring novella about a group of brave Americans who pitted themselves against the elements to bring the bounty of the seas to our country's early settlers.

We'll finish up the semester with Fellowship of the Rings (we just swiped the title, okay?), the moving novel that details our country's journey toward heterosexuality, monogamy, and matrimony for all.

In a college-level physics class:

Teacher: So, in summation, there may or may not be particles that we may or may not be looking at and which may or may not be changed by the fact that we're looking at them.

Alternatively, it could all just be a big old trick that God is playing on us to see how gullible we are.

(Teacher has an aneurism and dies. Students sue university for mental stress and are awarded degrees, graduate with honors, and receive cash settlements enabling them to purchase and retire to the godly tropical warmth of the island of their choice. USofA quickly slips to third-world status and spends the next century begging developing African countries for handouts.)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:08 PM | Comments (3)
Surfing the Lunatic Fringe

The military announced the killing of four more U.S. soldiers on Sunday, pushing the American death toll past 1,700....

Do we trust this body count? I've heard repeatedly that the numbers the Pentagon releases don't include everyone who died as a result of the invasion of Iraq. I don't trust the MSM on this topic.

I've heard rumors of a body count around 7,000 or 9,000, but I haven't been able to document that number reliably.

Not that the attempt wasn't educational.

Researching the "9000" figure, I found myself at a "craigslist" archive that linked to a story on a site I wasn't familiar with.

I went back to Google and tried again. The next hit led me to a KOS diary site with a story about potentially 9,000 dead soldiers.

That diary linked to a story in a forum for substantiation, and that thread in the forum linked back to KOS for substantiation. (The forum discussion led to many strange and unsettling sites.)

Eventually, toggling between the forum and the diary, I found myself back at the first site, but when I went researching who was running it, I was completely appalled (and, I might add, much less inclined to believe the figure).

I wasn't really going anywhere with this. It's just that I avoid the wingnut aisles of the political spectrum most of the time, so I found this little journey interesting.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:04 PM | Comments (4)
Miscellaneously

As far as I'm concerned, it's an honor roll. The list of Senators being targeted by the Right in '06. (I really hate that floating menu bar at about.com sites.)

David Corn has words worth reading on the Downing Street Memo. (When are we going to -gate this one? What will it be? Downingate? Memogate? Or have we finally come to the point where we realize that what's going on is too serious for cutsie names?)

Thomas Griffith. Another Bush judicial nominee, another potential body-blow to human rights.

How much do we actually spend on defense? (Somehow I suspect this includes DoD budget items like healthcare research which aren't exactly "defense spending.")

War and soldiers. Not everyone makes it. I was moved.

Howard Dean is correct. The Left wants a fight. We're going to have it with or without the Democratic Party. If they want to remain relevant, they can respond to voters' demands.

Max Blumenthal on the Christian Right's New Race-Baiting.

How do you convince a woman, a woman who has ambition to be a serious journalist, that stripping on the air will advance her career? (Sometimes I don't know if I despair more of the men who take advantage of women, or of the women naïve enough to be taken advantage of. This was no teenager.)

Charlie hits one of my main grievances straight-on at Shades of Grey.

The sad thing is that commercials featuring women pie fighting wouldn't really be offensive to anybody if there existed ads that portrayed men in the same way.

In spite of the Right's occasional denouncements of lesbianism, it's really gay men they fear the most.

Regardless of whether they behave this way because they don't view lesbians as a threat to the traditional power structure (sexism in itself), because the few of them who are straight get off on hot girl-on-girl action, or because a lot of them are closeted and in desperate denial, so they can't see anything but the beautiful boys, the bottom line is that equal treatment is all that's needed, but we're never going to see it.

(I may start linking to Charlie frequently. It's a pleasure to run into another blogger who shares my tendency to abuse italics.)

Less world-shaking, but equally important. Before you tip, ask first who gets the money.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:36 AM | Comments (0)
June 13, 2005
MSM

So, with all of that happening in the world, what's the USofA mainstream media covering? I start skimming the (television-related) sites, and I'm greeted with pictures of the latest White Girl Tragedy from CBS and ABC.

