Saturday, April 05, 2003

SADDAM GONE, CHAOS REIGNS -- The southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah was taken from Saddam Hussein by coalition forces after fiere firefights and considerable bombing. What has replaced the tyranny of Saddam, however, looks less like liberation more like the law of the jungle.

"Even in daylight, the streets of Nasiriyah are unsafe. Looters line every road, pushing carts laden with all manner of stolen items – furniture, household appliances, jerry-cans and pieces of wood. They do so casually, joyously, as if they are aware that with Saddam Hussein's regime ousted and the US Marines unable to police the entire city, there is no one to stop them. They wave as you pass."


The population of southern Iraq could use a little work, too.

"People do not like Saddam, but they do not want a colonising army," said one young man, who asked not be named. "In the area where I live there was an older man, a retired soldier ... When he heard the Americans were coming he went and got his gun. When people asked why, he said it was because he did not want to be invaded."


Never mind. I'm sure Rummy the Hun has a plan for that.



L.A.'s BIG FAULT -- There is a geological fault line 2 to 11 miles deep and 31 miles long under Los Angeles.

"In terms of location, it couldn't be much worse," said James Dolan, a professor at University of Southern California's department of Earth sciences, who led the study. "Downtown L.A. is sitting on top of this thing."
This is the transcript of Senator John Kerry's speech at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner on April 3 in Georgia. Senator Kerry was introduced by former Senator Max Cleland (D-GA), a Vietnam War veteran and triple amputee.


I don't think it gets better in public life, and certainly not in mine, than to be introduced by my brother, Max Cleland.

We were part of a special band of brothers in the U.S. Senate, Max Cleland, Bob Kerrey at one point, John McCain, Chuck Hagel, Chuck Robb, myself, and I'll tell you seriously that those of you who have served in the military, in particular those of you who've been in combat that share this sentiment with me, it's as close as men who don't throw the word around easily can get to loving another man in the most connected, personal, and extraordinary way, and when I think about Max Cleland saying something about Hemingway and grace under pressure as he just did I think all of you should join me in sharing the sense that this man, who left three limbs on the battlefield in Vietnam for this country, deserves better than what the Republican Party gave him in the last election here in Georgia.

Five months ago here in Georgia, Max Cleland's position on national security, known to all his colleagues, was deliberately distorted, and that was particularly outrageous given the kind of sacrifice and service that he has given this country. There is something very wrong in America when a hero like Max Cleland who has made his contribution is subjected to the worst in American politics. He ought to be in the U.S. Senate today. And let me tell you, every day in the course of my race for the presidency of the United States I will be motivated -- and I ask you to help me be motivated -- to hold them accountable for what they did to Max Cleland.

Max, who talked about grace under pressure, and I just want to share with you that for those of us who got to know him and love him so much in the U.S. Senate, who watched his personal effort each day, for anyone who needs an example not just of grace under pressure, but grace in life itself, I think you would share with me that Max Cleland is an example to every single American and we are grateful for his love of this country, for his patriotism, and for his contribution to all of our lives. Max, thank you, for who you are and what you have done ...

But let me just share today something I feel very strongly about, because today I had the pleasure of having Tom DeLay, Denny Hastert, and a score of other Republicans come out of the woodwork to attack me for speaking out regarding the direction of our country when I spoke up in New Hampshire yesterday.

I think that Max who served with me and many who have served share with me this belief: I don't need any lessons in patriotism or caring about America from the likes of Tom DeLay and the right wing, whose motivations can be questioned ... And the one thing that passed in the mind of those of us who served, who have fought for freedom, and the one thing that all those who are in the Middle East fighting today is the cherished rights of Americans to question and debate the democracy of our nation and to turn this country in the directions that we believe are in the best interests of America. Tom DeLay, hear me loud and clear: I speak out for America, not for politics, and as long as I have air in my lungs I will continue to speak my mind ...

Here in the South -- perhaps more than in any other part of this nation -- service, patriotism, and duty aren't buzzwords. They're a way of life. I believe we need national leadership that sees service that same way -- not as a slogan and rhetoric, but as a cause and a commitment.

Unfortunately, this administration has failed to honor the service of citizens who are doing what's right. After Sept. 11, Americans wanted to contribute and to serve. This administration told them to go shopping. They have cut AmeriCorps when we should be expanding it so every young person has the opportunity to perform national service. But nothing flies in the face of the values of duty and service more than what this administration is doing when it comes to fulfilling our obligation to our troops, our veterans, and their families. We can do better -- and our soldiers deserve no less.

We made a sacred bond with these men and women when we asked them to risk their lives for their country. And this administration has failed to hold up its side of the bargain. Just as we wouldn't think of sending our military into battle without the uniforms and equipment they need, we shouldn't neglect to care for our troops and their families before, during, and after the war. Yet, 20 percent of our Reservists and their families don't have healthcare coverage.

And at the same time that American soldiers are engaged in battle at home, this administration is proposing substantial cuts in federal school aid to children of military families. As we learned the hard way after Vietnam, our duty to our troops doesn't end when the battle is won. Those that put their lives on the line have earned a lifetime of support. And America must live up to that commitment.

Yet, two months ago, this administration announced it would suspend enrollment in the healthcare system of at least 160,000 qualified veterans. And now they want to deny another 230,000 veterans the healthcare they deserve.

And many of the vets already in the system are doing little better. More than 200,000 veterans are waiting six months or more for their first doctor's visit. We need to do much more to deal with this backlog and get the veterans healthcare system ready for the hundreds of thousands of vets who will be returning from Iraq. Yet, this administration says we cannot afford healthcare for veterans because they prefer a massive tax cut that harms economic growth and gives the greatest benefit to those with the least need. Today the Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives announced that -- and I quote -- "Nothing is more important in the face of war than cutting taxes." Let me make this clear: Never in its history has the United States passed a big tax cut in a time of war. We have always believed in shared sacrifice.

And I say to Tom DeLay, one thing I know about America is that in the face of war there are things more important than cutting taxes and it is wrong to reward the wealthiest Americans before we fulfill our solemn obligations to those that have served.

Georgia's brave sons and daughters have borne more than their share of the burdens of battle. Your heroes include soldiers like Chief Warrant Officer Ronald Young Jr. His dream was to be a pilot. And he made it. But when his Apache helicopter went down in Iraq, he was captured and is now being held as a prisoner of war.

Tonight, our thoughts are with all the prisoners and all the families of those held, lost, or fighting -- let us go home and say a prayer that he and all the troops are safe at home soon. But we need to do more than think and pray -- we need to vow that they'll come home to an America that keeps its promise to them, not one that turns its back on those who served.

And let's make sure they come home to an America that is moving forward -- where Democrats are fighting for them and for what's right.

