American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, September 13, 2003
So now it is official: the government of Israel has decided to assassinate Yasser Arafat.

Not any more to "exile". Not any more to "expel or kill". Simply to "remove".

Of course, the intention is not to remove him to another country. Nobody seriously believes that Yasser Arafat will raise his hands and allow himself to be marched off. He and his men will be killed "during the exchange of fire". This would not be the first time.

Even if it was possible to expel Arafat to another country, nobody in the Israeli leadership would dream of doing so. How come? Allow him to make the rounds of Putin, Schroeder and Chirac? God forbid. So the plan is to remove him to the next world.

Not immediately. The Americans forbid it. It may make Bush angry. Sharon does not want to annoy Bush.
[...]

So when will the planned assassination be carried out? When some big suicide attack will take place in Israel, one so big that an extreme reaction will be understood by the Americans, too. Or when something happens somewhere to divert world attention from our country. Or when some dramatic event, something comparable to the destruction of the Twin Towers, makes Bush furious.

What will happen afterwards?

Arab leaders say that there will be "incalculable results". But, in truth, the results can be calculated fairly well in advance.
"War can save womens' lives--or vastly improve them"
Or so said creepy killblogger Asparagirl on March 4, 2003. Christian Parenti reports from Iraq just how fantabulous those improvements are:
Here the criminal is king. Saddam emptied the prisons and the United States disbanded the police, while 60 percent of people are unemployed. As a result, carjacking, robbery, looting, and murder are rife. Marauding men in "misery gangs" kidnap and rape women and girls at will. Some of these victims are dumped back on the streets only to be executed by their "disgraced" male relatives in what are called "honor killings."

Many women and girls stay locked inside their homes for weeks at a time. And increasingly those who do venture out wear veils, as the misogynist threats and ravings of the more fundamentalist Shia and Sunni clerics have warned that women who do not wear the hijab should not be protected.
Progress is indeed grand.
'The talents and passions of working people are often expressed in forms that are not traditionally preserved. So, too, are the artistic expressions of the labor movement that have moved working people to action. Collecting and displaying these cultural objects is the mission of the LABOR ARTS website, and here in the LABOR ARTS SAMPLER are examples of the kinds of items that have inspired this project.'
Via Dublog.
NEW YORK - The United States could learn from compromises Israeli courts have struck to balance terrorism and human rights concerns, Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer said Friday.

Israeli judges have adopted what Breyer called "intermediate solutions" that acknowledge the security risks the country faces, the justice told an audience at Columbia Law School.

"There are many solutions that ... solve nothing to everyone's satisfaction but are not quite as restrictive of human rights as an extreme solution, nor as dangerous as some other extremes," Breyer said.

[I don't know the politics of Judge Breyer but I do know that head of Supreme Court Judge Barak is often attacked for his "left wing human rights" judicial activism.]
Friday, September 12, 2003
'To bring art to the people: that is what Walter Crane, Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Albert Hahn, Frans Masereel and Gerd Arntz, the five artists in this on-line exhibition wanted. '

Related interest :- The Situationist International: The Revolution of Everyday Life.
'Emma Goldman (1869-1940) stands as a major figure in the history of American radicalism and feminism. An influential and well-known anarchist of her day, Goldman was an early advocate of free speech, birth control, women's equality and independence, and union organization. Her criticism of mandatory conscription of young men into the military during World War I led to a two-year imprisonment, followed by her deportation in 1919. For the rest of her life until her death in 1940, she continued to participate in the social and political movements of her age, from the Russian Revolution to the Spanish Civil War ... '
Jerusalem Post says "Kill Arafat"
Jerusalem Post editorial, Sept. 10, 2003:
We must kill as many of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders as possible, as quickly as possible, while minimizing collateral damage, but no letting that damage stop us. And we must kill Yasser Arafat, because the world leaves us no alternative.
Complete editorial here (requires registration).
Thursday, September 11, 2003
Israel/Palestine
Pray to whatever being or thing you want. Pray that this doesn't happen. The only result from this is that even more blood will flow.

