Recent Entries in Politics

  The Illegal Internet Page

Earlier, a federal court in Philadelphia had already ruled that the CDA was unconstitutional: quoth that court, "Just as the strength of the Internet is chaos, so the strength of our liberty depends upon the chaos and cacophony of the unfettered speech the First Amendment protects."

So this page isn't too illegal after all. But I still think it's important that the information on this page be widely known. Pro-choice resources follow what I originally had to say about the CDA:

The U.S. Congress (the law-making body of the U.S. government) has passed a bill called the Telecommunications Bill, which President Bill Clinton has just signed into law. One part of this Act, the Communications Decency Act, makes it illegal to discuss or provide information related to abortion on the Internet.

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Contaminated metal, equipment and even entire buildings in Iraq that had been monitored by UN nuclear inspectors have disappeared since the war, the UN's nuclear watchdog said.

Diplomats said the discovery, much of it from commercially available satellite pictures, raises concerns about whether the US occupation in Iraq has been able to effectively monitor sensitive Iraq sites. "The imagery shows that there has been extensive removal of equipment and, in some instances, removal of entire buildings," International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said in a letter to the UN Security Council. "Other information available to the agency, confirmed through visits to other countries, indicates that large quantities of scrap, some of it contaminated, have been transferred out of Iraq," he said. ElBaradei said it was unclear if the material had gone missing in the looting that engulfed Iraq in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's ouster or "as part of systematic efforts to rehabilitate some of the locations." He said that the United States had been informed of the discovery. "We have seen the report and we are concerned, and we told the IAEA we are looking into the matter," a US diplomat said. UN inspectors left Iraq in March 2003 on the eve of the US-led war, and ElBaradei said the movements of the material could have a major impact on their "continuity of knowledge" about whatever nuclear capacity Iraq still has. There is also concern about the proliferation of so-called dual-use material, which could either serve as part of weapons systems or have civilian, non- military applications.

  Britian in Danger

Britain's top policeman has underlined his warnings about the terrorist threat to Britain.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens said: "We are now in a state of real danger."

He firmly rejected the accusation that he had been scaremongering or that the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, had rebuked him for saying that an attack on Britain was "inevitable".

  Letting George Do It

Pondering The World's Mother-In-Law

I'm trying to understand American foreign policy. It's like oil-painting on a trampoline, but makes less sense. I'm not sure anybody could do it--not even if you took St. Augustine and Jimmy the Greek and Carl Friedrichs Gauss and wired them together in parallel.

It seems that we're going to blow up Iraq. Some folk will call it a war, but it'll be more like drowning a litter of puppies. Iraq is a primitive country and hasn't got a chance. That's convenient, and lots of fun, but it ain't war.

Washington has reversed course and will require millions of travellers from 27 countries to be fingerprinted and photographed before entering the United States.

The change affects citizens from 27 previously-exempt countries, including close U.S. allies like Great Britain, Japan and Australia. Up to now, visitors from those and other countries had been allowed to travel within the U.S. for 90 days without a visa.

Starting Sept. 30, however, travellers from those countries will be fingerprinted and photographed when they enter the U.S. through any of 115 airports and 14 seaports.

The decision to change security was made after Bush administration officials determined that the so-called "visa-waiver countries" wouldn't be able to meet an October deadline for machine-readable passports containing biometric information, including fingerprint and iris identification features. Such features make documents virtually impossible to counterfeit.

Canadian and Mexican travellers remain exempt from the system.

Check out the article

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The International Court of Justice on Wednesday ruled that the United States violated the rights of 51 Mexicans on death row and ordered their cases be reviewed.

The United Nations' highest judiciary, also known as the world court, was considering a suit filed by Mexico claiming 52 convicted murderers weren't given their right to assistance from their government.

"The U.S. should provide by means of its own choosing meaningful review of the conviction and sentence" of the Mexicans, presiding judge Shi Jiuyong said.

Shi said the review, in all but three cases, could be carried out under the normal appeals process in the United States.

But for three men whose have already exhausted all other appeals, the court said the United States should make an exception and review their cases one last time.

The court found that in the remaining case, the convict had received his rights and his case didn't need to be reviewed.

