August 19, 2006

Rape, Murder, and the American GI
By Robin Morgan

We must not forget the death of Abeer, who was allegedly stalked, raped and killed by American soldiers. Abeer was 14 years old; her name means 'fragrance of flowers.'

Her birthday is August 19, her death day March 12.

We cannot let this crime, too, pass into oblivion.

When news surfaced that GIs allegedly stalked, terrorized, gang-raped, and killed an Iraqi woman, the U.S. tried minimizing this latest atrocity by our troops -- claiming the victim was age 25 or even 50, implying a rape-murder is less horrific if the victim is an older woman. Now, Article 32 hearings -- the military equivalent of a grand jury -- have ended at Camp Liberty, a U.S. base in Iraq (U.S. troops are exempt from Iraqi prosecution). In September, a general will rule whether the accused should be court-martialed. The defense already pleads post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): in four months preceding the crime, 17 of the accused GIs' battalion were killed; their company, Bravo, suffered eight combat deaths.

But as the U.S. spun the victim's identity, investigators knew her name: Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi.

Abeer means "fragrance of flowers." She was 14 years old. more...

August 18, 2006

America's Eco-Refugees
Lester Brown

Those of us who track the effects of global warming had assumed that the first large flow of climate refugees would likely be in the South Pacific, with the abandonment of Tuvalu or other low-lying islands. We were wrong.

Interestingly, the country to suffer the most damage from a hurricane is also primarily responsible for global warming. The first massive movement of climate refugees has been that of people away from the Gulf Coast of the United States.

Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall in late August 2005, forced a million people from New Orleans and the small towns on the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts to move inland either within their state or to neighboring states, such as Texas and Arkansas. Although nearly all planned to return, many have not. more...

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Mass murder in the skies: was the plot feasible?
Let's whip up some TATP and find out
By Thomas C Greene in Washington

Binary liquid explosives are a sexy staple of Hollywood thrillers. It would be tedious to enumerate the movie terrorists who've employed relatively harmless liquids that, when mixed, immediately rain destruction upon an innocent populace, like the seven angels of God's wrath pouring out their bowls full of pestilence and pain.

The funny thing about these movies is, we never learn just which two chemicals can be handled safely when separate, yet instantly blow us all to kingdom come when combined. Nevertheless, we maintain a great eagerness to believe in these substances, chiefly because action movies wouldn't be as much fun if we didn't.

Now we have news of the recent, supposedly real-world, terrorist plot to destroy commercial airplanes by smuggling onboard the benign precursors to a deadly explosive, and mixing up a batch of liquid death in the lavatories. So, The Register has got to ask, were these guys for real, or have they, and the counterterrorist officials supposedly protecting us, been watching too many action movies?

We're told that the suspects were planning to use TATP, or triacetone triperoxide, a high explosive that supposedly can be made from common household chemicals unlikely to be caught by airport screeners. A little hair dye, drain cleaner, and paint thinner - all easily concealed in drinks bottles - and the forces of evil have effectively smuggled a deadly bomb onboard your plane.

Or at least that's what we're hearing, and loudly, through the mainstream media and its legions of so-called "terrorism experts." But what do these experts know about chemistry? Less than they know about lobbying for Homeland Security pork, which is what most of them do for a living. But they've seen the same movies that you and I have seen, and so the myth of binary liquid explosives dies hard. more...

August 17, 2006

The Terror Within
by Dennis Perrin

...about my own terror, which I attempt to keep in check on a daily basis. It's not an easy task, especially when mixing with my fellow Americans at various public outlets. Indeed, I don't know how those who read as much if not more than I do about this violent world can keep it all together. There are moments when I want to scream for mercy and run for the nearest hiding place.

This personal madness hit me again last Friday when I took the boy to a local water park out in the boonies. First and foremost, a lot of Michiganers are fat. I mean, almost bizarrely out of shape. You see this all year round, but it really shows in the summer, for obvious reasons. It's one thing to see an adult let him or herself go, but it's incredibly sad and depressing to look at kids, mostly preteens, but teens as well, sporting huge guts, flabby arms, several chins. And the eating doesn't stop, evidenced by the long line at the park's concession stand where hot dogs, chips, soda and ice cream were doled out to the pale, plump mass. I say this not to be mean or denigrating but to set the actual mood. At a time when our "liberation" of Afghanistan has done zilch for the starving and dying there, obese Americans, some of whom were wearing pro-war or pro-military t-shirts, cramming junk food into their mouths was a pretty sickening, if standard, sight.

But the boy was having a ball. He focused solely on the many watery diversions, laughing and leaping (yes, actual leaping) with pure, uncynical joy. So I tapped into his happy vibe and it served as a protective bubble of sorts as we flew down slides, rode large waves, got hit with numerous kinds of water sprays and showers. The bubble protected for only so long, however, as we kept having to deal with rude, obnoxious adults, some of whom encouraged their kids to cut in line and laughed as some of the more aggressive youth punched and put in headlocks smaller or thinner kids -- all in good clean fun, of course. more...