And MSNBC leads with a story about the number of USofA troops killed in Iraq in the last year, but the WGT grabs the space at the top-right of the page.

Sigh.

But...wonder of wonders! CNN actually leads with news. The "Mississippi Burning" trial.

Actual news!

Okay, no one's talking about the Downing Street Memo, but I assume that's because these four sites are associated with broadcast news. Until someone stands up and shouts, "I am not a crook!" there's not much drama there for the visual media.

So what's the actually press doing?

WaPo's top-right corner is about school vouchers, specifically religious schools. (Don't be misled by my Monday-morning rudeness. The story is largely positive, which does nothing to alter my opposition to vouchers.) Next to it, the story about immigration law being used a an "anti-terrorism tool" (sarcastic quote marks mine). (Related story.)

The NYTimes gives us the head of Morgan-Stanley's resignation. (It's closely followed by the Supreme Court punching Texas courts in the nose for bigotry in jury selection, which warms my heart.)

The LATimes is doing a story on boys driven out of a polygamous sect, possible to reduce the competition for the remaining female population. (This is Warren Jeffs and that breakaway Mormon group that hits the news occasionally.) Next to that, a story on worker's compensation insurance rates for contractors working in Iraq.

Criminy...is that all of the "national" press we actually have? I check a lot of "traditional" news sites during a day, but I'm realizing that most of those are local sites that I check for "perspectives" on national or international events.

When you think of the MSM, who do you think of? Do you think primarily of the television news? When you think of the press, which publications do you mean? Do you think of the internet as "media"? (Is it a tabloid and what does that mean to the press when they label something a "tab"? Is it just about readability?)

Posted by AnneZook at 03:09 PM | Comments (5)
10 Questions - 7 (Hypocrisy)
7. Hypocrisy. You’re constantly accusing conservatives of failing to match rhetoric with resources when it comes to programs like the Millennium Challenge Account, and of being “hypocritical” in cooperating on terrorism with regimes like Sudan and Saudi Arabia’s, despite their egregious human rights records. Don’t you realize that foreign policy demands tough trade-offs? What makes you say progressives will do a better or more principled job managing the inevitable contradictions?

I see. I'm supposed to justify working with evil regimes in order to fight an unwinnable "war on terror"?

Would that be the same "war on terror" that we're currently fighting in Iraq, a country that didn't send any terrorists after us? Because, you know, the first concrete thing I would have done would have been to only fight where the actually terrorists were.

I'm just saying. In the arena of "hypocrisy," killing Iraqis because Saudi members of the Afghanistan-based Taliban committed terrorist acts is pretty outstanding.

I notice we aren't asked for a response to the "failure to match rhetoric with resources." Historically, both sides of the aisle have made promises of aid and assistance that they haven't delivered on. (As have other "developed" nations.)

Cooperation can be built in ways other than supporting terrorist or abusive regimes against other terrorist or abusive regimes. Has it occurred to us that had the USofA (and others) not been so obsessed with building up arsenals and playing politics with aid that maybe some places like the Sudan wouldn't be in the mess they're in?

Okay, yes, foreign policy demands tough trade-offs. What I'd do is try to make a better job of those trade-offs.

I wouldn't support an evil regime to defend a USofA corporation's "right" to do business in a country or on a continent (she said, glancing toward South America). I wouldn't legislate against a country to support a monopoly on bananas, for instance.

If people in Brazil don't want Nordstrom's, then Nordstrom's just won't be able to go there. (Why does our version of "free trade" never include anyone's right to say no to us?)

Other than that, I'm really just not the person to answer this question.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)
Iraq
Given that Washington's image has fallen sharply in Britain, South Korea and Turkey since George W Bush became president, he should have been unusually eager to please the three countries' visiting leaders. But he wasn't. Perhaps an election campaign contribution would have helped.

