Monday, January 27
The Nuclear Option in Iraq
The U.S. has lowered the bar for using the ultimate weapon
William M. Arkin, Los Angeles Times, January 26, 2003

WASHINGTON -- One year after President Bush labeled Iraq, Iran and North Korea the "axis of evil," the United States is thinking about the unthinkable: It is preparing for the possible use of nuclear weapons against Iraq.

At the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) in Omaha and inside planning cells of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, target lists are being scrutinized, options are being pondered and procedures are being tested to give nuclear armaments a role in the new U.S. doctrine of "preemption."

According to multiple sources close to the process, the current planning focuses on two possible roles for nuclear weapons:

attacking Iraqi facilities located so deep underground that they might be impervious to conventional explosives;

thwarting Iraq's use of weapons of mass destruction.

Nuclear weapons have, since they were first created, been part of the arsenal discussed by war planners. But the Bush administration's decision to actively plan for possible preemptive use of such weapons, especially as so-called bunker busters, against Iraq represents a significant lowering of the nuclear threshold. It rewrites the ground rules of nuclear combat in the name of fighting terrorism. .... (more)

Sunday, January 26
Cellphones, changing the face of India
Saptarishi Sanyal,, January 26, 2003

Cellular phones started out in India as the rich man's plaything, with charges up to almost Rs 17 per minute. But six years and a series of price cuts later, they are now a force to reckon with.

Dulal owns a fish stall in a market in Delhi's predominantly Bengali neighbourhood - Chittaranjan Park. The market has no phones, so he chooses to stay in touch with a mobile. In fact, with two mobiles!

But the newest riders on the Infotech bandwagon are priests in Orissa! Do not be surprised if you spot them talking away on their mobiles in the congested roads of the temple city of Puri. For these pandas, the mobile phone has come as a boon. It may have been a status symbol for some, but for most it is a professional tool.

.... With over 2,000 other boat owners raking in over Rs 3,000 crore in foreign exchange for the country, this fishing belt in Sakthi Kulangara is probably the only place in the country where mobile signals are available close to 100 kilometres off-shore and ensure there is enough for everyone to be happy.

Charley Joseph, a trawler operator, said, "For the fishing industry, a mobile phone is a very useful equipment and it is a boon for its vast use by the fishermen. When we set out for deep sea fishing, if there is any sort of accident or a great catch in an isolated area we can quickly pass on the information." ...(more)
Maoist rebels kill Nepal police chief in Kathmandu, January 26, 2003
In one of their most daring attacks in the heart of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, Maoist rebels shot dead the chief of the Armed Police Force, Krishna Mohan Shrestha, his wife and a bodyguard.
The latest attack demonstrates the fragile security situation in the country. This is the first time that the rebels have targeted a top security official. However, no one has yet claimed responsibility for the incident.

Shreshtha was on a morning walk with his wife and bodyguard when they were shot from close range. All three of them were killed on the spot and the killers escaped under cover of early-morning fog ... (more)
Genre: Business Jokes

The manager of a large office asked a new employee to come into his office. "What is your name?," was the first thing the manager asked. "John," the new guy replied.

The manager scowled. "Look, I don't know what kind of a namby-pamby place you worked at before, but I don't call anyone by their first name! It breeds familiarity and that leads to a breakdown in authority," he said. "I refer to my employees by their last name only - Smith, Jones, Baker - that's all.

Now that we got that straight, what is your last name?" The new guy sighed and said, "Darling. My name is John Darling."
The manager said, "Okay, John, the next thing I want to tell you..."
The wise man doesn't give the right answers, he poses the right questions.
--Claude Levi-Strauss

I'm losing patience with my neighbours, Mr Bush
Terry Jones,The Observer, January 26, 2003

I'm really excited by George Bush's latest reason for bombing Iraq: he's running out of patience. And so am I!

For some time now I've been really pissed off with Mr Johnson, who lives a couple of doors down the street. Well, him and Mr Patel, who runs the health food shop. They both give me queer looks, and I'm sure Mr Johnson is planning something nasty for me, but so far I haven't been able to discover what. I've been round to his place a few times to see what he's up to, but he's got everything well hidden. That's how devious he is.

As for Mr Patel, don't ask me how I know, I just know - from very good sources - that he is, in reality, a Mass Murderer. I have leafleted the street telling them that if we don't act first, he'll pick us off one by one.

Some of my neighbours say, if I've got proof, why don't I go to the police? But that's simply ridiculous. The police will say that they need evidence of a crime with which to charge my neighbours.

They'll come up with endless red tape and quibbling about the rights and wrongs of a pre-emptive strike and all the while Mr Johnson will be finalising his plans to do terrible things to me, while Mr Patel will be secretly murdering people.

Since I'm the only one in the street with a decent range of automatic firearms, I reckon it's up to me to keep the peace. But until recently that's been a little difficult. Now, however, George W. Bush has made it clear that all I need to do is run out of patience, and then I can wade in and do whatever I want!

And let's face it, Mr Bush's carefully thought-out policy towards Iraq is the only way to bring about international peace and security. The one certain way to stop Muslim fundamentalist suicide bombers targeting the US or the UK is to bomb a few Muslim countries that have never threatened us.

That's why I want to blow up Mr Johnson's garage and kill his wife and children. Strike first! That'll teach him a lesson. Then he'll leave us in peace and stop peering at me in that totally unacceptable way.

Like Mr Bush, I've run out of patience, and if that's a good enough reason for the President, it's good enough for me. I'm going to give the whole street two weeks - no, 10 days - to come out in the open and hand over all aliens and interplanetary hijackers, galactic outlaws and interstellar terrorist masterminds, and if they don't hand them over nicely and say 'Thank you', I'm going to bomb the entire street to kingdom come.

It's just as sane as what George W. Bush is proposing - and, in contrast to what he's intending, my policy will destroy only one street.
Snarling across the border
Economist Global Agenda, Jan 23rd 2003

The latest row between India and Pakistan, in which each has expelled four of the other countries’ officials, appears relatively trivial. But there are fears that it could be the precursor to another crisis between the two nuclear-armed neighbours

.... That is usually diplomatic code for spying. In this instance, however, it seems likely that the expulsions resulted from India’s exasperation at Pakistan’s failure to heed its protests about the alleged harassment of the most senior of its own diplomats in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.

India has lodged four formal protests over what it calls the “aggressive surveillance” of Suhdhir Vyas, its chargé d’affaires in Islamabad. It says his car has been repeatedly trailed, bumper-to-bumper, and boxed in by three or four cars. Pakistan has denied this, and accused India of creating trouble to cover up its own hounding of Pakistani officials in Delhi. On Thursday January 23rd it retaliated in the usual tit-for-tat style: four Indian officials, including three diplomats, were ordered to leave Islamabad within 48 hours, accused of “behaviour unbecoming of a diplomat”.

There is nothing especially unusual about this kind of squabble between two such mutually suspicious countries. They are symptoms of more fundamental disagreements. So too are other arguments that have recently simmered: Pakistan’s complaints about Indian attempts to stoke an arms race, with three missile tests in 11 days this month; and India’s harping on an article in the New Yorker magazine about alleged Pakistani assistance to North Korea’s nuclear programme.
.... (more)
Genre: Elderly Jokes

A 90 year old man was having his annual checkup and the doctor asked him how he was feeling.

"I've never been better!" he boasted. "I've got an eighteen year old bride who's pregnant and having my child! What do you think about that?"

The doctor considered this for a moment, then said, "Let me tell you a story. I knew a guy who was an avid hunter. He never missed a season.

But one day went out in a bit of a hurry and he accidentally grabbed his umbrella instead of his gun."

The doctor continued, "So he was in the woods and suddenly a grizzly bear appeared in front of him! He raised up his umbrella, pointed it at the bear and squeezed the handle." "And do you know what happened?" the doctor queried.

Dumbfounded, the old man replied "No".

The doctor continued, "The bear dropped dead in front of him!"

"That's impossible!" exclaimed the old man. "Someone else must have shot that bear."

"That's kind of what I'm getting at..." replied the doctor.

Thursday, January 23
In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.
--Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religous or political ideas.
--Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963)
U.S. Increasingly Isolated Over Iraq
Russia, China Join France, Germany in Opposing War Now
Reuters, January 23, 2003

The Bush administration faced new problems today in its confrontation with Iraq as China and Russia joined U.S. allies France and Germany in rejecting early military action.

The nations neighboring Iraq also convened a key meeting today in Turkey aimed at finding ways of averting a war.

The stand taken by Paris, Beijing and Moscow means a majority of the five veto-wielding permanent members on the U.N. Security Council are against rushing into war. The other two members are the United States and Britain, who continued their military buildup in the Gulf region today.

The Bush administration has indicated it could launch military action without Security Council backing.

In Berlin today, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder vowed he and French President Jacques Chirac will do all they can to avert war. "War may never be considered unavoidable," he said.

In Athens today, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said there were no grounds to use force at the moment. ... (more)
Dan Rather: Mainstream US Media Are Frightened and Timid
>>> CBS News' star anchor Dan Rather appeared on BBC's Newsnight on May 16, 2002. Apparently feeling safe in Britain, Rather made some extremely candid comments about the state of the news media in his homeland:

.... There has never been an American war, small or large, in which access has been so limited as this one. Limiting access, limiting information to cover the backsides of those who are in charge of the war, is extremely dangerous and cannot and should not be accepted. And I am sorry to say that up to and including the moment of this interview, that overwhelmingly it has been accepted by the American people. And the current administration revels in that, they relish that, and they take refuge in that.

The Return of John Rambo
Smoking Out Bin Laden
Kurt Nimmo, Counterpunch, January 22, 2003

If Bush can't kill bin Laden in real life, he might as well have Rocky do it in the movies. Showbiz reporter for the UK Sun Online, Jacqui Smith, says the 56 year old Sylvester Stallone will once again bring the Rambo character to life, this time to fight the forces of evil, namely the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. Stallone was so keen to see bin Laden brought to justice -- something Bush is unable or unwilling to do -- he wrote the script himself.

.... Stallone and Miramax, however, are a little behind the curve. In the months since 911, bin Laden has slipped under the Bushite radar screen, especially now that they have their sights fixed on Iraq and its bounteous oil fields. If Hollywood is sincerely interested in producing a topical movie, they'd have Rambo parachuting into Baghdad under the cover of darkness with a grenade launching AK47 slung over his shoulder, bayonet clenched between his teeth, and his naked chest crisscrossed with teflon hollowpoint cartridge belts (a few depleted uranium shells thrown in for good measure). Rambo would sneak into one of Saddam's many palatial residences and slit his throat while he dreams of Nebuchadnezzar.

But then, considering no intelligence service or covert op team has been able to get anywhere near the slippery Iraqi dictator -- not with Saddam's al-Bu Nasir praetorian guards lurking about -- this scenario may be even more "beyond the imagination" than the idiotic bin Laden idea. But then idiotic movies are Hollywood's stock and trade. ... (more)

McDonald's suffers first-ever losses
Neil Buckley,, January 23, 2003

McDonald's on Thursday announced its first quarterly loss since going public in 1965, and scrapped its double-digit earnings growth targets.

