DECEMBER 31-19, 02 Archives

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Bush seeks another tax cut for the rich December 31, 2002 Not satisfied with last year's huge tax cut package totalling $1.6 trillion, President Bush will soon be back for more. His aides are urging him to propose cutting taxes on corporate dividends for shareholders by about half. The 50 percent tax cut would cost the Treasury more than $100 billion over 10 years, and even more than with the earlier tax cuts, the new tax benefits would overwhelmingly flow to the nation's very wealthiest taxpayers. With this new tax cut, Bush would be pounding another nail into the coffin of one of the nation's most remarkable achievements of the 1990s — the budget surplus.

PARALLELS Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it
December 30, 2002 By George Santayana On February 27, 1933, a mentally deranged Dutch Communist, Marinus van der Lubbe, lit a few small fires in the German parliament building, the Reichstag, in Berlin — not enough to set the building alight, but sufficient to get him hanged as the sole perpetrator afterward. The Nazi SA, with ears everywhere, found out, and, unbeknownst to van der Lubbe, an SA detachment entered the building through a disused central heating tunnel. While the Dutchman was busy lighting insignificant fires, using his shirt as tinder, the SA planted gasoline and incendiaries, and within minutes, the Reichstag was burning out of control. Why did the Nazis do this?

Claim war will start on Feb 21 December 30, 2002 -- A British tabloid newspaper said that a US-led war on Iraq would start on February 21 "at midnight". The Sunday Express said the date and time was given by US President George W Bush to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in a telephone call over Christmas."The timing is confirmed by British defence chiefs, who have been told to expect war in the second or third week in February," the newspaper said.

Bush's bitter medicine The poor need cheap drugs, not cheap talk December 30, 2002 -- When pushed to do so, the Bush administration will feign concern for the world's poor. But its actions speak louder than its words. The intervention by vice-president Dick Cheney last week to torpedo a deal to get cheap drugs into poor countries whose populaces have been consumed by epidemics was a cold-hearted piece of realpolitik. Forget the honey-coated pledges of support for development and warm declarations that global prosperity must be shared. The United States was the only country out of 144 to oppose an agreement that would have relaxed global patent rules on treatments. The richest nation on the earth backed the arguments of the drug lobby over the cries of the weak and wasted. In doing so the US has emptied the current round of trade talks of a meaningful and substantial proof that globalisation could help the poor.

White House Budget Office Thwarts EPA Warning on Asbestos-Laced Insulation December 30, 2002 by Andrew Schneider The Environmental Protection Agency was on the verge of warning millions of Americans that their attics and walls might contain asbestos-contaminated insulation. But, at the last minute, the White House intervened, and the warning has never been issued. The agency's refusal to share its knowledge of what is believed to be a widespread health risk has been criticized by a former EPA administrator under two Republican presidents, a Democratic U.S. senator and physicians and scientists who have treated victims of the contamination.

Bush sets course for confrontation with North Korea 30 December 2002 By Peter Symonds The Bush administration is preparing to escalate the current standoff over North Korea’s nuclear program into a full-blown confrontation, with reckless indifference to the potentially disastrous consequences for the Korean peninsula and the entire region. According to a report in yesterday’s New York Times, the US has drawn up “a comprehensive plan to intensify financial and political pressure on North Korea” aimed at precipitating an economic and political collapse. “Administration officials said the threat of growing isolation was the best way to force North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions and, if it refused to, to bring down the government,” the article explained. Under the strategy, euphemistically known as “tailored containment,”

United States in Worst Crisis Since World War II December 30, 2002 From the CEC's Australian Alert Service. The most indicative "marker" of the magnitude of the economic-financial crisis in the U.S., is what is happening in the American States.  Up to 46 states have severe fiscal deficits, under conditions where most American states are obliged, by law, to maintain balanced budgets.  The National Governors Association (NGA), and the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), have issued their bi-annual survey, fiscal Survey of States, in which they affirm, "States face the most dire fiscal situation since World War II."

Bush’s war on terror faces mounting criticism  30 December 2002, PARIS— At home and abroad, US President George W. Bush’s “war on terror” was facing mounting criticism yesterday over fears that fundamental human rights and freedoms were being eroded. Actors, writers, lawyers, politicians, and millions of ordinary people worldwide have in recent weeks all questioned the no-holds-barred US policy which many fear will be counterproductive. Huge anti-war demonstrations have taken place in cities across the globe and more are planned for the new year, including a major one in Washington on Jan. 18. Spain’s top anti-terror judge became the latest to add his voice to the growing chorus of critics, warning yesterday of “the risk of a false system of security being put in place to the detriment of freedoms and rights. “The case of terrorists held in Guantanamo (the US base in Cuba), Afghanistan and Pakistan proves that security is trumping every other principle of justice or rights,” said Baltasar Garzon said.

German writer Guenter Grass calls Bush a threat to world peace December 30, 2002  Joining the ranks of a growing number of international celebrities, German writer Guenter Grass, the winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize for literature, called US President George W. Bush a threat to world peace, in an interview to appear Sunday in the Welt am Sonntag paper. The 75-year-old author said that in the current political situation, the dangerous mix of financial, political and family-related interests have made him a truly dangerous politician. dw-world

Pat Robertson's Evangelical Propaganda Hardening the American Heart December 30, 2002  by SALIM RASHID The weeks immediately following the tragedy of 9/11 showed some of the best features of the American spirit. Led by the White House, the media took pains to distinguish between the actions of a few and the beliefs of the many. Assuring the Muslim majority that they were friends abroad and good citizens at home were matters of principle. By December it had all changed. Unable to comprehend and discriminate, there was a visible and palpable hardening of American intellectual arteries, and the policy of the White House fell under those who felt no embarrassment at villification when faced by a religion they could not control or understand. The intellectual vacuum was readily felt and the Press began to engage in a thoughtless drum beat; the idea "let's Nuke Mecca" was floated.

