As criticism of the military operations mounted, both Bush and Blair hid behind the excuse that at least Saddam had been deposed and the Iraqi people were in a happier position than they had been under his despotic regime. Despite the post-war mayhem, few would argue with that premise but, again, it does not provide a legitimate reason for using military force. If it did, the elections in Zimbabwe would not be taking place this week and President Mugabe would have been thrown out of office long ago. In any case, in adopting the justification that a good war can rid the world of undesirable regimes, the US is dabbling in double standards. When Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1978, the intention was to destroy the murderous Khmer Rouge regime, but this seemingly welcome move was condemned by the US as a gross violation of international law. As a result, sanctions were imposed against Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge continued to receive the backing of the UN, despite the fact it was a good example of the kind of "outpost of evil" the Bush administration is now hell-bent on destroying.
That's the concluding paragraph to Trevor Royle's "British soldiers could be charged with war crimes" from Scotland's The Sunday Herald. Royle's written a strong piece that questions what the fall out will be for the invasion/occupation.
Also from The Sunday Herald, Dan Plesch's "Tony Blair. You are charged with leading Britain into an illegal war... How do you plead?" is a worthy read. From that article:
The Prime Minister deserves to be punished because he lied and abused his office and the trust of the nation. The examples are numerous and many are compiled in the book written by Glen Rangwala and myself, A Case To Answer [the recent Panorama programme titled Iraq, Tony And The Truth, the text of which is on the BBC website, gives an update and a summary].
Shortly before the war began, Tony Blair told the BBC that Saddam Hussein could remain in office provided he complied with UN weapons inspectors and that he was entitled to keep his army, navy and air force. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, who among you believes the Prime Minister made this statement honestly?
We now know from leaked memoranda from his chief foreign policy advisor, David Manning, that the Prime Minister agreed a strategy of deception of the UN and the British public in which the threat of WMD would be hyped up and the UN inspectors be found to have failed.
Then there is the matter of the dossiers on Iraq – the September 2002 dossier which the PM told us presented the considered authoritative view of the intelligence services. We now know that had been shorn of all cautions and warnings and padded out with exaggerated claims based upon dubious intelligence that has now been discarded as false.
It is clear that Blair and his staff were at pains to make a watertight document and produced one that clearly exaggerated the views of the intelligence services whose evidence Lord Butler later described as thin.
From Australia's ABC, "Sudan to try war crimes' accused:"
The Sudanese Government has announced plans to try 164 people for war crimes committed in the western region of Darfur.
State media in the capital, Khartoum, says the charged will be tried for offences including rape and murder.
Also from Australia's ABC, "Liberal MP switches support to Costello:"
A federal Liberal backbencher says he has decided to shift his allegiance from Prime Minister John Howard to leadership aspirant Peter Costello.
New South Wales Liberal Member for Hume Alby Schultz has strongly criticised government appointments made by the Prime Minister.
Mr Schultz has been an outspoken supporter of John Howard's leadership, but he has now decided that he would support Mr Costello if he mounted a challenge.
From Haaretz, "PM: Israel will retain settlement blocs" by Aluf Benn:
"We can't expect to receive explicit American agreement to build freely in the settlements," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said at Sunday's cabinet meeting. The large blocs of settlement in the West Bank "will remain in Israel's hands and will fall within the (separation) fence, and we made this position clear to the Americans. This is our position, even if they express reservations," he said.
The U.S. administration makes a distinction between his position that the blocs will remain in Israeli hands after the final status agreement, and the issues of continuing construction in the settlements at the present phase, Sharon said.
Also from Haaretz and also from Aluf Benn, "Analysis / Sharon, Bush and the settlements:"
Sharon's bureau has the impression that the Americans have silently acquiesced to expanded construction in the territories. The problem is that the "Bush letter" which Sharon received last year and which recognizes the existence of "Israeli population centers" in the territories, relates only to final-status negotiations. These are not currently underway nor are they likely to be in the near future. The issue therefore becomes: If the settlement blocs are to be annexed to Israel in any case, why not build in them now? On the other hand, Israel promised two years ago to freeze construction "over the existing lines" in the settlements.
How should this contradiction be resolved? The two parties have avoided setting an exact definition of "blocs" or of lines beyond which construction would not be allowed.
Last week, Israel's E-1 program to connect Ma'aleh Adumim to Jerusalem with 3,500 new housing units was unveiled. This plan would cut off territorial contiguity for the future Palestinian state and surround Arab East Jerusalem with Jewish neighborhoods, making it difficult for the Palestinians to turn East Jerusalem into their capital. The Palestinians and their Israeli supporters have been warning for years that such a plan would spell the end of a two-state solution.
But Sharon's bureau says the U.S. supports the project, at least behind closed doors.
The Moscow Times has an article by Carl Schreck entitled "Fire Roars Through Izmailovo Market:"
A huge fire on Saturday roared through part of the sprawling Izmailovo outdoor market, which is popular among tourists looking for souvenirs and artwork, killing one woman and injuring at least two. Investigators said they suspect arson.
[. . .]
Firefighters extinguished the blaze after four hours, but not before about 10,000 meters of market space had been reduced to rubble.
All that was left of the building where the fire originated were its brick walls and the metal girders of its towers and domes.