The world's largest hamburger chain said it was closing 719 underperforming restaurants, mainly in the US and Japan - more than previously expected - as it battles to reverse falling same-store sales.

A $810.2m one-off charge relating mainly to the store closures and the cost of withdrawing from three foreign markets pushed the company well into the red for the fourth quarter of 2002. ... (more)

Chutzpahgate: Is This the End of Sharon?
William Hughes, Counterpunch, January 10, 2003

Maybe, there is a God!

How else can you account for the fact that Ariel Sharon might lose the January 28th election? He might even go to jail, or at least pay a fine, if the state can prove its case against him for electoral hanky panky.

The Israeli Prime Minister is finally on the ropes. And, it's not for his invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and the carnage and death that left in its wake. He's under a fierce attack. And, it has nothing to do with his sordid part in the slaughter of 69 innocent civilians at the Arab village of Qibya in 1953. It's the tenth round of a slugfest and he is wearing out fast. And, it's not because the World Court has called him to account for his supporting role in the massacre at Sabra and Shatila, the sacking of Jenin, or for running his death squads in the West Bank and Gaza.

No! It's the local Israeli prosecutor, Elyakim Rubinstein, who is doing the pounding away at the old sheep farmer, Sharon. Rubinstein is going for his jugular. It's all because of an election fundraising brouhaha - a measly $1.5 million loan - supposedly transferred from a South African business man, to Israel, to pay off the campaign debts of Sharon. You see: Foreign campaign contributions are illegal in Israel.

Talk about being brought down by the absurd. And, of course, those troublemaking sons of Sharon; Omri and Gilad didn't help his cause either. Both of their names appear on the disputed bank account, according to published reports. Omri Sharon is also involved in an alleged vote buying scheme in last November's primary election. Well, the fruit never falls far from the tree, does it?

If Sharon needed an election loan, then why didn't he ask his Zionist cronies in America for it? They know how to manipulate those election financing laws and would have jumped at the opportunity to help out their favorite war hawk. They are masters at setting up Political Action Committees (PAC). They could have easily created a PAC just for him. They could have called it, "The Sheriff John Wayne Fund," to spotlight his tough guy, hang-them-high, Law-&-Order image.

Remember, too, how the relatives of Presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon kept on getting them in hot water? Seems like even the Israeli politicians aren't immune to that one. .... (more)
Wednesday, January 22
Genre: Miscellaneous Jokes

A burglar enters a house in the middle of the night. He was interrupted when the owner awoke.

Drawing his gun, the burglar said, “Don’t move or I’ll shoot. I’m hunting for your money.”
“Let me turn on the light,” replied the victim, “and I’ll hunt with you”

Tuesday, January 21
France Vows to Block Resolution on Iraq War
By Glenn Kessler and Colum Lynch, Washington Post , January 21, 2003
U.S. Schedule Put at Risk By U.N. Debate

UNITED NATIONS -- France suggested today it would wage a major diplomatic fight, including possible use of its veto power, to prevent the U.N. Security Council from passing a resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

France's opposition to a war, emphatically delivered here by Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, is a major blow for the Bush administration, which has begun pouring tens of thousands of troops into the Persian Gulf in preparation for a military conflict this spring. .... (more)

Genre: Doctors Jokes

A doctor and his wife were having a big argument at breakfast.
“You aren’t good in bed either!” he shouted and stormed off to work.
By mid-morning, he decided he’d better make amends and phoned home.

After many rings, his wife picked up the phone.
“What took you so long to answer?”
“I was in bed.”
“What were you doing in bed this late?”

“Getting a second opinion.”
Monday, January 20
If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?
--Vince Lombardi (1913 - 1970)
Seymour M Hersh, The New Yorker, 27 January issue

Last June, four months before the current crisis over North Korea became public, the Central Intelligence Agency delivered a comprehensive analysis of North Korea's nuclear ambitions to President Bush and his top advisers. The document, known as a National Intelligence Estimate, was classified as Top Secret S.C.I. (for "sensitive compartmented information"), and its distribution within the government was tightly restricted. ...

.... The document's most politically sensitive information, however, was about Pakistan. Since 1997, the C.I.A. said, Pakistan had been sharing sophisticated technology, warhead-design information, and weapons-testing data with the Pyongyang regime. Pakistan, one of the Bush Administration's important allies in the war against terrorism, was helping North Korea build the bomb. ... (more)
Moon Shadow: The Rev, Bush & North Korea
Wayne Madsen, Counterpunch, January 14, 2003

When President Bush added North Korea to his list of "Axis of Evil" nations, the influence of the self-declared reincarnation of Jesus Christ, the "Reverend" Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church, loomed largely over the White House decision-making process. ....

....For twenty years, Moon's main policy laundering enterprise for his incessant influence-peddling has been The Washington Times, the money-losing newspaper he owns outright through New World Communications, Inc., the paper's parent publishing company.

New World also owns Insight Magazine, The Middle East Times (based in Cairo), Zambezi Times (based in Lusaka, Zambia), newspapers in Uruguay and Canada, a textbook publishing company in Russia, and United Press International, the formerly well-respected wire service that fell on hard financial times and was bailed out by Moon's seemingly unlimited cash flows.

Next year, an Insight magazine reporter is poised to take over as President of the venerable National Press Club in Washington. Thus, in a presidential election year, a Moon employee will have influence .... (more)


Human Rights: Trading Away America's Treasure
Editorial, Minneapolis Star, January 18, 2003

Remember America? Land of the free? Thomas Jefferson and Co. thought the whole thing up. Woody Guthrie sang about it. Martin Luther King went to jail to lay claim to its promises. Millions have gloried in it, thrived in its light, dreamed of its liberty. Yet ever since terrorists shattered the calm of a September morning in 2001, America's image as freedom's citadel has been under siege.

Who is attacking it? The last gang you'd expect. According to Human Rights Watch, the U.S. government itself is exhibiting alarming disregard for traditional American rights. The government is so intent on tracking down terrorists, the monitoring group says, that it has come to see human rights as an obstacle to its mission.

It's a foolish fixation -- not to mention cruel. The 600-plus Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, notes Tuesday's report, are being held "in a type of legal black hole" -- denied any guarantee of release at the end of "active hostilities" as required by the 1949 Geneva Convention. ... (more)


Do Well in Hard Times: Become a Bush Political Appointee
Christopher Brauchl, Boulder Daily Camera, January 18, 2003

On Jan. 11, 2003, it was reported that payrolls were shrinking by tens of thousands of people all over the United States. That was offset, however, by the prospect of eliminating the tax on dividends, which will benefit, among others, those who have no jobs but sizable stock portfolios. In addition, there are still high-paying jobs to be had. ....

....The bonuses paid to political appointees, however, don't hold a candle to salaries to be paid members of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board that was created by Congress in 2002.

At the height of the accounting scandals in 2002, Congress established the board to oversee the accounting profession. Until 2002, it was believed that one of the functions of an accountant was to oversee the activities of large corporations. During the collapse of, among others, Enron, it was learned that if that was the role of an accounting firm, in many cases it was a role it had played badly and for which it received appropriately bad reviews. As a result Congress decreed that a board should be created to oversee the accountants who were overseeing corporations.

The theory was that if there are enough people overseeing people who are overseeing other people, eventually someone will get it right, a novel if not necessarily correct assumption.

.... It deferred action on a suggestion that the auditors in charge of auditing the board which is to audit the auditors who audit corporations, be replaced every five years in order to ensure their independence.

It did not defer action on compensation for its members.

It considered its work, compared it with what the president of the United States does, and concluded its members should be paid $452,000, $52,000 more than he receives. It also decided that the chair, when hired, would be paid $556,000. ....(more)


At CNN, It's All Problems, All the Time
VERNE GAY,, January 16, 2003

Why, why, why? With all that talent and all those brains and great correspondents and solid anchors and worldwide distribution and viewer loyalty and rich history and more money than a small European principality. ... Why? Why can't CNN get its act together? Here lies one of the most pressing - and perplexing - questions in all of television journalism. .... (more)tuesday, january 21
Moon Shadow: The Rev, Bush & North Korea
Wayne Madsen, Counterpunch, January 14, 2003

sunday, january 19
Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.
--Ben Hecht (1893 - 1964)

posted by eliza 19.1.03
. . .
Saddam Hussein's inner circle index Guardian Gallery

September 17 2002: Saddam Hussein's inner circle (see pictures)

President's younger son, 36. Heir apparent and a trusted confidant. ....

Abed Hamid Mahmoud
Saddam Hussein's personal secretary, who comes from his home town, Tikrit

Ali Hassan al-Majid
The president's cousin is known as 'chemical Ali' for his involvement in atrocities against the Kurds.A leading participant in the 1996 family massacre after President Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamil, defected to Jordan, betrayed Iraq's weapons secrets, and then returned to Baghdad.

Ezzat Ibrahim
Deputy chairman of the revolutionary command council, close to Saddam Hussein

Tariq Aziz
Deputy prime minister, has survived as an adviser for more than 20 years. Mr Aziz was born to a Christian family in 1936. ... (more)

Taha Yassin Ramadan
Hawkish vice-president, one of Saddam Hussein's key foreign policy advisers

Naji Sabri
Foreign minister and a key member of President Saddam's inner circle

posted by eliza 19.1.03
. . .
Syrian reporter jailed for revealing war plans
Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, January 17, 2003

The Foreign Office condemned Syria yesterday for jailing one of the most popular and respected journalists in the Middle East, Ibrahim Hamidi, the Damascus bureau chief of the pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper.

Hamidi, 35, was arrested by the mukhabarat (secret police) on December 23 after writing a detailed report of Syrian contingency plans to welcome one million Iraqi refugees in the event of war.

..... Hamidi, a Syrian citizen, has built up a reputation for being able to ferret out reliable information in spite of working in a country run by a totalitarian regime.

He often jokes that he is arrested about once a year but on these occasions he has been held for only a few days; the present detention is much more serious.

He has been cut off from the outside world, apart from a short visit from his brother and, possibly, from a lawyer appointed by Al-Hayat.

He faces trial in a state security court, which would mean he could not have legal representation.
.... (more)

posted by eliza 19.1.03
. . .
This looming war isn't about chemical warheads or human rights: it's about oil
Robert Fisk, The Independent, January 18, 2003

Along with the concern for 'vital interests' in the Gulf, this war was concocted five years ago by oil men such as Dick Cheney:

I was sitting on the floor of an old concrete house in the suburbs of Amman this week, stuffing into my mouth vast heaps of lamb and boiled rice soaked in melted butter. The elderly, bearded, robed men from Maan – the most Islamist and disobedient city in Jordan – sat around me, plunging their hands into the meat and soaked rice, urging me to eat more and more of the great pile until I felt constrained to point out that we Brits had eaten so much of the Middle East these past 100 years that we were no longer hungry. There was a muttering of prayers until an old man replied. "The Americans eat us now," he said.

Through the open door, where rain splashed on the paving stones, a sharp east wind howled in from the east, from the Jordanian and Iraqi deserts. Every man in the room believed President Bush wanted Iraqi oil. Indeed, every Arab I've met in the past six months believes that this – and this alone – explains his enthusiasm for invading Iraq.

