Recent Entries in Politics

There is a surreal quality about visiting the United States in the last days of the presidential campaign. If George W Bush wins, according to a scientist I met, who escaped Nazi-dominated Europe, America will surrender many of its democratic trappings and succumb to its totalitarian impulses. If John Kerry wins, according to most Democrat voters, the only mandate he will have is that he is not Bush.

Never have so many liberal hands been wrung over a candidate whose only memorable statements seek to out-Bush Bush. Take Iran. One of Kerry's national security advisers, Susan Rice, has accused Bush of 'standing on the sidelines while Iran's nuclear programme has been advanced'. There is not a shred of evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, yet Kerry is joining in the same orchestrated frenzy that led to the invasion of Iraq. Having begun his campaign by promising another 40,000 troops for Iraq, he is said to have a 'secret plan to end the war' which foresees a withdrawal in four years. This is an echo of Richard Nixon, who in the 1968 presidential campaign promised a 'secret plan' to end the war in Vietnam.

Once in office, he accelerated the slaughter and the war dragged on for six and a half years. For Kerry, like Nixon, the message is that he is not a wimp. Nothing in his campaign or his career suggests he will not continue, even escalate, the 'war on terror', which is now sanctified as a crusade of Americanism like that against communism. No Democratic president has shirked such a task: John Kennedy on the cold war, Lyndon Johnson on Vietnam.

AxisofLogic/ The 2004 Elections

Every four years, liberals unhitch the cart and put it in front of the horse, arguing that the only way to a better tomorrow is to vote for the Democratic nominee. But unless the nominee and Congress are pushed forward by social currents too strong for them to ignore or defy, nothing will alter the default path chosen by the country's supreme commanders and their respective parties. In the American Empire of today, that path is never towards the good. Our task is not to dither in distraction over the lesser of two evil prospects, which will only turn out to be a detour along the same highway.

As now constituted, presidential contests, focused almost exclusively on the candidates of the two major parties, are worse than useless in furnishing any opportunity for national debate. Consider the number of issues on which there is tacit agreement between the Democratic and Republican parties, either as a matter of principle or with an expedient nod-and-wink that, beyond pro forma sloganeering, these are not matters suitable to be discussed in any public forum: the role of the Federal Reserve; trade policy; economic redistribution; the role and budget of the cia and other intelligence agencies (almost all military); nuclear disarmament; reduction of the military budget and the allocation of military procurement; roles and policies of the World Bank, imf, wto; crime, punishment and the prison explosion; the war on drugs; corporate welfare; energy policy; forest policy; the destruction of small farmers and ranchers; Israel; the corruption of the political system; the occupation of Iraq. The most significant outcome of the electoral process is usually imposed on prospective voters weeks or months ahead of polling day -- namely, the consensus between the supposed adversaries as to what is off the agenda.

AxisofLogic/ Americas

U.S. rulers confront sharpening political, military conflicts, as imperialism enters opening stages of a world depression.

Many members of the communist movement today have never lived through a ground war launched by the imperialist rulers, one involving large numbers of soldiers from the ranks of the American working class and resulting in many thousands of deaths on all sides. We are going to see wars of that kind not just in the decades ahead, but in the years, possibly even months ahead.

Only a couple of participants at this convention, those close to eighty years old, have lived, as political people, through a world depression. Some of us have experienced two or three deep-going slumps since the mid-1970s. In one or another of these downturns stock prices dropped sharply over a number of years, unemployment shot into double digits in several imperialist countries, and there were sudden bursts of inflation. That's different, however, from a deflation of such magnitude that the financial backbone of world capitalism--its debt structure and dominant financial institutions--buckle, production plummets, long-term joblessness spreads worldwide, and the great mass of humanity is hit by economic contraction or bouts of ruinous price explosions -- sometimes both together. Masses of people lose faith in capitalism, but at first they just lose hope. Conditions of that kind, which have stalked the most vulnerable parts of the colonial world over the past decades, will become widespread and devastating. We're not predicting such a world depression; we're living through its very opening stages today.

The Militant - November 2, 2004 -- Capitalism's Long Hot Winter Has Begun

Uruguay made a historic political shift Sunday in electing its first leftist president, Tabare Vazquez, and giving his coalition a majority in Congress to face rebuilding the country after its recent economic crisis.