Friday, April 04, 2003

WORLD WAR 4 -- Former CIA Chief James Woolsey, expected by many to be a top American ruler in post-Saddam Iraq, told an audience in California that the United States is now waging World War Four, the war against international terrorism. (The Cold War was World War 3, according to Mr Woolsey.)

Significantly, Mr Woolsey cited Iran and Syria as our enemies in this world war, specifically referring to the Syrian government as 'fascist.' It is the most poorly guarded secret in Washington, D.C. that the Bush administration is eager to attack and conquer Syria and Iran once the war with Iraq is finished. This speech by Mr Woolsey is further indication that the neocon hawk policy of invading a series of countries in the Middle East is still very much part of the plan.
BOOK UPDATE -- On Monday night I finished reading "What Liberal Media?" by Eric Alterman. It's brilliant, of course, and should be required reading for every liberal in the United States. Moderates, too. In fact, any Democratic candidate for president who doesn't read it and require his entire staff to read it is making a serious mistake. The book is exhaustively researched and provides a chilling reminder of what any outspoken liberal faces in America today.

Since I must read two books at a time, I have picked up "Krushchev: The Man and his Era" by William Taubman. As a fan of Cold War history (almost any history, actually), I can't wait to dig into this one. You'll notice the "What I'm Reading" column at right has been updated appropriately.
PEARL JAM DOESN'T LIKE MR BUSH -- And some of their fans don't like that.
PRIVATE LYNCH WAS NOT SHOT OR STABBED -- Private first class Lynch, a prisoner of war recently rescued by U.S. troops was not shot or stabbed, as previously reported.

Private Lynch suffered a head laceration, fractures to her right arm, both legs, right foot and ankle and lumbar spine. Doctors says Private Lynch has already undergone several surgeries and will probably have more. So far those surgeries have gone well, her doctors believe.
POISON IN THE RIVER -- The U.S. Marines have found high concentrations of cyanide and mustard gas in the Euphrates River near Nasiriyah in southern Iraq. Are the Iraqis dumping this stuff into the river to avoid detection now or has this been going on for some time? And will the Bush administration send Erin Brockovich over there to help out?
EDWARDS' FUNDRAISING NOT A BIG DEAL? -- That's what Mary Jones seems to think over at the estimable The American Prospect. Ms Jones compares Senator Edwards' fundraising of $7.4 million in the first three months of 2003, considered an impressive number by many political observers, to the money raised by earlier candidates and the money he will need this time. She isn't impressed.

"Fundraising totals are still trickling out, but as of noon on Thursday, former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.) announced he had raised $2.6 million, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) had taken in $7 million and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) had brought in $3 million. That's an especially paltry number for Lieberman, considering he was Gore's running mate in 2000."

I agree with Ms Jones that Senator's Lieberman's fundraising totals are fairly embarrassing for a candidate that is supposed to be a leader of the pack, but I do think Senator Edwards has done a pretty good job getting people to write checks to him. I don't think that'll get him the nomination, though.
GUN LOBBY PUSHES FOR PROTECTION UNDER COVER OF WAR -- With the nation transfixed by the Iraq War, the gun lobby and its servants on Capitol Hill have decided this is a good time to push for legal protection from lawsuits. Yesterday, the Republican-dominated House Judiciary Committee approved a bill to provide gun manufacturers and dealers immunity against many suits, including ones already in court brought by shooting victims and municipalities. The lawsuits contend gun manufacturers and vendors have harmed the public by not making guns with child safety locks, identification marks, and for distribution practices that make it easy for criminals to illegally obtain firearms.
Granting immunity would be a serious setback for advocates of gun control, who have turned to state courts increasingly in recent years after meeting resistance in legislatures. They have denounced the proposed legislation as an unfair favor to an industry and a federal usurpation of states' rights. They say Congress would be denying injured citizens and violence-ridden cities the right to sue companies supplying an illegal underground market in guns.

The Senate version to protect the gun industry from lawsuits is sponsored by 52 members, a hefty number. Only a filibuster by gun control Democrats can stop the measure from becoming law.
"A filibuster is absolutely an option," said Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island. "I can't imagine giving an exemption like this to one industry, especially this one. Toys are more heavily regulated than guns, and there's no immunity for the toy industry against litigation."

Gun control tends to be popular in urban and some suburban areas, especially in the Northeast and the West. However, rural Democrats are punished for supporting gun control and many, if not most, now oppose further efforts at gun control. More than 30 states now provide some form of legal immunity against lawsuits for gun manufacturers and vendors. Two dozen cities have sued gun manufacturers and vendors for damages incurred through gun violence.
BAD NEWS ON UNEMPLOYMENT -- 'U.S. companies slashed 108,000 jobs in March following huge cuts the month before as war in Iraq battered the economy at home. But the overall civilian unemployment rate held steady at 5.8 percent.

'Job losses were widespread last month, with few hiring gains, the Labor Department reported Friday.

'Analysts had expected more modest job cuts of about 40,000. In February, businesses cut 357,000 positions from their payrolls, more than previously reported.

'``I think it's definitely bad news,'' said Bill Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock Financial Services.'
MICHAEL KELLY DIES IN IRAQ -- Michael Kelly, right-wing Editor-at-large for The Atlantic Monthly and a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post died today in a Humvee accident inside Iraq.

"Kelly is credited with revitalizing the respected but sometimes dull Atlantic, which won three National Magazine Awards last year and carried many high-profile cover stories, including a three-part series on the cleanup of the World Trade Center site. He took the reins after Washington businessman David Bradley bought the Atlantic from Mort Zuckerman in 1999. Kelly stepped down as editor last fall and also planned to write a book about the history of the steel industry.

"As a columnist, Kelly was a caustic conservative who was merciless in his criticism of Bill Clinton and Al Gore and was generally supportive of President Bush, especially on foreign policy. In 1997, New Republic owner Martin Peretz, a close friend of Gore, fired Kelly as the magazine's editor over his continuing attacks on the Clinton administration."

Mr Kelly is the first American journalist to die in the Iraq War.
BRITS CLAMP DOWN ON WEST BANK EXPORTS -- "Tony Blair's government tightened the screws on Israel's illegal West Bank settlements yesterday by warning British food and agricultural importers that they will now be liable for taxes on zero-rated goods which are not genuinely Israeli.

"To the delight of Labour MPs critical of the settlements, widely seen as a barrier to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the Treasury issued a written commons statement which signals a tightening up of customs checks in response to Israeli stonewalling on the exact origins of its exports.

"John Healey, the economic secretary in Gordon Brown's team, said that the latest agreement between Israel and the EU to provide zero-rates of duty on Israeli products does not extend to goods originating in territories occupied during the 1967 war, including Gaza and the West Bank."

