Wednesday, February 26
Savarkar portrait unveiled
The Hindu, February 27, 2003.
Amid a raging controversy, the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, unveiled a portrait of the Sangh ideologue, V. D. Savarkar, in the Central Hall of Parliament today, ignoring the Opposition's plea to stay away from the function.
The Opposition — with the exception of the former Prime Minister, Chandra Shekhar, and a Janata Dal (S) member — boycotted the function.
A notable absentee was the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, P. M. Sayeed, who responded to the Congress' call for boycott while the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson, Najma Heptulla, attended the function.
Dr. Kalam — who had been requested by the Opposition to reconsider his decision to attend the function given Savarkar's "dubious role in Indian history" — was ushered into the Central Hall to a song penned by Savarkar.
The National Anthem was not played. Lok Sabha officials explained that it was mandatory only when the President arrived in a ceremonial procession.
As the President unveiled the portrait, BJP and Shiv Sena MPs and their supporters shouted "Swatantryaveer Savarkar Amar Rahe" and kept up the sloganeering right through the brief function. The artist, Chandrakala Kumar Kadam, was introduced to Dr. Kalam, who was then shown the place earmarked for the portrait: right across the alcove which bears the picture of Mahatma Gandhi. The President also released a booklet, `Swatantryaveer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar'.
Though the Opposition did not disrupt the function or stage a protest in front of the Gandhi statue in the precincts of Parliament, as was being suggested by some, an echo of the controversy over the unveiling of the portrait was heard in the Lok Sabha soon after with the BJP member, Yogi Adityanath, accusing the Opposition of insulting the memory of a freedom-fighter. [...]
Genre: Police Jokes: Quick Wit:
A police officer in a small town stopped a motorist who was speeding down Main Street.
"But officer." the man began, "I can explain,".
"Just be quiet," snapped the officer. "I'm going to let you cool your heels in jail until the chief gets back..."
"But officer, I just wanted to say...."
"And I said to keep quiet! You're going to jail!"
A few hours later the officer looked in on his prisoner and said, "Lucky for you that the chief is at his daughter's wedding. He'll be in a good mood when he gets back."
"Don't count on it," answered the fellow in the cell. "I'm the groom."
Norman Mailer: Gaining an empire, losing democracy?
Iraq is an excuse
Norman Mailer, Tribune Media Services, February 25, 2003
LOS ANGELES: There is a subtext to what the Bushites are doing as they prepare for war in Iraq. My hypothesis is that President George W. Bush and many conservatives have come to the conclusion that the only way they can save America and get if off its present downslope is to become a regime with a greater military presence and drive toward empire. My fear is that Americans might lose their democracy in the process.
By downslope I'm referring not only to the corporate scandals, the church scandals and the FBI scandals. The country has gone kind of crazy in the eyes of conservatives. Also, kids can't read anymore. Especially for conservatives, the culture has become too sexual.
Iraq is the excuse for moving in an imperial direction. War with Iraq, as they originally conceived it, would be a quick, dramatic step that would enable them to control the Near East as a powerful base - not least because of the oil there, as well as the water supplies from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers - to build a world empire. [...]
Indeed, democracy is the special condition - a condition we will be called upon to defend in the coming years. That will be enormously difficult because the combination of the corporation, the military and the complete investiture of the flag with mass spectator sports has set up a pre-fascistic atmosphere in America already.
Norman Mailer's latest book is "The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing." This comment was adapted from remarks Feb. 22 to the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities and distributed by Global Viewpoint/Tribune Media Services International.
The Madness of Empire: The War Party’s militarized strategy will unite the world against us.
Scott McConnell, The American Conservative, February 24, 2003
Recently the novelist John le Carré wrote in the Times of London that the United States has entered a “period of madness” that dwarfs McCarthyism or the Vietnam intervention in intensity.
One generally would not pay much attention to the cynical British spy-tale weaver, never especially friendly to America. But concern about America’s mental health is more broadly in the air, spreading well beyond the usual professional anti-Americans. It is now pervasive in Europe, and growing in Asia, and when Matt Drudge posted le Carré’s piece prominently on his website, it got passed around and talked about here in ways it never would have five years ago. [...]
On the warpath
Blogs are now so powerful that the media are playing catch up, says Glenn Reynolds, a rightwing commentator and pioneer of the medium
Glenn Reynolds, The Guardian, February 20, 2003
I didn't expect this. When I started my weblog InstaPundit.Com in August 2001, the world was a very different place, and InstaPundit was a very different kind of weblog. I wrote about the greed of the music industry, the importance of allowing stem-cell research, and the ineptitude of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (OK, not everything has changed.) [...]
Phrases coined in the "blogosphere" - as it is called these days - now percolate out into the real world with amazing rapidity. Scott Ott, who runs a humour weblog called ScrappleFace.com, coined the term "Axis of Weasels" in reference to the Chirac/Schröder alliance. Within a day it was the headline for the New York Post, and it was repeated on CNN, Fox, and, most gratifyingly, in French and German media.
And, as the Daily Telegraph reported, officials at the state department and the White House were chortling over a Chirac caption contest that appeared on another weblog. [...]Traditional media generally aren't fast enough to match this. To use a military term, weblogs are "inside the decision curve" of Big Media. Traditional media are trying to meet this challenge by creating weblogs of their own (the Guardian pioneered this) but for it to really work, someone has to read a lot of email and other weblogs.
James Lileks said it best: "A column is a lecture. A weblog is a conversation." The weblog world is a remarkably open and interesting one - pseudonymous Iraqi blogger "Salam Pax" has met a warm reception from the warbloggers,
--and he's getting his information on how to prepare for war from Israeli weblogs! [...]
Eat a third and drink a third and leave the remaining third of your stomach empty. Then, when you get angry, there will be sufficient room for your rage.
--Babylonian Talmud, tractate Gittin
Saddam Hussein, Reporter: After Exclusive CBS Interview, Iraqi Leader Quizzed Dan Rather
Howard Kurtz, Washington Post, February 26, 2003When the cameras were turned off after more than an hour and a half, it was Saddam Hussein's turn to interview Dan Rather.
The Iraqi leader led the CBS anchor to the overstuffed leather chairs in his high-ceilinged Baghdad office and "had questions about American public opinion and President Bush," Rather recalled yesterday from the Jordanian desert. "I said, 'Mr. President, you asked me and I will try to answer you. A lot of these answers I don't think you're going to like.' [...]
Rather was surprised when Hussein challenged Bush to a debate, a gambit that was quickly dismissed by the White House. "I wasn't sure he was serious," the anchor explained. "I said to him, 'Mr. President, are you joking about this?' He said no, war is too serious to joke about."
Pressed further, Hussein dismissed the United Nations as a forum for the debate he wants. He said he would be in Baghdad and Bush in Washington, and suggested that Rather could moderate the televised face-off.
"I paused and said -- I'm not proud of this -- 'Mr. President, I have enough troubles already.' He chuckled at that."
The session was scheduled to last 35 to 40 minutes, but Hussein went on nearly three times as long. In one exchange at the round white table with microphones mounted in front of an Iraqi flag, Rather asked: "So you do not intend to destroy these missiles?"
"Which missiles? What do you mean?" said Hussein, who appeared animated and composed. "We have no missiles outside the specifications of the United Nations." He also said he is "ready to dialogue" with Bush out of "my respect for the American public opinion." [...]
Phil Donahue strikes back at MSNBCDavid Bauder, Associated Press, February 26, 2003
NEW YORK - Phil Donahue struck back at MSNBC on Wednesday for his firing, suggesting the network was too quick to pull the trigger and that it might be trying to "out-fox Fox" with conservative voices.
Donahue's political talk show, a distant third in the cable news ratings in his time slot, was abruptly pulled from the air after Monday's show. The show premiered last July 15.
The legendary talk show host noted that "Donahue's" ratings were better than anything else in struggling MSNBC's prime-time lineup. [...]
Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman, CommonDreams.org, February 26, 2003
For almost two years now, we have covered the Bush White House with astonishment.
We are astonished by the simple fact that this President, with such strong ties to the corporate establishment, has for two years sailed smoothly through our democratic waters, at a time of rising popular discontent, unemployment, corporate scandals, national security disasters, and most recently, gasoline above $2 a gallon.
How does he do it?
First and foremost is the failure of the political opposition.
The Republicans are bought and paid for.
The leadership of the Democratic Party is timid, bought and paid for.
So, with no effective opposition in Washington, the President gets a free ride.
Unless the press puts his feet to the fire. [...]
So, we call ahead every day, and we get cleared in.
Unless the day is like yesterday, when we e-mailed our handler at the White House to get cleared in, are e-mailed back telling us that we were cleared in, but then when we get to the White House, we are told we are not cleared in. Sorry. You'll have to wait until you are cleared in.
Yesterday, Ari Fleischer's press briefing was scheduled at 12:15. Ari starts his press briefing then. We are left waiting at the White House gate until 12:40. We get in. Take a seat, and Ari gets to us, and skips over us.
So, first they ban you.
Then they leave you stewing at the gate.
Then they skip over you. [...]
Unlikely Activist Takes His Place as Human Shield
At 68, Godfrey Meynell left the comforts of Britain for a cot in a Baghdad power plant to try to avert an attack by his country and the U.S.
by John Daniszewski, Los Angeles Times, February 25, 2003
BAGHDAD -- He is white-haired and slightly bowlegged, but with crystalline blue eyes and a ruddy face that bears the glowing look of a man who feels that -- in the autumn of his life -- he is exactly where he ought to be.