At the heart of the Mexico-U.S. case is the 1963 Vienna Convention, which guarantees people accused of a serious crime while in a foreign country the right to contact their own government for help and that they be informed of that right by arresting authorities.

The world court is charged with resolving disputes between nations and has jurisdiction over the treaty. It found that U.S. authorities hadn't properly informed the 51 men of their rights when they realized they were foreigners.

This paper deals with some of the same questions that Parvez asked his son. How and why do people become fanatics and terrorists, and what characterizes those who do? Are they influenced by particular events? Do they have common personality-traits or sociological attributes? Are they mentally unbalanced? Are there typical trajectories leading to membership of a terror organization?

"The Myth of Bush as Hero"
by Barbra Streisand

Finally ... finally we can talk about what's really going on. Rather than accept the myth that 9/11 turned President Bush into a "hero" ... former counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke has bravely spoken out to tell us the real story - that Bush did not treat terrorism as an urgent issue. And that going to war in Iraq, in addition to tragically costing us so many lives, has diverted money and resources away from where they should have been focused - on dismantling al Qaeda and strengthening our homeland security.

We now know that the Bush White House never made counterterrorism a priority leading up to September 11th. In fact, on April 30, 2001, the new administration released the government's annual report on terrorism, with a noted change: extensive mention of bin Laden, which previous terrorism reports contained, had been left out. A Bush State Department Official reportedly told CNN at that time that the U.S. government under Clinton had made a mistake in focusing so much energy on bin Laden.

In fact, Bush never even held a cabinet level meeting devoted to terrorism until the week before the attack. While FBI agents were fielding concerns about non-citizens in flight school uninterested in learning how to land planes, and the CIA was aware that potential terrorists had entered the United States, because terrorism was not a priority in the high levels of the federal government these discussions were never elevated to a place where the information could be shared across departments, where the appropriate people would have an opportunity to connect the dots...


  Who is Osama Bin Laden?

Osama Bin Laden is top of US President Bush's most wanted list, but to many young people in the Muslim world, he is a hero.

He is wanted in connection with a number of atrocities, including the 1998 bombing of two US embassies in East Africa and - most notoriously - the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001.

Since then, his al-Qaeda organisation has been linked indirectly with bombings on the island of Bali in Indonesia and its capital Jakarta, as well as with devastating suicide attacks in Casablanca, Riyadh and Istanbul.

President Bush said in his State of the Union address in January: "We are tracking al-Qaeda around the world, and nearly two-thirds of their known leaders have now been captured or killed."

But more than two years after the 9/11 attacks, the whereabouts of Bin Laden himself remain a mystery.

Exactly one month after the following lesson plan was first posted on the Internet, we have received many comments from people all over the country and in other parts of the world - all of whom were pleased with the ultimate objective of the lesson as well as the useful information. We have also received some suggestions for changes - most of which are reflected on today's date. One comment that needs to be addressed upfront is that some Americans may not appreciate or be ready for the organizing theme, What is one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

We want to be perfectly clear about his lesson - it is not intended to justify or in any way defend the tragedy and grief Americans and other citizens of the world have suffered. Rather, this lesson plan is purely an educational device - one that is organized around this well-worn phrase about terrorism versus freedom fighting. The point is not that whoever committed this atrocious act against human kind is a freedom fighter, but that those persons perceive themselves to be fighting for some type of freedom. We need to understand this about those who are our sworn enemies!

Students should understand that terrorism is not universally defined throughout the world and that different people and different nations define terrorism differently. Thus, when we discuss the horrific consequences of the September 11th tragedy, it is important for students to think about why other people and other nations might hate the United States so much that they would commit such a horrendous crime.

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - If Paetongtarn Shinawatra thought she could keep a low profile Monday on her first day working at McDonald's, her hopes were dashed when her father, Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, dropped by for a takeaway.

Thaksin, who became one of Thailand's richest men by investing in telecommunications, let the phalanx of reporters trailing him know that even in the family of a billionaire, the younger generation must learn the value of money and hard work.

"Thai kids, when they finish school, they don't know how to work," said Thaksin, as his giggly daughter stood by. Paetongtarn, 17, will be earning the equivalent of 80 cents Cdn per hour in her part-time job.