G.W. Bush - Making sure the terrorists have won December 29, 2002 By Wade Inganamort We have been told that the terrorists hate our freedom of speech. Would this be the same freedom of speech that had Richard Humphreys of Portland, Oregon sentenced to 37 months in prison for "threatening to kill or harm the President" after telling a joke during a bar room discussion? Would this be the same freedom of speech that had Secret Service Agents question a High School student for wearing a controversial t-shirt," treated as a potential threat on the president? Would this be the same freedom of speech that has political essayist voxfux on the run after a combined task force from the Secret Service, FBI, CIA, and Major Crimes Unit raided his Long Island home? Would this be the same freedom of speech that cost TV host Bill Maher his job for simply pointing out the inverse reality of Bush's comments after the attacks? I would say yes. There is no other "freedom of speech" in which I am familiar. We have been told that they hate our freedom to assemble. Would this be the same freedom to assemble that allows protesting at Bush speeches only while penned inside designated "Free-speech zones", while Bush supporters are free to join in the festivities? Would this be the same freedom to assemble that has had people arrested simply for protesting his majesty, President Bush and his brother? Would this be the same freedom to assemble that demands protesters be videotaped, often by the military?

Briton tells of ordeal in Bush's torture jail where two have died December 29, 2002 Paul Harris and Burhan Wazir The letter contained only hints of what Moazzam Begg's interrogators may have done to him. He wrote of hunger and being kept awake by bright lights. 'I still don't know what will happen with me,' he lamented to his wife back home in Birmingham. Begg, 35, was writing from Bagram military base just outside Kabul. He is the only British prisoner inside a cluster of metal shipping containers at the heart of the United States army part of the base, which serves as a 'jail' for al-Qaeda suspects. Now the camp is at the centre of a furious row over US behaviour in the war on terror. Evidence is growing that prisoners inside the containers are being tortured by American soldiers and CIA agents. Begg may have written of more damaging details of his own treatment, but many of his previous letters were never delivered. It appears the US soldiers at Bagram have much to hide. Human rights groups are calling for an inquiry into the methods used by American interrogators at Bagram and other bases in Afghanistan.

Soviet Rebuke of US Claim Deepens Security Council Rift over Iraq December 29, 2002 Russia deepened a rift on the UN Security Council over Iraq when it insisted no evidence had yet been produced to support a US contention that Iraq is a terrorist threat. "No one can provide the slightest evidence" that Iraq represented such a threat, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Fedotov was quoted by ITAR-TASS news agency as saying. That was a direct challenge to claims by the United States and Britain of proof that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, a claim Baghdad vehemently denies. Russia, one of the five permanent security council members with veto power, opposes unilateral US military intervention against Iraq.

Bush Discovers Hunger and Looks the Other Way December 28, 2002 by Molly Ivins The only president we've got went down to the Capitol Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., the other day for a photo-op with people who can't afford to eat. "I hope people around this country realize that agencies such as this food bank need money. They need our contributions. Contribution are down. They shouldn't be down in a time of need," said GeeDubya Bush. Right away, we notice real progress. When Bush was running for the presidency in 2000, the feds released their annual report on hunger in America, and Texas was once again in its perennial spot at the top of the list, No. 1 in hunger. Bush thought it was some dastardly scheme by the Clinton administration to make Texas, and hence Bush, look bad. He denied there were any hungry people in Texas and said, "You'd think the governor would have heard if there are pockets of hunger in Texas." Yeah, you would. But look on the bright side: so he didn't know there's hunger in Texas after six years in office; after only two years in Washington, he's discovered the problem. Sort of. Here's what he has done about it:
* Number of seniors who will be cut off of meal programs because of the Bush budget: 36,000.
* Number of families who will be cut off of heating assistance because of the Bush budget: 532,000.
* Number of homeless kids who will be cut off of education programs because of the Bush budget: 8,000.
* Number of kids who will be cut off of after-school programs because of the Bush budget: 50,000.
* Number of kids who will be cut off of child care because of the Bush budget: 33,000.
Question: Which news got more attention from the media--Bush's photo-op at the food bank or the facts in his budget?

Bush's War Against Older Workers December 28, 2002 by Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders, President Bush may or may not go to war against Iraq, but we do know that he has already declared war against the economic well-being of the middle class and working families of this country. While he cuts back on Medicare and the needs of veterans, he wants even more tax breaks for the very richest people in this country. While he pushes efforts to privatize Social Security, there is no attempt to raise the minimum wage above its paltry $5.15 an hour. While he expands our disastrous trade policies that have already cost us millions of decent paying manufacturing jobs, he is proposing to slash the pay and benefits of federal employees through a massive and dangerous contracting-out scheme. While our healthcare system disintegrates and prescription drug costs soar, his Administration proposes legislation written by and for the pharmaceutical industry.