Godfrey Meynell, M.B.E., former British colonial officer in Aden, former high sheriff of Derby, former Home Office civil servant, former independent Green candidate for parliament, a self-described loyalist to church and queen, is spending his days and nights on a cot at the previously bombed South Baghdad Power Plant.
He is a part of the burgeoning movement of "human shields," people who hope their presence will help prevent what they see as an unjust and unnecessary war against Iraq. [...]
Genre: Business Jokes
Before going to Europe on business, a man drives his Rolls-Royce to a downtown New York City bank and asks for an immediate loan of $5,000. The loan officer, taken aback, requests collateral. "Well then, here are the keys to my Rolls-Royce," the man says.
The loan officer promptly has the car driven into the bank's underground parking for safe keeping and gives the man the $5,000. Two weeks later, the man walks through the bank's doors and asks to settle up his loan and get his car back. "That will be $5,000 in principal, and $15.40 in interest," the loan officer says. The man writes out a check and starts to walk away. "Wait, sir," the loan officer says.
"You are a millionaire. Why in the world would you need to borrow $5,000?" The man smiles, "Where else could I find a safer place to park my Rolls-Royce in Manhattan for two weeks and pay only $15.40?" [...]
Out of the Wreckage:
By Tearing Up the Global Rulebook, the US is in Fact Undermining Its Own Imperial Rule
George Monbiot, The Guardian, February 25, 2003
The men who run the world are democrats at home and dictators abroad. They came to power by means of national elections which possess, at least, the potential to represent the will of their people. Their citizens can dismiss them without bloodshed, and challenge their policies in the expectation that, if enough people join in, they will be obliged to listen.
Internationally, they rule by brute force. They and the global institutions they run exercise greater economic and political control [...]
... The end of multilateralism would force the US, as it is already beginning to do, to drop this pretence and frankly admit to its imperial designs on the rest of the world. This admission, in turn, forces other nations to seek to resist it. Effective resistance would create the political space in which their citizens could begin to press for a new, more equitable multilateralism.
There are several means of contesting the unilateral power of the US, but perhaps the most immediate and effective one is to accelerate its economic crisis.
Already, strategists in China are suggesting that the yuan should replace the dollar as east Asia's reserve currency. Over the past year, as the Observer revealed on Sunday, the euro has started to challenge the dollar's position as the international means of payment for oil. The dollar's dominance of world trade, particularly the oil market, is all that permits the US Treasury to sustain the nation's massive deficit, as it can print inflation-free money for global circulation. If the global demand for dollars falls, the value of the currency will fall with it, and speculators will shift their assets into euros or yen or even yuan, with the result that the US economy will begin to totter. [...]
Threats, Promises and Lies
Paul Krugman, New York Times, February 25, 2003
So it seems that Turkey wasn't really haggling about the price, it just wouldn't accept payment by check or credit card. In return for support of an Iraq invasion, Turkey wanted — and got — immediate aid, cash on the barrelhead, rather than mere assurances about future help. You'd almost think President Bush had a credibility problem.
And he does.
The funny thing is that this administration sets great store by credibility. [...]
... In fact, I can't think of anyone other than the hard right and corporate lobbyists who has done a deal with Mr. Bush and not come away feeling betrayed. New York's elected representatives stood side by side with him a few days after Sept. 11 in return for a promise of generous aid. A few months later, as they started to question the administration's commitment, the budget director, Mitch Daniels, accused them of "money-grubbing games." Firefighters and policemen applauded Mr. Bush's promise, more than a year ago, of $3.5 billion for "first responders"; so far, not a penny has been delivered. [...]
Then there's the honesty thing.
Mr. Bush's mendacity on economic matters was obvious even during the 2000 election. But lately it has reached almost pathological levels. Last week Mr. Bush — who has been having a hard time getting reputable economists to endorse his economic plan — claimed an endorsement from the latest Blue Chip survey of business economists. "I don't know what he was citing," declared the puzzled author of that report, which said no such thing. [...]
Victory Without a War by Robert Kuttner , Boston Globe, February 26, 2003
...Anything other than an easy, costless victory and a clean aftermath will be a political nightmare. As reports from Korea make clear, the Iraq war has not even commenced and the ancillary damage is mounting. While the administration keeps obsessively focused on Iraq and alienating key allies, more serious dangers loom.
If Iraq were not dominating the news, the incipient debacle in Korea would be on the front pages. In case you missed it, Colin Powell was rebuffed on Monday in Seoul, when the Chinese, Australians, and South Koreans flatly rejected administration entreaties to bring multilateral pressure on North Korea to disarm.
Multilaterialism is a two-way street. Bush should appreciate that he can't blow off the Chinese in the UN and then expect them to do his bidding when the United States finds a multilateral cloak convenient.
Instead, Powell was urged to reverse US policy and begin direct talks with the North Koreans. In the meantime, the South Koreans, longtime US allies, are so disgusted with US policy that they are proceeding, over Bush's objections, with their own bilateral entente with the North, weapons of mass destruction of no. [...]
A Tip on Iraq From Those Who Walked That Road
The French paid dearly for imperial and military hubris. Listen up, U.S.
Robert Scheer, Los Angeles Times, February 25, 2003
Despite this confusing picture then and now, thanks to our enlightened talk-show hosts we all know that there is one nation of pure evil, one nasty country threatening to undermine the world's security with its lies, double-dealing and stubborn defiance, one state that Earth would simply be better off without.
We're talking, of course, about France. Brie eaters. Surly waiters. WWII collaborators. And now, cowardly traitors in the crusade against the New Hitler.
This idiocy is based on a highly selective historical memory, including the fact that the U.S. refused to enter the war against Hitler until after France fell. It also keeps us from being able to listen to a nation that has already been down the road we are traveling.
Imperialism has always been pitched at home as a win-win way to help the world's stricken peoples while helping oneself, and in Paris it was no different. France's colonial wars were waged under the rival banners of Catholicism and the French Revolution; the goal was to civilize the natives. A million Frenchmen gave up the joys of life at the center of Europe to colonize Algeria alone, building schools, churches, hospitals and civic bureaucracies.
Ultimately, however, the price of France's hubris was writ large in the blood of its sons and daughters over painful decades, [...]
Monday, February 24
An American is a man with two arms and four wheels.
--A Chinese child
Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves.
--Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.
--Gore Vidal (1925 - )
Norah's night at the Grammys
Bijoy Venugopal, rediff.com, February 24, 2003
"In a time when this world is really weird, I feel really lucky and blessed," Norah Jones gushed breathlessly after sweeping eight awards at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Inc on February 23, 2003, at the Madison Square Gardens, New York.
Jones, 24, won in all her nominated categories. Her debut album Come Away With Me (Blue Note Records) won Album Of The Year as well as two technical awards for its producer and sound engineers.
"She's not good, she's phenomenal," said singer Tony Bennett of Norah Jones before she arrived onstage to perform Don't Know Why. Jones, daughter of sitar maestro Ravi Shankar from a nine-year relationship with American producer-dancer Sue Jones, first met her father when she was eight. [...]
VHP activists, sadhus march to Parliament
NDTV.com, February 24, 2003
Thousands of Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists and sadhus on Monday marched to Parliament in New Delhi to press for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Addressing the agitators on the Parliament Street, Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas chief Ramchandra Das Paramhans said, "We will wait till the court gives its verdict on Ayodhya. But one thing is certain, we will not allow reconstruction of the Babri Masjid dhancha [structure]."
Paramhans said he had hoped that the 'problems of Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura would be solved' after Atal Bihari Vajpayee became prime minister.
"The temple will be constructed within one-and-a-half years," he said adding that the VHP would conduct a campaign from March 5-25 in Ayodhya and other parts of the country.
Paramhans said Muslim invaders had destroyed 30,000 temples in the country.
He also said that the prime minister was pandering to the 'whims of the minorities in order to cling on to power'.
The VHP was not demanding anybody's land but the birthplace of Lord Ram, he added.
VHP chief Ashok Singhal alleged that the Vajpayee government was godless and called for rooting out secularism from the country. [...]
Rough-Riding Cowboys in the Holy Ghost Corral
Terence Blacker, Independent.co.uk, February 24, 2003
For someone who did not exactly treat his body like a temple and who spent quite a lot of his adult life behind bars, the country singer Johnny Paycheck had a fine sense of timing. Just as his version of David Allan Coe's great blue-collar anthem "Take This Job and Shove It" caught the mood of industrial rebellion in the mid-1970s, so his death last week provided a tiny, distant echo to the great moral debate thundering across the world from Washington to Rome and London --concerning whether God and moral virtue are on the side of the hawks or the peaceniks. [...]
Right now, it is particularly relevant to bear in mind that not only are we and the Americans divided by a common language but also by a common religion.
Whereas our version of Christianity is cerebral and anxious, the sort of gently anguished world-view that might be articulated by the Archbishop of Canterbury or Prince Charles,
--theirs is full of action and aggression.
It's a tale of the frontier in which Jesus is a Clint Eastwood character – a good guy but one who knows that sometimes you have to kick some serious ass along the path of righteousness.