Many Israelis think the same. So do I. Once an American regime is installed in Baghdad, our oil companies will have access to 112 billion barrels of oil. With unproven reserves, we might actually end up controlling almost a quarter of the world's total reserves. And this forthcoming war isn't about oil?

The US Department of Energy announced at the beginning of this month that by 2025, US oil imports will account for perhaps 70 per cent of total US domestic demand. (It was 55 per cent two years ago.) As Michael Renner of the Worldwatch Institute put it bleakly this week, "US oil deposits are increasingly depleted, and many other non-Opec fields are beginning to run dry. The bulk of future supplies will have to come from the Gulf region." No wonder the whole Bush energy policy is based on the increasing consumption of oil. Some 70 per cent of the world's proven oil reserves are in the Middle East. And this forthcoming war isn't about oil?

Take a look at the statistics on the ratio of reserve to oil production – the number of years that reserves of oil will last at current production rates – compiled by Jeremy Rifkin in Hydrogen Economy. In the US, where more than 60 per cent of the recoverable oil has already been produced, the ratio is just 10 years, as it is in Norway. In Canada, it is 8:1. In Iran, it is 53:1, in Saudi Arabia 55:1, in the United Arab Emirates 75:1. In Kuwait, it's 116:1. But in Iraq, it's 526:1. And this forthcoming war isn't about oil?

.... Back in 1997, in the years of the Clinton administration, Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and a bunch of other right-wing men – most involved in the oil business – created the Project for the New American Century, a lobby group demanding "regime change" in Iraq. In a 1998 letter to President Clinton, they called for the removal of Saddam from power. In a letter to Newt Gingrich, who was then Speaker of the House, they wrote that "we should establish and maintain a strong US military presence in the region, and be prepared to use that force to protect our vital interests [sic] in the Gulf – and, if necessary, to help remove Saddam from power".

The signatories of one or both letters included Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, now Rumsfeld's Pentagon deputy, John Bolton, now under-secretary of state for arms control, and Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's under-secretary at the State Department – who called last year for America to take up its "blood debt" with the Lebanese Hizbollah. They also included Richard Perle, a former assistant secretary of defence, currently chairman of the defence science board, and Zalmay Khalilzad, ] the former Unocal Corporation oil industry consultant who became US special envoy to Afghanistan – where Unocal tried to cut a deal with the Taliban for a gas pipeline across Afghan territory – and who now, miracle of miracles, has been appointed a special Bush official for – you guessed it – Iraq.

The signatories also included our old friend Elliott Abrams, one of the most pro-Sharon of pro-Israeli US officials, who was convicted for his part in the Iran-Contra scandal. Abrams it was who compared Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon – held "personally responsible" by an Israeli commission for the slaughter of 1,700 Palestinian civilians in the 1982 Sabra and Chatila massacre – to (wait for it) Winston Churchill.

So this forthcoming war – the whole shooting match, along with that concern for "vital interests" (ie oil) in the Gulf – was concocted five years ago, by men like Cheney and Khalilzad who were oil men to their manicured fingertips.

.... Even though Saddam and Bush deserve each other, Saddam is not Hitler. And Bush is certainly no Churchill. But now we are told that the UN inspectors have found what might be the vital evidence to go to war: 11 empty chemical warheads that just may be 20 years old.

The world went to war 88 years ago because an archduke was assassinated in Sarajevo. The world went to war 63 years ago because a Nazi dictator invaded Poland. But for 11 empty warheads? Give me oil any day. Even the old men sitting around the feast of mutton and rice would agree with that.

posted by eliza 19.1.03
. . .
Wall Street's Concern


observe the lords of time & space
swagger by, make no pretence of
knowing the planet's tragic case,
their money-making's so intensive.
"you've just been walking on our face!"
they find that attitude offensive

Sydney Bernard Smith lives in Dundalk, Ireland and can be reached at:

Saul Landau: Mt. Whitney Towers Over Death Valley Counterpunch, January 18, 2003

Wow, a vacation! The teenager has gone off to stay with a sib. "Until the rise of American advertising," paraphrasing Gore Vidal, "it never occurred to anyone anywhere in the world that the teenager was a captive in a hostile world of adults." Maybe we owe the very existence of modern adolescence to the desperate need to create markets. Adolescence, created as an advertising gimmick? I'm free to turn the dial to something other than the top 40 or MTV stations. I surf for something that will place me in my world, help me integrate my thoughts and feelings and not alienate me further. The shows on the commercial channels, however, appear to validate Vidal's observation that TV has become "so desperately hungry for material that they're scraping the top of the barrel."

The answer to tension at work, freeway jams, John Ashcroft's threat to further invade my privacy and George Bush's pledge to start a war, lies in taking a vacation away from it all. Imagine, my wife and I will take three days to just hang out and stare at Nature's wonders with all the awe they deserve! ... (more)

posted by eliza 19.1.03
. . .
India, Russia to hike Brahmos JV Capital to US$ 300 million
Press Trust of India, January 18, 2003

Moscow: India and Russia have decided to increase the charter capital of Brahmos joint venture from the current USD 250 million to USD 300 million to cope with the production of supersonic cruise missiles, Defence Minister George Fernandes said here.

Brahmos JV was set up by India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia's NPO Mashinostroyenie under an agreement signed in 1998 with the active participation of the 'missile man' - President A P J Abdul Kalam. ....(more)

posted by eliza 19.1.03
. . .
Protesters Gather To Oppose War
Ann Marchand,, January 18, 2003

Tens of thousands of people converged on the National Mall today to rally and march against U.S. military operations in Iraq while a smaller group also gathered to express support for U.S. troops.

The antiwar demonstration is being mirrored by a joint protest in San Francisco, which was expected to draw tens of thousands of people, as well as simultaneous antiwar demonstrations in 32 countries.

The crowd was a sea of signs proclaiming antiwar messages, including "Grandmothers Against War", "Bomb Texas, They Have Oil Too", "Money for Jobs Not War" and "Help Stop the Asses of Evil." ....(more)

posted by eliza 19.1.03
. . . - Iraq's Missile Casings: Not Cause For War
An Interview With Middle-Eastern Policy Expert Phyllis Bennis by Steven Rosenfeld, What's been reported in the news today? Apparently, 11 warheads have been found by weapons inspectors in Iraq. These are 11 out of some 20,000 or 30,000 that were declared. Put this in perspective…

Phyllis Bennis: "All that's been found is what appear to be some leftover, empty chemical warheads. There's no indication, according to the inspectors own statements, of any chemical weapons being there. The Iraqis have said that this batch of warheads was in fact declared in 1996 and again in their recent declaration, and that they hadn't pointed anybody to it, because they had forgotten about it. They are not viable, as far as we know. They're not functional weapons. They're not connected to missiles or usable in any other way… (more)


wednesday, january 15
The perfect Husband

There are several men sitting around in the locker room of a golf club after a round, showering and getting changed for the 19th hole.

Suddenly a mobile phone on one of the benches rings. One of the men picks it up, and the following conversation ensues:

(H - Husband, W - Wife)

H - "Hello?"
W - "Honey, it's me. Are you at the club?"
H - "Yes."
W - "Great! I am at the mall two blocks from where you are. I ust saw a beautiful leather coat. It's absolutely gorgeous!! Can I buy it?"
H - "What's the price?"
W - "Only $1,000."
H - "Well, OK, go ahead and get it, if you like it that much..."

W- "Ahhh, and I also stopped by the Mercedes dealership and saw the 2002 models. I saw one I really liked. I spoke with the salesman, and he gave me a really good price .. and since we need to exchange the BMW that we bought last year...
H - "What price did he quote you?"
W - "Only $60,000..."
H - "OK, but for that price I want it with all the options."

W - "Great! But before we hang up, something else..."
H - "What?"
W - "It might look like a lot, but I was reconciling your bank account and I stopped by the real estate agent this morning and saw the house we had looked at last year. It's for sale!! Remember? The one with a pool English garden, acre of park area, beachfront property."
H - "How much are they asking?"
W - "Only $450,000 -- a magnificent price...and I see that we have that much in the bank to cover..."
H - "Well, then go ahead and buy it, but just bid up to $420,000. OK?"

W - "OK, sweetie...Thanks! I'll see you later!! I love you!!!"
H - "Bye...I love you too..."

The man hangs up & closes the phone's flap.

The other men are looking at him in astonishment and derision

The husband raises his hand while holding the phone and asks "Does anyone know who this cellphone belongs to?"

posted by eliza 15.1.03
. . .
If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
-- Mother Teresa

posted by eliza 15.1.03
. . .
'Canine Cupid' killed in Jordan
BBC News, January 14, 2003

A dog trained to carry messages between two Jordanian lovers has been stoned to death after his secret mission was discovered.
The three-year-old German Shepherd, named Big Joe, was carrying a marriage proposal when he was intercepted by the girl's brother last week.

But family and friends have since intervened to persuade the girl's father to allow the couple to marry. ...

.... Human rights activists have often condemned Jordan - a conservative Muslim country - for persecuting women.

Each year the country has about 24 "honour killings" of women accused of sexual impropriety. ... (more)

posted by eliza 15.1.03
. . .
Iraq: Prepare for the worst
Paul Reynolds, BBC News Online, January 13, 2003

It is a confusing time.

The US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signs an order sending another 62,000 troops to the Gulf region, nearly doubling the size of American forces there - yet President Bush, officials say, has not taken a decision to go to war.

The UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw offers odds of 40 to 60 against a war - yet the UK Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon scoffs at such an approach and prepares to despatch a British force.


The date of 27 January - on which weapons inspectors will report to the Security Council - is, according to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, not a deadline.

He insists the inspectors must be given "time and space" - yet a senior Bush administration official quoted by the Washington Post says that it is a "very important day (marking) the beginning of the final phase."

In such a situation, it is best to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. .... (more)

posted by eliza 15.1.03
. . .
Lebanon seizes 'Iraq-bound' cargo
BBC News, January 14, 2003

Security officials in Lebanon say they have seized military equipment from Belarus which was to be smuggled into Iraq, in defiance of a United Nations ban.
The foreign ministry of Belarus rules out the possibility of delivery of dual-use items to Iraq

Authorities at Beirut International Airport said about 12 tons of cargo, including helmets and tank radio kits, arrived on a flight from the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on Sunday night.

They said the cargo was to be sent overland across Syria to Iraq.

Two Lebanese nationals listed as the importers have been detained for questioning.

Both Belarus and Iraq have denied any involvement in the shipment, which, if confirmed, would breach a United Nations arms embargo.

The BBC's Steven Eke says Belarus, which has close trading links with Iraq, has often featured in Western reports on potential sources of contraband equipment and expertise for Baghdad. ... (more)

posted by eliza 15.1.03
. . .
PROFILE: Kim Jong II--Women Wine & Weapons
Evan Thomas, Newsweek, January 13, 2003 issue

Is he bluffing? Is it all an elaborate fright show, or might he really try to kill a few thousand—or a few million—people in a truly spectacular fireworks display? Can he be contained? Reasoned with? Negotiated with? Trusted in any way? Or must he be banished, exiled, destroyed?

The fact is, no one really knows. Hidden away in his Hermit Kingdom, he is feared and reviled by opinion makers and world leaders and “loathed” by President George W. Bush. But he is not very well understood.

