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Where is the beef?

Something is missing beyond the spine of some Democrats in the rush to legalize warrantless wiretaps, end privacy, and reward corporations for betraying the public trust. Let’s call it the beef (or nicely textured soy protein for the vegetarians among us).

I am an empiricist at heart. I want proof in the form of sound evidence before I am willing to believe something is true. I am also deeply cynical and suspicious of politicians because too few decisions favor the common good. That cynicism has grown after our elected officials ‘misrepresented’ the threat posed by Iraq. In the uproar over the FISA revisions, now is a good time to point out there are some glaring gaps in the evidence at hand.  

Bush wants to annex Iraq

Patrick Coburn has a chilling piece in the Independent about what Bush is trying to push through the puppet government of Iraq.  The subhead gives a nice summary:

Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors

The deal would effectively tie the hands of the next administration unless the Iraqis can muster the political courage to reject it. Since the Bush administration has done everything possible to keep the terms secret to ward off an Iraqi backlash, the least we can do is make sure the leak spreads to flood proportion.

Since the story has now broken on the DD front page, courtesy of Mishima, I thought I would focus on a few key contradictions based on quotes from the article.

Human Rights Watch: US forces imprison children in Iraq (without due process)

The US military is back in the cross-hairs of human rights organizations.  The issue in question is our detention of children, their treatment in custody, judicial review, and access by international monitors. Today, the issue will come up for review by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

On May 22, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child will meet in Geneva to review US compliance with the international treaty banning the use of child soldiers, which requires states to help with the recovery and reintegration of such children under their control.

Source: Human Rights Watch

Although Iraq is supposedly a sovereign country, US forces still seem to be playing a major role in arresting and detaining Iraqi citizens, including children.  

Something inside me just snapped

It is just another revelation about our inhumanity toward others.  Usually the stories send me into a rage.  Today, something just snapped. I just feel sick and disoriented.

It happened when I read this story in the Washington Post. It is not even about the depravity of CIA, military, and civilian contractors under our glorious commander-in-chief Bush. It is about law enforcement officers watching war crimes and doing nothing.  

I am still trying to figure out why it caused my head to spin.

Pebble Mine: The biggest environmental threat in Alaska

Everyone has heard about ANWR.*  It is so well known that I do not have spell out the acronym. Ever heard of the Pebble Mine Project?  Probably not. The major environmental organizations have done an extremely poor job of publicizing this disaster in the making. Pebble Mine is worse than anything the oil thugs want to do in ANWR and it is in the permitting stage, making it a critical issue in terms of time and public awareness. Please join me for an introduction to the proposed Pebble Mine Project.


*Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

More bad news for Myanmar: Another cyclone may hit

As if the devastation from Cyclone Nargis on May 3 was not enough. As if the inability of the government to help the victims or allow international aid organizations to feed and shelter the millions in need was not enough.  As if the people of Myanmar had not suffered enough death, disease, hunger, thirst, cold, and fear.  An estimated 2 million survivors of the storm are still in need of emergency aid.  To date, U.N. agencies and other groups have been able to reach only 270,000 people.

Bottlenecks, poor logistics, limited infrastructure and the military government’s refusal to allow foreign aid workers have left most of the delta’s survivors living in miserable conditions without food or clean water. The government’s efforts have been criticized as woefully slow.


The situation is about to get much, much worse.  Forecasters are now tracking another tropical low that is expected to become another cyclone and track into the already devastated Irriwaddy delta.

Zen and the art of earth maintenance

A stumbling point for me in the practice of Buddhism is optimism.  I do not do optimism.  My thoughts on optimism parallel Ambrose Bierce.

Optimism: The doctrine that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly, everything good, especially the bad, and everything right that is wrong… It is hereditary, but fortunately not contagious.

I am particularly prone to pessimism (realism) when it comes to the response of our species to climate change. In reading the parable of the Burning House from the Lotus Sutra, I am tempted to wonder (which is as close as I come to hope).

Disaster in Burma: Poetry, pleas, and inept politicians

The death toll and suffering in Burma continues to rise in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis (Urdu for daffodil). The situation is dire.

Aid has barely trickled into one of the world’s most isolated and impoverished countries, although experts feared it would be too little to cope with the aftermath of Nargis, which left up to 100,000 feared dead and one million homeless.

Witnesses saw little evidence of a relief effort under way in the hard-hit Irrawaddy delta region.

“We’ll starve to death, if nothing is sent to us,” said Zaw Win, a 32-year-old fisherman who waded through floating corpses to find a boat for the two-hour journey to Bogalay, a town where the government said 10,000 people were killed.

We need food, water, clothes and shelter,” he told a Reuters reporter.


Misery Accomplished

May 1, 2003, is another day of infamy for the Bush administration and America. In the kind of staged bravado dictators relish, George W. Bush donned a flight suit, pretended to fly, and then used an aircraft carrier as the backdrop for a speech to declare the mission in Iraq accomplished. Every cable news channel carried the event live as if history were somehow being made. It is time to look back at five years of accomplishments in Iraq.


Scalia dodges the constitutionality of torture

Do you recognize this man?


His name is Rod Serling and he once hosted an amazing little television show called the Twilight Zone.  Each week, he would appear to announce the story of someone trapped in a bizarre set of circumstances, typically surreal and frightening.  It was fiction, but great fun.

I suddenly find myself looking for Rod Serling to appear again because I am suffering from the same uncomfortable sensation of surreality, except this time it is neither fiction nor fun.

Myths about torture by the Bush administration

Recent revelations that torture was approved, applauded, and enjoyed by senior Bush administration officials have caused quite a stir. Bush now freely admits that he “approved” of the CIA torturing a few “high value” terrorism suspects in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. All those assertions that the United States does not torture were knowingly false. While lying to Congress, the American people, and the world community might get another president in trouble, even impeached, war crimes appear to be much more acceptable in post-9/11 America. The mea culpa simply forces the administration and its supporters to create a new mythology of torture.  

Let’s not forget the Neocons are also losing Afghanistan

One of my favorite quotes from Mahatma Ghandi equates violence with evil:

I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

The war in Afghanistan proves Ghandi’s point. Seven years of war under Bush and Cheney dislodged the Taliban from power, but has failed to bring peace, rebuild the war-torn infrastructure, foster human rights, or create a viable economy. To date, 491 American and 295 NATO soldiers have given their life in Afghanistan. The civilian and military toll among the Afghanis is uncounted. The American taxpayer is now paying 100 million dollars a day in Afghanistan. The only viable economic options in Afghanistan are growing opium and carrying a gun for the Taliban or a war lord. Education and health care are non-existent. In fact, Iraq is more stable than Afghanistan, a clear sign of failure.

A recent article in the Guardian shows why the American neocons cannot win a war and create a lasting peace with the most powerful military force in the world. Bush and friends live by the following credo:

I love violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the opportunities for corruption and exploitation are endless.

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