Israel Decides to Expel Arafat

The Israeli security cabinet has agreed in principle to expel Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

The cabinet is understood to have asked the army to draw up a series of options for Mr Arafat's expulsion from his compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
[more]

Expelling Arafat would be a huge mistake: Mubarak

Expelling Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat would be a huge mistake, possibly leading to a new upsurge of violence in the Middle East, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said here Thursday as the Israeli cabinet met to consider such a move.
[more]

   thanks to Information Clearing House


Tommy Chong, who played one half of the dope-smoking duo in the Cheech and Chong movies, was sentenced to nine months in federal prison and fined $20,000 Thursday for selling bongs and other drug paraphernalia over the Internet.
Outside the cinemas on Saadoun Street, groups of men loiter round film posters of naked women, whose private parts are crudely super-imposed with underwear drawn in coloured pen.

Behind doors in Baghdad's main movie strip, there is no such teasing.

Barely a seat is empty as hundreds of men, most puffing cigarettes, sit in total silence and darkness to enjoy scenes of nudity and sex for 1,000 Iraqi dinars (35 pence) a time.

"Under Saddam, forget it. You would go to jail for showing or watching this," said movie-watcher Mohammed Jassim at the Atlas Cinema where one of the films on offer was disturbingly named "Real Raping".
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Privacy International (UK) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (USA) have just published their Privacy and Human Rights 2003 Report.

The document provides a global overview on a series of issues including the processing of genetic and medical data, the increased adoption of survelliance tools (from CCTV to facial recognition software, via proposals for RFID chips embedded travel documents), and the extension of anti-terrorist laws to stifle civil dissent.
[Image 'sesame-bush.jpg' cannot be displayed]
NY Times editorial:
"...Other wrong turns, however, were chosen because of a fundamental flaw in the character of this White House. Despite his tough talk, Mr. Bush seems incapable of choosing a genuinely tough path, of risking his political popularity with the same aggression that he risks the country's economic stability and international credibility. For all the trauma the United States has gone through during his administration, Mr. Bush has never asked the American people to respond to new challenges by making genuine sacrifices.

(...)




[Image 'OneTermPres.gif' cannot be displayed]Mr. Bush is a man who was reared in privilege, who succeeded in both business and politics because of his family connections. The question during the presidential campaign was whether he was anything more than just a very lucky guy. There were times in the past three years when he has been much more than that, and he may no longer be a man who expects to find an easy way out of difficulties. But now, at the moment when we need strong leadership most, he is still a politician who is incapable of asking the people to make hard choices. And we are paying the price."

Sunday, September 07, 2003
The latest from GEORGE BUllSHit
Tonight, George Bush gave a rare speech with no backdrop. This would have been appropriate.

Some brief analysis follows - see if you can find any of these observations, none of them requiring any special knowledge, in tomorrow's commentary. Listening tonight to CNN and Hardball, I didn't hear any of them:

Bush: Iraq...sponsored terror, possessed and used weapons of mass destruction. No evidence has been presented that Iraq sponsored terror. They definitely did possess biological and chemical weapons (dubiously called weapons of mass destruction - see below); in many cases the components of these were supplied by U.S. companies, and at the time they were used, Iraq was backed by the U.S.

Bush: For 12 years [Iraq] defied the clear demands of the United Nations Security Council. It now appears to be incontrovertible that Iraq has been completely disarmed since 1998, in compliance with the Security Council resolution.

Bush: Our coalition enforced these international demands in one of the swiftest and most humane military campaigns in history. Swift, yes. Humane? 6-8000 Iraqi civilians and tens of thousands of equally innocent Iraqi soldiers killed, and untold numbers wounded. Iraqis still being "blown away" on a daily basis by American troops (see item below). And a complete and total disregard for even counting these people, as if they are less than human. Humane? We report, you decide.

Bush: For a generation leading up to September the 11th, 2001, terrorists and their radical allies attacked innocent people in the Middle East and beyond, without facing a sustained and serious response. And this is related to the invasion of Iraq how exactly?

Bush: We are staying on the offensive, with a series of precise strikes against enemy targets increasingly guided by intelligence given to us by Iraqi citizens. I wonder if Farah Fadhil (see item below) is one of those?