"I just want her to have the experience and to know about life, because she is the youngest child and when she was born her parents already had status," he said. "Money isn't the main issue. We want her to find experience."

CRAWFORD, Texas - Donna Coody disbanded her 7-year-old daughter's Brownie troop and took her 9-year-old daughter out of another Girl Scout troop because she was upset over the organization's endorsement of two Planned Parenthood (news - web sites) sex education seminars.

But Coody didn't want her daughters and their friends to miss out on camping trips, educational activities and service projects. So she decided in March to start a troop affiliated with the Christian-based American Heritage Girls.

"I felt like the Girl Scouts' morals were definitely lacking, and the girls needed another choice," Coody said.

American Heritage Girls was founded in 1995 by a Cincinnati-area woman and her friends who were unhappy that the Girl Scouts accepted lesbians as troop leaders, banned prayer at meetings and allowed girls to substitute the word "God" in the oath.

What started with 100 girls in Ohio has turned into a nonprofit group with 2,800 members in 22 states . with a 40 percent enrollment boost since the fall, founder Patti Garibay said.

Troops must be chartered by a church or private school with the same basic religious beliefs as American Heritage Girls. Leaders must sign a statement of faith, but girls don't have to be religious to join. The organization receives no government money and operates by donations, fund raising, membership dues and merchandise sales.

  My Hell in Camp X-Ray

A British captive freed from Guantanamo Bay today tells the world of its full horror - and reveals how prostitutes were taken into the camp to degrade Muslim inmates.

Jamal al-Harith, 37, who arrived home three days ago after two years of confinement, is the first detainee to lift the lid on the US regime in Cuba's Camp X-Ray and Camp Delta.

The father-of-three, from Manchester, told how he was assaulted with fists, feet and batons after refusing a mystery injection.

He said detainees were shackled for up to 15 hours at a time in hand and leg cuffs with metal links which cut into the skin.

Hundreds of terror suspects are held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba confirmed that Guantanamo detainees may still be kept in detention, even if they are found not guilty by a military tribunal.

Pentagon officials have confirmed that Guantanamo detainees may still be kept in detention, even if they are found not guilty by a military tribunal.

They say detainees could be kept prisoner if they are considered a security risk.

If found guilty, they could also be held beyond any sentence laid down by the tribunal.

The Pentagon this week laid the first charges against two foreign detainees held in Guantanamo Bay.

FBI agents destroyed evidence and failed to share other information that raised the possibility that a gang of white supremacist bank robbers may have assisted Timothy McVeigh during the Oklahoma City bombing, according to documents never introduced at McVeigh's trial.

Both the FBI supervisor who ran the Oklahoma City investigation and the veteran agent who was in command at the bombing scene say the new evidence, detailed in documents obtained by The Associated Press, is serious enough to warrant reopening the inquiry nine years later.

  Something to 'Howl' About

Ginsberg's Icon- Busting Poem Resonates in the Patriot Act Era
by Jonah Raskin

Fifty years ago, an unpublished 28-year-old American poet came into the United States at Mexicali dreaming of literary glory. His name was Allen Ginsberg, and after traveling from New York to Havana and through the jungles of Mexico, he was eager to write the great American poem. It was time for him to take his rightful place, or so he thought, with Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams in the poet pantheon.

In California in 1954 . the year the nation began to emerge from McCarthyism, the Korean War and legal segregation in the South . Ginsberg began to shed his New York skin and cast himself as a wild West Coast poet. He wanted to write an explosive, apocalyptic poem befitting the Atomic Age. He would sing of himself and his country, with its "infernal bombs," "industries / of night" and "dreams / of war." Nothing would stop him, not his own "solitary craze" and certainly not the conformity of the times . the Eisenhower era, the Cold War . that seemed so antithetical to rebels with or without causes.

The first draft of "Howl" poured out of him. But for nearly a year afterward, Ginsberg revised, reorganized and reshaped it, section by section, word by word. When he was done, he knew he'd created the great American poem he'd set out to write. It was a personal coming-out, and to the hipsters of the 1950s it announced the liberation of an entire generation.