BRIEFING WITH THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF -- Some of my colleagues and I had a briefing with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff yesterday morning. You've probably all seen him on televison--it's Dick Myers. We were told we'd have 30 minutes, but it was more like 20 minutes. Everyone got to ask just one question and there was no follow-up. He began by walking around and shaking everyone's hand and then went to his podium. Much of it was just standard PR stuff, but he did say a few things worth nothing.

Myers began by expressing condolences for an Australian Broadcasting Corporation reporter killed in Iraq earlier this week. He says that so far, contrary to what is being reported elsewhere, he has seen little evidence of Republican Guard (RG) units melting back into Baghdad. He says the RG is arrayed in rings around the capital and his troops are now in the second ring, with probably one more to go before they reach the city. He says he does not believe taking Baghdad will be easy. This is a direct contradiction of some of the leaking the White House was doing yesterday, but Myers didn't address the White House views directly.

Myers says the Iraq regime tries to keep most RG units outside of Baghdad due to fears that one or more units will attempt to launch a coup. He emphasized the importance of special forces units, especially Aussies, in western Iraq, looking for SCUD launching baskets and preventing any launches against Jordan, Israel, or Saudi Arabia.

He mentioned the F-18 that was recently shot down and said a Patriot missile was responsible for this "blue-on-blue" incident. Myers says additional forces are heading to Iraq. Late in the briefing he mentioned North Korea and its known possession of fissile material. He expressed concerns that the bankrupt regime in Pyongyang might attempt to export this material in return for hard currency.

Finally, I noticed to my dismay that he pronounces nuclear as "nucular." It's a pet peeve of mine.
GET USED TO MORE OF THIS -- A car exploded at a special operations checkpoint in western Iraq, killing three coalition soldiers, a pregnant woman and the car's driver, the U.S. Central Command said Friday. Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Central Command deputy director of operations, described the bombing as terrorist.


Thursday, April 03, 2003

MY FAVORITE BUSH AND BUSH-RELATED QUOTES

"As people do better, they start voting like Republicans...
...unless they have too much education and vote Democratic,
which proves there can be too much of a good thing."
--KARL ROVE, Bush's long-time political guru and White House advisor

"You fucking son of a bitch. I saw what you wrote. We're not going to forget this."
--George W. Bush to writer and editor Al Hunt, 1988

"They said this issue wouldn't resignate with the People. They've been proved wrong, it does resignate." ("resonate"?!)
--George W. Bush

"I don't want nations feeling like that they can bully
ourselves and our allies. I want to have a ballistic defense
system so that we can make the world more peaceful, and at
the same time I want to reduce our own nuclear capacities to
the level commiserate with keeping the peace."
—Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 23, 2000 (I think he meant commensurate

"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take
dream."
—LaCrosse, Wis., Oct. 18, 2000

"If I'm the president, we're going to have emergency-room care,
we're going to have gag orders."
--George W. Bush

"Quotas are bad for America. It's not the way America is all
about."
--George W. Bush

"If affirmative action means what I just described, what I'm for,
then I'm for it."
—St. Louis, Mo., October 18, 2000

"I mean, there needs to be a wholesale effort against racial
profiling, which is illiterate children."
—Second presidential debate, Oct. 11, 2000

"I think if you know what you believe, it makes it a lot easier to
answer questions. I can't answer your question."
—In response to a question about whether he wished he could take back any of his answers in the
first debate. Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Oct. 4, 2000

... I've been talking to Vicente Fox, the new president of Mexico... I know him... to have gas and oil sent to U.S.... so we'll not depend on foreign oil...
-- on the first Presidential debate, 10/03/2000

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."
—Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

"I will have a foreign-handed foreign policy."
—Redwood, Calif., Sept. 27, 2000

"...more and more of our imports are coming from overseas."
-- On NPR's Morning Edition (9/26)

"I am aperson who recognizes the fallacy of humans...,"
apparently meaning fallibility." (I think he means "fallability")
--Oprah Winfrey Show, 9/20/2000

"The best way to relieve families from time is to let them keep some
of their own money." —Westminster, Calif., Sept.13, 2000

"...I don't need to be subliminabable.." Orlando, FL, Sept. 12 -- when caught using subliminal technique in his dirty ads against Gore...

"We'll let our friends be the peacekeepers and the great country called America will be the pacemakers."—Houston,Texas, Sept. 6, 2000

"The point is, this is a way to help inoculate me about what has come and is coming."
--on his anti-Gore ad, in an interview with the New York Times, Sept. 2, 2000

"Well, I think if you say you're going to do something and don't do
it, that's trustworthiness."
--CNN online chat, 8/30/2000

"We cannot let terriers* and rogue nations hold this nation hostile
or hold our allies hostile.''
--8/21/2000, Des Moines, Iowa

"The American people wants a president that appeals to the angels..."
--speech during the GOP convention, Aug/2000
IDIOT QUOTE OF THE DECADE -- "Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes."
- House Majority Whip Tom DeLay [NY Times, 4/3/03, CongressDaily, 3/17/03]
6 STOLEN IRAQ WAR JOKES

Turkey has voted not to allow U.S. troops into their country and Saddam Hussein said 'You can do that?' (Jay Leno)

Yesterday, the president met with a group he calls the coalition of the willing. Or, as the rest of the world calls them, Britain and Spain. (Jon Stewart)

War continues in Iraq. They're calling it Operation Iraqi Freedom. They were going to call it Operation Iraqi Liberation until they realized that spells 'OIL.' (Jay Leno)

President Bush found out something this week. Between the countries of Cameroon, Chile, Angola and Syria, Angola plays the best music when they put you on hold. (Craig Kilborn)

Saddam Hussein also challenged President Bush to a debate. The Butcher of Baghdad vs. the Butcher of the English language. (Jay Leno)

Experts say that if we go to war with Iraq, oil could reach as much as $80 a barrel. Of course, after the war it will be free. (Jay Leno)
GM RUNS OVER GATES --At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated, "If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon".

In response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued a press release stating: If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a manoeuvre such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single "This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation" warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask "Are you sure?" before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10.You'd have to press the "Start" button to turn the engine off.
JOHN KERRY: REGIME CHANGE AT HOME -- Presidential aspirant John Kerry (D-MA) harshly criticized the foreign policy of the Bush administration and accused Mr Bush of alienating the planet with his war in Iraq.

''What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States,'' Kerry said in a speech at the Peterborough Town Library.
Kerry said that he had spoken with foreign diplomats and several world leaders as recently as Monday while fund-raising in New York and that they told him they felt betrayed when Bush resorted to war in Iraq before they believed diplomacy had run its course.

He said the leaders, whom he did not identify, believed that Bush wanted to ''end-run around the UN.''