CIA Interrogation Under Fire Human Rights Groups Say Techniques Could Be Torture December 28, 2002 By Alan Cooperman A leading human rights group said yesterday that the CIA's method of interrogating al Qaeda detainees could constitute torture and result in the prosecution of U.S. officials by courts around the world. Human Rights Watch, based in New York, sent a letter to President Bush calling for an investigation of the "stress and duress" techniques allegedly used by the CIA on some captives at the U.S.-held Bagram air base in Afghanistan and other facilities overseas. Those techniques, described in a front-page article in Thursday's Washington Post, include keeping prisoners "standing or kneeling for hours" while hooded or wearing spray-painted goggles, holding them in "awkward, painful positions" and depriving them of sleep with a 24-hour bombardment of lights. In the letter to Bush, Human Rights Watch's executive director, Kenneth Roth, said those methods "would place the United States in violation of some of the most fundamental prohibitions of international human rights law."

What the Terrorist Hype Is All About Introducing December 27, 2002 By Nick Monahan One of a million occurrences since terrorism became the excuse for abuse. This morning I’ll be escorting my wife to the hospital, where the doctors will perform a caesarean section to remove our first child. She didn’t want to do it this way – neither of us did – but sometimes the Fates decide otherwise. The Fates or, in our case, government employees. On the morning of October 26th Mary and I entered Portland International Airport, en route to the Las Vegas wedding of one of my best friends. Although we live in Los Angeles, we’d been in Oregon working on a film, and up to that point had had nothing but praise to shower on the city of Portland, a refreshing change of pace from our own suffocating metropolis. At the security checkpoint I was led aside for the "inspection" that’s all the rage at airports these days. My shoes were removed. I was told to take off my sweater, then to fold over the waistband of my pants. My baseball hat, hastily jammed on my head at 5 AM, was removed and assiduously examined ("Anything could be in here, sir," I was told, after I asked what I could hide in a baseball hat. Yeah. Anything.) Soon I was standing on one foot, my arms stretched out, the other leg sticking out in front of me àla a DUI test. I began to get pissed off, as most normal people would. My anger increased when I realized that the newly knighted federal employees weren’t just examining me, but my 7½ months pregnant wife as well.

US mayors’ report chronicles rising hunger and homelessness 27 December 2002 By Debra Watson A record number of citizens in US cities were forced to look for emergency food and shelter this year, according to the United States Conference of Mayors. Their annual report, “The Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities,” was released December 18 in Washington DC. It shows an increasing percentage of the population of US cities are unable to afford either shelter or adequate food. In cities across America in 2002, according to the mayors’ report, the demand for emergency shelter jumped 19 percent, the biggest rise since 1990. In 2001 and 2002 the demand for emergency food increased by 23 percent and 19 percent respectively, the highest increases since the recession of the early 1990s.

Jobless Benefits Expire As White House, Congress Home For The Holidays; Airline, Boeing Workers Some Of Hardest Hit Washington, Dec. 27 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following statement was issued today by Sonny Hall, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO: "There is no joy this holiday season for the over 830,000 Americans who will lose their unemployment benefits at the stroke of midnight tonight. The White House and the Republican leadership in Congress had a chance to help those who are struggling in our failing economy but instead stonewalled efforts to extend and improve unemployment benefits and to help laid-off workers pay for health care insurance. Worst of all, Congress adjourned while working Americans suffer.

Emergency Powers -- The New Paradigm In Democratic America
December 26, 2002 By Franz  Schurmann France's leading newspaper Le Monde has just published a major article warning of the growing use of emergency powers in democratic countries. The author cites President Bush's Nov. 13, 2001 military order on the detention of non-citizens as a prime example of "sovereign" power over the rule of law. In the week before Christmas 2002, hundreds, if not a thousand, Middle Eastern non-citizens were deceptively rounded up in Los Angeles and disappeared. This time, authorization came directly out of the Oval Office. And when asked why the roundup occurred the president answered, to "protect the American people." Agamben points out that shortly after he took power, Hitler issued a decree on Feb. 28, 1933, that "suspended" the "Weimar Constitution." Hitler justified his decree as "protecting the German people and its state." Shortly after Hitler proclaimed his decree, concentration camps sprang up and were filled by "enemies of the people".

National Parks Threatened by Interior Rule, Park Advocates Oppose "Pave the Parks" Mentality WASHINGTON, Dec. 26 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Interior Department released a new rule allowing states and local jurisdictions to use a Civil War era law, Revised Statute (RS) 2477 to turn old trails, abandoned dirt roads, and stream beds into new highways, despite potentially devastating impacts to national parks. Using this new rule, public lands in the west, including national parks, can be paved at the whim of state and local governments without public comment or scientific study to determine damage.

Bush’s compassionate agenda lags Dec. 26 By Dana Milbank President’s legislative record for disadvantaged wanting  —  Two years after winning the White House on a platform of “compassionate conservatism,” President Bush so far has achieved few of the items on his legislative agenda to help the disadvantaged. Action on major welfare, prescription drug and disabilities legislation was postponed. Proposals to liberalize immigration were dropped, a plan for health-care tax credits was not pursued, and efforts to expand low-income housing are yet to see funding.