One has to piece together occasional sightings and impressions from the few emissaries who have been granted an audience, or sift through the bitter memories of defectors who have escaped his clutches.

The portrait that emerges is disturbing. Kim Jong Il is strange, all right, but not so flaky that he can’t function. He may not have the ability to feed his people, but he can surely kill them, along with many people in many other countries. He seems mostly interested in his own survival, and he must have been cunning to survive this long (he is believed to have turned 60 a year or two ago). But his desperation and megalomania could lead to massively fatal miscalculations.


Kim is “slippery,” “dangerous,” but “not delusional,” says former secretary Albright, the only high-ranking U.S. official to ever spend time with him.

“He’s not a nut,” Albright tells NEWSWEEK. “He’s isolated but not uninformed.” Kim made a point of showing Albright his computer, which he uses to cruise the Internet (he also closely monitors CNN, mostly to find out what is being said about him around the world).

Kim eagerly chatted with Albright about the year’s potential Oscar nominees from Hollywood and Michael Jordan’s comeback in professional basketball, in between delivering somewhat loopy lectures on economic reform. .... (more)

posted by eliza 15.1.03
. . .
Genre: Blonde Jokes

A blonde made several attempts to sell her old car. She was having a lot of problems finding a buyer because the car had 340,000 miles on it. She discussed her problem with a brunette that she worked with at a bar.The brunette suggested, "There may be a chance to sell that car easier, but it's not going to be legal.""That doesn't matter at all," replied the blonde. "All that matters it that I am able to sell this car."

"Alright," replied the brunette. In a quiet voice, she told the blonde: "Here is the address of a friend of mine. He owns a car repair shop around here. Tell him I sent you, and he will turn the counter back on your car to 40,000 miles. Then it shouldn't be a problem to sell your car."

The following weekend, the blonde took a trip to the mechanic on the brunette's advice.
About one month after that, the brunette saw the blonde and asked,

"Did you sell your car?"
"No!" replied the blonde. "Why should I? It only has 40,000 miles on

posted by eliza 15.1.03
. . .
False Security

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

posted by eliza 15.1.03
. . .
tuesday, january 14
South Asia Intelligence Review


Pakistan continuing infiltration across LoC, says US envoy Richard Haass: The United States on January 6, 2003, said that Pakistan was continuing infiltration across the Line of Control (LoC) and it was a matter of concern. The State Department's Policy Planning Staff Director Richard Haass, who was on a visit to New Delhi, stated that, "The activity [infiltration] is continuing and it is a matter of concern… We are doing everything to bring this about so that it comes to an end. I'm sure it will... I hope the Pakistan government will come to the conclusion itself." Indian Express, January 7, 2003.


443 Al Qaeda suspects handed over to US: Pakistan has handed over 443 suspected Al Qaeda operatives to US authorities till date, a report in The Dawn indicated on January 6, 2002. Quoting official sources, the report said Pakistani authorities arrested more than 500 Al Qaeda cadres since the launch of the US-led anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan. Of these, 443 have been remanded to the custody of US authorities, they said. Pakistani authorities are working in close coordination with US security agencies and made these arrests during a series of search operations in various parts of the country, including the tribal areas. The report also said US authorities have transported the suspects to an undisclosed foreign destination for interrogation. The arrested suspects belong to 18 countries, including Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Morocco, Chechnya and France. Dawn, January 6, 2003.

posted by eliza 14.1.03
. . .
Genre: Genie Jokes

A man and an ostrich walk into a restaurant. The waitress asks, "What will it be?"
The man replied "a burger and a coke." "And you?" "I'll have the same," the ostrich replies. They finish their meal and pay. "That will be $4.50," The man reached into his pocket and pulled out the exact amount.

They do this every day till Fri.
"The usual?" she asked. "No, today is Friday. I'll have steak and a coke."
"Me too." says the ostrich. They finish and pay. "That will be $10.95"
The man reached in and pulls out the exact amount again just like all week.
The waitress was dumb-founded. "How is it that you always have the exact amount?"

"Well," says the man. "I was cleaning my attic and I found a dusty lamp. I rubbed it and a genie appeared."

Wow!" said the waitress. "What did you wish for?"
"I asked that when I needed to pay for something, the exact amount would appear in my pocket."

"Amazing! Most people would ask for a million dollars. But what's with the ostrich?" "Well," said the man. "I also asked for a chick with long legs."

posted by eliza 14.1.03
. . .
sunday, january 12
Pharmacy Benefit Companies Won't Disclose Fees
Milt Freudenheim, The New York Times, January 10, 2003

The companies that provide discounts on prescription drugs for about 200 million Americans have refused to tell Congressional investigators how much they are paid by drug makers to promote sales of their favorite drugs. ... (more)

posted by eliza 12.1.03
. . .
The Document That the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Pulled From Its Website
The Memory Hole

On 28 December 2002, the Associated Press reported that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had deleted a page from its Website. The document was a record of a phone call concerning a hole (possibly two holes) in the Milltown Dam near Missoula, Montana. The FERC claimed that such information would aid terrorists. Other people said that the "national security" excuse was just a ruse to keep crucial information from the public, who have a right to know about the danger. (Facts about problems with dams and nuclear reactors are notorious for disappearing down the memory hole.)

The missing report was nowhere to be found in Google's cache or the Internet Archive. Reader Tim Hill, however, got a copy from Peter Nielsen at Missoula's City-County Health Department and sent it to The Memory Hole. Click on LINK ...

posted by eliza 12.1.03
. . .
Genre: Political Jokes

A candidate for city council was doing some door-to-door campaigning, and things were going pretty well, he thought, till he came to the house of a grouchy-looking fellow.

After the candidate’s little speech, the fellow said, “Vote for you? Why I’d rather vote for the Devil!”

“I understand,” said the candidate, “but in case your friend is not running, may I count on your support?”

posted by eliza 12.1.03
. . .
saturday, january 11
All fall down
Alexander Chancellor, The Guardian, January 11, 2003

This is not the sort of thing that normally happens to people in real life, but it happened to me the other day.

I was at a grand wedding reception at a country house in Gloucestershire when the trousers of my morning suit suddenly fell to the ground, exposing a pair of thin, white, hairy legs from the underpants down to the ankles. ....

If I hadn't been wanting to appear dignified, not to say rather grand, I would not have put on a morning suit in the first place. So the loss of all dignity in such circumstances was especially humiliating. I tried to share in the general ribaldry and to convince everyone that I was as much amused by the spectacle as they were. ....

It all goes to show how remarkably babyish people are. Here we are, facing war in the Middle East, economic collapse and what have you, and all that seems to interest them is the extent of my exposure when my trousers fell down. Or perhaps that is rather comforting. Perhaps it shows a sense of perspective, a wartime spirit, or whatever. Or perhaps there is something uniquely titillating about the image of somebody's trousers falling down. .... (more)

A warning from America's friends, Editorial Comment, January 9 2003

Despite frequent jibes, in the UKand across Europe, that he operates as an American "poodle", Tony Blair has stuck to a practice of discussing policy differences with Washington only in private, the better thereby to influence President George W. Bush and his administration. In contrast to Paris and its occasional resort to the transatlantic megaphone, or Berlin, which ruled out a priori any support for a war on Iraq, London believes discreet persuasion is the best route to Mr Bush's ear. This approach appeared vindicated when Mr Bush elbowed aside unilateralist colleagues in September and took his case against Iraq to the UN.

What then should we make of Mr Blair's public call for Washington to start listening to the foreign policy concerns of its allies, made to a conference of British ambassadors on Tuesday? On the same day, in an interview with the FT, Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief and former secretary-general of Nato, lamented that Europe and the US were drifting apart because American religiosity was feeding a tendency in Washington to see complex problems with the moral certainty of "black and white terms".

It would be easy to dismiss the prime minister's remarks as a first sign of cold feet as a showdown over Iraq nears, ... (more)

posted by eliza 11.1.03
. . .
For news, S. Africa may shun the West--The country's state-run news station considers replacing CNN with the Arabic Al Jazeera
Danna Harman,The Christian Science Monitor, January 9, 2003

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – When South Africa's state-run news station ends its programming day, it switches over to CNN to offer something for the country's insomniacs.
If the Atlanta-based service has kept its small audience entertained between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., it has done so with little excitement. But last week, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) said it was considering replacing CNN with Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based news service. ... (more)

posted by eliza 11.1.03
. . .
Sharon, Going on TV Over Scandal, Is Yanked Off Air
John Kifner, New York Times, Jan. 9, 2003

JERUSALEM, — Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, his once almost certain re-election thrown into the balance by corruption charges, went on the counterattack tonight, but his feisty, nationally televised news conference was abruptly yanked off the air.

As campaigning heats up for the Jan. 28 elections, Mr. Sharon and his Likud Party have been jolted first by accusations of party corruption and now by an accusation that Mr. Sharon committed bribery, fraud and breach of trust by taking a private loan to repay a political contribution. .... (more)

posted by eliza 11.1.03
. . .
Unhappy meals
Maria Russo,

Americans spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software or new cars. Every month more than 90 percent of American children eat at McDonald's; the average American eats three hamburgers and four orders of french fries every week.

What's in all those hamburgers? They're most likely made from the meat of worn-out dairy cows (generally the least healthy cattle stock), which spend their days packed in feedlots full of pools of manure. .... (more)

posted by eliza 11.1.03
. . .
friday, january 10
Genre: Sex Jokes

A little boy walked in on his parents having sex. He sees his mom bouncing up and down on his dad, and he says "Mommy, what are you doing?" She said, "Well, daddy's too fat so I thought I'd try to flatten him out."

The boy replied, "Why bother, every Tuesday the maid comes over and blows him back up again!"

posted by eliza 10.1.03
. . .
thursday, january 9
I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it.
--Rita Mae Brown

Speech is conveniently located midway between thought and action, where it often substitutes for both.
--John Andrew Holmes, "Wisdom in Small Doses"

posted by eliza 9.1.03
. . .
Another possible source of guidance for teenagers is television, but television's message has always been that the need for truth, wisdom and world peace pales by comparison with the need for a toothpaste that offers whiter teeth *and* fresher breath.
--Dave Barry (1947 - ), "Kids Today: They Don't Know Dum Diddly Do"

posted by eliza 9.1.03
. . .
The importance of being an NRI
A K Bhattacharya,, January 8, 2003

The BJP government is going all out to woo the Indian diaspora. A grand show - Pravasi Bharatiya Divas - has been organised by the ministry of external affairs in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

A government that is yet to ensure free access to drinking water and primary education for all its people living in the country is set to splurge Rs 11 crore (Rs 110 million) on a three-day show to understand the sentiments of those who chose not to live in this country. ... (more)

posted by eliza 9.1.03
. . .
Four-session losing streak is wiped out, sensex up by 27.37
PTI,January 08, 2003

Mumbai: The four-session losing streak on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) was wiped out here today on emergence of all-round buying by operators, helping the sensex to recover smartly by 27.37 points and close at 3357.87. .... (more)

posted by eliza 9.1.03
. . .
The Double Standards, Dubious Morality and Duplicity of the Fight Against Terror
Robert Fisk, Counterpunch, January 4, 2003

I think I'm getting the picture.