''I don't think they're going to trust this president, no matter what,'' Kerry said. ''I believe it deeply, that it will take a new president of the United States, declaring a new day for our relationship with the world, to clear the air and turn a new page on American history.''

With a dig at Bush's previous lack of foreign policy experience, Kerry said he would usher in a new US foreign policy if he stood before the United Nations as president.

''I believe we can have a golden age of American diplomacy,'' he said, outlining his own foreign policy credentials in the speech. ''But it will take a new president who is prepared to lead, and who has, frankly, a little more experience than visiting the sum total of two countries'' before taking office.


Senator Kerry also reserved some fire for John Ashcroft, the right-wing religious fanatic Mr Bush appointed Attorney General:
Taking aim at Attorney General John D. Ashcroft at one point, the senator added: ''One of the reasons why I am running for president of the United States is that I look forward with pleasure and zeal for the opportunity to appoint an attorney general of the United States who believes and reads and abides by the Constitution.''


Now here is a candidate who gets it. Fire and brimstone. Take no prisoners and kick lots of ass. This is the sort of Democrat the Democrats need.
IS THIS GUY SERIOUS? -- Citizen of the world Rupert Murdoch says the United States has an inferiority complex and the rest of the world must learn to respect us.

Inferiority complex? Where the hell did that come from? We've just announced our right to depose any government anywhere for any reason that suits us and Mr Murdoch is worried we Yanks have got an inferiority complex? Which planet has this guy come from?

He also referred to the American people as "we". Please, Rupert--don't do that.
BUSH EXPECTS OTHERS TO HELP PAY TO REBUILD IRAQ -- Speaking to the Orlando Chamber of Commerce, Treasury Secretary Jon Snow said the Bush administration expects other G-7 countries to help with Iraqi reconstruction. "We want to make sure other countries help us," Snow said.

The next G-7 meeting is in June and the other members are Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy. Russia is an associate member.
LATEST POLL FROM PEW RESEARCH CENTER

Public support for the war remains steadfast in the face of rising worries about the current military situation and America's role in rebuilding Iraq after the war. The possibility that Iraq could deploy biological or chemical weapons against U.S. troops is the leading concern of Americans - 59% say they worry about that a "great deal," up from 46% in the first days of the war.

Americans also are increasingly concerned about the duration of the U.S. military committment. Four-in-ten say they worry a great deal that U.S. troops will be involved in the Middle East for years to come. But there is growing support for a major U.S. effort aimed at rebuilding Iraq after the conflict ends. Seven-in-ten (71%) back a significant post-war reconstruction program, up from 63% in February.

The Pew Research Center's war tracking poll, which has interviewed more than 2,600 Americans since March 20, finds public appraisals of the military effort and emotional reactions to it have stabilized in the war's first few days. Americans also take an improved view of their personal finances and the president's concern for the economy. The survey includes a detailed analysis of the substantial demographic and partisan differences in support for the war.

The survey is will be available on our website at www.people-press.org, or by contacting us at 202-293-3126.
AL JAZEERA & FOX NEWS: 2 SIDES OF ONE COIN -- Slate has a good article on the Al Jazeera satellite television news channel and why it is now viewed more sympathetically by many in the West, even though it has lost none of its pro-Arab tilt. The suprising reason: U.S. news is so slanted towards the Bush administration that it is hard to object to what Al Jazeera does.
GOOD NEWS AND PREDICTABLE NEWS -- For the fourth time Senate Republicans failed to break a Democratic filibuster against the appointment of conservative jurist Miguel Estrada to the federal bench. The vote was 55-44 against the filibuster. All Republicans voted for the measure and were joined by conservative Democrats John Breaux (LA), Bill Nelson (FLA), Ben Nelson (NEB), and Zell Miller (GA).

Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans are trying to revive Mr Bush's top domestic energy priority--drilling for oil in the Alaskan Arctic Wildlife Regue. Republicans included oil development in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as part of a broader package of energy proposals approved Wednesday by the Resources Committee. The Senate voted against permitting drilling in the ANWR just two weeks ago, by a vote of 52-48--mostly along party lines with a few Republicans defecting to join the Democrats.
LETTER FROM HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

Iraqi Landmines Found in Mosque
Condemned as Violation of International Law

(Washington, DC, April 2, 2003) -- Iraq has violated international humanitarian law by storing antipersonnel landmines inside a mosque in Kadir Karam in northern Iraq, and placing them around the mosque before abandoning the area on March 27th, Human Rights Watch said today.

The British demining organization, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), reported that it entered the mosque today [April 2] and dismantled more than 150 mines. Photos of MAG’s activities can be seen at http://www.magclearsmines.org/.

Iraq is not among the 132 countries that are party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty that outlaws any use, production, stockpiling or trade in antipersonnel mines. However, Human Rights Watch believes that any use of antipersonnel mines by any armed force is prohibited by customary international humanitarian law since they are inherently indiscriminate weapons. International humanitarian law also prohibits using places of worship in support of the military effort.

“Antipersonnel mines should be viewed as completely repugnant weapons whose use is beyond the pale, just like weapons of mass destruction,” said Steve Goose, executive director of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch. “Iraq’s use of these insidious weapons must be condemned. In the long run, they are sure to cause more pain and suffering to Iraqi civilians than to enemy soldiers,” said Goose.

According to information provided by mine clearance organizations such as MAG and Norwegian People’s Aid, as well as media accounts, Iraqi forces began planting mines before the outbreak of conflict and have continued laying them in a number of areas.

The New York Times reported today [April 2] that U.S. troops entering Najaf found Baath Party and paramilitary forces had laid mines on roads and bridges leading out of the city. Internally displaced persons in the Kirkuk area have told MAG that massive minefields have been laid by Iraqi forces along main routes and around now-abandoned positions. There have been press reports in recent days of Kurdish fighters (peshmergas) clearing many hundreds of recently laid mines. Since mid-March, Iraqi mine laying has
also been reported in the south near the Kuwait border, around Basra, around oil wells and elsewhere.

Iraq was already a heavily mined country. Landmines were used extensively in the 1991 Gulf War by Iraq and by the United States and other coalition forces. Iraq is also littered with mines from the Iraq-Iran War of the 1980s and decades of internal conflict.

Today, a cameraman working for the British Broadcasting Corporation was killed in Iraq when he stepped on a landmine. Three U.S. Marines have already been injured by antipersonnel mines in separate incidents in Iraq.

Like Iraq, the United States is not a party to the Mine Ban Treaty, though nearly all of its coalition partners are, including the United Kingdom and Australia. The UK and Australia are forbidden by the treaty to assist in any way with possible U.S. use of antipersonnel mines.