Uruguay joins the ranks of South American nations -- Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Venezuela -- that have chosen left-leaning leaders on platforms of alleviating poverty following a decade of U.S.-backed free-market policies that often ended in economic chaos.

Vazquez's 33-year-old Broad Front coalition -- including Socialists, Communists, Social Democrats and a hugely popular former guerrilla movement -- also secured majorities in both houses of Congress.

International News Article |

Osama bin Laden accused George W. Bush on Saturday of deceiving Americans and said the Sept. 11 attacks would not have been so severe if the U.S. president had been alert.

Bin Laden, appearing in a video on Al Jazeera four days before the U.S. presidential election and gesturing at the camera with a finger to stress points, made his clearest comments yet taking responsibility for the Sept 11 attacks.

"Despite entering the fourth year after Sept. 11, Bush is still deceiving you and hiding the truth from you and therefore the reasons are still there to repeat what happened," said the al Qaeda leader, making his first video appearance for more than a year.

The Bush administration resembled "corrupt" Arab governments, he said.

Top News Article |

More than 100,000 civilians have probably died as direct or indirect consequences of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, according to a study by a research team at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

The report was published on the Internet by The Lancet, the British medical journal. The figure is far higher than previous mortality estimates. Editors of the journal decided not to wait for The Lancet's normal publication date next week, but instead to place the research online Friday, apparently so it could circulate before the U.S. presidential election.

The finding is certain to generate intense controversy, since the Bush administration has not estimated civilian casualties from the conflict, and independent groups have put the number at most in the tens of thousands.

In the study, teams of researchers fanned out across Iraq in mid-September to interview nearly 1,000 families in 33 previously selected locations. Families were interviewed about births and deaths in the household before and after the invasion.

Although the paper's authors acknowledge that thorough data collection was difficult in what is effectively still a war zone, the data they managed to collect are extensive: Iraqis were 2.5 times more likely to die in the 17 months following the invasion than in the 14 months before it. Before the invasion, the most common causes of death in Iraq were heart attacks, strokes and chronic diseases. Afterward, violent death was far ahead of all other causes.

"We were shocked at the magnitude but we're quite sure that the estimate of 100,000 is a conservative estimate," said Dr. Gilbert Burnham of the Johns Hopkins study team. He said the team had excluded deaths in Falluja in making their estimate, since that city was the site of unusually intense violence.

In 15 of the 33 communities visited, residents reported violent deaths in the family since the conflict started in March 2003. They attributed many of those deaths to attacks by coalition forces - mostly airstrikes - and most of the reported deaths were of women and children.

The risk of violent death was 58 times higher than before the war, the researchers found.

"The fact that more than half of the deaths caused by the occupation forces were women and children is a cause for concern," the authors wrote.

The team included researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for International Emergency, Disaster and Refugee Studies as well as doctors from Al Mustansiriya University Medical School in Baghdad.

There is bound to be skepticism about the estimate of 100,000 excess deaths, which translates into an average of 166 excess deaths a day since the invasion. But some were not surprised.

"I am emotionally shocked, but I have no trouble in believing that this many people have been killed," said Scott Lipscomb, an associate professor at Northwestern University.

Lipscomb works on a Web site called That project, which collates only media-reported deaths, currently puts the death toll at just under 17,000. "We've always maintained that the actual count must be much higher," Lipscomb said.

The researchers were highly technical in their selection of interview sites and data analysis, although interview locations were limited somewhat by the researchers' decision to cut down driving time when statistically possible to minimize risk to the interviewers.

Although the teams relied primarily on interviews with local residents, they also asked to see at least two death certificates at the end of interviews in each area, to try to ensure that people had remembered and responded honestly. The research team decided that asking for death certificates in each case, during the interviews, might cause hostility and could put the research team in danger.

Some of those killed may have been insurgents rather than civilians, the authors noted. Also, the rise in mortality included a rise in murders and some deaths attributable to the deterioration of medical care.

"But the majority of excess mortality is clearly due to violence," Burnham said.

The paper is studied and scientific, reserving judgment on the politics of the Iraq conflict. But in an accompanying editorial, Dr. Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, is acerbic and to the point about its message.