August 16, 2006

Thinking about '08: Playing Pundit for Fun, No Profit
by Eric Alterman

When Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean in 2004 right before Dean's campaign imploded, taking $40 million with it, everyone treated Gore as if he had gone even crazier--what with growing a beard, pointing out that Iraq was a mistake and George W. Bush was a liar. My thought was that Gore was positioning himself for 2008. Hillary was already remaking herself as the DLC candidate and Gore was fitting into his role as the Moveon.org candidate. Those were the party's two national power bases, and their strength varies from region to region, but they both produce money and Moveon produces money and volunteers. (I am using these two organizations as a short hand for all of the organizations they represent. Another way to do it would be "Establishment" and "Insurgency.")

If both Gore and Hillary do run for the presidency, I still think that's the way the race will shake out. With these two heavyweights in the race, there will be no "oxygen"--i.e. money and media attention--for anyone to cut-in on this meta-and mega-grudge match.

If Hillary runs and Gore does not--as seems most likely today--then the race is all about being the un-or anti-Hillary. more...

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The Pols Who Cried Wolf
by Molly Ivins  

AUSTIN, Texas - We have nothing to fear but fear itself, especially since fear is now being fomented and manipulated for political purposes by a bunch of shameless hacks. Who is trying to make you afraid and why? This Karl Rove tactic is getting quite threadbare, in fact, and so much so that it is getting dangerously close to comedy.

My favorite episode, of course, was the Miami terrorists, a fearsome horde of seven described by the FBI‚s deputy director as „more aspirational than operational.š That means wannabes. An FBI informant posing as a member of Al Qaeda offered to supply the plotters with material for the jihad, so they asked for boots and uniforms. Every terrorist needs a uniform.

Of course, even a nincompoop can succeed occasionallyųbut the list of wannabes keeps growing. Seventeen people were arrested in Canada for intending to behead the prime minister. Has anyone in all of history ever cared that much about a Canadian prime minister? Canada‚s national motto is „Now, let‚s not get excited.š

Of the hundreds of prisoners, alleged terrorists all, who have been held at Guantanamo on the grounds that they were the worst of the worst, only 10 have ever been charged with anything. In the latest episode, shortly after announcement of a British-based plot to blow up airliners, Britain and the United States were airing their differences over when the perpetrators should have been arrested.

The administration has put itself in the position of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. If, God forbid, a serious terrorist conspiracy is uncovered, there will be a tendency to dismiss it in a backlash to these over-hyped „plots.š more...

August 15, 2006

So, Osama walks into this bar, see?
by Greg Palast

So, Osama Walks into This Bar, See? and Bush says, „Whad‚l'ya have, pardner?š and Osama says∑

But wait a minute. I‚d better shut my mouth. The sign here in the airport says, „Security is no joking matter.š But if security‚s no joking matter, why does this guy dressed in a high-school marching band outfit tell me to dump my Frappuccino and take off my shoes? All I can say is, Thank the Lord the „shoe bomberš didn‚t carry Semtex in his underpants.

Today‚s a RED and ORANGE ALERT day. How odd. They just caught the British guys with the chemistry sets. But when these guys were about to blow up airliners, the USA was on YELLOW alert. That‚s a „loweredš threat notice.

According to the press office from the Department of Homeland Security, lowered-threat Yellow means that there were no special inspections of passengers or cargo. Isn‚t it nice of Mr. Bush to alert Osama when half our security forces are given the day off? Hmm. I asked an Israeli security expert why his nation doesn‚t use these pretty color codes.

He asked me if, when I woke up, I checked the day‚s terror color.

„I can‚t say I ever have. I mean, who would?š

He smiled. „The terrorists.š more...

August 14, 2006

WATCHING LEBANON
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH

Washington‚s interests in Israel‚s war.

In the days after Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel, on July 12th, to kidnap two soldiers, triggering an Israeli air attack on Lebanon and a full-scale war, the Bush Administration seemed strangely passive. „It‚s a moment of clarification,š President George W. Bush said at the G-8 summit, in St. Petersburg, on July 16th. „It‚s now become clear why we don‚t have peace in the Middle East.š He described the relationship between Hezbollah and its supporters in Iran and Syria as one of the „root causes of instability,š and subsequently said that it was up to those countries to end the crisis. Two days later, despite calls from several governments for the United States to take the lead in negotiations to end the fighting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a ceasefire should be put off until „the conditions are conducive.š

The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel‚s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah‚s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel‚s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preĎmptive attack to destroy Iran‚s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.

Israeli military and intelligence experts I spoke to emphasized that the country‚s immediate security issues were reason enough to confront Hezbollah, regardless of what the Bush Administration wanted. Shabtai Shavit, a national-security adviser to the Knesset who headed the Mossad, Israel‚s foreign-intelligence service, from 1989 to 1996, told me, „We do what we think is best for us, and if it happens to meet America‚s requirements, that‚s just part of a relationship between two friends. Hezbollah is armed to the teeth and trained in the most advanced technology of guerrilla warfare. It was just a matter of time. We had to address it.š more...

August 13, 2006

Source: U.S., U.K. at odds over timing of arrests
British wanted to continue surveillance on terror suspects, official says
By Aram Roston, Lisa Myers, and the NBC News Investigative Unit

LONDON - NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.

A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports. more...
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