In America, as a recent polls confirmed, the Son of God is not only among the top 10 personal heroes, but he is only a few places above John Wayne and Michael Jordan.
It should be no surprise that, when President Bush was asked his favorite philosopher, his unhesitating reply was "Jesus Christ".
After all, his biography comes straight out of the country singer's lifestyle manual, from the problems with alcohol, the confusion of his youth, to the fervent, aggressive born-again religious belief cut with an affection for hard-line politics and capital punishment – indeed, Paycheck's song "Pardon Me, I've Got Someone To Kill" could have been the theme tune to Bush's tenure as governor of Texas.
So, as the Pope, the archbishops, the Prime Minister and the President jostle their way to the high moral ground over the coming weeks, the ghostly voice of Johnny Paycheck, singing about nobody wanting to play rhythm guitar behind Jesus, provides the perfect soundtrack:
"It's hard to get a beat on what's divine/ When everybody's pushing to the head of the line/ I don't think it's working out at all the way He planned."
Actor George Clooney Frustrated by U.S. War Drive
Reuters, February 23, 2003
BERLIN (Reuters) - American actor George Clooney (news) stepped up his criticism of George W. Bush's administration on Sunday, saying he feared a war against Iraq was inevitable but would ultimately only lead to more violence. ...
Clooney, who in interviews with European newspapers has accused Bush of war-mongering over Iraq, is on a growing list of Hollywood celebrities to speak out against war. Others include Sean Penn, Ed Harris, Dustin Hoffman, Madonna and director Spike Lee .
"You can't beat your enemy anymore through wars; instead you create an entire generation of people revenge-seeking," Clooney said in the ARD television program "Beckmann."
"These days it only matters who's in charge," Clooney said. "Right now that's us -- for a while at least. Our opponents are going to resort to car bombs and suicide attacks because they have no other way to win."
Clooney, 41, said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was making a mistake to think a war against Iraq would be an easy win for the United States.
"I believe he thinks this is a war that can be won, but there is no such thing anymore," said Clooney, who starred in a film about the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites) "Three Kings" that took a dark look at the war to drive Iraq out of Kuwait. [...]
Don't mention the U-word
Brendan O'Neill, Spiked-Politics, February 23, 2003
As the transatlantic spat over Iraq continues, one thing has become clear: unilateralism is out.
None of the major powers wants to be seen to be 'going it alone' over the Iraqi crisis. America and Britain are sticking together on the pro-invasion front, and have won the support of Eastern European states in what some are calling 'the new NATO'.
The French/German/Belgian axis is demanding further weapons inspections, claiming to be upholding the principles of the United Nations in its stand against America's rush to militarism. [...]
Even Richard Perle, a leading Pentagon hawk on all matters military, utters the word unilateralism as a poisonous slur these days. At the end of last year, Perle was asked about German politicians' accusations that America is seeking to act unilaterally over Iraq - and far from defending America going it alone, Perle accused Germany of trying selfishly to do its own thing. 'For the German chancellor to say he will have nothing to do with action against Saddam Hussein, even if approved by the United Nations, is unilateralism', said Perle (7).
As for those 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys' (as one US commentator describes the French) - apparently their moral cowardice is only outflanked by their nasty unilateralist tendencies. In response to French claims that America is acting unilaterally over Iraq, US commentators have pointed to the Ivory Coast as an example of 'France's own unilateral action'. According to the Washington Post, 'France's solitary stance in the Ivory Coast jars with its opposition to any unilateral US move on Iraq' (8).
Behind the Bushies' bellicose rhetoric about Iraq, US leaders seem to be ever-more cautious about taking firm unilateral action in international affairs. So instead of telling the UN, France or Germany to get lost, Bush officials have gone back to Europe again and again, in an attempt to shore up multilateral support for launching military strikes against Saddam's regime. [...]
Bush Faces Increasingly Poor Image Overseas
By Glenn Kessler and Mike Allen, Washington Post, February 24, 2003
The messages from U.S. embassies around the globe have become urgent and disturbing: Many people in the world increasingly think President Bush is a greater threat to world peace than Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
U.S. embassies are the eyes and ears of the U.S. government overseas, and their reports from the field are closely read at the State Department. The antiwar protests by millions of people Feb. 15 in the cities of major U.S. allies underscored a theme that the classified cables by U.S. embassies had been reporting for weeks.
"It is rather astonishing," said a senior U.S. official who has access to the reports. "There is an absence of any recognition that Hussein is the problem." One ambassador, who represents the United States in an allied nation, bluntly cabled that in that country, Bush has become the enemy.[...]
Anti-war group tries to enter Raytheon
'U.N. inspectors' arrested: United Neighbors targets missile factory
David Pittman, Tucson Citizen, Feb. 14, 2003
A drizzle fell from the dark sky as about 50 people in yellow hard hats, white lab coats and "U.N." armbands trudged up a two-lane road yesterday afternoon toward the main gate of a missile factory.
But these arms inspectors were in Tucson, not Iraq.
And they were not from the United Nations, but from a peace group calling itself United Neighbors. And the complex they were approaching was not some mustard gas factory in Baghdad, but Raytheon Missile Systems, south of Valencia Road off Old Nogales Highway.
And though the people claimed to have come to Raytheon to interview "scientists and inspect documents and production facilities for evidence of illegal weapons production," the truth is, they were not weapons inspectors at all, but protesters masquerading as such to draw attention from the news media.
Television cameras whirred, newspaper photographers clicked, and reporters scribbled in notebooks made soggy by the rain.
[...] "We are here to enforce international law," McHenry said as he led the crew toward Raytheon's main gate. "We want to verify that no weapons of mass destruction are here.
[...] "Moeller supports the U.N. inspectors looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but he said it is hypocritical of the United States "to demand others stop producing weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. is the biggest producer of such weapons in the world."
Saturday, February 22
Genre: Men Vs. Women Jokes
It's all in the punctuation:
An English professor wrote the words, "Woman without her man is nothing" on the blackboard and directed his students to punctuate it correctly.
The men wrote: "Woman, without her man, is nothing."
The women wrote: "Woman: Without her, man is nothing."
Friday, February 21
Jackson is sweeps' dream-come-true
Greg Braxton, Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2003
Michael Jackson's record sales may no longer be a thriller, but he is becoming ratings gold for networks and news organizations that have flooded the February TV landscape with what seems like an "all Jackson, all the time" tidal wave. [...]
While the networks have been frantic in their scramble for Jackson-related material, the singer has escalated the frenzy with his reported $2-million deal with Fox to show footage his own cameraman shot during the filming of "Living With Michael Jackson."
The Jackson footage was made at the same time that a crew was filming British journalist Martin Bashir's interview with the singer.
The Jackson footage, which includes moments not captured by Bashir's crew, shows the journalist praising Jackson for being a good father, which contradicts Bashir's approach in the finished program. There, Bashir said he became concerned about Jackson's behavior toward his children while in Berlin, where Jackson made news when he dangled his youngest child from the fourth-floor balcony of his hotel room.
The ABC broadcast was seen by 27.1-million viewers and was last week's most watched TV program.
Spokesmen for Jackson and Fox said Wednesday that the network has total editorial control over "Michael Jackson Take 2: The Interview They Wouldn't Show You."
Jackson's spokesman, Stuart Backerman, added that the singer is not an active participant in the program. He said Jackson's representatives turned over about two hours of footage of the Bashir interview, along with an additional three hours of an interview with Debbie Rowe, Jackson's ex-wife and the mother of two of his three children.[...]
The Martial Plan
Paul Krugman, New York Times, February 21, 2003
The Marshall Plan was America's finest hour. After World War I, the victors did what victors usually do: they demanded reparations from the vanquished. But after World War II America did something unprecedented: it provided huge amounts of aid, helping both its allies and its defeated enemies rebuild.
... And they are certainly following a very different strategy today.
It's not that the Bush administration is always stingy. In fact, right now it is offering handouts right and left. Most notably, it has offered the Turkish government $26 billion in grants and loans if it ignores popular opposition and supports the war.
Some observers also point out that the administration has turned the regular foreign aid budget into a tool of war diplomacy. Small countries that currently have seats on the U.N. Security Council have suddenly received favorable treatment for aid requests, in an obvious attempt to influence their votes. Cynics say that the "coalition of the willing" President Bush spoke of turns out to be a "coalition of the bought off" instead. [...]
Of course, postwar reconstruction in Europe and Japan wasn't just a matter of money; America can also be proud of the way it built democratic institutions. Alas, the Bush administration's postwar political plans are even more alarming than its economic nonchalance.
Turkey has reportedly been offered the right to occupy much of Iraqi Kurdistan. Yes, that's right: as we move to liberate the Iraqis, our first step may be to deliver people who have been effectively independent since 1991 into the hands of a hated foreign overlord. Moral clarity! [...]
TV documentary about the US love of firearms makes history
Stuart Jeffries,The Guardian, May 17, 2002
The United States was lampooned yesterday for being not so much the land of the free and the home of the brave but a fearful and gun-crazy nation obsessed with violence, in a powerful film that premiered at Cannes last night.
Bowling for Columbine by the American film-maker Michael Moore, best known in Britain for his satirical series TV Nation and The Awful Truth, is the first documentary to be entered in competition at Cannes for 46 years. Its moving and occasionally funny analysis of gun violence in the US was greeted warmly by critics yesterday.
