Saturday, April 03, 2004

Is Sharon Trying to Create an All-Out War?

In the immediate wake of massive protests about his assassination of Yassin, now Sharon is threatening the assassination of Arafat?

Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat, said on Saturday he was unmoved by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's threat to assassinate him.

"I don't care for it. I am caring for my people, for our children, for our women, for our students," the Palestinian president told reporters at his battered Ramallah headquarters.

It was his first response to Sharon's most explicit threat yet. In comments published on Friday, Sharon called Arafat a poor insurance risk, an ominous phrase two weeks after Israel assassinated the Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

All of which is causing Arab states to pay heed and even make threats of their own:

Jordan warns Israel against harming Arafat

AMMAN: Jordan said on Saturday any Israeli attempt to harm Palestinian President Yasser Arafat would be a crime with unpredictable consequences.

“Killing President Yasser Arafat would be an escalation with hard to predict consequences,” government spokeswoman Asma Khader told Reuters. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made his most explicit threat yet against Arafat in newspaper interviews on Friday, calling him a poor insurance risk.

Just as with the US invasion of Iraq, we have to remember that as nightmarish as these conflicts are for those involved, "destabilization" has very real benefits for people in the right positions.


Very Bad News

Tell me again how American troops are going to be able to rebuild Iraq now that we have invaded it and generated massive hostility?

Hostility so massive that the killing of Americans is now a rite of passage, in Fallujah at least:

"It is part of the ritual of manhood for some people now that you have to have killed an American soldier to be respected. The guys who killed the guards disappeared straight away: teenagers attacked the bodies afterwards to try and say, 'I am a man.'
"Nobody will hand them over to the Americans, though: we will just give them a talking to and tell them 'not again'."

UPDATE: And this also is very unnerving:

Thousands of supporters of a virulently anti-American Shiite cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, marched through the streets of Baghdad on Saturday.

Many were members of Mr. Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army. They paraded through Sadr City, the sprawling Shiite slum in the northeast of the Iraqi capital that is Mr. Sadr's power base. It was the militia's first major show of strength in months.

Some of the marchers wore black masks, and many carried banners and pictures of the cleric and of his father, who was assassinated in 1999. They were not armed. An American and an Israeli flag were set on fire.


And If You Believe This...

A Bush aide now proclaims that this administration does not distort science to back its conservative agenda. This is the adminstration that still thinks the jury is out on global climate change. And let's not even bring up Bush's belief that God (not us voters, or the Supreme Court) made him president.

Science Not Being Distorted, White House Aide Says

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 3, 2004; Page A02

President Bush's chief science adviser fired back yesterday at a scientists' advocacy group that had accused the administration of distorting facts to support a conservative political agenda.

In a statement released with a 17-page, point-by-point rebuttal, John H. Marburger III, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said the response aimed to "correct errors, distortions and misunderstandings" in the Feb. 18 report of the Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

"The accusations in the document are inaccurate," Marburger wrote in the letter, which he sent with the report to several members of Congress. "In this administration, science strongly informs policy."

Marburger's rebuttal was issued at a time of increasing scrutiny of the Bush administration's relationship with science. The administration has for many months been under fire from critics alleging that officials have ignored certain scientific findings, changed Web sites, revised or eliminated wording in reports, and altered the makeup of advisory committees in ways that bowed to political priorities.


If This Is News to You, You Should Be Paying More Attention

Of course, the fact that anyone reading even the American media could have figured this out long ago, and the Bush administration couldn't--or wouldn't--put the pieces together, just raises the central question of these four years: Stupid or evil?

U.S.-backed Iraqis provided questionable info


Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The Iraqi National Congress, a U.S.-funded group of former Iraqi exiles, supplied the four defectors whose claims that Saddam Hussein had mobile biological warfare facilities now are being questioned by Secretary of State Colin Powell.

One of the defectors was code-named Curveball, senior U.S. officials said, and Curveball was the brother of a top lieutenant to Ahmed Chalabi, the group's leader and now a member of the Iraqi Governing Council. U.S. intelligence officials never directly questioned Curveball before the war, they said.

A second defector was determined to be a fabricator, but his claims still found their way into the Bush administration's case for war, according to U.S. officials.