Ouch. Our stock has certainly fallen around the world, hasn't it? Is the "secret" really this open...that money actually can buy this Administration? (The numbers are in the report and I haven't had time to cross-check them against any other sources yet.) And, reading to the end, I'm humiliated all over again by the contemptuous way we're treating the rest of the world.

Suicide bombers in Iraq. A lot of the time, they're Iraqis. I was, as always fascinated by the glimpse of history in the article. I hope someone more knowledgeable than I am about the history of the region reads it and provides an opinion.

In the meantime, of course, the Rightwing in the USofA continues to show amazing sensitivity to human rights issues.

Our failures in Iraq should haunt this country the way our failures in Vietnam did. They should. I'm not sure they will. People in this country seem to have a convenient blind spot around our own atrocities.

The Scalping Party, by Mike Davis (and Tom Engelhardt).

Posted by AnneZook at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)
Aid to Africa

Aid to Africa recycled back to donor countries.

It estimates that just eleven per cent of French aid is genuine and of every $1 spent, 86 cents is phantom because it is largely tied to the purchase of American goods and services. Overall, the report said, of the G7 countries, aid only amounts to a minuscule 0.1 per cent overall and would need a tenfold increase to hit the UN target.

The report has been heav- ily criticised but the World Bank gave weight to its findings when it said that western consultants are creaming off a staggering $20 billion from global aid budgets.

I don't actually understand this kind of high-finance stuff (although I do understand the concept of skimming). For instance, I don't understand this:

The ministers said that the World Bank and African Development Bank would be compensated 'dollar for dollar' for the debt cancellation, while the cost of debt relief for the International Monetary Fund "should be met by the use of existing IMF resources" or, by "extra resources" where necessary.

What the heck does "extra resources" mean, I wonder? I wonder if this is an oblique reference to Nigeria's oil resources, mentioned later in the article?

I have saved (but not yet had time to read) the .pdf file which may educate me a bit.

I also find it instructive to read the opinions of those who (ahem) are not, our biggest fans. (We seem to be rather unpopular in places around the world for our arrogance, pushiness, and hypocrisy.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)
10 Questions - 5 (Anti-Americanism)
5. Anti-Americanism. How can we be sure you won’t sacrifice American interests out of an urge to be better liked around the world? Don’t you realize that a certain level of resentment against the world’s largest superpower is inevitable? Don’t you see some risk in country’s taking advantage of the U.S. if they believe we are preoccupied with winning other countries’ approval?

At what point did I claim I wanted to be "popular"? For that matter, at what point did you decide that a country can't be both strong and "popular"?

The USofA is not unpopular because we're a superpower. That's like saying everyone hates the captain of the football team. Not everyone hates the captain, unless the guy's a jackass.

We're unpopular because we try to use our power to force other people to do our bidding. (And I'm not talking about "promoting democracy," either.) Because we try to impose our culture and our values and our consumer-oriented way of life on everyone, whether they want it or not.

Because sometimes we side with terrorists and drug cartels in an attempt to bring down governments we don't personally like, regardless of whether or not the citizens of that country want us to. Because we're hypocritical and two-faced.

People disagree. Countries disagree. That doesn't make acting like the schoolyard bully right. (Also? Having more guns, or more economic buying power, than other countries doesn't automatically make us right.)

Some countries place a higher premium on different values. Cultural and other differences exist from country to country. Some societies may be willing to make trade-offs. Less economic freedom for more economic stability, for instance. That's their right.

(If we're the world's largest superpower, just exactly how is someone going to "take advantage of us"? Are they going to steal our lunch money? Or do you mean they might lie to us about something? And if the latter, do you think you are, again, confusing decent behavior with stupidity and weakness?)

Okay, so, yes, there will always be countries that just don't like us. So, what? I think the basic mistake in the question itself is the assumption that Liberals just want to be loved.

So, I think we could be more popular if we weren't, you know, torturing and killing people, but even I don't live in a world so divorced from reality as to think we're ever going to be universally beloved. Nor do I think it's a goal worth striving for.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:16 AM | Comments (0)
June 12, 2005
Oil, Iraq, Public Television, Downing Street

The aid and arms we've provided to Africa.