It is a topical and, for Cannes, explicitly radical political film linking what Moore calls the "paranoid mentality" of Americans who love guns to the violent nature of postwar US foreign policy.
Moore, 48, said that the question he set out to ask was "Are we a nation of gun nuts or just nuts?"
A Second Resolution is Not Enough
Tariq Ali, The Guardian, February 21, 2003
The UN was created after the defeat of fascism. Its charter prohibits the violation of national sovereignty except in the case of "self- defense". However, the UN was unable to defend the newly independent Congo against Belgian and US intrigue in the 1960s, or to save the life of the Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba. And in 1950 the security council authorized a US war in Korea.
Under the UN banner the western armies deliberately destroyed dams, power stations and the infrastructure of social life in North Korea, plainly in breach of international law. The UN was also unable to stop the war in Vietnam. Its paralysis over the occupation of Palestine has been visible for over three decades.
This inactivity was not restricted to western abuses. The UN was unable to act against the Soviet invasion of Hungary (1956) or the Warsaw Pact's entry into Czechoslovakia (1968). Both Big Powers were allowed to get on with their business in clear breach of the UN charter. [...]
The world has changed so much over the last 20 years that the UN - the current deadlock notwithstanding - has become an anachronism, a permanent fig leaf for new imperial adventures.
Former UN secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali was sacked on Madeline Albright's insistence for challenging the imperial will: he had insisted that it was the Rwandan genocide that needed intervention. US interests required a presence in the Balkans. He was replaced by Kofi Annan, a weak placeman, whose sanctimonious speeches may sometimes deceive an innocent British public, but not himself. He knows who calls the shots. [...]
The View from Cuba: A police state is as a police state does
Joel McNally, Shepherd Express, January 23, 2003
In the distance, we can see the buildings housing more than 600 prisoners in wire-mesh, single-cell cages. None of the detainees has been charged with any crime. But all are being held indefinitely, possibly for the rest of their lives, without any right to a trial or even legal counsel.
We are on Cuban soil, but it is not a Cuban prison camp. It is the notorious Camp X-Ray, operated by the U.S. military at its naval base at Guantanamo Bay. The base is surrounded by more than 70,000 land mines. If you move the viewer to the right of the prison compound, you see the ultimate symbol of U.S. occupation, an 18-hole golf course. [...]
Cuba clearly has made economic progress from the starvation depths of a decade ago, when it lost the financial support of the collapsing Soviet Union. It has entered into joint ventures to develop tourist resorts with Canadian, Italian and Scandinavian companies. It has even begun exploring for oil, which some believe could end the U.S. embargo once and for all.
That has led to a joke Cubans tell about Fidel Castro getting good news and bad news. The good news: "We've discovered oil!" The bad news: "The Yankees are coming.
In the Mahatma's footsteps
Ashish Magotra in Pietermaritzburg, rediff.com, February 21, 2003
Sachin Tendulkar couldn't make it and the younger lot got into it with Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge on their lips.
That, in a nutshell, explains the Indian World Cup squad's historic train journey from Pietermaritzburg to Pentrich on Friday afternoon.
The very same journey that another Indian -- unaccompanied by the media, unaccompanied by autograph hunters and
unaccompanied by security personnel -- had undertaken 110 years ago. Alone.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
On the night of June 7, 1893, the young Indian barrister had been thrown off a train on this very stretch for refusing to move from a whites-only compartment.
'I was afraid for my very life,' wrote Gandhi later. 'I entered the dark waiting room. There was a white man in the room. I was afraid of him. What was my duty? I asked myself. Should I go back to India, or should I go forward with God as my helper, and face whatever was in store for me? I decided to stay and suffer. My active non-violence began from that date.'
This afternoon the Boys in Blue tried to retrace the historic journey.
As the flash bulbs popped and the autograph hunters thronged the station, there were just two questions in most people's minds.
Would Sourav Ganguly and his boys understand the true value of the occasion? Or would it be just another train journey? [...]
Sex, donkeys and democracy
Pankaj Upadhyay, rediff.com, February 21, 2003
Shimla: "A sex scandal in Gujarat?" Ashok Ahuja's face looked like he had just had a bite of an aloo parantha stuffed with just salt. "How does it matter to me? How does it matter to anybody in Himachal Pradesh?"
"And Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi? Would he have any impact in Himachal Pradesh?" I ventured further. "Oh! for god's sake. Himachal's own politicians are trouble enough," Ahuja said in an exasperated tone.
Ahuja, who runs a cyber café on the Mall in Shimla and a hotel-restaurant in the suburbs, was born and brought up in this picturesque city. "Till just a couple of decades back we used have uninterrupted power supply after bigger snow falls than what we saw on Tuesday. So are we progressing or regressing?" he asked. "All this talk of sex scandals is just a gimmick. It will not work. There are so many issues, but do the people who get elected have the capacity to even think through them?"
"I have a problem with democracy. If donkeys have a majority, they will elect a donkey. There is no qualification required to become a politician and this is what we get," he said.
I wanted find out why a sex scandal involving Punjab ministers had become an election issue in the state. And also what was Modi doing in a state where minorities -- Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians -- comprised less than 5 per cent of the total population. [...]
Google Deal Ties Company to Weblogs
AmyHarmon, New York Times, February 17, 2003
Google, the operator of the Web's leading search engine, has bought Pyra Labs, the creator of software for publishing Weblogs, a form of hyperlinked online journal that has become an increasingly popular way to distribute and collect information on the Web.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the move was hailed by users of Weblogs, commonly called blogs, as a watershed moment for the fledgling communications medium, sometimes dismissed as too narrowband and self-involved to have a significant cultural impact.
"People will start taking it seriously," said Matthew Haughey, creator of Metafilter, a widely read Weblog, and a former employee of Pyra. "If it's linked to off of Google, you're not going to have to explain what a Weblog is to people anymore." [...]
Thursday, February 20
The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action.
--Frank Herbert (1920 - 1986)
US Lobbyist Helped Draft Eastern Europeans' Iraq Statement
Agence France Presse, February 20, 2003
A former Pentagon official helped draft a controversial statement by 10 Central and Eastern European nations this month that supports the United States in its stand-off with Iraq, according to a press report published in Paris.
In an interview,
Bruce Jackson, a former US Defense Department official who heads a Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, said that he was among those who helped initiate the statement supporting the US stance, the daily International Herald Tribune reported.
The joint statement by Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia drew a scathing rebuke from France's President Jacques Chirac at a European Union summit meeting in Brussels Monday.
According to the report, it was the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, Jackson's organization, that helped distribute the text to news agencies. [...]
US Plan for New Nuclear Arsenal
Julian Borger, The Guardian, February 19, 2003
The Bush administration is planning a secret meeting in August to discuss the construction of a new generation of nuclear weapons, including "mini-nukes", "bunker-busters" and neutron bombs designed to destroy chemical or biological agents, according to a leaked Pentagon document.
The meeting of senior military officials and US nuclear scientists at the Omaha headquarters of the US Strategic Command would also decide whether to restart nuclear testing and how to convince the American public that the new weapons are necessary.
The leaked preparations for the meeting are the clearest sign yet that the administration is determined to overhaul its nuclear arsenal so that it could be used as part of the new "Bush doctrine" of pre-emption, to strike the stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons of rogue states.
Greg Mello, the head of the Los Alamos Study Group, a nuclear watchdog organization that obtained the Pentagon documents, said the meeting would also prepare the ground for a US breakaway from global arms control treaties, and the moratorium on conducting nuclear tests.
"It is impossible to overstate the challenge these plans pose to the comprehensive test ban treaty, the existing nuclear test moratorium, and US compliance with article six of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty," Mr Mello said.
The documents leaked to Mr Mello are the minutes of a meeting in the Pentagon on January 10 this year called by Dale Klein, the assistant to the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to prepare the secret conference, planned for "the week of August 4 2003". [...]
Win Without War“
Commondreams.org, February 19, 2003
Online Campaign Headquarters” Unveiled
Win Without War Announces the Virtual March on Washington on February 26th
Celebrities and Coalition Leaders Call on Opponents of Iraq War to Overwhelm the White House and U.S. Senate By Phoning, Faxing and E-mailing
New TV Ad Featuring Martin Sheen Calls on Public to Participate
WASHINGTON / HOLLYWOOD - February 19 - “Last weekend we marched in the streets, next week we’re taking it to the suites of official Washington,” said former Congressman Tom Andrews, National Director of Win Without War.
“Political leaders need to know we are serious, we are organized and we are growing in strength,” he said. “On February 26th, we will let our fingers do the marching and demand that our voices be heard.”
Martin Sheen, who plays President Jeb Bartlet on the NBC hit series, The West Wing, is featured in a Win Without War TV ad released at the news conference. He called on Americans from every state to participate in the Virtual March on Washington: “Our message to Washington will be clear – "Don’t invade Iraq! We can contain Saddam Hussein without killing innocent people, diverting us from the war on terrorism and putting us all at risk.”
“Our leaders in Washington are out of step with millions of Americans,” said Janeane Garofalo at the LA news conference. “This is clearly a time when we must join together and lead Washington back to its senses,” she said. “The Virtual March on Washington is an opportunity to do just that.”
“The National Council of Churches is calling February 26th ‘A Day of Prayer and Faxing,’ ” said Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Director of the Washington DC office of the National Council of Churches “We are urging all of our member denominations and congregations to join the march. They can do so without even leaving their homes”, she said.