Friday, April 02, 2004

Bush's Record-Setting Loss of US Jobs Has Created One Boom Industry

And that's the Kerry campaign:

WASHINGTON — Sen. John Kerry will announce today that his presidential campaign has raised more than $43 million in the first three months of this year, smashing Democratic Party records and signaling a party-wide fund-raising resurgence for Democrats, according to top party officials.

If you are out of work and have very little cash, you might as well try to invest it in a way that will result in a job...


And It Just Keeps Getting Worse

Yesterday, a psychiatric hospital. Today, holy sites:

Thousands of Palestinians today barricaded themselves inside mosques at one of Islam's holiest sites after Israeli police stormed worshippers who they said had been throwing stones at officers.
Officers entered the al-Aqsa mosque compound after some of the Muslim worshippers who gathered there for Friday prayers began throwing stones at police deployed nearby, according to an Israeli police spokesman cited by the Associated Press.

About 20 people were wounded and nine arrests were made as police moved in, firing plastic bullets, stun grenades and tear gas in an attempt to disperse the alleged stone-throwers.

But mosque authorities denied any stones had been thrown, and Palestinian worshippers expressed anger at the police tactics.


Thursday, April 01, 2004

Your Government at Work for You

They care so much about the record-high gas prices which look to go even higher that they can't even be bothered to make a phone call:

VIENNA, April 1 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Thursday he had not been contacted by the Bush administration over OPEC's decision on Wednesday to cut crude output by one milllion barrels per day.

U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham told a House of Representatives committee on Thursday President George W. Bush had spoken to most of the leaders of OPEC nations about global crude oil supplies and rising prices.

But Abraham declined to respond to a lawmaker's question about whether the president had specifically spoken to Saudi Arabia, the cartel's largest member which led a push this week to cut OPEC production by one million barrels per day in April.


Another New Low In Israel

And I thought the standoff at the site of the Nativity a while back was bad. This is far worse:

BETHLEHEM, West Bank, April 1 -- For nearly two hours Thursday morning, as explosions and gunfire resounded through the more-than-century-old limestone buildings of the West Bank's only hospital for Palestinian mental patients, Hussein Mohammed cradled terrified men like babies, telling them stories as they huddled on the floor of the room farthest from the fusillade of bullets.

"They were going hysterical," said Mohammed, a night duty nurse who said he initially raced through the dormitory rooms gathering patients as Palestinian gunmen hiding in the nearby hospital administration building battled Israeli soldiers. "They were screaming and yelling and cursing God, and religion and Jews."


Soft on Terror

Amazingly, the Bush administration, which does not mind squandering vast amounts of your money to invade Iraq while cutting taxes for the rich, does not want to take money away from al Qaeda:

The Bush administration has scuttled a plan to increase by 50 percent the number of criminal financial investigators working to disrupt the finances of Al Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist organizations to save $12 million, a Congressional hearing was told on Tuesday.

The Internal Revenue Service had asked for 80 more criminal investigators beginning in October to join the 160 it has already assigned to penetrate the shadowy networks that terrorist groups use to finance plots like the Sept. 11 attacks and the recent train bombings in Madrid. But the Bush administration did not include them in the president's proposed budget for the 2005 fiscal year.

The disclosure, to a House Ways and Means subcommittee, came near the end of a routine hearing into the I.R.S. budget after most of the audience, including reporters, had left the hearing room.

It comes as the White House is fighting to maintain its image as a vigorous and uncompromising foe of global terrorism in the face of questions about its commitment and competence raised by the administration's former terrorism czar, Richard A. Clarke, and its first Treasury secretary, Paul H. O'Neill.


I'm Sure He's All Better Now

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose campaign was dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct, voluntarily took a training course about preventing sexual harassment after his election.

The two-hour course was conducted by a deputy attorney general who is an expert in employment and discrimination law, Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Margita Thompson said Wednesday.


Thank You, Mr. Sharon

As predicted, Sharon's assassination of Yassin has borne vile fruit, and the US is catching the brunt of it:

A previously unknown group has claimed responsibility for the the gruesome killing of four US contractors in Fallujah, western Iraq.

It said the action was in revenge for Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

"This is a gift from the people of Fallujah to the people of Palestine and the family of Sheik Ahmed Yassin who was assassinated by the criminal Zionists," said in the statement from the "Brigades of Martyr Ahmed Yassin".

"We advise the US forces to withdraw from Iraq and we advise the families of the American soldiers and the contractors not to come to Iraq," said the statement obtained by AFP.