Law Requiring Lower Drug Prices Is Struck Down Dec. 26 By ROBERT PEAR State efforts to provide prescription drugs to low-income people suffered a setback today as the United States Court of Appeals here struck down a pioneering program established by the State of Maine. The program, approved by the federal government nearly two years ago, forced drug makers to give discounts of 18 percent to 25 percent. Soaring drug costs are a major contributor to the fiscal crisis engulfing virtually every state. Employers, insurers and consumers are desperately seeking ways to reduce drug costs, and no state has been more inventive than Maine in trying to do that. At least a dozen other states have been considering programs similar to the one in Maine. Maine officials described their program, known as Healthy Maine Prescriptions, as an experimental expansion of Medicaid, which is supposed to be financed jointly by the federal government and the states. But a three-republican judge panel of the appeals court ruled that the Maine program was not permissible

Homeless People Give Christmas Check to Police Officer Dec 26, 2002 NEW YORK (AP) - A police officer got a Christmas gift of $3,000 from homeless people who wanted to thank him for standing up for them. Officer Eduardo Delacruz was suspended for 30 days without pay last month after he refused a sergeant's order to arrest a homeless man found sleeping in a garage. In gratitude, organizations for the homeless put together the fund for the 37-year-old officer, his wife and their five children. Homeless people also contributed change scrounged from passers-by, money earned from recycling cans and bottles, even a portion of their welfare checks.

Life After Welfare in the Here and Now of America's Jammed Shelters December 26, 2002 By FRANCIS X. CLINES ST. LOUIS The jargon of antipoverty work is as restless as the poor themselves. And here now come the "working homeless" — a post-welfare-reform category of strivers fighting to hold onto low-wage jobs the government shepherded them to, jobs that perversely afford them too little money to pay for shelter. Ending welfare as we know it has been followed by the working homeless, if we care to know them. Social workers are tracking these marginal breadwinners by the scores of thousands — most of them women with children, not the stereotypical grizzled street male. They can be found here spiraling through desperate options when they come up short for rent money and are displaced. Many serially "couch surf" with relatives and friends before patience wears thin. Some live as families in a car or a spare garage space. Chronically, they turn to the waiting lists for transient shelters that are always filled to capacity in this hard-pressed but far from atypical American city.

Don't Let Bush Light Iraq Fire December 25, 2002 by Linda McQuaig Shooting frogs with BB guns was apparently pretty standard entertainment for young boys in Texas in the 1950s. But for added amusement, George W. Bush and his friends used to tuck firecrackers into the mouths of frogs, throw them in the air, and watch them explode. The story — recounted with fondness by a Bush childhood friend in a long, flattering New York Times profile of Bush during the 2000 presidential election campaign — never became an issue on the campaign trail. Despite psychiatric evidence that children who are cruel to animals often go on to be abusive adults, the U.S. media apparently decided that the torture of frogs was nothing more than a charming little anecdote from Dubya's early years. (Imagine what the media would make of a charming little childhood anecdote like that, if it were in Saddam Hussein's background.) It should have at least been a clue that Bush — now the most powerful man in the world — has a taste for blowing things up, not to mention an insensitivity to suffering.

'Tis The Season To Be Bombing? December 25, 2002 - Dennis Rahkonen - Christmas is upon us. A time of caring, sharing, rejoicing, and extending warm wishes to others. Or at least so it was in the America of my youth. But Scrooge Herod is in the White House now. And this Holy season sees him trying to violently overthrow the governments of two oil-rich nations (Venezuela and Iraq) so that the moneychangers in whose behalf he dutifully rules can grab the fabulous wealth they shamelessly covet... journalists.htm

Agent Green Over the Andes December 25, 2002 by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR Hostile intentions toward the people of another country. Deployment of chemical weapons and biological agents. Pursuit of a scorched earth policy. Sound like Saddam's Iraq? Think again. This neatly capsulizes the Bush administration's ongoing depredations in Colombia, all under the shady banner of the war on drugs. The big difference is that Saddam's hideous use of poison gas against the Kurds and, most likely, against Iran occurred more than 15 years ago. Since the Gulf War, Saddam's mad pursuits have been more on the order of chemistry experiments in bombed out basements. But the Bush administration's toxic war on Colombian peasants is happening now, day after day, in flippant violation of international law.

The Rich Have Reason to Rejoice December 25, 2002 by Kelly Candaele & Peter Dreier In Dickens's "A Christmas Carol," Ebenezer Scrooge was forced to view his own death in order to gain some self-awareness of his life as the epitome of cruelty and selfishness. This Christmas it is unlikely that George W. Bush, Scrooge on the Potomac, will be transformed by any ghostly visits. Indeed, since the November 5 election (in which the Republicans' narrow majorities in the Senate and House were mirrored by a slim majority of the popular vote), Bush and his cronies seem to believe they have a mandate to outdo themselves in rewarding the corporate class that helped bring them to power. Yes, this holiday season--even as Bush prepares the nation for war--selfishness is back in style for those at the top of the economic pyramid. Sacrifice and "compassionate conservatism" are out.

Ideology Trumps Science at FDA; FDA Appointments Are President's Christmas Gift to Religious Extremists Dec. 25 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a statement by Gloria Feldt, president, Planned Parenthood Federation of America: "The appointment of Dr. W. David Hager and at least two other anti-choice doctors to the eleven-member Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs is a frontal assault on reproductive rights that will imperil women's health. This is only the latest example of the Bush administration's pernicious web of relentless attacks on women's reproductive health and rights. "Dr. Hager wrote, with his wife Linda, Stress and the Woman's Body, which recommends specific Scripture readings and prayers for such ailments as headaches and premenstrual syndrome. He also assisted the Christian Medical Association in petitioning the FDA to shelve mifepristone.