Organizers of the Virtual March on Washington hope to overwhelm the White House and every member of the US Senate with calls, faxes and e-mails on February 26th. [...]
Bush's Macho Posturing on Germany
William Pfaff, International Herald Tribune, February 20, 2003
PARIS -- The second Bush administration is devoted to macho posturing with little consideration for the consequences. This could turn the trans-Atlantic confrontation into something for which Washington may eventually be very sorry.
The administration's effort to intimidate Germany and isolate France in the quarrel over military intervention in Iraq backfired on Friday at the UN Security Council and in the anti-war demonstrations of the weekend. Unless the inspectors find a mine shaft packed with drums of anthrax and nerve agents during the next few days, Washington is unlikely to win a mandate to go to war.
This leaves Prime Minister Tony Blair in an extremely difficult situation. He has already dispatched British forces to the war. Without a second UN resolution endorsing intervention, ordering the troops into action would cause a Labour Party revolt. Whether he survives would depend on the war's outcome.
George W. Bush and his more hawkish advisers believed that they could bully the Security Council's members and get what they wanted. They confided to reporters some days ago that objections by the French were already "fixed" and that Paris would fall in line, while the Germans would do what they were told.
France is accustomed to this treatment, but Germany is not. Germany is a very complex and in some ways mysterious nation (to Anglo-Americans, at least), ..[...]
The Age of Innocence
James Carroll, Boston Globe, February 18, 2003
''THIS IS THE patent age of new inventions/ For killing bodies and for saving souls,'' Lord Byron wrote, ''All propagated with the best intentions.'' The lines serve as an epigram for Graham Greene's ''The Quiet American.''
That novel first appeared in 1955, but a filmed version arrived in theaters last week, a timely renewal of its prophetic relevance. Michael Caine's performance as Thomas Fowler, the opium-ridden British journalist who jousts with - and befriends - an American intelligence operative, just received an Oscar nomination. Americans may go to this movie for the superlative acting, but in the ''patent age'' of a coming war, they may find something more.
Graham Greene was a connoisseur not of good and evil, but of innocence and corruption [...]
Presque Isle, Maine Peace Rally Speech
Commondreams.org, February 18, 2003
[Charlotte Aldebron, 12, attends Cunningham Middle School in Presque Isle, Maine. Comments may be sent to her mom, Jillian Aldebron: email@example.com ]
"...But guess what? More than half of Iraq’s 24 million people are children under the age of 15. That’s 12 million kids. Kids like me. Well, I’m almost 13, so some are a little older, and some a lot younger, some boys instead of girls, some with brown hair, not red. But kids who are pretty much like me just the same. So take a look at me—a good long look. Because I am what you should see in your head when you think about bombing Iraq. I am what you are going to destroy. [...]
Tuesday, February 18
We are the people
Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, February 17, 2003
There will be millions of people who will never forget Saturday February 15 2003. It was an extraordinary combination of the utterly prosaic and the deeply moving: a bursting bladder and the nearest toilets several hours' walk away in Hyde Park, an aching back and blisters, and then the remarkable sight of a heaving mass of people along the Embankment converging with crowds pouring across Waterloo bridge. Everywhere there were astonishing juxtapositions: the body-pierced peaceniks alongside the dignified Pakistani elder with white beard; the homemade placard "The only bush I trust is my own" drawing surreptitious giggles from a group of veiled Muslim women.
This was a day which confounded dozens of assumptions about our age. How much harder it is today than a week ago to speak of the apathy and selfish individualism of consumer society. Saturday brought the entire business of a capital city to a glorious full-stop. Not a car or bus moved in central London, the frenetic activities of shopping and spending halted across a wide swathe of the city; the streets became one vast vibrant civic space for an expression of national solidarity. Furthermore, unlike previous occasions when crowds have gathered, this was not to mark some royal pageantry, but to articulate an unfamiliar British sentiment - one of democratic entitlement: we are the people. [...]
Saudi Arabia hardens opposition to US war on Iraq
Omar Hasan, Middle East Online, February 18, 2003
Buoyed by worldwide anti-war sentiment, Saudi Arabia, the US key ally in the Gulf, has hardened opposition to a unilateral attack on Iraq, warning that no foreign troops will wage war on Baghdad from the kingdom.
Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal took the Saudi anti-war stance a step forward by declaring Monday that an attack by the United States on Iraq would be seen by many as an act of aggression. [...]
Genre: Religious Jokes
A minister dies and is waiting in line at the Pearly Gates. Ahead of him is a guy who's dressed in sunglasses, a loud shirt, leather jacket, and jeans.
Saint Peter addresses this guy: "Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you to the Kingdom of Heaven?"
The guy replies: "I'm Joe Cohen, taxi driver, of Noo Yawk City."
St. Peter consults his list. He smiles and says to the taxi driver, "Take this silken robe and golden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
The taxi driver goes into Heaven with his robe and staff, and it's the minister's turn.
He stands erect and booms out, "I am Joseph Snow, pastor of Calvary Church for the last forty-three years."
St. Peter consults his list. He says to the minister, "Take this cotton robe and wooden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
"Just a minute," says the minister. "That man was a taxi driver, and he gets a silken robe and golden staff. How can this be?"
""Up here, we work by results," says Saint Peter. While you preached, people slept; while he drove, people prayed."
Iraqi defence minister 'under house arrest'
Luke Harding, The Guardian, February 18, 2003
Saddam Hussein was last night reported to have placed his defence minister and close relative under house arrest in an extraordinary move apparently designed to prevent a coup.
Iraqi opposition newspapers, citing sources in Baghdad, yesterday claimed that the head of the Iraqi military, Lieutenant-General Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Jabburi Tai, was now effectively a prisoner in his home in the capital.
The minister's apparent detention, also reported by Cairo-based al-Ahram newspaper, is surprising. He is not only a member of President Saddam's inner circle, but also a close relative by marriage. His daughter is married to Qusay Hussein, the dictator's 36-year-old younger son - considered by many as his heir apparent. [...]
We Stand Passively Mute
The Guardian , February 18, 2003
Robert Byrd, a US senator, appeals to fellow Americans to reject the administration's 'outrageous, reckless and inexcusable' foreign policy
To contemplate war is to think about the most horrible of human experiences. As this nation stands at the brink of battle, every American must be contemplating the horrors of war.
Yet, this chamber is, for the most part, silent - ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war.
We stand passively mute in the United States Senate, paralysed by our own uncertainty, seemingly stunned by the sheer turmoil of events. And this is no small conflagration we contemplate. This is no simple attempt to defang a villain. No. This coming battle, if it materialises, represents a turning point in US foreign policy.
This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of pre-emption - [...]
Noam Chomsky: MIT professor, writer and activist
The Guardian, February 4, 2003
There's never been a time that I can think of when there's been such massive opposition to a war before it was even started. And the closer you get to the region, the higher the opposition appears to be. In Turkey polls indicated close to 90% opposition, in Europe it's quite substantial.
In the United States the figures you see in polls, however, are quite misleading because since September there's been a drumbeat of propaganda trying to bludgeon people into the belief that not only is Saddam a terrible person but in fact he's going to come after us tomorrow unless we stop him today. And that reaches people.
They have to terrify the population to feel there's some enormous threat to their existence and carry out a miraculous, decisive and rapid victory over this enormous foe and march on to the next one.
Remember the people now running the show in Washington are mostly recycled Reaganites, essentially reliving the script of the 1980s. So one year it was an airbase in Grenada which the Russians were going to use to bomb the US. Nicaragua was "two days marching time from Texas". Nicaragua might conquer us on its way to conquer the hemisphere. A national emergency was called because of the threat posed to national security by Nicaragua. [...]
Flood of Emotion and Anger That Rose to Wash Away Years of Dismay
Richard Williams, The Guardian, February 17, 2003
Somebody called it a movement. It was not a movement. It was a feeling. A feeling that drove wave after wave of people in a great river which began to flow a few minutes before noon and was still in full flood long after nightfall.
What astonished everyone who marched on Saturday - let's settle on a million, shall we? - was the apparently limitless variety of those with whom they shared the roads of central London. Not just a diversity of banner-bearing interest groups but of individuality, brought into focus by the single underlying feeling that gave this day its resonance.
That feeling was one of a generalized dismay directed squarely at the country's leadership. If you wanted to attempt the impossible task of identifying a typical marcher, you would probably settle for the middle-aged white man who marched past the barricaded end of Downing Street at about 1pm carrying a hand-lettered sign.
What it said, in neat black letters about six inches high, came closest to summarizing the message of the day. "Labour Party member no A128368 against the war," the man had written. [...]
Bushonomics: One Family's Lifelong Legacy to America's Investment Class
Kevin Phillips, Seattle Times, February 17, 2003
For those who ever believed in it, Washington "compassionate conservatism" just took off its mask. Federal deficits are soaring. State finances are sinking into their biggest crisis since the Great Depression. So, what does the Bush White House propose?
No serious help for the states. Nor is there relief from payroll taxes to encourage job creation. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has rightly remarked on the lack of compassion in the Bush administration's economic stimulus package. Its centerpiece, costing $364 billion of the $674 billion to be spent over 10 years, is to reduce or end taxation of dividends, some 40 percent of which annually goes to the top 1 percent of wealthy Americans. ...