Update: It should be noted that the term "contractors" is a euphemism here for "private security forces," which is a euphemism for "mercenaries."

And how can anyone believe that this response will actually work to prevent further attacks?:

FALLUJAH, Iraq - A U.S. general vowed an "overwhelming" response to the murder and mutilation of four American contractors

Especially considering how the article continues:

but U.S. troops stayed out of this anti-American city Thursday and fearful Iraqi police took no action.

Residents said they were ready to take on the Americans if they try to enter Fallujah, where schools and shops remained open a day after insurgents ambushed the contractors' SUVs and mobs strung up two of their charred corpses on an iron bridge spanning the Euphrates River.

"We wish that they would try to enter Fallujah so we'd let hell break loose," Ahmed al-Dulaimi said. "We will not let any foreigner enter Fallujah," said Sameer Sami. "Yesterday's attack is proof of how much we hate the Americans."


Ground Rules

Maureen Dowd is particularly funny today, except that her parody is so much like reality that it makes you want to cry:

the President is prepared, in the interest of comity and popularity, to testify, subject to the conditions set forth below.

The President at all times, even on trips to the men's room, will be accompanied by the Vice President.

The Commission must agree in writing that it will not pose any questions directly to the President. Mr. Bush's statements will be restricted to asides on Dick Cheney's brushoffs, as in "Just like he said," "Roger that" and "Ditto."

And I especially like the phrase "Administration-in-amber." Sums it up nicely.

The Vice President will not address any queries about why no one reacted to George Tenet's daily "hair on fire" alarms to the President about a coming Al Qaeda attack; or why the President was so consumed with chopping and burning cedar on his Crawford ranch that he ignored the warning in an Aug. 6, 2001, briefing that Al Qaeda might try to hijack aircraft; or why the President asked for a plan to combat Al Qaeda in May and then never followed up while Richard Clarke's aggressive plan was suffocated by second-raters; or why the President was never briefed by his counterterrorism chief on anything but cybersecurity until Sept. 11; or why the Administration-in-amber made so many cold war assumptions, such as thinking that terrorists had to be sponsored by a state even as terrorists had taken over a state; or why the President went along with the Vice President and the neocons to fool the American public into believing that Saddam had a hand in the 9/11 attacks; or why the Administration chose to undercut the war on terrorism and inflame the Arab world by attacking Iraq, without a plan to protect our perilously overextended forces or to exit with a realistic hope that a democracy will be left behind.


With Friends Like These...

An image that almost made my brain explode:


Permit Me to Be Utterly Puerile for a Moment

But in light of last night's South Park episode, featuring a Mel Gibson whose primary desire is to be abused in various ways, I find the timing of this hilarious:

CALLING Mel Gibson "a tortured soul," France's main Jewish group on Thursday accused his film about Jesus' final hours of having anti-Semitic overtones.

An umbrella group for Jewish organizations, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, or CRIF, said Thursday that The Passion of the Christ was a backward portrayal of Christian teachings. The movie debuted Wednesday in France.

"The film's violence is extreme and sick," the group said in a statement. "Unfortunately, (CRIF) finds elements of anti-Semitism in the film, which was clearly conceived by a tortured soul."


Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Occupation of Iraq Has Rendered the US Self-Reliant for Oil

Oh, wait, no it hasn't. Gas prices are hitting record highs every other day now.

And now this:

VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- With fuel costs already at uncomfortable levels for consumers, OPEC took a step that could push prices even higher by announcing Wednesday that it would cut its crude oil production target by 4 percent.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries hopes the cut, which takes effect Thursday, will prevent a slide in prices this spring, when the global demand for oil usually slips to a seasonal low.

Some analysts said the cut could soon push crude prices above the psychologically important threshold of $40 per barrel. The decision could also worsen the pain for U.S. motorists, who have been paying the highest prices in recent years for gasoline.

You would think that an administration that rode into power on oil money could do a little better, at least on just this one issue. You are so naive, aren't you?


This Plan Worked About As Well As Most of Their Plans

I'm getting rather tired of typing "incompetence." But at least this is simply funny.

WASHINGTON, March 31 (UPI) -- The White House was worried about the damaging testimony of a former counter-terrorism chief to a commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks last week but was trying to let the issue die on its own, according to Pentagon briefing notes found at a Washington coffee shop.