"There is obviously poverty reduction rhetoric but when you look closely at the way aid is tied to contracts for US companies you can see that it is a different way of benefiting the domestic economy. It is being done for the benefit of US business and not for the poor of the countries receiving the aid," says Peter Hardstaff, head of policy at the UK-based World Development Movement.

I'm withholding judgment on the recently announced "debt forgiveness" until I hear what strings are attached this time.

The article gives the Bush Administration credit for actually caring about the people, in spite of the AIDS money that's tied to religious programs and abstinence-only programs, but makes it clear that our dependence on Africa's oil will only increase.

As the world passes peak oil production, and some analysts believe the top of the graph is already disappearing in our rear-view mirror, the race for oil will become paramount.

Typical. What should become paramount is alternate energy sources, but the governments of the world are, instead, prepared to destroy each other over oil.

So...we have a nominee for ambassador to Iraq. (Finally.) Doesn't sound like he's any better than the rest of the Bush Adminstration's choices.

Remember that PBS show that had the rightwing in such a lathr? The one that incidentally referred to someone's two "mothers"? The program was called "Ready to Learn." Funding for it has been 'zeroed-out' by Congress. It doesn't kill the program, but it certainly makes clear the Bush Administration's utter and complete intolerance, doesn't it? If you read the article, you'll see that there's a serious move afoot to kill the Corporation for Public Broadcasting completely.

So, there's "new life" in the Downing Street Memo scandal? And Bush thinks he can pass it off as unimportant?

I hope it brings the Bush Administration and their whole, dirty, bigoted, rightwing cadre down.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)
Bloglinking

DeJa Vu on UN Dues

(Democracy Arsenal is rapidly climbing my list of "favorite" blogs.)

And I meant to mention this before. I agree with Ralph Luker. If you can't be creative and imaginative with your invective, keep it to yourself.

And I agree with Ruy Teixeira's reader. The Democrats need to contest every race, not just a handful.

This is just wrong. It's the kids' recess. They should be allowed to talk about their religion if they want to.

Okay, yes, this is a good question. Just how much war would our government be willing to wage if the profit motive were removed?

I don't have a tenth of the courage of Ayaan Hirsi Ali but I'd like to. (Via Bitch. Ph.D.'s comments.)

Avedon Carol always has a handful of posts worth linking to, but I found this one on the creeping erosion of civil liberties in the U.K. very interesting. It's not just here in the USofA. We need to remember that. "Democracies" all over the place are seeing organized threats to their futures.

Over at Ahistoricality, we're directed to more of those, "should I be blogging?" entries around the 'net. With people being fired after their employers "find" their blogs, it's a topic worth considering.

Remember when I asked someone to point me to the 200 terrrorists the (un)Patriot(ic) Act had allows law enforcement officials to snare and convict? 39 people. So, as many of us expected, the law is being used primarily against everyone but terrorists.

Redistricting. The fight goes on.

I diss the Republicans quite a lot. I don't like their economics, their foreign policies, their lousy war-mongering, their protectionism for corporations and the mega-wealthy, and their contempt for the poor.

In the end, though, it's their support and protection for racism that I really find unforgivable.

And I know I sometimes talk like a confirmed pacifist, acting as though war is never the solution to any situation. That's largely because the war we're now engaged in is so...criminally irresponsible and fatally unwinnable.

There are times when, sadly, war is needed to stop atrocity. Because there is evil.

And, even more sadly, we don't seem to fight those wars.

Cooney Resigns! I saw the post headline several times. I'm happy, of course. Don't get me wrong.

I'd just have been a lot happier if the name had been "Rumsfeld." Or, better yet, "Bush."

Heh. How did I miss this Billmon entry in May?

Another defendant (Ari Fleischer, front row, extreme right) received only a light sentence, as the court determined that lying to the American people was too common a crime to merit more severe punishment.

More recently, it seems that what the USofA really needs is better flypaper.

When they start regulating the internet, I hope they don't ban Food Pr0n.


Posted by AnneZook at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)