"From a purely public health perspective it is clear that whatever planning did take place was grievously in error," Horton wrote. "The invasion of Iraq, the displacement of a cruel dictator and the attempt to impose a liberal democracy by force have, by themselves, been insufficient to bring peace and security to the civilian population. Democratic imperialism has led to more deaths, not fewer."

Britain to examine study

The British foreign secretary, Jack Straw said Friday that his government would study the Lancet report "in a very serious way," Agence France-Presse reported from London.

"This is a very high estimate, indeed," Straw said on BBC radio. "Because it's in The Lancet, it is obviously something we have to look at in a very serious way," he said.

Straw was speaking from Rome, where Prime Minister Tony Blair was among European Union leaders there to sign the proposed EU constitution.

PARIS More than 100,000 civilians have probably died as direct or indirect consequences of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, according to a study by a research team at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

The report was published on the Internet by The Lancet, the British medical journal. The figure is far higher than previous mortality estimates. Editors of the journal decided not to wait for The Lancet's normal publication date next week, but instead to place the research online Friday, apparently so it could circulate before the U.S. presidential election.

The finding is certain to generate intense controversy, since the Bush administration has not estimated civilian casualties from the conflict, and independent groups have put the number at most in the tens of thousands.

Study puts civilian toll in Iraq at over 100,000

Cubans jammed banks and exchange kiosks to swap their dollars for local pesos on Thursday, as the communist government, retaliating for tightened sanctions, moved to pull the U.S. currency from general circulation.

Thursday was the first day Cubans were able to exchange dollars for convertible Cuban pesos, which are pegged at par with the dollar but worthless outside the country.

Many were uncertain about changing their precious hard currency -- mostly sent by relatives in the United States -- but felt they had little choice.

"People will have to change their dollars to live off, but they would rather keep their money in dollars," said dissident journalist Oscar Mario Gonzalez outside an exchange booth. "They know the Cuban peso is useless when they leave the Cuban coast."

Others waiting in line said the government had had no choice. "This is not an arbitrary decision. It is due to the unilateral action of the U.S. government against Cuba," book editor Cesar Ramos said.

Latest News and Financial Information |

The U.S. economic embargo of Cuba jumped to the top of the Castro government's agenda on Thursday.

For the 13th year in a row, the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution condemning the U.S. embargo. The vote in favor of the Cuba-sponsored resolution was 179-4. The four opposing votes came from the United States, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands. The vote last year was almost identical, 179 in favor, 3 against with two abstentions. The embargo has been in effect since 1962.

The U.N. condemnation has become an annual event in Cuba. Students and countless workers across the island stopped their regular activities at 1l a.m. to watch a special one-hour feature prepared by Cuba's State-run television and then follow the voting at the General Assembly session. In addition, Cuban TV began broadcasting the U.N. debate live at 9 a.m.

CBS News | UN Condemns U.S. Cuba Embargo | October 28, 2004�17:40:55

In the week leading up to the US presidential election, the Bush campaign still finds itself answering renewed challenges on its handling of the war on terror.

US Vice President Dick Cheney Tuesday called Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry an "armchair general" for his recent criticisms relating to the loss of 380 tons of explosives in Iraq.

As part of his argument that President George W. Bush has "failed miserably" to make America "safer at home and more respected in the world," Mr. Kerry has repeatedly asserted that Mr. Bush "took his eye off the ball of Osama bin Laden" in Afghanistan to attack Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.

Terrorism & Security |

The United States has failed to guard against torture and inhuman behavior since launching its "war on terror" after Sept. 11, 2001, Amnesty International said Wednesday in a report just days before the U.S. election.

The rights group called on President Bush and his Democratic challenger John Kerry to promise to take prompt action to address the issue head on if elected on Nov. 2.

It condemned Bush's response to the 2001 attacks on U.S. cities, saying it had resulted in an "iconography of torture, cruelty and degradation."

Amnesty's report accused Washington of stepping onto a "well-trodden path of violating basic rights in the name of national security or 'military necessity'."

US News Article |

The Democratic and Republican parties have warned that it could take weeks to decide the Nov. 2 election and have hired rival armies of attorneys and observers for the battle.

With US President George W. Bush and Democratic Senator John Kerry running neck-and-neck in opinion polls, both camps fear a repeat of the 2000 election debacle in Florida.