"Stay inside the lines. We don't need to puff this (up). We need (to) be careful as hell about it," the handwritten notes say. "This thing will go away soon and what will keep it alive will be one of us going over the line."

The notes were written by Pentagon political appointee Eric Ruff who left them in a Starbucks coffee shop in Dupont Circle, not far from U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's home.


Oh Lord, When Will They Stop?

When I read this, I experienced an odd sensation of hilarity and revulsion. Well, much less odd a sensation these days than it used to be:

Washington, March 31. (PTI): The new chief US weapons inspector has presented a new theory, which reflects the current Administration's justification for the Iraq invasion that even if Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, the ousted dictator "may have been" developing a capacity to develop them at short notice.

Charles A Duelfer, in his first appearance since replacing David Kay in January, told two Senate committees meeting in closed session yesterday that he had refocused the work of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) to determine Hussein's "intentions."


US Condemned for Sentencing Foreign Citizens to Death

Bush issued an eloquent response, saying in a mocking voice: "Who am I? I'm the World Court! Please...Please don't kill them." He then sat back, chuckled, and looked very satisfied with himself.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The world court ordered the United States on Wednesday to review the death penalty cases of 51 Mexicans, including one scheduled to die May 18 in Oklahoma, saying their right to consular assistance was violated.



When are we going to get out of there? When are people going to realize working for or with the US government or Western corporations in Iraq is very hazardous to their health?

Seriously, the dream of establishing a functional Western-style democracy in Iraq and thereby influencing the entire Middle East to follow suit requires massive investment. What corporations, other than those receiving huge government subsidies paid for by our tax money, are even going to consider investing in a nation where such things are happening?

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Suspected insurgents killed four American civilian contractors in a grenade attack Wednesday in central Iraq, U.S. officials said.

Cheering residents in Fallujah pulled charred bodies from burning vehicles and hung them from a Euphrates River bridge.

Crowds gathered around the vehicles and dragged at least one of the bodies through the streets, witnesses said.

Residents pulled another body from one of the cars and beat it with sticks.

Those who accept the "we broke it we bought it" argument need to wake up. We cannot "fix" this, not by continuing the occupation and not by installing a government of our choosing.

Update: Could this be the Bushes' "Somalia moment," the moment which finally opens everyone's eyes to the insufferable incompetence of their adventure in Iraq? Or will this just be another absolute waste of human life?



Thurday at 3:06 I reported that the FBI was warning oil refineries here in Texas of unspecified threats.

This morning, the third largest refinery in the nation suffered explosions, in Texas City, south of Houston:

Explosions have rocked a BP refinery and chemical plant complex in Texas City in the US.

The cause of the fire appeared to be accidental but a detailed examination of the area hit by the fire would not be made before morning, local television and radio reports said.

BP has been maintaining high security at its Texas City refinery after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned last week of a security threat to refiners in the area.

The fire involved a gasoline-producing unit at the third-largest US refinery, BP spokeswoman Annie Smith told WB network affiliate KHWB-TV.


Other refineries in Texas City were not being evacuated even though residents of the city located 48 kilometres south of Houston were ordered to remain indoors until shortly after 9:00pm.

Very unnerving, to say the least.

And trying to Google more information on this, I come up with nothing. Further, it is not being reported on Google News, or the New York Times, or, or any major media site. Curious, to say the least.


Tuesday, March 30, 2004

More Republican Foreign Policy Incompetence

We know that the Republicans have a hard time distinguishing actual threats from just-really-bad-guys, but now they are mistaking our allies for enemies!

From Robert Tagorda, via Kevin Drum:

A Republican voter survey used to raise political money identifies Thailand and the Philippines as countries that "harbor and aid terrorists," a description that has angered officials from the two nations.

A question on the National Republican Congressional Committee's "Ask America 2004 Nationwide Policy Survey" asks, "Should America broaden the war on terrorism into other countries that harbor and aid terrorists such as Thailand, Syria, Somalia, the Philippines, etc.?"

Did anyone bother to look up this White House statement, which noted that "President Bush praised President Macapagal-Arroyo's courage and strength in confronting terrorism in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia"? Did anyone read Bush's speech to the Royal Thai Army, which included this line: "Thailand pledged to fight the war on terror, and that pledge is being honored in full"?

The working definition for "enemy" now seems to be "whatever nonwhite country springs to mind."