North Korea breaks all its nuclear agreements with the United States, throws out UN inspectors and sets off to make a bomb a year, and President Bush says it's "a diplomatic issue".

Iraq hands over a 12,000-page account of its weapons production and allows UN inspectors to roam all over the country, and--after they've found not a jam-jar of dangerous chemicals in 230 raids--President Bush announces that Iraq is a threat to America, has not disarmed and may have to be invaded. So that's it, then.

How, readers keep asking me in the most eloquent of letters, does he get away with it? Indeed, how does Tony Blair get away with it? .... (more)

posted by eliza 9.1.03
. . .
The ticking bomb
Wade Davis, Globe&, July 6, 2002
[The Western ideal of comfort and wealth holds a hollow promise for the rest of the world and provides fodder for extremists, says anthropologist WADE DAVIS.]

On Sept. 11, in the most successful act of asymmetrical warfare since the Trojan horse, the world came home to America. "Why do they hate us?" asked George W. Bush. This was not a rhetorical question. ....In the immediate wake of the tragedy, I was often asked as an anthropologist for explanations.

Condemning the attacks in the strongest possible terms, I nevertheless encouraged people to consider the forces that gave rise to Osama bin Laden's movement. ....

I also encouraged my American friends to turn the anthropological lens upon our own culture, if only to catch a glimpse of how we might appear to people born in other lands. I shared a colleague's story from her time living among the Bedouin in Tunisia in the 1980s, just as television reached their remote villages. Entranced and shocked by episodes of the soap opera Dallas, the astonished farm women asked her, "Is everyone in your country as mean as J.R.?"

The United States has always looked inward. A nation born in isolation cannot be expected to be troubled by the election of a President who has rarely been abroad, or a Congress in which 25 per cent of members do not hold passports.

Wealth too can be blinding. Each year, Americans spend as much on lawn maintenance as the government of India collects in federal tax revenue. The 30 million African-Americans collectively control more wealth than the 30 million Canadians.

A country that effortlessly supports a defence budget larger than the entire economy of Australia does not easily grasp the reality of a world in which 1.3 billion people get by on less than $1 a day. A new and original culture that celebrates the individual at the expense of family and community -- a stunning innovation in human affairs, the sociological equivalent of the splitting of the atom -- has difficulty understanding that in most of the world the community still prevails, for the destiny of the individual remains inextricably linked to the fate of the collective.

In reality, development for the vast majority of the peoples of the world has been a process in which the individual is torn from his past and propelled into an uncertain future only to secure a place on the bottom rung of an economic ladder that goes nowhere.

Consider the key indices of development. An increase in life expectancy suggests a drop in infant mortality, but reveals nothing of the quality of the lives led by those who survive childhood. Globalization is celebrated with iconic intensity. But what does it really mean? The Washington Post reports that in Lahore, one Muhammad Saeed earns $88 (U.S.) a month stitching shirts and jeans for a factory that supplies Gap and Eddie Bauer. He and five family members share a single bed in one room off a warren of alleys strewn with human waste and refuse. Yet, earning three times as much as at his last job, he is the poster child of globalization.

Even as fundamental a skill as literacy does not necessarily realize its promise. In northern Kenya, for example, tribal youths placed by their families into parochial schools do acquire a modicum of literacy, but in the process also learn to have contempt for their ancestral way of life. They enter school as nomads; they leave as clerks, only to join an economy with a 50-per-cent unemployment rate for high-school graduates. Unable to find work, incapable of going home, they drift to the slums of Nairobi to scratch a living from the edges of a cash economy.
.... (more)

posted by eliza 9.1.03
. . .
wednesday, january 8
Book of the Bush, Volume #43, Verse 23.1- 24.2

"Wherein Bush the Junior removes silver spoon from nose and inserts foot
in mouth."

And so it was revealed in the end of days that a moron named Bush spake
evil of three lands. Calling them the Axis of Evil. And so it sounded good
to the people of his land. And many followed the Bush as sheep doth follow
a mad shepherd.

And two of the Axis Evildoers were Muslim of the Clans Iraq and Iran.

And one of them, North Korea, was not, but was thrown in just for purposes
of deception by a speechmaker for the Bush...or so it was spoken, to prove
that he was not anti-Muslim, just dumb.

Yeah, the two Muslim countries were weak and uncertain of the threats of
the Bush and his masters of darkness. But the North Koreans took the Bush
Junior at his word and were massively insulted and could not understand.
And behold, they were not weak but had the 'big fire' that the dumb one
had, and a million man army ready to kick ass as well. And their leader,
who acteth like a Michael Jackson with nukes, needed food for his nation,
while he sipped champagne.

And the dumb one, Bush, sucked it all in and cowered in a corner,
clutching a pillow while repeating "Saddam is an evil man Saddam is an
evil man Saddam is an evil man..." until they put him back in his room
every night. There he was heard to say "but it's not a crisis not a crisis
not a crisis..." until the big light came out at the start of day.

And the people of the land of Bush Junior saweth his mental condition and
knew it was right to pray for a leader with wisdom.

Dan McCleod
Pearland, TX


U.S., in Policy Shift, Says Will Talk to N.Korea
Arshad Mohammed and Paul Eckert, Reuters, January 8, 2003

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea (news - web sites) said on Tuesday economic sanctions over its atomic program would mean war as the U.N. nuclear agency said Pyongyang had "only a matter of weeks" to readmit inspectors expelled last week.

In Washington, U.S., Japanese and South Korean officials began a meeting on how to deal with North Korea's nuclear threat. Pyongyang last month expelled U.N. inspectors and vowed to restart a reactor idle since a 1994 pact that froze its nuclear program in exchange for oil from the West.

Pyongyang's KCNA news agency denounced the brief seizure last month of a shipload of North Korean scud missiles bound for Yemen, calling it "part of the U.S.-tailored containment strategy against the DPRK (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or North Korea).

"The strategy means total economic sanctions aimed at isolating and stifling the DPRK," the agency said on Tuesday.

"Sanctions mean a war and the war knows no mercy. The U.S. should opt for dialogue with the DPRK, not for war, clearly aware that it will have to pay a very high price for such reckless acts," KCNA added. .... (more)

posted by eliza 8.1.03
. . .
The Time for Talking Is Over --We must oppose this war as we have never opposed one before
George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian, January 7, 2003

The rest of Europe must be wondering whether Britain has gone into hibernation. At the end of this month our Prime Minister is likely to announce the decision he made months ago, that Britain will follow the US into Iraq. If so, then two or three weeks later, the war will begin. Unless the UN inspectors find something before January 27, this will be a war without even the flimsiest of pretexts: an unprovoked attack whose purpose is to enhance the wealth and power of an American kleptocracy. ....

It also seems that many people who might have contested this war simply can't believe it's happening. If, paradoxically, we were facing a real threat from a real enemy, the debate would have seemed more urgent.

But if Blair had told us that: we had to go to war to stop Saruman of Isengard from sending his orcs against the good people of Rohan, it would scarcely seem less plausible than the threat of Saddam of Iraq dropping bombs on America. .... (more)

posted by eliza 8.1.03
. . .
Genre: Doctors Jokes

A lawyer was cross-examining the doctor about whether or not he had checked the pulse of the deceased before he signed the death certificate. "No," the doctor said. "I did not check his pulse."

"And did you listen for a heartbeat?" asked the lawyer. "No I did not," the doctor said. "So," said the lawyer, "when you signed the death certificate, you had not taken steps to make sure he was dead."

The doctor said, "Well, let me put it this way. The man's brain was in a jar in a jar on my desk but, for all I know, he could be out practicing law somewhere."

posted by eliza 8.1.03
. . .
tuesday, january 7
Hussein Grows as Icon as Potential War Looms
Elizabeth Neuffer, The Boston Globe, January 6, 2003

BAGHDAD - There are many faces to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

The images serve as a constant reminder of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, who rarely appears in public.

There is the beaming Saddam, camera slung around his neck, as in a massive portrait adorning the outside of the Iraqi Photographers Union. There is the concerned Saddam, his hand on an ailing patient's forehead, as in a life-size picture covering the front of the Ministry of Health. And there is the mischievous Saddam, sporting sunglasses and an Arab headdress, as in a huge photograph gracing the Athletic Club. Everywhere in Baghdad, in fact, one can find the face of the authoritarian Iraqi leader, whom his subjects refer to simply as Saddam, not the more formal Hussein. Saddam's portrait appears above the bridges that span the Tigris River. It is plastered on government buildings and shopfronts, inside offices, and at bus stops. It is featured on utilitarian items: calendars, clocks, and computer screen savers. .... (more)

posted by eliza 7.1.03
. . .
PROFILE: Arafat: The great survivor
Paul Reynolds, BBC News, May 2002

Mr Arafat is at his strongest when he is under siege. He is most influential when he is the underdog, the guerrilla fighter. Those are his instincts.

His difficulty is in making the transition from fighter to statesman.

He nearly did so, and even won the Nobel Peace prize, for the Oslo accords which were supposed to lead to a permanent peace.

They did not. And Mr Arafat reverted to the fighter, holed up in his bunker in flickering light and with gunfire outside. .... (more)

posted by eliza 7.1.03
. . .
PROFILE: Ariel Sharon: Controversial hardliner
Gerald Butt , BBC News, Nov 2002

Ariel Sharon has a thick skin and is proud of it. He does not care who loves or hates him - be they Israelis or Arabs.

The one aim in life for the 74-year old former soldier and veteran politician is to ensure total security for Israel on his terms .... (more)

posted by eliza 7.1.03
. . .
Israel plans retaliation for blasts
BBC News, January 6, 2003

Israel has told its armed forces to step up the fight against militants following a double suicide bombing which killed 23 people and the two bombers in Tel Aviv.

As part of its reprisals for Sunday's attack, the Israeli cabinet also decided to prevent senior Palestinian officials from attending talks in London .... (more)

posted by eliza 7.1.03
. . .
Hinglish, the new catchphrase in Bollywood
Vickey Lalwani,, January 7, 2003

Did you know that only 4 per cent of Hindi films released in 2002 managed to generate business? .... There were only two hits: Mukesh Bhatt's Raaz and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas last year, if that. Some industry people refuse to term Devdas a hit. They say that for a Rs 500 million film, the profit margin should have been more handsome.

During this period, a new genre of films gained precedence. As many as nine Hinglish films released in India.

Says trade analyst Amod Mehra, Entertainment Network, “Today, middle-class and poor people have virtually stopped going to the theatres, thanks to the spiralling prices of the tickets. Hence, the main audience for the film is the educated and the upwardly mobile urbanite. These people relate to Hinglish films better because this is exactly what they speak -- a bit of Hindi and a bit of English. Besides, they relate to the characters in Hinglish films strongly; they find the larger-than-life image of characters in the candy-floss and action films too unrealistic.”

The question is Are Hinglish films here to stay or is this just a passing phase? .... (more)

posted by eliza 7.1.03
. . .
monday, january 6

--What did the lonely banana say? - I'm a"kela".

--What did the green peas say? - Nothing. They just "mutter"ed.