The United States has not used antipersonnel mines since the 1991 Gulf War, but has reserved the right to use them in this conflict. Thus far, the only reports of U.S. mine use have been references to Claymore-type directional fragmentation munitions used in command-detonated (soldier-operated) mode; these weapons are not prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty because they are triggered by the soldier, not the victim.

For more information see “Landmines in Iraq: Questions and Answers,” at http://hrw.org/campaigns/iraq/iraqmines1212.htm

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

WAS RUMMY HURTING THE TROOPS IN KOSOVO? -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and General Myers yesterday raged for some time about retired military pundits second-guessing their battle plans while troops are in field, saying doing so harmed the war effort. Well, it turns out Mr Rumsfeld has been hoisted on his own petard. Back in 1999, while President Clinton and General Wesley Clark were executing their brilliant plan to end Serbian genocide against the Kosovar Albanians, Mr Rumsfeld was quoted by CNN criticizing the war plans and comparing the situation to Vietnam:
There is always a risk in gradualism. It pacifies the hesitant and the tentative," former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. "What it doesn't do is shock and awe and alter the calculations of the people you're dealing with," Rumsfeld point out.


Doesn't that sound familiar? But that's not all. Mr Rumsfeld also opined a-plenty on MSNBC's "Hardball":
"I'm not a fan of how we seem to have drifted into this, and I -- I worry about a gradualist approach ... I think it was a mistake to say that we would not use ground forces, because it simplifies the problem for Milosevic. We -- we constantly say we're not gonna hit these targets, we are gonna hit those targets, we're gonna bring in Apaches or A-10s, but we're not gonna do it for two or four or six weeks. It seems to me that we ought to stop saying things to appease and placate our domestic political audiences and we are -- ought to start behaving in a way that suggests to Milosevic that it's his -- in his interest to -- to end this and stop the ethnic cleansing and to come to the negotiating table and -- and work out something rational.

"I would not say that we've been effective in this campaign because it seems to me that the goal in life is to avoid crises, not to manage them once you're in them. And I feel that this was an avoidable -- probably an avoidable situation."


So, when is it okay to question the battle plans, Mr Rumsfeld? Just when Democratic presidents are waging war?

Just for the record, the final score of the Kosovo War goes like this:
1. Slobodan Milosevic is out of power, in jail, and on trial for war crimes;
2. Serbia is a democracy;
3. Total U.S. fatalities in the Kosovo War were zero.
GET OUT AND VOTE -- Who is your prez?
WHAT COMES AFTER IRAQ -- For anyone who hasn't figured it out yet, read this.
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT COULDN'T GET ANY DUMBER... -- From today's USA Today:
Bush believes he was called by God to lead the nation at this time, says Commerce Secretary Don Evans, a close friend who talks with Bush every day. His history degree from Yale makes him mindful of the importance of the moment.


Leaving aside the colossal ego required to believe you were called by God, that bit about the history degree from Yale is good for a laugh. How many of those history classes did Mr Bush actually attend? How many did he attend sober? Does he even recall his favorite history class?

Quick, George: How long did the Thirty Years War last?
THE MILITARY'S HYPOCRISY ON GAYS -- The U.S. military has a "don't ask-don't tell" policy which results in discharge for any openly homosexual servicemen or women. Michelangelo Signorile notes, however, that the closer our nation gets to war, the more likely the military is to decide that gay soldiers are really patriots after all and deserve the chance to die for their heterosexual countrymen.

That claim is perhaps backed up by a new report from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), which notes that the Pentagon's gay witch-hunts dramatically declined last year, as the war drums were beating. In 2001, 1,273 people were investigated and discharged for homosexuality. Last year, only 906 were booted out.

"During any time of war or conflict, gay discharges have dropped," the report observes. "Gay discharges decreased during the Korean War, the Viet Nam conflict, the Persian Gulf War, and now again during Operation Enduring Freedom."


In fact, as Mr Signorile writes, the military isn't even willing to take a serviceman's word for it right now. Claiming to be gay won't get you booted out of the military--the brass would rather try to prove that you're straight. The hypocrisy of this is almost mind-boggling. During a war, the bigots have always told us, troop morale is at its most important and homosexuals will damage that morale. In other words, discharges of gay soldiers should go up, not down, in the months before a war.

By its very conduct, the military have admitted that homosexuals do not damage morale and are needed for the defense of their country. When will they develop the courage to state publicly what they are already doing privately?
BILL KRISTOL LIES -- Tapped of The American Prospect is all over the lies and slanders of right-wing hatchet man Bill Kristol.

Even more egregious was Bill Kristol's slur against Rep. Charles Rangel. On FOX News, Kristol grouped Rangel with an "anti-American left":

They want -- they hate the Bush administration more than they love America. And that is a very bad situation. And I very much hope -- it's not really for me to get involved in intra-liberal fights -- but I very much hope the decent, pro-American liberals, people like Dick Gephardt -- Hillary Rodham Clinton incidentally has been very good on this certainly in the last couple two, three weeks -- that the Dick Gephardt liberals prevail over the anti-American left, which I now think we are seeing to a degree that really surprises me.

When asked to clarify later in the show, Kristol said:

I'm talking about comments during the conduct of the war by serious Democratic politicians, including Mr. Rangel, by The New York Times editorial page, major leaders, opinion leaders of the American left which I believe reflect a deep desire to see George Bush and Don Rumsfeld embarrassed, and such a deep desire that they would like to see American setbacks in the war to vindicate their position. I think it is a serious crisis for the American left.

That's Charles Rangel, who walks around every day with piece of North Korean shrapnel lodged in his butt, getting impugned as anti-American by Bill Kristol, who's never served. Where's the outrage? Where are the Democrats?

When a bully takes a swing at you, you swing back. It's just that simple. Voters know it. And they won't vote for a party that lets itself be bullied.


A-freaking-men! The Republican hitmen understand nothing but fear and intimidation. They'll continue to get away with these vicious lies and slanders. The Democrats need some ruthless people.
...AND LIES AGAIN -- The indispensable Michael Tomasky identifies and skewers the newest anti-liberal slander to come out of that Rupert Murdoch-funded Ministry of Truth--The Weekly Standard. Mr Kristol would have you believe that any Democrat who opposes Mr Bush's war is a soft-headed traitor (a devotee of French Foreign Minister Villepin, actually). Mr Tomasky fires back by noting the very muscular Democrats Mr Kristol claims to admire--George Kennan, for example--oppose this war.