A Novel Use of DNA Evidence

Descendants of slaves filed a US$1 billion lawsuit yesterday against United States and British corporations, accusing them of profiting by committing genocide against their ancestors.

Lawyers for the eight plaintiffs said the complaint was the first slave reparations lawsuit to use DNA to link the plaintiffs to Africans who suffered atrocities during the slave trade.

The suit accuses Lloyd's of London, FleetBoston and R. J. Reynolds of "aiding and abetting the commission of genocide" by allegedly financing and insuring the ships that delivered slaves to tobacco plantations in the US.


There is an Important Principle Here to Upho--What? I Mean...

March 30 (Bloomberg) -- White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will testify publicly before the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, after President George W. Bush reversed his opposition.

We have enough proof that you never mean what you say! Stop sending us more! There's no room!

And the conditions of the agreement are eerily reminiscent of a certain Supreme Course case of a couple years back:

The commission agreed in writing with White House conditions that Rice's public appearance under oath ``will not be cited by us as a precedent, and it should be not considered a precedent for testimony by national security advisers,'' and that the commission wouldn't seek public testimony from White House officials other than Rice, said a letter from Kean and Hamilton to Gonzales.


Monday, March 29, 2004

Winning Hearts and Minds?

Actually, other parts of the anatomy are more likely to be involved in this:

BEIJING, Mar.29 (Xinhuanet) -- The young men's lifestyle magazine Maxim is planning to begi n publishing in China.

Maxim, one of several so-called lads' mags that started in Britain, is known for photos of scantily clad starlets, as well as cheeky articles on sex, sports and "stupid fun."


Unbiased Reporting

This particular story about Clarke on is truly repugnant in its open editorializing:

"Your government failed you. Those entrusted with protecting you failed you. And I failed you," he said, in language that struck some people as melodramatic.

After he spoke, some of the victims' loved ones, seated behind him, put down pictures of their dead to applaud; some hugged him when he was done testifying.

Said Stephen Push, whose wife Lisa Raines died aboard American Airlines Flight 77: "I've been waiting for an apology from the government for two and a half years."

Clarke, who quit his job at the National Security Council a year ago, would not have survived Washington's brutal ways in the service of three Presidents if he had not been a good politician.

Who are the "some" who found his words "melodramatic"? I ask this, because they don't appear in the story. And, to judge by the very next sentence, the survivors of some 9-11 victims had quite a different reaction. And from their own testimony to how meaningful Clarke's apology--an apology the Bush administration could not and cannot bring itself to proffer--is to them, the story then segues straight into Clarke as "good politician."

Deeply twisted.


Why Was Bush Elected Governor of Texas?

Because many Texans just aren't too bright:

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - A Texas woman heating fish sticks was shot in the leg by a gun that had been stashed in her oven, police said.


Chomsky Is Right Again

The near-constant vilification of Chomsky by people on both the left and the right has long perplexed me. Even on the left, the term "Chomsky" is generally invoked to indicate "those who go to far"--Eric Alterman is frequently guilty of this. On the right, of course, those who know of Chomsky simply consider him someone who always blames America.

If you actually read [gasp!] what Chomsky writes, however, you have to wonder who on earth everyone is talking about. Certainly not the Chomsky that appears in the pages of Manufacturing Consent, to name just one thoughtful, meticulous work.

Anyway, here's Chomsky being intelligent once again:

Noam Chomsky, the political theorist and leftwing guru, yesterday gave his reluctant endorsement to the Democratic party's presidential contender, John Kerry, calling him "Bush-lite", but a "fraction" better than his rival.
Professor Chomsky - a linguist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as a renowned chronicler of American foreign policy - said there were "small differences" between Senator Kerry and the Republican president. But, in an interview on the Guardian's politics website, he added that those small differences "can translate into large outcomes".

He describes the choice facing US voters in November as "the choice between two factions of the business party". But the Bush administration was so "cruel and savage", it was important to replace it.

He said: "Kerry is sometimes described as 'Bush-lite', which is not inaccurate. But despite the limited differences both domestically and internationally, there are differences. In a system of immense power, small differences can translate into large outcomes."


What Is More Funny?

The idea that Condoleezza Rice has principles, or the notion that, if she does, she could ever bring herself to "rise above" them for the good of the nation? I cannot decide.