Advisors Put Under a Microscope December 25, 2002 By Aaron Zitner - The Bush team is going to great lengths to vet members of scientific panels. Credentials, not ideology, should be the focus, critics say. -- When psychologist William R. Miller was asked to join a panel that advises the National Institute on Drug Abuse, he thought he had been selected for his expertise in addiction. Then a Bush administration staff member called with some unexpected questions. Did Miller support abortion rights? What about the death penalty for drug kingpins? And had he voted for President Bush? Apparently, Miller said, he did not give enough right answers. He had not, for example, voted for Bush. He was never appointed to the panel.

New ACLU Report Profiles Individuals Caught in Post-Sept. 11 Backlash in Northern California December 25, 2002 - The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, in collaboration with a group of local and national advocacy groups, today released a new report documenting the experiences of 20 individuals whose lives have been altered by the backlash following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. "These stories show that, more than a year after the attacks, the backlash is not over," said Dorothy Ehrlich, Executive Director of the ACLU of Northern California. "It lingers on in the stores, schools and streets of Northern California, and it continues to touch the lives of people in our communities in varied, surprising, and often shocking ways." Ehrlich said that the people profiled in the report "are the tip of the iceberg" because so many of those caught in the backlash are afraid to speak out. "At this crucial time," she said, "we are calling on local policymakers to take concrete steps to keep our communities both safe and free." The report, online at, is part of the ACLU’s ongoing national campaign to protect civil liberties in the post-Sept. 11 world. The ACLU’s campaign, Keep America Safe and Free, was launched last month and includes paid television advertising and a massive mobilization of its members and supporters in a nationwide effort to protect the Constitution. For more information on the ACLU’s Keep America Safe and Free campaign, go to

Nearly half of congressional freshmen are millionaires December 25, 2002 WASHINGTON – Close to half the incoming members of Congress are millionaires and many will face votes that could affect their financial holdings. For example, 11 of the 63 first-termers in the House and Senate have financial interests of at least $15,000,000 in banking or credit card companies, including bank directorships, according to an Associated Press review of financial disclosure forms filed during the campaign. Among the issues the next Congress is expected to tackle is legislation that would make it harder for consumers to declare bankruptcy, a bill pushed by the banking industry. Several incoming freshmen also have significant financial holdings in the pharmaceutical and oil industries, both of which could well be the subject of congressional action next year. For example, Congress will consider legislation to help senior citizens buy prescription drugs. Democrats want to put the program under Medicare; Republicans and the pharmaceutical industry want a smaller program run by private insurers.

Trucker Accused Of Threatening White House December 25, 2002 DAYTON, Ohio -- A trucker is in jail in Dayton on Tuesday after being accused of threatening to blow up the White House. Authorities said Norayr Avetisyan, 27, of Glendale, Calif., was driving through Indiana Monday when he allegedly mentioned on his citizens band radio that he had explosives and was going to blow up the White House. The trucker is from California. Someone overheard the conversation and notified authorities, who opened a truck scale in Preble County. The trucker was arrested when he stopped there. No explosives were found in the truck. The 27-year-old is being held without bond in the Montgomery County Jail. He's expected to have a court hearing today on a charge of threatening the president. Avetisyan faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the federal charge, which was filed in a federal court in Indiana.

Jeffrey Dahmer, Bush, and Frist, Were All Cruel to Animals December 24, 2002 - So when he was a kid, George W. enjoyed putting firecrackers into frogs, throwing them in the air, and then watching them blow up. Should this be cause for alarm? How relevant is a man's childhood behavior to what he is like as an adult? And in this case, to what he would be like as president of the United States. Cruelty to animals is a common precursor to later criminal violence. unknownnews As a student, Frist adopted stray cats from Boston-area shelters -- and then dissected them. He later confessed that it had been "a heinous and dishonest thing to do."

Iraq has blasted what it calls the mad campaign of "little Bush" December 24, 2002 - The US president threatening to go to war if Baghdad fails to give up alleged weapons of mass destruction. War jitters worldwide pushed up the price of oil and gold. Around Baghdad, UN experts looking for weapons visited three sites while Iraq said it would soon receive a first batch of Arab and European volunteers ready to act as human shields to try to stave off a US attack.

Small Mercies
December 24, 2002 CHRISTMAS TIME is the traditional season for presidential clemency, so it's no particular surprise that President Bush has belatedly issued the first pardons of his term. But the churlishness with which he finally exercised this most magnanimous of presidential powers deserves note. Mr. Bush avoided controversy by issuing purely symbolic pardons to people such as Olgen Williams (a postal worker sentenced to a year in prison back in 1971 for stealing $10.90 from the mail) But the pardon power was meant to be grander than this. And just as a president can abuse the pardon power -- as Bill Clinton did -- he can also debase it by underusing it. The power was meant as a check on the criminal justice system, a vehicle for mercy and for remedying injustices. The federal inmate population today is larger than it has ever been; the role of pardons should be bigger than ever. Yet Mr. Bush could not find a single inmate who deserved clemency. By issuing an average of 3.5 pardons a year -- none of which carries consequence other than forgiveness for individuals who long ago served their time -- he announces, in effect, that the American justice system requires no check, just a Christmas card.