It would certainly be news, for example, to George Kennan, arguably the most important and influential of the Cold Warriors. How do I know this? Because Kennan is still alive and kicking, nearing 100, and he gave an interview to The Hill last Sept. 25 in which he savaged the Bush administration and its perversion of his famous doctrines. Kennan told that newspaper's Albert Eisele the following: that an attack on Iraq would amount to a second war that "bears no relation to the first war against terrorism"; that the administration's attempts to link Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda were "pathetically unsupportive and unreliable"; that the United States can't "confront all the painful and dangerous situations that exist in the world"; and that the Democratic congressional acquiescence to Bush's war resolution, then fresh, was "a shabby and shameful reaction."


Read the entire piece by Mr Tomasky at The American Prospect. This Orwellian line of thinking from Mr Kristol may well become the standard Republican propaganda in the run-up to the 2004 elections. Democrats better get a principled and muscular foreign policy ready and then confront lies such as this one with unabashed ferocity. Mr Kristol likes muscular Democrats, does he? Well, let's give him some. Right in the mush.
FEROCIOUS FIGHTING YIELDS CONFLICTING CLAIMS -- The United States Central Command is boasting of a big victory in brutal overnight fighting south of Baghdad. U.S. bombers repeatedly hit the Iraqi capital and attacked Republican Guard divisions near Baghdad. The Iraqis deny the U.S. scored any gains, of course, but they have even less credibility than the Bush administration.

The United States says it has destroyed the Baghdad division of Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard...

Brigadier-General Vincent Brooks said that US troops had routed the opposition after taking the town of Kut and securing a key bridge across the River Tigris, 150 kilometres (90 miles) south-east of Baghdad...

Correspondents however point out that the bombing of the Yugoslav army in Kosovo in 1999 did not weaken it significantly and stress that the Republican Guard in Baghdad has yet to be fully tested.


Meanwhile, the U.S. media continues to largely ignore the humanitarian tragedy of the war, but that story can no longer be hidden. Reputable foreign news services such as the BBC and The Guardian are closely reporting on the 'collateral damage.'

Unconfirmed reports say a Red Crescent maternity hospital in Baghdad was hit during coalition bombing; US commanders are investigating the claims

Red Cross workers visit towns south of Baghdad for the first time and describe overwhelmed hospitals as being scenes of "horror."


The battle for Baghdad, no doubt, will see the most ferocious fighting yet. And the most heartrending human tragedies.
BRITS TO BUSH: AFTER IRAQ YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN -- One of the most poorly-guarded secrets of the Bush admin is that after conquering Iraq, they plan to invade Syria and Iran to effect a satisfactory regime change in those countries. This is part of the neoconservative theology--that regime change in those three countries will transform the Middle East into a stable haven of pro-American countries that will end Islamic terrorism and accede to the creation of Greater Israel.

Apparently, the British government didn't get that memo and has no interest in signing up for the next wars against Syria and Iran. U.K. Foreign Minister Jack Straw has described Iran as "a completely different country and situation from Iraq".

"Iran is an emerging democracy and there would be no case whatsoever for taking any kind of action," says Mr Straw.

"We have had good cooperation from the Iranian government," he added. "The Iranians have more reason to know of the terror imposed by Saddam Hussein, not just on his own people but on other peoples in the region, than almost any other country including Kuwait."

Regarding Syria, Mr Straw said "we have worked hard to try to improve relations".


This unwillingness to join the larger crusade against Syria and Iran--as well as what is expected to be Prime Minister Blair's insistence on a real peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians in the near future are the gigantic boulders laying in the road of continued U.S.-UK cooperation. This particular alliance is going to hit a few craters in the months ahead.
BOMB KILLS 15 IN PHILIPPINES -- Terrorists have struck in the southern Philippine city of Davao, as a bomb exploded and killed 15 people today. Another 30 people have been wounded, some seriously. Less than a month ago a bomb attack killed 23 and injured 150 at Davao International Aiport.

The head of investigation at the Philippine National Police, Brigadier-General Eduardo Matillano, said the murders were committed by terrorists. "It is a bomb explosion. I believe it is a terrorist attack." The Philippine government is battling an Islamic separatist movement in the southern Philippins called the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The Islamic rebellion has been going on for about 30 years, but Davao, a mostly Christian city, had, until recently, been an oasis of calm in the warfare.

The United States has sent advisors to the Philippines to aid the government in its struggle against the MILF.
CONGRESS TO LAVISH MORE MONEY ON FAILING AIRLINES -- Airlines driven into the ground by incompetent management are to get another fiscal booster shot, courtesy of the United States Congress, which is adding $3.2 billion for the airlines to Mr Bush's original request for war funding in the amount of nearly $75 billion.

John McCain, chairman of the commerce committee, was expected to demand restrictions in compensation for airline executives in any proposal. The Arizona senator last week lambasted airline executives for crying to Congress for help while awarding themselves huge pay packages.

Mr McCain said it was "insulting" that chief executives such as Leo Mullin of Delta Airlines increased their pay while airlines were incurring huge losses and laying off employees.


This is the sort of decent and common-sense proposal that has made John McCain the Republican other Republicans love to hate.
GOT OUR GIRL BACK! -- Thank goodness (and the U.S. Special Forces) that U.S. Army PFC Jessica Lynch has been rescued. Let's hope things go this well from now on.
MORE RIGHT-WING TERROR IN AMERICA -- A right-wing terrorist named Eric Nix detonated a bomb inside the van of a Palestinian family in Burbank, California.

>>This is the second time Nix has been charged with attacking property owned by Muslims, officials said. He was arrested on Sept. 13, 2001 after an Oak Lawn police officer saw him throw a brick through the window of an Arab-owned furniture store in Burbank. Nix was convicted of criminal damage to property and sentenced to 30 days in jail.<<

I wonder if he's a devotee of Little Green Footballs.
JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF TEXAS RACISM -- Think the era of racist cops and an ignorant white justice system is over? Not in Texas--land of plentiful executions and snoozing court-appointed defense attorneys.

>>Conceding that they had made a catastrophic mistake in relying solely on the uncorroborated testimony of an undercover officer, prosecutors moved today to overturn the convictions of 38 people, almost all of them black, who were caught in a series of drug arrests in 1999 that tore this town apart.

A judge agreed with the prosecutors, and defense lawyers, that the Texas courts should vacate every conviction arising from the drug sting, including those in which the defendants pleaded guilty.

The extraordinary turnabout followed hearings here last month in which the undercover officer, Thomas Coleman, and many other witnesses testified about his troubled law enforcement career, unorthodox methods, pervasive errors, combustible temperament and apparent racism.

But the drug prosecutions were fueled by more than one unreliable officer, defense lawyers said. The prosecutions were, these lawyers said, the consequence of poisonous small-town race relations, a misguided desire to claim victories at any cost in the war on drugs and a legal system in which poor defendants did not have a fighting chance against thin but confident testimony from a single police officer.<<

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

BIGOT/PREACHER READY TO FOLLOW TROOPS INTO IRAQ -- "Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham and one of the nation’s most outspoken critics of Islam, said Wednesday he has relief workers "poised and ready" to roll into Iraq to provide for the population’s post-war physical and spiritual needs.