--What did the potato say when it answered the phone ? - "Aaloo?"

--Where do cauliflowers hang out? - In the Gobi desert.

--What are call-boxes for ghosts called? - B(h)ooths

--What kind of sweaters do grapes wear? - Angoora

--What is a vegetables favourite love song? - Love me tinda.

--What did the flower say to its girl-friend? - Why do phools fall in love?

posted by eliza 6.1.03
. . .
sunday, january 5
Sex toys on review--From the Fukuoku 9000 to a Hello Kitty vibrator, gals test-drive the newest bedroom playthings and report the results.
Karen Croft,, January 2, 2003

| I've been a sex editor for two years and I've gone from not being able to say the word "sex" in public to casually chatting on the phone about plush-toy fetishes, fellatio and S/M. I thought I had finally become incapable of embarrassment over things sexual.

Then I encountered the vagina hand puppet and felt like a little girl again.

Until a few weeks ago I had never touched a sex toy. But I wanted to do a story on them, so I asked for help .... (more)

Weird and wonderful top web list
BBC news, January 4, 2003

A selection of the top 12 sites for 2002, chosen by search engine Yahoo reveals how diverse the web has become. The sites were selected by a panel of expert surfers at Yahoo UK and Ireland, who based their choice on how useful, cool and quirky they were. .... (more)

posted by eliza 5.1.03
. . .
Is virginity OK?
Cary Tennis,, January 2, 2002

Dear Cary,

I really admire your columns and feel terribly silly for having such a inconsequential problem. I am a 22-year-old Indian girl who, burdened by a conservative upbringing and the increasing "hipness" of losing one's virginity, is very confused about what to do about my virgin status.

I feel very asexual, but that may just be a fallout of never having had sex or even "experimented." What bothers me more is my fixation to look at virginity as a barrier that I must cross. Is it social conditioning, I am a mouse even by Indian standards -- ....

I know girls who have asked men out, and that is something I could never do. Again, I don't know if this is my upbringing or my subconscious desire to stay "virtuous" -- a completely Indian and outdated notion that I am not sure you would relate to. I am reasonably attractive and very intelligent (and not very modest about it!) but not terribly confident when it comes to men. I act either supercilious or evasive --.... (more)

What should I do? Carpe diem: Ask the next cute guy I see out? Or wait till I meet someone who I truly connect with emotionally and mentally as well?

Curiouser and Curiouser

posted by eliza 5.1.03
. . .
"Ever wanted to know who your friend's crushes are?"

Well, here's your chance! Crush007 helps you dig out the most well kept secrets of your friends with absolutely no sweat on your part.

This website has been developed just to help you find out who your friend's crushes are, and also not to mention, their biggest, most well kept secrets.

How do we do it? An email will be sent to your friends claiming the prediction of their future love and sex life, based on a set of questions. The email will encourage your friends to answer the questions seriously and honestly by falsely convincing them of the authenticity of the test. Questions range from 'Name of biggest crush?' to 'Ever had sex?'. Additionally, you get to ask a question of your choice. As soon as your friends fill in their private details, the information will be mailed to you!

Once complete, your friends will be greeted with the message "You have been fooled!"
... (more)

posted by eliza 5.1.03
. . .
US Forces Not Allowed To Enter Pakistan
Paknews, com, January 4, 2003

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Jan 04 (PNS) - Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat Friday denied claim of United States that it was allowed to enter Pakistan from Afghanistan in hot pursuit. ....(more)

posted by eliza 5.1.03
. . .
World's Second 'Cloned' Baby Is Born, UFO Cult Says
Eric Onstad,, January 4, 2003

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A UFO cult said on Saturday the world's second cloned baby had been born to a Dutch lesbian, but cloning experts swiftly dismissed the claim as a baseless stunt.

"A baby girl was born yesterday evening. The baby is healthy and the mother too," Bart Overvliet, head of the Raelian movement's Dutch branch, told Reuters by telephone.

Clonaid's claims have sparked widespread skepticism among mainstream scientific experts and the company has yet to provide DNA samples or other evidence to support its assertions. ...(more)

posted by eliza 5.1.03
. . .
The Human Face of Dolly: Aberration or Celebration
Linda S. Heard, Counterpunch, January 3, 2003

If the Raelians actually manage to clone adults, then all kinds of worrying scenarios appear. One person could have, say, 10 look-alikes or more, all with the exact features, irises and fingerprints. If one of the clones committed a crime how would the exemplar and the other clones prove their innocence? ...

The famous and the beautiful would be able to sell their DNA for the purposes of cloning on the Internet. If cloning had been available in the second half of the last century, we can only imagine how many copies of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe would be alive today

This could prove useful for leaders, for example, who could produce many clones to be used as decoys for would-be assassins. If we put this into an historical context, we might have been delighted if President John Kennedy had had a clone or two but what if there were tens or even hundreds of clones of Adolph Hitler in Europe bent on emulating their evil 'brother'? ... (more)

posted by eliza 5.1.03
. . .
India puts in place nuclear and missile command
PTI, January 4, 2003

India today put in place its first-ever nuclear and missile command with the Prime Minister heading the Political Council that would authorise the use of nuclear weapons only as a retaliatory measure and not as a first strike.

It also unveiled an eight-point nuclear doctrine under which a nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be "massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage". .... (more)

posted by eliza 5.1.03
. . .
Can the Kamasutra be patented?
Soumik Sen,, January 4, 2002

The question that arises is whether the text of Vatsyayana should be patented as some sort of an intellectual property. ..... Pramod Kapoor, publisher, Roli Books, who has four versions of the Kamasutra including Kamasutra Deluxe feels strongly in favour: "It is a master work of erotica, unparalleled anywhere in the world in style and content, and what is disturbing to see is that people are misusing the text, inserting nudes and destroying the essence of the philosophy. Few people realise that the text is mostly to do with the sociological situation in those days, rather than just being a text on love making. We should definitely protect our heritage from such blasphemy." .... (more)

Genre: Work Jokes

Two weeks ago was my 44th birthday and I wasn't feeling too hot that morning.

I went down to breakfast knowing my wife would be pleasant and say "Happy Birthday" and probably have a present for me. She didn't even say "Good Morning", let alone any "Happy Birthday." I thought, "Well, that's wives for you.
The children will remember. "The children came down to breakfast and didn't say a word.

When I started to the office I was feeling pretty low and despondent.

As I walked into my office, my secretary, Janet said, "Good Morning, Boss, Happy Birthday." I felt a little better. Someone had remembered. I worked until noon, then Janet knocked on my door and said, "You know it is such a beautiful day outside and it is your birthday, let's go to lunch, just you and me." I said, "By George, that's the greatest thing I've heard all day. Let's go.

We went to lunch. We didn't go where we normally go. We went out into the country to a little private place. We had two martinis and enjoyed lunch tremendously. On the way back to the office, she said, "You know, it is such a beautiful day, we don't need to go back to the office, do we?" I said, "No, I guess not." She said, "Let's go to my apartment."

After arriving at her apartment she said, "Boss, if you don't mind, I think I'll go into the bedroom and slip into something more comfortable. Sure," I excitedly replied.

She went into the bedroom and, in about six minutes she came out carrying a big birthday cake, followed by my wife, children and dozens of our friends. They were all singing Happy Birthday.......and there I sat on the couch.......naked.

posted by eliza 5.1.03
. . .
saturday, january 4
The 10 Worst Corporations of 2002
Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman,, January 3, 2003

While the Bush White House has now downgraded its "corporate responsibility portal" to a mere link to uninspiring content on the White House webpage, and although the prospect of war has largely bumped the issue off the front pages, the cascade of corporate financial and accounting scandals continues.

Multinational Monitor has named
Arthur Andersen,
British American Tobacco (BAT),
Procter & Gamble,
Schering Plough,
Shell and
as the 10 Worst Corporations of 2002. .... (more)

posted by eliza 4.1.03
. . .
Announcing the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2002
Norman Solomon, FAIR's Media Beat, January 3, 2002

Here are the eleventh annual P.U.-litzer Prizes, for the foulest media achievements of 2002:
"KICKING OUT HISTORY" AWARD -- Multiple winners

Dozens of esteemed journalists and major media outlets qualified for this prize by reporting that the Iraqi government had ejected U.N. weapons inspectors four years ago. Actually, the inspectors left Iraq in December 1998 under orders from UNSCOM head Richard Butler just before the blitz of U.S. bombing dubbed "Operation Desert Fox."

With notable disregard for historical facts, many reporters at leading news organizations flatly asserted that Saddam Hussein had "expelled" or "kicked out" the U.N. inspectors. Among the purveyors of that misinformation were Daniel Schorr of National Public Radio (Aug. 3), John Diamond of USA Today (Aug. 8), John McWethy of "ABC World News Tonight" (Aug. 12), John King of CNN (Aug. 18), John L. Lumpkin of the Associated Press (Sept. 7), Randall Pinkston of "CBS Evening News" (Nov. 9), Betsy Pisik of the Washington Times (Nov. 14) and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post (Nov. 17). ... (more)

posted by eliza 4.1.03
. . .
Call off the war
The Guardian, January 2, 2003

Perhaps, on the three international issues that are likely to dominate 2003, Mr Bush does not yet know his own mind. Asked by a reporter about an "inevitable" attack on Iraq, he snapped back: "I'm the person who gets to decide, and not you." That response suggested more than a degree of uncertainty and not a little inner tension. .... (more)

posted by eliza 4.1.03
. . .
Unhappily ever aftermath
Barry Crimmins,, January 4, 2003

2002: The Fairy Tale was authored by the Family Grim, a/k/a the Bushes. They got plenty of ghostwriting help from an assemblage of spooks, zealots, felons, merchants of death, environmental assassins, bigots, and ratro-retread right-wingers who rose from political caskets to reassert world views that were arcane back when Strom Thurmond was still fighting for the Confederate Army. .... (more)

posted by eliza 4.1.03
. . .
Price of the 'Liberal Media' Myth
Robert Parry, The Consortium, January 1, 2003

The notion of a “liberal” national news media is one of the most enduring and influential political myths of modern U.S. history. Shaping the behavior of both conservatives and liberals over the past quarter century, the myth could be said to have altered the course of American democracy .... (more)

posted by eliza 4.1.03
. . .
First Annual Koufax Awards names the best lefty blogs.
The 2002 Koufax Award Winners Are….

posted by eliza 4.1.03
. . .
Closing Pandora's box--N. Korea's Nuclear WeaponsIs America's insouciance just a front?
The Economist, January 2, 2002

CRISIS, what crisis? That, more or less, has been the carefully projected reaction of Colin Powell, America's secretary of state, to North Korea's decision to restart its nuclear power plant (for which, read bomb-factory) at Yongbyon, and throw out United Nations' inspectors.

America has a strong incentive to sound calm, since North Korea has in the past used self-generated crises as negotiating ploys to extort aid, food, fuel or diplomatic concessions, and may well be doing so again. Still, there is plenty to worry about. .... (more)

posted by eliza 4.1.03
. . .
A Buzzflash Reader's Commentary

" Here's a letter of appreciation I wrote to Paul Krugman for his NY Times
Column appearing on January 3, 2003:

Your column is one of the few lights in a very dark tunnel. I was aghast
when I heard Bush say, in a snippet on public radio, in an arrogant voice
to a timid reporter:

"You said we're headed to war in Iraq. I don't know why you say that. I'm
the person who gets to decide, not you."