...Like father, like son. In fact, we can go further: Like great-grandfather, like grandfather, like father, like uncles, like siblings, like son. The predominant history of the Bush family for 100 years has been to work in the investment business (sometimes with an oil tilt); interpret the economy through the lens of investment; and tailor economic policies to favor friends, neighbors and relatives in the investment business.
If a president who came out of the widget industry spent all his time trying to promote the widget business, it would be obvious — and it would raise major ethical problems. But the magnitude of the Bushes' investment involvement and bias is too little understood.
Great-grandfather George H. Walker was the president of two major New York investment firms: G.H. Walker & Co. and W.A. Harriman and Co. Grandfather Prescott Bush was the managing partner of Brown Bros., Harriman & Co. Presidential uncles Jonathan and Prescott Jr. have been, respectively, the heads of small investment firms named J. Bush & Co. and Prescott Bush & Co. Prescott Bush Jr. has also been closely involved with Asset Management International Financing and Settlement Ltd.
Presidential brother Marvin runs hedge funds at investment company Winston Partners. Presidential brother Neil started an investment deal in Austin, Texas, and both George H.W. and George W. Bush have been in the kind of oil business that is largely driven by tax shelters and financing from friends and relatives.
Such finance doesn't look out for widows and orphans. [...]
Who is Your Hero?
Ruth Rosen, San Francisco Chronicle, February 17, 2003
RECENTLY, I asked a class of University of California undergraduates to name their heroes. Ten years earlier, their counterparts had listed the Rev.
Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Mohandas K. Gandhi and Vaclav Havel. This time, they mostly named celebrities who were famous -- well, for being famous.
Sure, it's a sign of the times, a result of our pervasive celebrity culture.
But we need heroes. Celebrities teach us about glamour and appearance, not how to reach deeply and draw upon inner strengths. [...]
What Are They Really Up To?
Huck Gutman, DAWN, February 17. 2003
The government of the United States is, sad to say, in the hands of blinkered ideologues. And that is putting it kindly. A less generous interpretation is that a small group of people are determined to serve their own narrow interests, oblivious to the effect their actions may have on either their own nation, or the six billion people with whom they share the globe.
President George Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and presidential adviser Karl Rove have come up with a 'policy' toward Iraq based on a triumvirate of crass motives: oil, sleight-of-hand, re-election. [...]
Within the territorial borders of Iraq lies the second largest petroleum reserve in the world.
Saddam Hussein may have done many things wrong, but in the eyes of President Bush one of his very greatest errors was that he signed contracts with the Russians, the French and the Italians to allow them to extract that petroleum from beneath Iraqi soil.
The Americans and the British, should Saddam remain in power, will see huge profits made - but by other nations, and more particularly by corporations other than the ones headed by the men with whom the president plays golf when he is in Texas.
"Regime change," that neutered term which means deposing Saddam Hussein, also means contract abrogation and renegotiation. [...]
Zen Poet's Voice of Dissent Heard by Anti-War Literati
Chris McGann, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 18, 2003
PORT TOWNSEND -- Sam Hamill, a reclusive former Marine turned Zen Buddhist poet, is an unlikely spokesman for the anti-war poetry movement he started almost by accident.
Hamill triggered a nationwide artistic uprising when he declined a White House invitation to a literary symposium Feb. 12, instead asking fellow poets to write protest poems.
That act of dissent continues to gain momentum, and yesterday Hamill braved a blizzard to join other poets in the limelight of New York City's Lincoln Center for public readings to raise money for anti-war efforts.
Scheduled to share the stage before a packed house with Hamill: former U.S. poet laureates Stanley Kunitz and Robert Pinsky and Pulitzer Prize winners C.K. Williams and Mark Strand, to name a few -- heady company for a man who describes himself as a bookish recluse who spends most of his time "talking with dead Chinese poets."
The New York event, "Poems Not Fit for the White House," and the national movement of nearly 9,000 poets came together after Hamill and several other poets declined to attend the White House symposium on Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes. First lady Laura Bush canceled the event [...]
$26 billion Bribe for Turkey's Support
NathanNewman.org, February 16, 2003
Along with selling out the Kurds, Bush is offering Turkey $6 billion in direct grants and $20 billion in loan guarantees to get that country's backing for war.
Let's be clear what this means-- almost all international support for Bush is probably based on either threats of economic retaliation or promises of help in the future, one reason Bush's support is so concentrated in former East Bloc countries like Bulgaria desperate for foreign aid.
What's so telling is that despite Bush's corruption of foreign aid programs in support of his war aims, he still can't assemble any serious support for his argument beyond Britain's Tony Blair.
Let's just refer to Bush's global support as the Coalition of the Bribed.
Update: Give Turkey credit. They are at least being smart enough to take advantage of their leverage, given Bush's desperate need for support, to demand a decent bribe for their support. The Turkish government has delayed a vote by their parliament until Bush ponies up more money.
If Turkey decides that a promise from Bush is not enough, but demand that Bush push the aid through Congress first, that could confront the White House with a situation they desperately want to avoid-- essentially a new vote in Congress to directly authorize war with Iraq, including part of the looming price tag that his foreign aid promises, the war itself, and occupation will burden the US budget with.
Posted by Nathan at February 16, 2003 10:02 AM
The whole world is against this war
John Nichols, The Online Beat, February 14, 2003
"The whole world is against this war. Only one person wants it," declared South African teenager Bilqees Gamieldien as she joined a Cape Town antiwar demonstration on a weekend when it did indeed seem that the whole world was dissenting from George W. Bush's push for war with Iraq.
Millions of protesters marched into the streets of cities from Tokyo to Tel Aviv to Toronto and Bush's homestate of Texas to deliver a message expressed by the Rev. Jesse Jackson to a crowd of more than one million in London: "It's not too late to stop this war."
Crowd estimates for demonstrations of the kind being seen this weekend are always a source of controversy, especially when nervous politicians -- like British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- try to convince journalists and the public to dismiss the significance of the protests even before they begin. But, faced with a historic show of dissent, even the constantly spinning Blair had to acknowledge that the cost for his unwavering support of the Bush administration on Iraq is turning out to be "unpopular" in his own land. [...]
The New York demonstration was one of more than 200 planned for this weekend in US cities from Augusta, Maine, to Yakima, Washinbgton, and Wausau, Wisconsin. What was supposed to be a relatively modest Los Angeles demonstration gew so large that television reporters there were reporting breathlessly on the "massive" show of opposition to war. Actors Martin Sheen and Mike Farrell and director Rob Reiner joined a march that filled Hollywood Boulevard from curb to curb for four blocks. Police claimed 30,000 turned out, while organizers said the crowd ultimately swelled to almost 100,000.
Sunday march in San Francisco drew an estimated 250,000, according to estimates reported in the local media, making it one of the largest demonstrations that west coast city has ever seen. "How do you want to spend $1.5 trillion? On our children? Or on war?" Assemblywoman Patricia Wiggins, a Democratic state legislator from Santa Rosa, asked the crowd. The crowd roared for the kids, and against the war. [...]
Behind the Great Divide
Paul Krugman, The New York Times, February 18, 2003
There has been much speculation why Europe and the U.S. are suddenly at such odds. Is it about culture? About history? But I haven't seen much discussion of an obvious point: We have different views partly because we see different news.
Let's back up. Many Americans now blame France for the chill in U.S.-European relations. There is even talk of boycotting French products.
But France's attitude isn't exceptional. Last Saturday's huge demonstrations confirmed polls that show deep distrust of the Bush administration and skepticism about an Iraq war in all major European nations, whatever position their governments may take. In fact, the biggest demonstrations were in countries whose governments are supporting the Bush administration.
There were big demonstrations in America too. ...
...but the difference between the news reports Americans and Europeans see is a stark demonstration of his point. At least compared with their foreign counterparts, the "liberal" U.S. media are strikingly conservative — and in this case hawkish.
I'm not mainly talking about the print media. There are differences, but the major national newspapers in the U.S. and the U.K. at least seem to be describing the same reality.
Most people, though, get their news from TV — and there the difference is immense. The coverage of Saturday's antiwar rallies was a reminder of the extent to which U.S. cable news, in particular, seems to be reporting about a different planet than the one covered by foreign media.
What would someone watching cable news have seen? On Saturday, news anchors on Fox described the demonstrators in New York as "the usual protesters" or "serial protesters." CNN wasn't quite so dismissive, but on Sunday morning the headline on the network's Web site read "Antiwar rallies delight Iraq," and the accompanying picture showed marchers in Baghdad, not London or New York.
This wasn't at all the way the rest of the world's media reported Saturday's events, [...]
A nation divided, with no bridges left to build
In Austin, Texas, Robert Fisk sees at first hand the vast gulf between the pro- and anti-war movements in the United States
The Independent, 16 February 2003
The show was over, recorded for one of those nice liberal local American TV cable channels – this time in Texas – where everyone agrees that war is wrong, that George Bush is in the hands of right-wing Christian fundamentalists and pro-Israeli neo- conservatives.
Don Darling, the TV host, had just turned to thank me for my long and flu-laden contribution. Then it happened. Cameraman number two came striding towards us through the studio lights. "I want to thank you, sir, for reminding us that the British had a lot to do with the chaos in the Middle East, " he said. "But I have something else to say."