"Graham, who has publicly called Islam a “wicked” religion, said the relief agency he runs, Samaritan’s Purse, is in daily contact with U.S. Government agencies in Amman, Jordan, about its plans."
MUSLIMS NOT WANTED -- What better way to convince people around the world that we really don't hate Muslims than to practice overt religious discrimination against them--in a Muslim nation, no less!
BUSH ALLIES BILKED CALIFORNIA -- Remember when Cheney was blaming the energy crisis on environmentalists and The Wall Street Journal was telling everyone the market was acting properly in California? (I think that's the same Journal that confidently assured us the 1993 Clinton budget would plunge the country into an economic depression.) Well, look what Mr Bush's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was forced to conclude:

>>The commissioners agreed with the state (California) Wednesday, saying their investigation found widespread manipulation of natural gas and electricity prices and supplies in California.

Pat Wood, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said that as a result of the manipulation California would receive more than the $1.8 billion in refunds recommended by a FERC judge in December. The exact amount is to be determined in the coming months.

The FERC singled out seven subsidiaries of bankrupt Enron Corp. and five other companies for taking advantage of a dysfunctional market and reaping millions of dollars in unjust profits.

"The price gouging abounded," Commissioner William Massey said, adding that he regretted FERC did not intervene earlier to police the newly deregulated power market in California.<<

Just a reminder than when Vice President Gore called the 2000 election a battle pitting the people v. the powerful, he was right on the money.
WILLING TO DIE FOR SADDAM -- Fedayeen Saddam, the deadly paramilitary group preying on US troops in southern Iraq, will become a long-lasting vigilante force, carrying out attacks on US targets long after Saddam Hussein is gone. The name Fedayeen Saddam means Willing to die for Saddam.

''There is no middle ground here,'' said one US military officer in the Persian Gulf, speaking on condition of anonymity, ''They have to go.''

US forces appear to be targeting the Fedayeen, killing an estimated 100 in Najaf and Samana on Sunday and bombing a gathering of 200 in Basra the day before.

Just how many Fedayeen there are remains unclear. Prewar estimates ranged between 10,000 and 100,000, Brigadier General Vincent Brooks of US Central Command, said yesterday in Qatar. He said the militia will ''fight to the death.''

This is the sort of thing Donald Rumsfeld refused to let his general plan for. Too downbeat. Too old army. Too conservative. Not with the team. Good work.
JUST ANOTHER DAY IN IRAQ -- By now you know that at least ten Iraqi civilians, mostly women and children, were killed by U.S. soldiers in southern Iraq when their truck moved heedlessly into territory controlled by our troops. The killings were a mistake and no Americans--especially soldiers--wanted such a thing to happen. Alas, this will not be the last time it does happen. Our troops have been placed into a cruel and untenable position in Iraq where they are often unable to tell friend from foe. In such a circumstance, more accidental killings such as this are inevitable. The following description of the tragic events displays the hopeless situation our soldiers find themselves in:

>>Fire a warning shot," he ordered as the vehicle kept coming. Then, with increasing urgency, he told the platoon to shoot a 7.62mm machine-gun round into its radiator. "Stop [messing] around!" Johnson yelled into the company radio network when he still saw no action being taken. Finally, he shouted at the top of his voice, "Stop him, Red 1, stop him!"

That order was immediately followed by the loud reports of 25mm cannon fire from one or more of the platoon's Bradleys. About half a dozen shots were heard in all.

"Cease fire!" Johnson yelled over the radio. Then, as he peered into his binoculars from the intersection on Highway 9, he roared at the platoon leader, "You just [expletive] killed a family because you didn't fire a warning shot soon enough!"...

"It was the most horrible thing I've ever seen, and I hope I never see it again," Sgt. Mario Manzano, 26, an Army medic with Bravo Company of the division's 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, said later in an interview. He said one of the wounded women sat in the vehicle holding the mangled bodies of two of her children. "She didn't want to get out of the car," he said.<<
LETTER FROM HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

U.S. Using Cluster Munitions In Iraq
(Washington, D.C., April 1, 2003) – U.S. ground forces in Iraq are using cluster munitions with a very high failure rate, creating immediate and long-term dangers for civilians and friendly soldiers, Human Rights Watch reported today.

While use of the weapon has not yet been confirmed by official U.S. military sources, it is evident from television images and stories from reporters embedded with U.S. units that U.S. forces are using artillery projectiles and rockets containing large numbers of submunitions, or cluster munitions. When these submunitions fail to explode on impact as designed, they become hazardous explosive “duds”—functioning like volatile, indiscriminate antipersonnel landmines.

Two U.S. Marines were killed in separate incidents on March 27 and 28 after stepping on unexploded cluster munitions delivered by artillery in southern Iraq.

“The United States should not be using these weapons,” said Steve Goose, executive director of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch. “Iraqi civilians will be paying the price with their lives and limbs for many years.”

Human Rights Watch has identified footage of the use of the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) by artillery units of the 3rd Infantry Division. This is a system that currently uses only submunition payloads. The 1st Battalion of the 39th Field Artillery Regiment of the division deploys at least eighteen MLRS launch units.

The standard M26 warhead for the MLRS contains 644 M77 individual submunitions (also called dual-purpose grenades). According to a Department of Defense report submitted to the U.S. Congress in February 2000, these submunitions have a failure rate of 16 percent. Thus, the typical volley of twelve MLRS rockets would likely result in more than 1,200 dud submunitions scattered randomly in a 120,000 to 240,000 square meter impact area.

The Washington Post reported on March 29 that the U.S. MLRS fired eighteen Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) against suspected air defense sites in support of a helicopter attack by units of the 101st Airborne Division on March 28. The payload of an ATACMS is 300 or 950 M74 submunitions with a reported failure rate of two percent.

Human Rights Watch has also seen video of U.S. Marine artillery units supporting the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion using 155mm artillery firing projectiles at Iraqi positions; an embedded reporter described “hundreds of grenades” being fired at the Iraqis. These were apparently the M483A1 and M864 projectiles whose submunitions (dual-purpose grenades) have a 14 percent dud rate. The M483A1 projectile contains eighty-eight dual-purpose grenades, and the M864 projectile contains seventy-two dual-purpose grenades.

It is not clear whether air-dropped cluster bombs have been used in the air campaign. Iraqi officials have repeatedly alleged use of cluster bombs by U.S. and U.K. aircraft, but these reports have not been confirmed. U.S. air forces used cluster bombs, notably the CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition, extensively in the first Gulf War in 1991, in Yugoslavia/Kosovo in 1999 and in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002.