I asked my husband, "Now how come we don't hear these quotes on

It seems that you are the only one who "reported" that quote
in a major media outlet and called it what it is:
L'état, c'est moi.
(Bet you didn't think you'd have to do heavy lifting as a reporter when you
took a job as a columnist, did you?)

Very few others, it seems, are willing to use these scary Bush sound bites.
I don't understand why.
Frankly, the one above seems more intriguing to me than "I did not have
sexual relations with that woman."
At any rate, it seems to more directly
affect my life and the lives of millions of others.

By the way, have you heard his latest quote, from yesterday's "Nature
The one where he was asked by a reporter "If we go to war...." and
he said "Which country?"
More breathtaking than the nature in Crawford, eh?

posted by eliza 4.1.03
. . .
wednesday, january 1
Genre: Police Jokes

A police officer attempts to stop a car for speeding and the guy gradually increases his speed until he's topping 100 mph. He eventually realizes he can't escape and finally pulls over.

The cop approaches the car and says, It's been a long day and my tour is almost over, so if you can give me a good excuse for your behavior, I'll let you go.

The guy thinks for a few seconds and then says, My wife ran away with a cop about a week ago. I thought you might be that officer trying to give her back!

Cool, clean water

This one is almost too easy.

Drinking five glasses of water a day can reduce your chances of getting a heart attack by 50%. Other fluids like juice, tea, or milk won't do it, your body needs water. Remember, water keeps your body hydrated, which allows your kidneys to function properly, your stomach to digest, it keeps your joints lubricated, your lungs breathing, your temperature warm, and your body to feel energized and alive.

If your feeling lethargic or have a headache, its a good possibility that you're just dehydrated. It's your body reminding you to go get a glass of water.


posted by eliza 1.1.03
. . .

saturday, december 28
The Super Rich Are Out of Sight
Michael Parenti,, December 27, 2002

The higher one goes up the income scale, the greater the rate of capital accumulation.

Economist Paul Krugman notes that not only have the top 20 percent grown more affluent compared with everyone below, the top 5 percent have grown richer compared with the next 15 percent. The top one percent have become richer compared with the next 4 percent. And the top 0.25 percent have grown richer than the next 0.75 percent. That top 0.25 owns more wealth than the other 99¾ percent combined.

It has been estimated that if children's play blocks represented $1000 each, over 98 percent of us would have incomes represented by piles of blocks that went not more than a few yards off the ground, while the top one percent would stack many times higher than the Eiffel Tower.

Marx's prediction about the growing gap between rich and poor still haunts the land-- ... (more)

posted by eliza 28.12.02
. . .
thursday, december 26
Partying is such sweet sorrow.
--Robert Byrne

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
--Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

It has always been the prerogative of children and half-wits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But the half-wit remains a half-wit, and the emperor remains an emperor.
--Neil Gaiman, Sandman

posted by eliza 26.12.02
. . .
Male menopause fears highlighted
BBC News, Health, December 26, 2002

Swedish researchers found that symptoms such as sweating and hot flushes were relatively common in men over the age of 55.

The scientists believe the same protein - called CGRP - could be responsible for symptoms in both men and women.

Not everybody is convinced there is such a thing as the male menopause. Addressing the British Psychological Society annual conference in 2002, psychologist Lorraine Boul, from Sheffield University, suggested that the male menopause may be all in the mind.

She said men could be as sexually active in their 60s as they were in their 20s ....(more)

posted by eliza 26.12.02
. . .
A year to forget
Katharine Mieszkowski, Farhad Manjoo and Andrew Leonard,, December 20, 2002

Enron, WorldCom, United; the war between Hollywood and Silicon Valley; a droopy stock market; and more, more, more spam. 2002 was not a whole lot of fun in the world of business and technology .... (more)

posted by eliza 26.12.02
. . .
Sensation: Black Holes Guilty of All Catastrophes on Earth
Aleksey Perfilyev, Pravda, December 10, 2002

Warning to military men: Do not down UFOs, your grand-grandchildren might be in them

Scientists often say that the things in the past discovered by science were just meager bits that interpreted the world in a wrong way. Those scientists who try to step aside from dogmas ask this humble question: “Maybe you are right, but is there any other explanation?”

When British scientists started their tests of creating black holes in their labs in January of 2001, no one was surprised. .... (more)

posted by eliza 26.12.02
. . .
Harry Potter sparks row in Russia
BBC Newsround, December 25, 2002

Legal authorities in Moscow have launched an inquiry after claims that the second boy wizard book "promotes witchcraft" and is bad for the image of Christianity.... (more)

posted by eliza 26.12.02
. . .
A White House Christmas
Matthew Engel, The Guardian, December 24, 2002

Now, you know me, I'm not one to swank, but I've had a Christmas card. Not just any Christmas card either, but one of those very fancy ones you would think no one could afford any more: with an inner lining of fake vellum. We will come to who sent it shortly, but actually that is the least remarkable thing about it.

First, there is the front cover. No robins, no smiling Santa, no baby Jesus and, emphatically, no dove of peace. Instead, there is a grand piano on a polished floor in a cold-looking room. It looks like a photograph, but turns out to be an oil painting, of a drearily representational kind: "1938 Steinway Piano in the Grand Foyer. The White House," the caption says. Frankly, it looks like a card from a couple that only speak to each other through their lawyer. ... (more)

posted by eliza 26.12.02
. . .
wednesday, december 25
Rare Justice
Ajai Sahni, South Asia intelligence Review, Dec 23, 2002

The death penalty, in Indian jurisprudence, is awarded only in cases that are deemed to be the 'rarest of the rare'.

On December 18, 2002, a special court at Delhi declared that three of the conspirators in the attack on India's Parliament on December 13, 2001, fell into this exclusive category, and sentenced Mohammad Afzal, Shaukat Hussain Guru and S.A.R. Geelani to pay the ultimate penalty for, among other charges, 'waging war against the state'. The fourth accused, Guru's wife, Afsan Guru, was sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment for concealment of 'prior knowledge' of the planned terrorist act. The conviction is seen as a major breakthrough and a test case on India's 'controversial' counter-terrorism legislation, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA).

The judgement itself falls into the category of the 'rarest of the rare' on another count: it is very seldom that India's sluggish justice system succeeds in bringing terrorists to book - and the conviction of the accused in the Parliament Attack case in just over a year after the event is extraordinary in a system in which criminal trials often drag on for decades at end.

It is useful, in this context, to take a quick look at the judicial record in Jammu & Kashmir: over 33,693 persons have been killed in the conflict in the State (since 1988 and till December 22, 2002); this includes 12,203 civilians and 4,575 security forces (SF) personnel.

For these and many thousands of other crimes, precisely 13 convictions have been secured over more than thirteen years of terrorism in the State - eight of them on relatively minor charges, such as illegal border crossing or illegal possession of arms and explosives, and only five, in a single case, involve an act of terrorism resulting in death. Not a single sentence of death has been awarded in any case of terrorist violence in Jammu & Kashmir since terrorism took root in the State in 1989.

These astonishing numbers alone cannot convey the enormity and the horror of the situation that prevails on the ground.

To say that 14 civilians were killed by terrorists in the last week, for instance, does not communicate - and indeed conceals - the fact that this number includes three young children who were murdered in cold blood in the presence of their father (who was also injured); that it also includes four unfortunate women who were dragged out of their homes and killed - two shot dead at point blank range, and the other two brutally beheaded by their fanatical tormentors, either to avenge their alleged connection with 'kafirs', or for their failure to wear the veil as decreed by the jehadis.

Harsh as it may sound, these victims of terror were, in some perverse sense, fortunate that death came swiftly. Others have not been that lucky. ..... Among details available with the Institute for Conflict Management, of over 667 atrocities committed by terrorists against women and children, are many utterly gruesome accounts of gang rapes, torture and mutilation over days at end, culminating in a death that would have come as a relief to the victims. The headline of a national daily spoke of the December 13 attack on Parliament having been 'avenged' by the conviction of the four accused. It is not clear whether any significant proportion of these thousands of other outrages will ever be similarly 'avenged' by the judicial process.

The decision in the Parliament attack case demonstrates that the Indian justice system can respond when it chooses to.

Earlier, in the case of the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, a conviction had been secured within fifteen months. The case of Rajiv Gandhi's assassination was more complicated, and judgement came after over five years in Court - but the process was more or less inexorable. There have been other cases - usually in areas not deeply afflicted by terrorism - where the investigative and judicial process has yielded just punishment against perpetrators of terrorist excesses.

By and large, however, what is witnessed has been described by K.P.S. Gill, who led the successful campaign against terrorism in the State of Punjab, as a "complete abdication, indeed collapse, of judicial accountability in situations of persistent mass violence and terrorism."

It is useful, in this context, to note that, even where prosecutions were launched against terrorists under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) - the much-maligned precursor of the present POTA, which was allowed to lapse in 1995 - the conviction rate was under two percent. By contrast, the conviction rate under a legislation with comparable provisions, though it is primarily directed against organised crime and not terrorism, - the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) - has been as high as 78 per cent.

The 'deterrent' impact of counter-terrorism legislation cannot be secured by judgements in an occasional high profile case, where thousands of daily excesses and brutalities go entirely unpunished. Unfortunately, as Gill notes again, "The present judicial system is simply incapable of securing the levels of efficiency and delivering the quality of justice that are required to counter and contain the enormous threats that currently exist to national security…"

Nor, indeed, has the attack on Parliament been quite 'avenged' by the present judgement. The five primary perpetrators of the attack had been killed during the operation itself.

The four convicted in the case were arraigned for their role in facilitating the strike and providing a safe haven to the fidayeen (suicide) squad.

The primary conspirators, however, remain entirely outside the pale of law. The chargesheet mentions Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) as the chief instigator of the plot, which was executed by cadres of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). The chargesheet indicts JeM chief, Mohammad Masood Azhar as the 'mastermind' behind the plot, and two other JeM 'commanders', Ghazi Baba and Tariq Ahmad are said to have been responsible for its execution.

Ghazi Baba and Tariq Ahmad have been declared proclaimed offenders. Masood Azhar is on India's list of 'twenty most wanted' that had been handed over to Pakistan in the wake of the attack on Parliament. Azhar was recently released from 'house arrest' by a Pakistani court. There is little prospect of any of the three being brought to justice in the foreseeable future.

The special court's judgement is, moreover, not the end of the story even as far as the four convicted are concerned. There is certain to be an appeal in which a wide range of procedural and evidentiary issues will be raised, and the outcome is entirely unpredictable.

It is useful to note that, in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, 26 persons had been sentenced to death by the trial Court. Eventually, however, 19 of these were acquitted by the Supreme Court, and another three had their sentences commuted to imprisonment for life.

"If judicial action is to have any credibility among the people, and any deterrent impact," Gill notes, "especially on the hardened cadres of terrorist and organised crime groupings, the link between crime and punishment must be swift and inexorable." It is clear that this is far from the case in the Indian situation, and immensely more so in areas seriously afflicted by the scourge of terrorism.