His voice rose 10 decibels, his bare arms bouncing up and down at his sides, his shaven head struck forward pugnaciously. "Yeah, I wanna tell you that the cause of this problem is the fucking medieval Arabs and their wish to enslave us all – and I tell you that it is because we want to save the Jews from the fucking savage Arabs who want to throw them into the sea that we are about to fuck Saddam." There was a pause as Don Darling looked at the man, aghast. "And that," cameraman number two concluded, "is the fucking truth." [...]
Sunday, February 16
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
--Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642)
Ladies' man who swept UN off its feet
Paul Webster in Paris, The Observer, February 16, 2003
If there can be such a thing as a diplomatic pin-up, then it is Dominque de Villepin, the French Foreign Minister, whose dashing good looks and eloquence earned him rare applause at Friday's dramatic Security Council meeting.
Until his appointment after the right-wing general election win in June, De Villepin, 49, was a man of the shadows, despite being President Jacques Chirac's chief of staff and his most trusted adviser.
A career diplomat who twice served in Washington, De Villepin was often criticised by his own side for mistakes in presidential planning, including the disastrous 1997 parliamentary dissolution. The error forced Chirac into five painful years of 'cohabitation' with the Left, but he brushed aside demands to sack his aide.
Grooming presidential chiefs of staff to become Foreign Ministers is traditional. De Villepin, whose curious, aristocratic middle name is Galouzeau, was preceded by a string of promoted front-line aides, including De Gaulle's Michel Jobert, Giscard's Jean François-Poncet and Mitterrand's Hubert Védrine. Of these, De Villepin, whose studied courtesy, charm and good looks have given him the reputation of a ladies' man, had the best credentials for the job. Chirac gave him the Ministry because of his pro-European record. Apart from being told to accelerate France's role as the European Union's political motor, Chirac also asked him to reform the unwieldy administration at the Quai d'Orsay - the Foreign Ministry - but he has been distracted by Iraq and Ivory Coast's civil war.
De Villepin's triumph at the UN has obscured criticism from his own side over his handling of the Ivory Coast affair, in which he oversaw a hasty peace deal that has since been rejected. But Chirac, who treats foreign policy as his personal preserve, congratulated him on his UN performance, sealing a close partnership that is set to guide French diplomacy at least until the end of the President's second term in 2007.
US to punish German 'treachery'
Peter Beaumont, David Roseand Paul Beaver, The Observer, February 16, 2003
America is to punish Germany for leading international opposition to a war against Iraq. The US will withdraw all its troops and bases from there and end military and industrial co-operation between the two countries - moves that could cost the Germans billions of euros.
The plan - discussed by Pentagon officials and military chiefs last week on the orders of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - is designed 'to harm' the German economy to make an example of the country for what US hawks see as Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's 'treachery'.
The hawks believe that making an example of Germany will force other countries heavily dependent on US trade to think twice about standing up to America in future.
This follows weeks of increasingly angry exchanges between Rumsfeld and Germany, in which at one point he taunted Germany and France for being an irrelevant part of 'old Europe'.
Now Rumsfeld has decided to go further by unilaterally imposing the Pentagon's sanctions on a country already in the throes of economic problems. [...]
Cheese-eating monkeys and Gallic merde
Nicole Mowbray, The Observer, February 16, 2003
The ill-tempered insults that have characterised the war-peace debate in the past few weeks began in earnest with US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's sneer at 'old Europe', a remark which angered the French and Germans.
Roselyne Bachelot, the French Environment Minister, said Rumsfeld was talking 'Cambronne's word'. Cambronne was a French general who, when fatally wounded at Waterloo, said simply, 'Merde'. Joschka Fischer, the German Foreign Minister, said Rumsfeld should 'cool' down.
With calculated insouciance, Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush's spokesman, said France and Germany had the 'prerogative, if they choose, to be on the sideline', making clear that US forces would go ahead in any event.
'The game is over,' President Bush told Iraq on Thursday. 'It's not a game, and it's not over,' Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the French Prime Minister, shot back yesterday.
Hostile television networks and editorial writers are competing to come up with the wittiest anti-Franco bile. Phrases coined include 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys' and 'axis of weasel' for the French-German alliance. The co-host of CNN's Crossfire programme declared to audience cheers on Thursday night: 'Let's beat up the French.' [...]
Marching facts and figures Dorota Nosowicz,The Observer, February 16, 2003
Yesterday's LONDON march drew more than a million people, compared with the 1968 Grosvenor Square demonstration against the Vietnam War, above, attended by 50,000-plus.
· More than 4,500 police were on duty yesterday.
· Eleven political parties, including Greenpeace, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the SNP, supported the march.
· Brian Haw, a carpenter from Redditch, Worcs, has been camping outside the Commons since June 2001, in a one-man peace protest. Only five MPs have crossed the road to see him.
· More than 1,000 coaches, twice the number laid on for last October's Countryside March, brought protesters yesterday.
· Famous people who marched: Jesse Jackson, Bianca Jagger, Harold Pinter, Mo Mowlam, Kate Moss.
People power takes to the world's streets
Paul Harris, John Aglionby in Jakarta, Hannah Cleaver in Berlin and Sophie Arie in Rome,The Observer, February 16, 2003
It started in New Zealand as 10,000 people marched through Auckland and Wellington, then swept over Asia, Africa and Europe. By last night protesters were also on the move in North and South America as a day of protest not seen since the era of the Vietnam War swept the world.
Millions marched through more than 300 cities in over 60 countries. Their banners displayed common sentiments of blaming America, Britain and the oil industry for planning war. Some protests were huge, with more than a million people turning out in London and Rome.
Hundreds of thousands joined in marches in 20 French cities, with the biggest crowd marching to the Place de la Bastille in Paris. In Toulouse, marchers walked in the cold winter sunshine under banners reading, 'No blood in the oil', and 'No to war for petrol'.
Tens of thousands also gathered in Berlin, including a former British soldier. Martin Bentley, 47, bearer of the Military Medal for bravery, was with his two daughters aged nine and 14. Bentley, who served in the British Army for 17 years, seeing action in Cyprus, the Falklands and Northern Ireland, said: 'I am not against military intervention where it is justified, but there is no reason for this at all.'
In Italy organisers said more than a million people marched through Rome. Rainbow-coloured peace flags hung from the walls of the Colosseum. [...]
>>> The dissident news-commentary Website, Yellow Times, was suddenly shut down by its hosting service during the first week of February 2003.
The host claimed that Yellow Times was using up too many resources, yet when YT offered to pay for more service, the host refused. Making the claim even more ridiculous is the fact that YT is 100% text. No streaming audio or video, not even any jpegs. To say that an all-text site is using up too much bandwidth and other resources is nutty. It is almost certainly yet another (temporary) casualty of the War on Dissent.
The people of YT are moving quickly to get their site back online. In the meantime, they've asked that The Memory Hole publish this important new article regarding the latest alleged tape from Osama bin Laden and the media's suspect reporting on it.
Misleading the PublicBy Firas Al-Atraqchi, YellowTimes.org Columnist (Canada)
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell dropped a bombshell at a Congressional hearing on Iraq and revealed that he had a transcript of an "upcoming" audio message from Osama bin Laden that betrays the links between bin Laden and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
However, the White House may have put its foot in its mouth this time around.
Upon careful scrutiny of the audio message from bin Laden (and broadcast at 3pm EST on the Arabic News Network Al-Jazeerah), it appears the Bush administration may have been so desperate to pin anything on Saddam and bin Laden that they did not wait to actually hear the contents of the message, nor provide adequate and reliable translation. [...]
Millions show this is a war that no one wants
INDEPENDENT Leader, 16 February 2003
In London and in cities around the world the message yesterday was clear: "Don't attack Iraq". The extraordinary marches, attracting millions across Europe in protest at a possible war, represented the views of a broad range of voters across the political spectrum, views that have been largely unheard until now.Finally, before it is too late, the voters are having their say. In the past the Prime Minister has paid an obsessive attention to focus groups and opinion polls. Now he should listen to the marchers, unmediated voices expressing thoughtful opposition to an unprovoked attack on Iraq, raising many of the points argued by The Independent on Sunday over the past few months. If Tony Blair goes to war now he risks alienating the country and tearing apart his own party.
The Prime Minister's persistence in the face of widespread opposition can be seen as an example of brave leadership. Sometimes it is braver to stand back and think again. [...]
The propaganda for war produced by the British and US governments has been laughably amateurish. The attempts by Messrs Bush and Blair to link Iraq with al-Qa'ida have not been convincing. So far the senior UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, has not come across weapons of mass destruction. Even if he does, The Independent on Sunday would not support war.
The key question in relation to weapons of mass destruction is whether Saddam would use them in the certain knowledge that such an act would provoke a war that would destroy him. We believe that deterrence still works [...]
Friday, February 14
Genre: Miscellaneous Jokes
Three buddies die in a car crash, and they find themselves at the pearly gates.
They are all asked, "When you are in your casket and friends and
family are mourning upon you, what would you like to hear them say
The first guy says, "I would like to hear them say that I was the
greates doctor of my time, and a great family man."
The second guy says, "I would like to hear that I was a wonderful
husband and school teacher who made a huge difference in our
children of tomorrow."
The last guy replies,
"I would like to hear them say... LOOK!!! HE'S MOVING!!!!!"