At least eighty U.S. casualties during the 1991 Gulf War were attributed to cluster munition duds. More than 4,000 civilians were killed or injured by cluster munition duds after the end of the war.

Human Rights Watch has called for a global moratorium on use of cluster munitions until the humanitarian problems caused by the weapons are addressed. Short of that commitment, Human Rights Watch has urged the United States and others that may deploy cluster munitions in Iraq to prohibit the use of any cluster munitions in attacks on or near populated areas and to suspend use of cluster munitions that have been tested and identified as producing high dud rates. If cluster munitions are used, it is crucial that the U.S. record, report, track, and mark known or suspected cluster munition strike areas and preserve the information so it can be disseminated quickly in clearance efforts.

“The United States must rapidly provide extensive information and warnings to civilian populations to protect them from cluster munition duds,” said Goose. “The United States now bears a special responsibility to help clear these deadly remnants of war as quickly as possible.”

Vast numbers of cluster munition duds will complicate the reconstruction of Iraq as well as endangering civilians and peacekeepers, Goose said.

Iraq has also extensively used antipersonnel landmines. For more background on Iraq’s mines and unexploded ordnance, please see http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/iraq/iraqmines1212.htm
RIVERA OUT ON HIS CAN; ARNETT'S SLIDE CONTINUES -- Geraldo Rivera is dismissing demands from the U.S. military that he be removed from Iraq for the offense of revealing important and classified information--the location of the unit with which he was embedded. The military says FOX News is cooperating.

Meanwhile, the good news is that fired NBC reporter Peter Arnett is back on his feet. The bad news is that his feet are planted firmly in the muck and mire of tabloid journalism. The Daily Mirror, a left-wing British tabloid that specialized in salacious celebrity gossip before the war gave them something else to write about, announced it has hired Mr Arnett. "Fired by America for telling the truth," the Daily Mirror said in a Page 1 headline. Not terribly accurate, of course, but that shouldn't bother the average Daily Mirror reader.

Now that Mr Rivera is to be removed from Iraq, I'd like to start a national movement to have him removed from America before he gets back here. It's never too early, folks.

Monday, March 31, 2003

U.S. ARMY KILLS SEVEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN -- The Army announced tonight that "seven women and children were killed this afternoon by American soldiers after a vehicle in which they were riding failed to stop after troops waved them down and fired warning shorts.

"The Army said a full investigation of the incident was under way."

This is a terrible tragedy and I feel horrible not only for the dead and their families, but for the soldiers who have been put in this cruel and untenable position. How to tell friend from foe indeed.
BUSH SHIELDED FROM DISSENTING VIEWS -- According to administration insiders, Mr Bush was not presented with views on the Iraq war that differed with the very optimisic projections of Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld.
Bush embraced predictions of top administration hawks, beginning with Vice President Dick Cheney, who predicted Iraqis would joyously greet coalition troops as liberators and that the entire conflict might be over in a matter of weeks, the officials said.

Dissenting views "were not fully or energetically communicated to the president," said one top official, who, like the others, requested anonymity. "As a result, almost every assumption the plan's based on looks to be wrong."

It occurs to me that anyone confident in their plans would not be afraid of dissenting views. To the contrary, dissenting views would be welcomed by a confident war planner as another opportunity to prove the superiority of the optimistic plans. Interesting.
HALLIBURTON TIES PROVE TOO HOT TO HANDLE -- Oil services company Halliburton, the firm Mr Cheney almost ran into the ground during his well-paid break from government work, has lost out on a $600 million contract to rebuild Iraq. Apparently, earlier reports that Halliburton was poised to cash in on the Iraq War have caused the public relations flaks in the administration to back off slightly.

>>As for Halliburton, USAid has confirmed a Newsweek report that the company is not on the shortlist of two companies to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure. What is not clear is whether Halliburton's bid was uncompetitive or whether it was withdrawn because of unfavourable publicity.

A UN official told Newsweek that the bad publicity for Halliburton made the deal more trouble than it was worth, as the company depends on a lot of oil-related business in the Arab world, which is overwhelmingly against the war in Iraq.

"That kind of political interest was not in their corporate interests," the UN official said. The five US companies invited to bid for the infrastructure deal were Halliburton, Bechtel, Fluor, Parsons and Louis Berger.<<
WAR IS GOOD FOR MR BUSH -- Since invading Iraq, Mr Bush has seen his personal job approval rating soar from 58% to over 70 percent. Might not be a bad idea to pencil in an invasion for mid-October 2004.
ANOTHER PIECE OF CAKEWALK?

Bush administration officials and their hawkish supporters now say they never promised an easy war -- but the record shows otherwise.

Richard Perle, recently resigned chairman of the Defense Policy Board, in a PBS interview July 11, 2002:
"Saddam is much weaker than we think he is. He's weaker militarily. We know he's got about a third of what he had in 1991."

"But it's a house of cards. He rules by fear because he knows there is no underlying support. Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder."

Ken Adelman, former U.N. ambassador, in an Op-Ed for the Washington Post, Feb. 13, 2002:
"I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps.

Vice President Dick Cheney, on NBC's "Meet the Press" March 16:
"The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but that they want to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that."

"My guess is even significant elements of the Republican Guard are likely as well to want to avoid conflict with the U.S. forces and are likely to step aside."

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN March 23:
"The course of this war is clear. The outcome is clear. The regime of Saddam Hussein is gone. It's over. It will not be there in a relatively reasonably predictable period of time."

"And the people in Iraq need to know that: that it will not be long before they will be liberated."

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars March 11:
"Over and over, we hear reports of Iraqis here in the United States who manage to communicate with their friends and families in Iraq, and what they are hearing is amazing. Their friends and relatives want to know what is taking the Americans so long. When are you coming?"

"In a meeting last week at the White House, one of these Iraqi-Americans said, 'A war with Saddam Hussein would be a war for Iraq, not against Iraq.'"

"The Iraqi people understand what this crisis is about. Like the people of France in the 1940s, they view us as their hoped-for liberator. They know that America will not come as a conqueror. Our plan -- as President Bush has said -- is to 'remain as long as necessary and not a day more.'"

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a breakfast meeting March 4, 2003:
"What you'd like to do is have it be a short, short conflict. The best way to do that is have such a shock on the system, the Iraqi regime would have to assume early on the end is inevitable."

Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair writer, in a debate Jan. 28, 2003:
"This will be no war -- there will be a fairly brief and ruthless military intervention.

"The president will give an order. [The attack] will be rapid, accurate and dazzling ... It will be greeted by the majority of the Iraqi people as an emancipation. And I say, bring it on."