Russia says Bush to blame for North Korea crisis December 24, 2002 By Andrei Shukshin MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia accused U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday of having ignited a crisis over North Korea by antagonising the nuclear-capable Stalinist state and playing on its dire economic situation. Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov said Bush was to blame for North Korea's erratic policies, including steps to unfreeze its nuclear programme, because of his decision to brand it part of his "axis of evil" of hostile nations. "How should a small country feel when it is told that it is all but part of forces of evil of biblical proportions and should be fought against until total annihilation?" Mamedov told the Vremya Novostei daily newspaper.

Frist Cares Most About Health of Corporations; December 24, 2002 - Doctor To Turn House Over To Industry Interests -- Jamie Court, executive director of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, issued the following statement about the election of U.S. Senator Bill Frist as Majority Leader: "Senator Bill Frist, typifies the GOP government's new health care strategy: care most about the health of corporations that elect you. If the public does not stop Frist and K street's hired guns, the gains of the patients' rights movement will be erased and the freedoms of drug companies, HMOs and hospital chains will be expanded at the expense of patients. Frist sponsored legislation this year limiting legal liability for drug maker Eli Lilly and other manufacturers of a mercury-based addictive to vaccines that is linked to autism in children. The provision drew outrage from parents of autistic children as special interest pandering when it passed as part of the Homeland Security legislation just after the election.

Planned Parenthood Statement: Bill Frist Gets An 'F' On Reproductive Rights, Marches In Lockstep With The Bush Administration December 24, 2002 -- A statement by Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Gloria Feldt on Bill Frist: Sen. Bill Frist's (R-TN) voting record on women's fundamental civil rights is every bit as onerous as Trent Lott's. Sen. Frist gets a failing grade on every reproductive rights vote. (Please see following analysis of Sen. Frist's record.) His rabidly anti-choice track record indicates that he marches in lockstep with anti-choice extremists. The attacks on women's basic human rights will most certainly continue unabated under the leadership of the Bush administration's hand picked majority leader of the U.S. Senate.

Mickey Mouse For President December 23, 2002 By: Matilda Lipscomb -  I, too, am sorrry not to be able to support Al Gore again in 2004, but in his place, I would have made the same decision. He would be able to win over Bush hands down if the American media ever decided to investigate and report the truth. It was the media who defeated Gore in 2002.....not George W Bush. I realized we didn't have a chance during the debates where I felt Gore had won and the media claimed Bush was the winner. I remember reading the media reports of the debates and wondering if we had seen and heard the same program. As it is in America today, even Micky Mouse could win the presidential election if the press decided to support him. I'm already feeling sorry for anyone who runs against George Bush in 2004. His victory (barring a media turnaround) is a foregone conclusion. And with the fraudulent voting machines now in use, and other criminal practices (like another terrorist attack) by the Republican party, I can't see how anyone would have much of a chance.

Bush: 'Are you with us, or are you with the puffins?' December 23, 2002 President Bush today named Alaska to the "Axis of Evil," putting America's northernmost state in the same category as Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Political observers considered the move to name Alaska to the Axis of Evil extraordinary, since no other U.S. state had received such a nod from the president before. But Bush defended his decision in a speech to Congress, declaring that "there is only one word to describe Alaskan wildlife's determination to prevent oil exploration and drilling in their habitat: evil." The president reserved his harshest words for such arctic birds as puffins, plovers, and phalaropes, calling the winged creatures "super-evil." "It is time for the nations of the world to ask themselves: Are you with us, or are you with the puffins?" Bush said.

America tore out 8000 pages of Iraq dossier December 23, 2002 By James Cusick and Felicity Arbuthnot
THE United States edited out more than 8000 crucial pages of Iraq's 11,800-page dossier on weapons, before passing on a sanitised version to the 10 non-permanent members of the United Nations security council. The full extent of Washington's complete control over who sees what in the crucial Iraqi dossier calls into question the allegations made by US Secretary of State Colin Powell that 'omissions' in the document constituted a 'material breach' of the latest UN resolution on Iraq.

Iraq hits back with CIA offer US agents invited to search for weapons December 23, 2002 Ewen MacAskill, Suzanne Goldenberg Baghdad fought back in the highly charged propaganda battle with the US and Britain yesterday by inviting its arch-enemy, the CIA, to enter Iraq and track down the country's elusive weapons of mass destruction. The Iraqi offer of unhindered access to US intelligence agents came after intensive pressure from Washington that made war early in the new year appear almost inevitable. After four days of diplomatic pounding, Iraq hit back yesterday, accusing the Bush administration of rehashing old lies. "We have told the world we are not producing these kind of weapons, but it seems that the world is drugged, absent or in a weak position," President Saddam Hussein said. At a press conference in Baghdad yesterday, General Amir al-Sadi, scientific adviser to the president, issued a challenge to the US and British intelligence to offer up hard evidence that Iraq has any biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.

US rebuffs Iraq's CIA invitation December 23, 2002 The United States administration has dismissed as a stunt Iraq's offer to admit CIA agents to assist United Nations arms inspectors.
A White House official said that the burden of proof rested with President Saddam Hussein to show that he was not developing weapons of mass destruction.

Bush Plan To Cut Energy Aid To Low-Income Homes Will Leave  People In The Cold December 23, 2002 Nationally, about 532,000 households will be denied emergency financial aid given to people who've had their utilities shut off due to non-payment. State officials who run the grant program in Minnesota, Vermont, and Illinois have already reported a 20%-70% increase in demand this December over last. The states with the higest number of households targetted for cut-off from the program are New York with 80,000 homes, and Michigan with 65,000. The Bush administration plans to cut the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) by $300 million -- 18% below last year's level, despite official reports of expected higher fuel costs.