"Armageddon Is Long Overdue"
Inside the Bush White House
Lee Waters, Counterpunch, February 11, 2003
LEAKED WHITE HOUSE TRANSCRIPT, February, 2003
PRESIDENT BUSH: Let's get going, Gentlemen. I don't like what's going on.
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Calm down, George. Things are under control.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I don't think so. What's with that damn United Nations? China. France. Germany. Who the hell do they think they are?
KARL ROVE: Don't worry, sir. We've got answers for all of them.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Just nuke 'em, dammit. I want a war. God tells me we have to have a war. And they're standing in the way. The economy's tanking. Gas is going up. And Armageddon is long overdue.
KARL ROVE: Well, I'm not sure Colin's speech really did the trick. Polls here went up, of course. But he kindof laid an egg in the rest of the world.
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: The homeland comes first, Karl. I love how not a single talk show or TV commentator raised the least question about anything Colin said. And, of course, the polls fell right in line, even Oprah's. I was mighty impressed.
KARL ROVE: We've got every one of those networks in our pocket now. And thanks to Colin's boy Michael promoting the free market over at the FCC, it's going to stay that way for a long long time. This nonsense about diversity in the media, it's over. Every media outlet in the US will soon be owned by one of our corporations, and we're getting the polls pretty well rigged now, too.
PRESIDENT BUSH: What about that Phil Donahue guy? How come his hair is white? I hear he's raising some questions.
KARL ROVE: Not for long, Mr. President. We've sabotaged his ratings. And he's wimped out anyway. Nobody can stay awake watching him. Why these liberals still believe in balance is beyond me. Now he's just another liberal snooze....SECRETARY RIDGE: Yes, sir. But I'm afraid he's not alone. These peace marches have been getting pretty big.
KARL ROVE: Well, you don't see anybody covering them, do you? I can tell you they had 500,000 in DC and 250 in San Francisco. But the newspapers said 50,000 or less and gave them no coverage. Not even the New York Times. NPR devoted more time to the Queen's pants.
ATTORNEY-GENERAL ASHCROFT: National Public Radio is a nest of terrorists.
KARL ROVE: You can use that as your operative phrase, John, and arrest them all whenever you want. But NPR is a bunch of gutless wimps. Britt Hume, Fox, Russert, those are the attack dogs we love.
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: You even got Bob Woodward licking George's feet, Karl. Damn I gotta love you for that. What'd you do, give him some deep throat?
PRESIDENT BUSH, VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY, KARL ROVE: Loud, prolonged laughter.
KARL ROVE: And that was a nice job you did at the astronauts' funeral, George. Your graveside manner has really improved.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well I've got you to thank for that, Karl. Showing me those tapes of President Reagan and the Challenger was a really good idea. [...]
He'll Be Remembered as an Asshole
Peaceniks Win War!
Ben Tripp, Counterpunch, February 14, 2003
Hey, gang! We won, if you don't mind Pyrrhic victories. ...
Right now it doesn't look like they've lost. They'll have their war on Iraq; they will rain bombs down on that godforsaken patch of petroleum-soaked dirt and before you know it instead of the Iraqi population being 50% children, it will be 20% children, because kids can't run as fast as adults. After a few days of hand-to-hand combat through the streets of once-legendary Baghdad it will all be over. ...
... what really matters to a guy like George is that he should someday join the pantheon of Great Americans whose marble busts inhabit the halls of our nation's capitol. He's got all the power and money he could ever misuse in a thousand lifetimes. What he needs now is to be honored by posterity. This is where he loses and we win.
...He will not be remembered as a brave warrior, a noble patriot, a statesman, a father to his country, a son of God, or even a well-meaning delusional psychotic. He will be remembered as an asshole- and that's exactly how it will read in the history textbooks, although they'll spell it a**hole so as to avoid mantling the kiddies' cheeks with blushes.
In the future, assuming we can still hope for one, George XLIII's reign will be derided, scorned, mocked, and other words to that effect. jeered and disparaged at the very least, maybe even subject to opprobrium. We-- the unlikely alliance acting against his lunatic regime, we Liberals and Conservatives, Libertarians and Progressives and Pentagon generals and disenfranchised veterans, mothers, fathers, mimes, entomologists, podiatrists and transsexuals, all sons and daughters of a government that has turned its back on the principles upon which we were nurtured from cradle to shallow grave-- we will bask in the hallowed light of kind remembrance, not George. A fat lot of good it will do us, but there we are. I didn't say victory would be sweet. ...
Another first: George will be remembered for reversing the outcome of both the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. He will be remembered for mixing Church and State: his invisible cloud superhero and your tax dollars, together at last. He will be remembered for nose-diving the economy from a great height. For record deficits and massive bureaucratic expansion- he'll knock Reagan off the charts. For 50 bankrupt states. He will be remembered for turning his back on treaties. For insulting great nations. For calling the leader of Russia 'Pooty Poot'. For oppressing the weak and unleashing the mighty upon them. For eviscerating the Bill of Rights, and for secret detentions. For ignoring the desperate environmental crisis which grips the globe like a gut-spasming case of Montezuma's Revenge.
This is war
Don McCullin,The Guardian, February 14, 2003
The US-led attack on Iraq in 1991 was one of the worst-reported conflicts in history. A system of media management kept the violent deaths of some 40,000 people out of the public view. War photographer Don McCullin explains the crucial role photojournalists have in recording events
Sitting here in a cottage in Somerset, I should perhaps be enjoying the birdsong and the soft rolling hills. I'm not, because I live on a military flight path, and instead of the birds I hear the engine noise of dive-bombing aircraft flown by pilots who are readying themselves for a war in Iraq. C-130 transport planes are streaming into the air force base at Brize Norton, and the flapping sound of Chinook helicopters keeps putting me back in Vietnam. OK, I think, any moment now the doors are going to open and I'll jump out and run across those rice fields.
If you are a decent human being, war is going to offend you because it has no purpose other than to satisfy someone's desire for power and profit. And it is the little people who suffer. At the first whiff of trouble, the rich and the informed get into their Mercedes-Benzes and off-road vehicles and leave. The poor people, the very last of the dregs of society, can't escape. They get the bill. [...]
London's Daily Mirror has a Valentine's Day message to Tony Blair and George Bush.
By Brian Ross, Len Tepper and Jill Rackmill,
Feb. 13 — A key piece of the information leading to recent terror alerts was fabricated, according to two senior law enforcement officials in Washington and New York.
The officials said that a claim made by a captured al Qaeda member that Washington, New York or Florida would be hit by a "dirty bomb" sometime this week had proven to be a product of his imagination. ...
"This piece of that puzzle turns out to be fabricated and therefore the reason for a lot of the alarm, particularly in Washington this week, has been dissipated after they found out that this information was not true," said Vince Cannistraro, former CIA counter-terrorism chief and ABCNEWS consultant.
It was only after the threat level was elevated to orange — meaning high — last week, that the informant was subjected to a polygraph test by the FBI, officials told ABCNEWS.
"This person did not pass," said Cannistraro.
According to officials, the FBI and the CIA are pointing fingers at each other. An FBI spokesperson told ABCNEWS today he was "not familiar with the scenario," but did not think it was accurate.
Despite the fabricated report, there are no plans to change the threat level. Officials said other intelligence has been validated and that the high level of precautions is fully warranted.
New Yorkers Taking Police Presence in Stride
In New York, police are out in force in the subways, at train stations and airports and at the bridge and tunnel crossings into the city with radiation detectors and gas masks. In a press conference this afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said 16,000 law enforcement officials trained to combat terrorism were deployed in the city. Air patrols have also returned to New York. [...]
Politicians are Out of Step with the People
War is Pretty Much Inevitable - But That Doesn't Mean Protest is Pointless, Either in the Short or Long Term
Natasha Walter, Independent.co.uk, February14, 2003
It was only a few weeks ago that commentators were shaking their heads over the almost invisible nature of the resistance to war. How things have changed. At the moment, we can only guess at the size of tomorrow's protests, but anecdotal evidence is talking big. ...
More unusual protests, such as delegations to Iraq, have been helping to raise awareness of particular issues, such as the plight of civilians.
And more confrontational protests have also begun, and will develop further with the beginning of the war. The tolerance for direct action has been growing over the last few years, and already more than 4,000 people in Britain (including myself) have signed a pledge to support civil disobedience, such as blocking roads, when the war begins.
But right now, a straightforward show of people out marching makes a very straightforward point very well: that the politicians are out of step with the people. In Britain, recent polls symbolize a crisis of legitimacy for our Government that, come tomorrow, it will have to work hard to dismiss. The march represents the people; the Government does not. According to a midweek BBC poll, the march represents about 90 per cent of the people in Britain (unless the UN gets behind war) and the Government represents about 10 per cent.
Because of this massive public support, even its opposers are finding it hard to marginalize the march. As we all know, peace marchers in the Sixties were a hippie rabble, and those in the Eighties were scruffy dykes; but who do we have here? Since even Daily Telegraph commentators are saying that they and their friends will be there, it could be anyone.
Even people who believe that war may ultimately be necessary, depending on how things go with the weapon inspections, will still go on the march to put the case that more time is needed right now. The few journalists who are totally against the march are trying to tell us that it will be dominated by old-style Trotskyites or new-style anti-Semites, but that is pretty weedy scaremongering. [...]