Genre: Religious Jokes

A little girl was reading a book with her grandfather, and every once in while she would touch her grandfather's wrinkly face and then touch her own.

One time she ask him,” Grandpa, did God make you?" The old man replied,” Yes, he made me a long time ago.” The little girl questioned him again,” Grandpa, did God make me?" The old man again replied,” Yes, he did, not too long ago."

The little girl then said,” God’s getting better at it isn't he?"

posted by eliza 25.12.02
. . .
tuesday, december 24
America tore out 8000 pages of Iraq dossier
James Cusick and Felicity Arbuthnot, Sunday Herald, December 22, 2002

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.

Last week, Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan accepted that it was 'unfortunate' that his organisation had allowed the US to take the only complete dossier and edit it. ... (more)

posted by eliza 24.12.02
. . .
The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.
--Umberto Eco (1932 - ), Travels in Hyperreality

Militants set shopkeeper on fire in J&K for selling cigarettes
PTI, December 23, 2002

In a barbaric act, four persons set ablaze a shopkeeper selling cigarettes by sprinkling petrol on him in Srinagar on Monday.

The shopkeeper Mohammad Shafi Teli suffered serious burn injuries ...The shopkeeper, they alleged, was selling cigarettes laced with narcotics and that the primary aim of the outfit was to 'cleanse' the society of such 'evils'.

posted by eliza 24.12.02
. . .
Marilyn Berlin Snell, Sierra Magazine

What happens when energy executives sit down with environmentalists? They come up with a plan for the future that leaves fossil fuels to the dinosaurs. ... Asked why the vice president would turn exclusively to people like then–Enron CEO Kenneth Lay for energy advice, Robert Bennett, Enron’s attorney, responded: "Where are Mr. Cheney and others supposed to get their information from? The yellow pages?"

posted by eliza 24.12.02
. . .
British journalists criticize U.S. media over Iraq coverage. Plus: The blurbs of war.

posted by eliza 24.12.02
. . .
The Guardian [Dec 21] reports that VP Dick Cheney interceded on behalf of U.S. pharmaceutical firms to block an international agreement that would have allowed poor countries to buy cheap drugs.
Said one source: "The joke in Geneva this morning is that they couldn't make a decision because the CEOs of Merck and Pfizer were still in bed."

posted by eliza 24.12.02
. . .
International press review
Guardian Unlimited, December 20, 2002

What the western press are saying about Iraq, UN weapons inspections and the threat of war ... (New York Times, Washington Post, The Sun, The Mirror, The Independent, The Guardian, and more ...)

posted by eliza 24.12.02
. . .
Rumsfeld Says U.S. Capable of Fighting Two-Front War (Update1)
Todd Zeranski,, December 23, 2002

Washington -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said there is ``no doubt'' the U.S. is able to fight two wars at a time, delivering that warning as Iraq shot down an unmanned spy plane and North Korea moved closer to resuming its nuclear weapons program. ... (more)

posted by eliza 24.12.02
. . .
sunday, december 22
Genre: Male Jokes

A rich millionaire throws a massive party for his 50th birthday. During this party, he grabs the microphone and announces to his guests that down in the garden of his mansion he has a swimming pool with two great white sharks in it.
"I will give anything of mine to the man who swims across that pool."

So the party continues with no events in the pool until SUDDENLY, there is a great splash and all the guests of the party run to the pool to see what has happened.

In the pool a man is swimming as hard as he can and fins come out of the water and jaws are snapping and this guy just keeps on going. The sharks are gaining on him and this guy reaches the end and gets out of the pool, tired and soaked.

The millionaire grabs the microphone and says, "I am a man of my word. Anything of mine I will give: my Ferraris, my house, absolutely anything, for you are the bravest man I have ever seen. So sir what will it be?"

The guy grabs the microphone and says, "Why don't we start with the name of the jerk who pushed me in!"

posted by eliza 22.12.02
. . .
saturday, december 21
Of course the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you - if you don't play, you can't win.
--Robert Heinlein (1907 - 1988)

posted by eliza 21.12.02
. . .
LIKE THAT ONLY: Piology lesson
Jug Suraiya,, December 20, 2002

EVERY now and then when I suffer an identity crisis - a congenital occupational hazard for all midnight's children - I consult the cards to see what the past has in store for me. The vexatious question is not the tautological Who am I? but simply Am I? And the cards I consult aren't tarot cards but more ontological proofs of existence, or its opposite. The problem is that my pack of cards is far from complete. And with time, this incompleteness is growing, like the hole in the ozone layer.

To begin with, I don't have - and have never had - a ration card. A singular omission of existence. Like not having fingerprints, or DNA molecules, or a shadow. ... (more)

Israeli censors ban film about battle of Jenin
Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, December 12, 2002

Israel's film ratings board said the documentary "distorted presentation of events in the guise of democratic truth which could mislead the public". It said the public could be misled into thinking that Israeli soldiers had committed war crimes. ...(more)

posted by eliza 21.12.02
. . .
The Metropolish
Sheela Reddy, Davinder Kumar,, Dec 23, 2002 issue

This Christmas eve, Santa brings a metro rail more advanced than Tokyo's or New York's ... (more)

posted by eliza 21.12.02
. . .
Failing to understand Gujarat
Amberish K Diwanji,, Dec 20, 2002

It was a chance remark made by a Gujarati Hindu colleague to his Muslim colleague. “Thank God Modi won otherwise I don’t know what would have happened to the Hindus.” ... (more)

Supreme Court quashes govt order on pump allotments
Rakesh Bhatnagar, Times News Network, December 20, 2002

NEW DELHI: In the severest ever judicial indictment of the ruling NDA government at the Centre, the Supreme Court on Friday struck down the cancellation of 3760 petrol pump dealerships by Prime Minister Vajpayee.

Holding that the cancellation order had been aimed at "scuttling the probe" into irregular allotments, the court set up a two-judge panel to probe the 413 allotments allegedly made on political or other considerations. ... (more)

Three girls killed in J&K for not wearing burqa
PTI, December 20, 2002

Jammu: Unidentified militants killed three young girls in Thanamandi area of Rajouri district in Jammu division, official sources said today.A group of unknown militants attacked Mohd Sadiq's house in Hast village late last night and killed his 20-year-old daughter Nosen Kousar.Then the ultras went to the house of Khalid Ahmed in the same village and took away his 22-year-old daughter Tahira Parveen and later beheaded her, the sources said.Later, the militants entered the house of Mohd Rafiq and killed his daughter Shehnaaz Akhtar, they added. ... (more)

posted by eliza 21.12.02
. . .
thursday, december 19
The Washington Post publishes a yearly contest in which readers are asked to invent alternate meaningsfor various words. The following were some of this year's winning entries:

1. Coffee (n.), a person who is coughed upon.

2. Flabbergasted (adj.) appalled over how much weight you
have gained.

3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a
flat stomach.

4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent

6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you
absentmindedly answer the door in your nightie.

7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle (n.), an olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence (n.) the emergency vehicle that picks you
up after you are run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified demeanour assumed
by a proctologist immediately before he examines you.

13. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation
with Yiddish expressions.

14. Circumvent (n.), the opening in the front of boxer shorts.

15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die,
your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Pokemon (n), A Jamaican proctologist.

posted by eliza 19.12.02
. . .
wednesday, december 18
Table of Contents for Iraq's Weapons Declaration

On 7 December 2002, Iraq released a 12,000-page, multi-CD-ROM report on its chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs. Naturally, we mere mortals aren't allowed to see such an important document.

In fact, almost no one is. The US spirited away the UN's copy, taking it to Washington, where it will make copies for the other Security Council members. The five permanent members of the Council (US, UK, China, France, and the Russian Federation) will get full copies of the report, while the other ten members (which rotate every two years) will get censored versions. [Link to BBC story]

The official line is that the permanent Security Council members don't want any "rogue nations" seeing detailed information about developing weapons of mass destruction, especially nukes. While that is probably true, anonymous sources have confirmed speculation that the dossier names those parties who supplied Iraq with the materials it needed, and those suppliers include companies in and the governments of at least some of the permanent Security Council members.

As soon as the massive report was released, copies of the table of contents made their way to the media, even before the UN officially released the table on 10 December. Images of those pages quickly showed up on the Net. The Memory Hole has transcribed the table of contents and posted it. ... (more)

posted by eliza 18.12.02
. . .
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
--Abraham Maslow

posted by eliza 18.12.02
. . .
What's The ANSIR?
FBI Warns Corporate Leaders Of Possible Attacks By Antiwar Activists
Bill Berkowitz,, December16, 2002

At a time when the peace movement appears to be gaining traction, it is troubling to read the latest e-mail advisory from the FBI's Awareness of National Security Issues and Response (ANSIR) program. A December 4 communication, sent to thousands of "corporate security professionals," warns that "a loose network of antiwar groups" opposed "to possible U.S. military action against Iraq, are advocating 'explicit and direct attack upon the war machine.'" ....

.... The next large United For Peace mobilization is set for January 18-20, when actions are planned to coincide with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial weekend.

Meanwhile, the events scheduled by United For Peace for the week of December 15 are all relatively low key. They include an interfaith-organized vigil and candle light procession in Chicago; a forum on "The Role of the UN in Build-up to War" In San Francisco; a "Five Day Fast to Let Iraq Live" in San Jose, California; a peace fair including workshops, panels and exhibits in Los Angeles and many more locally staged activities.

Do any of these events qualify for a special ANSIR advisory? And if so, why?

posted by eliza 18.12.02
. . .
Lou Dobbs & Henry K., True Love at Last
Michael Leon, Counterpunch, December 17, 2002

Kissinger "I hope that everybody has his partisanship out of his system now. And that people remember that this was an event that was totally unexpected to the American public; that it came from a direction that nobody had ever thought of. And that it was the first attack on the continental United States..." (Dobbs quickly interrupts)

"What is the first question--were you still chairing the commission--that you would have thought to ask and to answer?" asked Dobbs.

From a direction that nobody had ever thought of? There is a mountain of evidence that flying jets into buildings was thought of, presented to Bush before 9/11, and not acted upon; as well as the Clinton administration handing over other strategic plans to fight Al-Qaida, similarly not acted upon. These are among the questions that Kissinger and the commission were supposed to investigate and answer objectively and thoroughly wherever the truth would lead them, with no biases.

Dobbs on-air rescue attempt to prevent Kissinger from giving away his obvious bias in favor of the Bush administration was a sight to see. .... (more)

posted by eliza 18.12.02
. . .
Here's something to amuse you: click here
... it's from they call it 'Technical Difficulties'

posted by eliza 18.12.02
. . .
Feds Want To See Enron Videotape
President Bush Also Takes Part In Skit
Click2Houston, Dec 16, 2002

Skits and jokes by a few former Enron Corp. executives at a party six years ago were funny then, but now border on bad taste in light of the events of the past year.

posted by eliza 18.12.02
. . .
tuesday, december 17

posted by eliza 17.12.02
. . .

Powered by Blogger

Anti-War Web Ring
[<<<] [ list ] [???] [ join ] [>>>]