U.S. Budget Deficit Leapt To $59.10 Billion In November December 23, 2002 The U.S. Treasury Department announced today that the U.S. budget, when reported on a unified budget basis, amassed a $59.10 billion deficit in November, 2002. During the previous month of October, the U.S. budget ran a $53.99 billion deficit. The fiscal year 2003 federal budget started October 2, 2002; thus, through just the first two months of fiscal year 2003, the U.S. has run an enormous combined deficit of $113.09 billion. This is $51 billion greater than the budget deficit it registered for the first two months of fiscal year 2002. But the real situation is worse. The "official" budget deficit that the Treasury reports on, which is called the "unified budget," is a sham aglomeration, which illegally mixes the actual budget, which is called the U.S. General Revenue Budget, with the off-budget surplus of the Social Security Trust Fund. But the Social Security Trust Fund is a special fund, with its own dedicated tax revenue stream, and should not be mixed in. If one correctly refuses to count the surplus of the Social Security Trust Fund, the U.S. government's General Revenue budget (the real budget) was $119.72 billion in deficit during the first two months of fiscal year 2003. It is realistic to expect that the U.S. government will run a real General Revenue fiscal year 2003 budget deficit of $400 to $500 billion.

Global Gulag: New World Order vs. America December 23, 2002 By James Hall No longer can the critics of the NWO be called kooks, believing in a weird conspiracy. That kind of dismissal will not fly. The press abounds with admissions from well known politicians, captains of finance, movers and shakers of all kinds. The need for silence about reality does not exist. The plan succeeded. The New World Order rules. Those are the facts, even if you want to deny them. Debate is over, proof of design is evident in official policy. The notion of decree from the top, filtering down to the bottom is indisputable. Illusions are not needed any longer because the means of control for society have been achieved.

'Why Affirmative Action Continues To Be Necessary' December 23, 2002 By Shirley J. Wilcher Executive Director, Americans for a Fair Chance
WASHINGTON While serving as deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor in the 1990s, I traveled to meet the CEO of a company that repaired equipment for the federal government. The reason for the meeting was to learn how the company could have tolerated the raffle of a Ku Klux Klan knife by members of its repair shop. Compliance officers discovered this behavior during a routine review of the company's affirmative action program. In addition to the notorious Klan raffle, we also found racist and sexist graffiti on the walls of the lavatories. African Americans were harassed and I was told that the "N" word was used profusely. Women who had resigned rather than tolerate sexual harassment tearfully told me that they were only permitted to hand out tools, even though some were trained as licensed mechanics.

US Wrecks Cheap Drugs Deal
December 22, 2002 by Larry Elliott and Charlotte Denny Cheney's intervention blocks pact to help poor countries after pharmaceutical firms lobby White House. Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, last night blocked a global deal to provide cheap drugs to poor countries, following intense lobbying of the White House by America's pharmaceutical giants. Faced with furious opposition from all the other 140 members of the World Trade Organization, the US refused to relax global patent laws which keep the price of drugs beyond reach of most developing countries. Talks at the WTO's Geneva headquarters collapsed last night after the White House ruled out a deal which would have permitted a full range of life-saving drugs to be imported into Africa, Asia and Latin America at cut-price costs. Also See: Election 2002 Fallout Drug Industry Poised to Reap Political Dividends /

German TV airs documentary charging American war crimes in Afghanistan 22 December 2002 By Stefan Steinberg The US State Department has reacted angrily to the showing of a documentary on German television alleging that US soldiers were involved in war crimes in Afghanistan. The film, Massacre in Afghanistan—Did the Americans Look On?, was produced by Irish filmmaker Jamie Doran. It was shown December 18 on one of the main German public channels—ARD. The 45-minute documentary had previously been shown by the British Channel 5 and the Italian station RAI. Prior to the German broadcast, a spokesman for the US State Department, Larry Schwartz, declared: “It is a mystery to us why a respected television channel is showing a documentary in which the facts are completely wrong and which unfairly depicts the US mission in Afghanistan.” In fact, the allegations in Doran’s film have been public for over half a year and the US government has refused to make any statement or advance any argument to refute its detailed evidence of complicity by US soldiers in war crimes. The film makes the point that the Pentagon has refused numerous requests by Doran for an interview or comment on the events that it depicts.

Environmentalists question Bush plan to reduce wildfire risk Dec. 22, 2002  - They don't find fault with individual projects, but some environmentalists are questioning the Bush administration's plan to speed thinning projects in fire-prone forests. The plan, which includes two pilot projects in the Pacific Northwest, would allow officials to skip time-consuming environmental assessments, as well as some public comment. That would allow thinning and forest-restoration projects to proceed in a matter of months, rather than years. Eight of the 10 pilot projects are in the West, including plans to clear brush and dead limbs on 152 acres at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery in central Washington and thousands of acres of federally owned land along the Rogue River in southwestern Oregon.