Kerry said on Sunday that he had put together a legal "dream team" to protect voter rights.

Taipei Times - archives

"Bush Relatives for Kerry" grew out of a series of conversations that took place between a group of people that have two things in common: they are all related to George Walker Bush, and they are all voting for John Kerry. As the election approaches, we feel it is our responsibility to speak out about why we are voting for John Kerry, and to do our small part to help America heal from the sickness it has suffered since George Bush was appointed President in 2000. We invite you to read our stories, and please, don't vote for our cousin!

Bush Relatives for Kerry

George Bush suffered an embarrassing rebellion in the ranks yesterday when the founder of the conservative Christian Coalition said the White House had dismissed the very idea of US casualties in Iraq during the run-up to the war.

In an interview with CNN, the movement's founder, Pat Robertson, described a conversation with Mr Bush shortly before the war in which Mr Robertson voiced his fears for American troops, and suggested it was time to prepare the country for loss.

Guardian Unlimited | US elections 2004 | Christian leader faults Bush on Iraq deaths

Without fanfare, President Bush signed into law on Friday a nearly $140 billion corporate tax cut bill derided by both Democratic presidential rival John Kerry and Republican Sen. John McCain as a giveaway to special interests.

Bush signed the measure into law aboard Air Force One en route to a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, forgoing a public signing ceremony that would have attracted attention to the tax cuts less than two weeks before Election Day.
The White House had marked the signing of Bush's other major tax bills with lavish public ceremonies. This one was marked with a one-paragraph statement by the press secretary.

US News Article |

Mary Cheney: Somewhere out there she exists, the actual Mary Cheney, child of the nondisclosed location, the one who's the luh-luh-lesbian. She's become this eternal and complicated mystery for people who are gay, and without ever really knowing her or hearing from her, they've spent four years writing poems, articles and protest songs about her. They've implored her with open letters in forums she may or may not ever read. They've waved signs with her name, started Web sites and put her on a milk carton as though she were a missing child. Oh, Mary Cheney, speak to us.

Then, after last week's final presidential debate, the subject of Mary went surprisingly national, and she became her very own polling question: Is it okay to drag Mary into this, as the Kerry-Edwards ticket has done?

What Everybody Doesn't Know About Mary Cheney (

With only three weeks until an Oct. 11 deadline set for hundreds of thousands of US troops abroad to mail in absentee ballots, this segment of the military vote is important - symbolically, as a reflection on Bush as a wartime commander, and politically, as absentee ballots could end up tipping the balance in closely contested states.

A strident minority: anti-Bush US troops in Iraq |

Two weeks before the U.S. election, hostility toward President George W. Bush has reached new heights internationally. A joint poll taken by 10 newspapers worldwide reveals that most of those surveyed oppose Bush's policies, want to see him defeated, and paint his influence on the global situation in the gloomiest colors.
Israelis, perhaps not surprisingly, are alone in their support of the American president. While in other countries, 60-80 percent of those asked said they believed the war in Iraq to have been a mistake, in Israel most thought it justified.

While more than half of those polled elsewhere stated their attitude toward the U.S. had deteriorated, most respondents in Israel said their opinion had improved, and 76 percent said the U.S. contributed to peace in the world. Among Israelis polled, 50 percent said they would like to see George Bush reelected, with only 24 percent for Kerry.

Haaretz - Israel News

  Kerry's Undeclared War

Kerry's adversaries have found it easy to ridicule his views on foreign policy, suggesting that his idea of counterterrorism is simply to go around arresting all the terrorists. This is what Dick Cheney was getting at when he said last month that there was a danger, should Kerry be elected, that "we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind-set, if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war." These barbs have some resonance, largely because Kerry is so obviously defensive about them; talking to him, you sometimes get the sense that he would gladly throw on a pair of night-vision goggles and abduct a member of his own staff if he thought it would prove he could be as tough on terror as his opponent. (When I asked one Kerry adviser what it was that voters needed to know about Kerry and terrorism, he replied without hesitation. "That he's strong and tough," he said. "In the case of John Kerry, unlike Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, he's looked people in the face and shot them dead.")

t r u t h o u t - Kerry's Undeclared War

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