WASHINGTON - Two Sept. 11 commission members, a Republican and a Democrat, on Monday urged national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to reconsider her refusal to testify in public and under oath about President Bush's counterterrorism strategies.

"There's a time to rise above principles," Republican John Lehman told NBC's "Today" show, referring to Rice's stand that national security advisers have never testified under oath before Congress because of a fear it would compromise their ability to have an open exchange of ideas with a president.

Lehman countered that Rice would not be sacrificing that principle, known as executive privilege, because the panel, which was appointed by the president, is "not an arm of the Congress."

That bears repeating: All this bluster about why Rice cannot testify under oath is pure smoke. This panel is an executive panel, appointed by the president. It is NOT an arm of the Congress!

Update: On the other hand, I am rather surprised the commission is pressing so hard to get her in there. I don't know how motivated I would be in their positions: she is one scary looking person:


Sunday, March 28, 2004

Outdone by the Irish

Even an avowedly Roman Catholic nation is heading for gay marriage. Amazing:

Gay sex was still illegal just over a decade ago in Ireland. But in another milestone in the Irish sexual revolution, a Bill designed to grant gay couples the same rights in law as married heterosexuals will be introduced in the Dublin Senate next month.

And the champion of legal gay unions says he believes all the parties in Leinster House will back his legislation.

In his last major political battle of a 20-odd year career in Ireland's upper House, Senator David Norris' Domestic Partnership Bill 2004 would, if passed, effectively legalise gay and lesbian marriages.

Meanwhile, the British aren't doing all that badly:

The first laws giving gay people the right to 'marry' are to be unveiled this week in one of the most significant changes to Britain's social make-up since the passing of equal opportunities legislation in the 1960s.

Attempting to show it still has a radical edge, the Government will say that all couples who sign up to a committed relationship should have the same rights, regardless of sexual orientation.

And what do we get here? A debate on amending the Constitution. Maddening.


More Proof That the "War on Terror" Is a Success

The new Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, called President Bush the enemy of Muslims and said today that God had declared war on the United States.

Hamas has long said its battle is with Israel, and has directed its attacks, and most of its heated rhetoric, against the Jewish state. But since Israel's killing last week of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the Islamic movement has issued bitter denunciations of the United States, though it has stopped short of saying it will strike at American targets.

"We knew that Bush is the enemy of God, the enemy of Islam and Muslims," Dr. Rantisi told several thousand Hamas supporters attending a rally at the Islamic University in Gaza City. "America declared war against God. Sharon declared war against God, and God declared war against America, Bush and Sharon."

Of course, it Hamas decided to leave vengeance in the hands of God, that's fine with me. But, I somehow don't think they will...


Another Step in the Right Direction

Could it be that Sharon will finally be on his way out? It has been high time for quite a while now; his actions have done nothing but harm to any hope of peaceful settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel's chief prosecutor on Sunday recommended that Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, face trial for allegedly taking bribes from an Israeli businessman.

Mr Sharon faced immediate calls by both opposition politicians and cabinet colleagues to step down if Menachem Mazuz, attorney-general, decided to act on the recommendation.

Meanwhile, a British MP is weighing in on the situation:

A British Member of Parliament from the ruling Labour party, Gerald Kaufman, has called for economic sanctions against Israel, including cutting off arms supplies, to force it back to the negotiating table with the Palestinians.

"It is not enough for the world community, including our own Government, to condemn the Israeli Government's brutal policies of repression," he said, addressing members of his Manchester constituency.

"Only widespread economic sanctions on Israel, together with cutting off arms supplies, can make any impact on this Government without a conscience".


Make That a BIG Jump to the Left

It's always pleasant to see conservatives shocked at their own unpopularity. Let's just hope we can follow France's lead, come November:

PARIS -- President Jacques Chirac and his ruling conservative party suffered a crushing defeat in regional midterm elections Sunday, with the opposition Socialists, and their Green and Communist allies seizing control of the vast majority of regional councils. The results marked a sharp rebuke for the government's attempts to reform France's costly health care, pension and education systems.

Chirac's party was expected to lose a number of regional councils after its poor showing in last week's first round of voting. But the scale of the defeat today was so widespread that analysts immediately began speculating whether Chirac's prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, will be replaced in a sweeping post-election cabinet reshuffle that is expected this week.

"It's not just a defeat," said veteran political analyst and commentator Alain Duhamel. "It's a disaster."