Casualties of an 'Undeclared War' Civilians Killed and Injured as U.S. Airstrikes Escalate in Southern Iraq December 22, 2002 By Peter Baker BASRA, Iraq -- She flinches just a bit when the air raid siren comes on. Not because it is unusual, but because it is not. And because it reminds her of that day just a few weeks ago. The sirens sound most every day, once, twice, sometimes more. They are followed by the sound of jet planes soaring overhead. Then the soft puffs of antiaircraft fire off in the distance. What Nahla Mohammed remembers from that day, however, is not the sirens or the jet planes, but running into her son on the street just after she finished shopping for supper. He asked what she would fix, she recalled. Meat, vegetables and soup, she answered. He headed off, anticipating the family meal. Ten minutes later, according to a cousin who was there, a powerful blast slammed him to the ground as metal shards sliced through his body. Mohammed Sharif Reda, a 23-year-old mechanic married just two months and planning to build a house for his family, was among four people who Iraqi officials said were killed Dec. 1 in what they call an "undeclared war" being waged here in southern Iraq.

Al Gore and the politics of oligarchy 22 December 2002 By Barry Grey Al Gore’s announcement that he will not seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 says a great deal about the state of the American political system and the Democratic Party. The former vice president and nominal head of the Democrats, who captured the votes of 50 million Americans and won the popular vote in the 2000 presidential race, chose a December 15 interview on the CBS program “60 Minutes” as the venue for publicizing his decision. That Gore, by far the best known of all likely Democratic presidential aspirants, should remove himself from contention at this early stage shows the degree to which the political system is controlled by an elite of media and political decision-makers, who are themselves answerable to the American financial oligarchy.

Americans Revolt in Pennsylvania - New Battle Lines Are Drawn December 21, 2002 by Thom Hartmann The good citizens of Pennsylvania have done it again. Back in 1776, they hosted at Liberty Hall in Philadelphia a gathering of people radicalized by the predations of the East India Company. The world's first multinational corporation then held a virtual stranglehold on commerce and politics in North America, and brazenly used British troops as its enforcers. On the first week of December, 1600, when she created the East India Company, Queen Elizabeth I became the first CEO monarch, and by 1776 King George II was following in her footsteps with his sizeable holdings in and open advocacy of corporate rule. The American colonists were offended by the idea they should be vassals of a corporation and a kingdom that supported and profited from it. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, which explicitly stated that humans were born into this world endowed by their Creator with certain rights, that governments were created by humans to insure only humans held those rights, and "That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it…"

Bush to propose requiring ISPs to monitor Net Dec. 20, 2002 The Bush administration is planning to propose requiring Internet service providers to help build a centralized system to enable broad monitoring of the Internet and, potentially, surveillance of its users. The proposal is part of a final version of a report, ``The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace,'' set for release early next year, according to several people who have been briefed on the report. It is a component of the effort to increase national security after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Bush labels Santa an "enemy combatant" and includes the North Pole in the "axis of evil" December 20, 2002— By Bev Conover Online Journal Editor & Publisher Having drawn the ire of George W. Bush, Santa Claus could find himself and his reindeers shot down by a JDAM missile as they enter United States' airspace on Christmas Eve. It isn't what Santa has done that has earned him a place at the top of the Bush administration "Kill List," knocking Saddam Hussein out of first place and dropping Osama bin Laden to third, but what he has refused to do, according to White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.

Air Traffic Controllers Will Distribute Leaflets to Travelers as Part of Nationwide Campaign About Dangers of Privatization Dec. 20, 2002 Members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) will conduct an information campaign Friday at National Airport, talking with holiday air travelers and providing literature about the dangers of the Bush Administration's intent to sell off air traffic control to the lowest bidder. They will be joined by hundreds of other controllers at dozens of other airports around the nation.

US fears Saddam will raze Iraq Dec. 20, 2002 THE Bush Administration has “solid evidence” that Saddam Hussein will unleash a “scorched earth” policy if he faces removal from power, including the blowing up of oil wells, power plants and food storage facilities. The Pentagon also has firm evidence that the Iraqi President has decided to launch chemical and biological attacks on US troops, Iraq’s Shia and Kurd minorities and the people of Kuwait if he faces defeat, intelligence officials told The Times yesterday.

Let Them Eat Cake TV blames Africans for famine Dec. 20, 2002 By Zeynep Toufe A famine is raging through southern Africa--a famine that Doctors Without Borders has called among the worst in Africa in the past decade. The international relief organization CARE reports that the famine "is largely the result of one of the worst droughts in a decade" and that "severe hunger--even starvation--threatens millions, particularly among the most vulnerable: children, the elderly, and pregnant and nursing women" in Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This is occurring against the backdrop of an AIDS epidemic in Africa that has claimed 25 million lives and counting, leaving behind about 14 million orphans. It's a tragic story, full of suffering, especially of children. But it's not good television, apparently. An analysis of transcripts of news programs for the six months between March 11 and September 11, 2002, by the three major broadcast networks--including daily news shows and such weekly programs as Nightline and 60 Minutes--demonstrates a striking lack of attention to the plight of Southern Africa. The rare stories were almost always without any substantive reference to the role of rich countries, transnational corporations and the international finance system in triggering or worsening the crisis. Analysis seemed to be present to the degree that blame could be put on the shoulders of African nations--fairly or not.

ACLU Calls Immigrant Registration Program Pretext for Mass Detentions December 19, 2002 WASHINGTON – In a development that confirms the American Civil Liberties Union’s initial fears about a controversial immigrant fingerprinting and registration program, the Immigration and Naturalization Service is apparently using the program as a pretext for the mass detention of hundreds of Middle Eastern and Muslim men and boys.

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