"Howl" was overtly antiwar and anti-capitalist. It mocked the FBI, condemned "scholars of war" and, at the dawn of the age of Hugh Hefner's suave playboy, celebrated the male sexual outlaw who made love in "empty lots & diner / backyards." It also challenged the conventional poetry of its day. It was boldly lyrical, intensely personal, ironic, ambiguous . and very funny.

Not surprisingly, Ginsberg's poem electrified audiences everywhere. In San Francisco, where he performed it for the first time in 1955, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, proprietor of the fledgling City Lights Books, promised to publish it in the City Lights Pocket Poets Series. In Hollywood, after the poet disrobed and stood naked before a shocked crowd, Ana�s Nin applauded him as a genius and celebrated his work as a masterpiece of surrealism. Indeed, "Howl" practically screamed surrealism in phrases like "hydrogen jukebox" and "drunken taxi cabs." And, beneath its raucous surface, an astute reader might also hear the cosmopolitan voice of T.S. Eliot.

Of all the outrageous words in the poem, it was the F-word and the S-word that drew the ire of authorities. The little book was seized by U.S. Customs . Ferlinghetti had contracted with British printers, hoping to circumvent censorship . and then the San Francisco police stepped in. In 1957, Ferlinghetti went on trial for obscenity, while Ginsberg, who had left for Europe in 1956, promoted the book shamelessly everywhere he went. Back home, the American Civil Liberties Union came to the rescue. Judge Clayton Horn ruled for "Howl" and the 1st Amendment. Suddenly the poem that began as a personal statement and an individual vision turned into a bestseller. It was translated into more than two dozen languages and read around the world as a cry against everything that wasn't cool.

From the opening line . "I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving / hysterical, naked" . to the last peaceful image of a "cottage in the western night," "Howl" inspired generations of artists, musicians and nonconformists, from Bob Dylan to Patti Smith, from hippies to punk rockers to today's rappers. The outlaw poem made it into the standard anthologies. And it helped liberate American literature from European traditions, making room for the American vernacular, mythologizing American places and people.

Ginsberg never wrote another poem as original as "Howl," but he still produced decades of memorable, often inspired, work. And he went on defying the established order . protesting against the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, censorship and intolerance.

And in the age of the Patriot Act, weapons of mass destruction and U.S. Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, "Howl" is just as subversive, seductive and irreverent as ever. Were Ginsberg alive today . he died in 1997 at age 70 . he would demand an end to war and declare the imminent advent of paradise. He would make poetry matter again, as he did with "Howl" half a century ago.

  RCMP raid sparks outrage

The RCMP launched a massive and highly unusual search of the home and office of an Ottawa reporter yesterday in a bid to find leaked material in the Maher Arar case.

The raid was condemned by organizations representing journalists.

"I think this is a black, black day for freedom in this country, and I'm absolutely outraged," said Scott Anderson, editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen.

At 8 a.m. yesterday, 10 RCMP officers arrived at the home of Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill with a search warrant. Over the next 5 1/2 hours, they searched her house, went through her personal belongings, downloaded her computer's hard drive and took away files, spiral notebooks, address books and phonebooks. A similar search took place at her office at the Citizen's city hall bureau.

O'Neill, looking drained, emerged from her house with criminal defence lawyer Wendy Montgomery, who held up a copy of the warrant for a crowd of photographers and reporters.

Police were seeking the source of an alleged information leak stemming from a Nov. 8 story O'Neill wrote on Arar, a Canadian citizen from Syria who was deported to his native country by U.S. authorities after being stopped in New York in 2002.

Check out the Story here.

Lawyers for a Canadian who was deported to Syria by American authorities in 2002 say they will formally file a lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in New York on Thursday.

Maher Arar, a 33-year-old computer engineer who lives in Ottawa, will participate by telephone in a New York news conference announcing the filing.

The American Centre for Constitutional Rights, which announced last year that it would oversee Arar's suit, said the legal papers will be filed in the U.S. District Court for the eastern district of New York.

The centre would not comment on the details of the suit before the news conference.

Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, was detained by American authorities in New York in the fall of 2002 while on his way home from a visit to Tunisia. Because he holds dual citizenship, he was deported to Syria, where he says he was tortured before being released without explanation last October.

The Americans said he was an Al Qaeda terrorist suspect, although he has never been charged with a crime in any country.
Check out the Story here.

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