Bush: So far, of the 55 most wanted former Iraqi leaders, 42 are dead or in custody. We are sending a clear message: anyone who seeks to harm our soldiers can know that our soldiers are hunting for them. Actually, there is no evidence that any of those 42 people had anything to do with "harming our soldiers." We are still holding in custody, totally incommunicado and essentially dead to the world, people like Gen. Amir al-Saadi and Tariq Aziz. When is the U.S. going to let these people go?

Bush: Our military commanders in Iraq advise me that the current number of American troops -- nearly 130,000 -- is appropriate to their mission...our commanders have requested a third multinational division to serve in Iraq. Surely the question is how many "troops" the military commanders want, not how many "American troops." If they have requested another division, then they need another division. Whether that division is an American division or a multinational division is a political question, not a military one (of course, Left I believes that all divisions should be removed, not reinforced).

Bush: This budget request [$19 billion] will...support our commitment to helping the Iraqi and Afghan people rebuild their own nations, after decades of oppression and mismanagement...We will help them to restore basic services, such as electricity and water, and to build new schools, roads, and medical clinics. "Oppression and mismanagement"? Is that what destroyed the electricity, water, schools, roads, and medical clinics in Iraq? Or could two brutal wars and a decade of harsh economic sanctions have something to do with it?

Bush: We mourn every American who has died so bravely, so far from home. Perhaps, but when we count them, we do our best to exclude those who didn't die in "combat." So evidently we don't mourn those Americans quite as much.

And finally, it's critical to not just look at what someone says, but at what they don't say. And of course, the #1 thing not said in this Bush speech - the "search" for weapons of mass destruction. Not only aren't there any actual weapons in Iraq, there isn't even any evidence of ongoing programs to make such weapons. The new line is that key scientists were "retained" (as opposed to what? execution?). Bush's comment on this, the key public justification for the invasion, and the sole basis on which the British government, at least, joined in the invasion? Not a word.

From Left I on the News

Iraq's WMD? Remember them?
Turns out that David Kay and his team of 1,400 experts with the Iraq Survey Group have come up with nothing after an extensive search for WMD in Iraq.

The Independent reports that the group "is expected to report this week that it has found no WMD hardware, nor even any sign of active programmes...the only evidence it has found is that the Iraqi government had retained a group of scientists who had the expertise to restart the weapons programme at any time."

An alternative account from the Boston Globe predicts that Kay will claim that Hussein's regime purposefully scattered elements of its WMD program around the Iraqi countryside in order to deceive the UN. Then, once the pressure from the international community subsided, "the weapons programs were intended to be pulled together quickly to manufacture substantial quantities of deadly gases and germs."

But, you ask, what about all of that weapons material Iraq couldn't account for? "Ex-inspectors now say," according to the AP, "that the 'unaccountables' may have been no more than paperwork glitches left behind when Iraq destroyed banned chemical and biological weapons years ago."

So, we're left with paperwork glitches and potentially evil scientists -- that's why we invaded Iraq. Don't forget to tell your grandkids, 'cause this information is going down the memory hole, quick.
Farah Fadhil - Presente!
Farah Fadhil was only 18 when she was killed. An American soldier threw a grenade through the window of her apartment. Her death, early last Monday, was slow and agonising. Her legs had been shredded, her hands burnt and punctured by splinters of metal, suggesting that the bright high-school student had covered her face to shield it from the explosion.

She had been walking to the window to try to calm an escalating situation; to use her smattering of English to plead with the soldiers who were spraying her apartment building with bullets.

But then a grenade was thrown and Farah died. So did Marwan Hassan who, according to neighbours, was caught in the crossfire as he went looking for his brother when the shooting began.

What is perhaps most shocking about their deaths is that the coalition troops who killed them did not even bother to record details of the raid with the coalition military press office. The killings were that unremarkable. What happened in Mahmudiya last week should not be forgotten, for the story of this raid is also the story of the dark side of the US-led occupation of Iraq, of the violent and sometimes lethal raids carried out apparently beyond any accountability.
You can read the full story here; you won't be surprised, I'm sure, to learn that this article comes from the British press. Whatever happened to those "embedded" reporters who were supposed to give us such a timely, accurate picture of what was happening in Iraq?

Followup: Was this one of the "series of precise strikes against enemy targets" George Bush talked about tonight in his speech?

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