One woman died from smoke inhalation, the city prosecutor's office said.
From the UK's Herald, we'll note the Associated Press story by Burt Herman entitled "North Korea admits outbreak of bird flu:"
NORTH Korea has acknowledged for the first time an outbreak of bird flu, saying hundreds of thousands of chickens had been killed to prevent its spread and that the disease had not been passed to humans.
The Scotsman has an article (by "Foreign Staff") entitled "Return to violence feared after bomb blast in Lebanon:"
A BOMBING in a Christian suburb of east Beirut overshadowed Easter celebrations yesterday and raised fresh fears of a slide back into Lebanon’s violent past.
Lebanese security forces picked through rubble and twisted metal left by Saturday’s blast - the third in eight days in the Christian heartland where resentment against Syria runs high.
Patriarch Nasrallah Butrous Sfeir, the spiritual leader of Lebanon’s Maronite Christians and a long-time critic of Syria’s grip on Lebanon, told worshippers at Easter mass the Lebanese must now choose between freedom and violence.
The Scotsman also has "Opposition says 'Mugabe must go' as elections loom" by Jane Fields:
CHEERING crowds greeted Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, as he told a rally in Harare yesterday that President Robert Mugabe had "no option but to go" in this week’s parliamentary elections.
UK's The Independent has Christelle Terreblanche's "Zimbabwe archbishop calls on nation to rise against Mugabe:"
A senior Zimbabwean clergyman has issued an unprecedented plea for a peaceful Ukraine-style "popular mass uprising" to remove President Robert Mugabe after elections this week.
The highly respected Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, the Most Rev Pius Ncube, said that the parliamentary elections on Thursday were certain to be rigged. "I hope that people get so disillusioned that people really organise against this government and kick him [Mr Mugabe] out by non- violent popular mass uprising," said Archbishop Ncube. "As it is, people have been too soft with this government. So people should pluck up just a bit of courage and stand up against him and chase him away."
Archbishop Ncube, who is a prominent critic of Mr Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF, made the radical suggestion, in an interview with The Independent, as evidence was mounting of more subtle forms of intimidation and coercion than the overt violence that characterised the previous two elections. "I am simply backing a non-violent popular uprising, like that in the Philippines in 1986 and such as in Ukraine," he said.
From The Daily Yomiuri, note Yoshiyuki Kasai "Insights into the World / China-led plans for Asia threaten U.S. alliance:"
After a lapse of 60 years, Japan again stands at a major crossroads due to the proposal of an East Asian Community, led mainly by China. The idea was formally floated for the first time during late November's ASEAN Plus Three summit in Vientiane, which involved leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as Japan, China and South Korea.
Although many people point out that the idea is unrealistic, leaders of the 10 ASEAN countries, China, Japan and South Korea will hold an inaugural East Asian Summit in Kuala Lumpur later this year. The scheduled summit meeting will take place without formal debates, supposedly in consideration of Japanese business leaders and companies that have mode massive inroads into China.
In other words, an extremely important national policy is being shaped without a proper public debate and the policy is being tacitly forged to accept it as a fait accompli without heeding the strong concerns of our ally, the United States. I feel very alarmed when comparing the latest development with what happened up to 1945.
From IPS, note Jim Lobe's "Washington Focuses on Southern 'Axis of Evil' Analysis:"
While U.S. President George W. Bush played nice to a deeply frustrated Mexican President Vicente Fox at the North American Summit in Texas Wednesday, U.S. media attention was focused more on Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld's efforts to sound the alarm against Latin American troublemakers in his swing through the region this week.
Topping his list was populist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, followed by a nemesis from bygone days, former Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who was accused by an unnamed "senior official" in Rumsfeld's delegation of hoarding several hundred Russian-made surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) that Washington wants to see destroyed.
Indeed, at the start of Rumsfeld's trip, Washington announced the suspension of all U.S. military assistance to Nicaragua -- about 2.3 million dollars' worth -- pending the destruction of the missiles that Washington contend might be obtained by terrorists.
At the same time, the right-wing National Review published a cover story by Bush's top Latin America aide during his first term, Otto Reich, on "Latin America's Terrible Two", referring to Chavez and Cuban President Fidel Castro. The magazine's cover, with a photo of the two men in close conversation, featured a banner reading "The Axis of Evil ... Western Hemisphere Version."
Also from IPS, let's note Humberto Marquez's "Access to Land Essential to Eradicating Poverty, Experts Say:"
Family farming can be a more efficient means of producing food and promoting development than large-scale agricultural operations, Brazilian expert Edson Teofilo told participants at the International Land Coalition Global Assembly currently underway in this eastern Bolivian city. New schools of economic thought maintain that units of agricultural production that can be worked by a single family can be successful and lead to the sustainable generation of income, as long as certain conditions are in place, such as access to markets, credits, education and technology, said Teofilo, an advisor to the Brazilian Ministry of Agrarian Development.
Brazil, where 16 million hectares of land have been distributed to half a million families in the last decade through agrarian reform, is a prime example, he noted.
"In 2003, the contribution made by family farming to the country's gross domestic (GDP) grew by 9.4 percent, while the intensive agribusiness share rose by only 5.1 percent," Teofilo explained later in an interview with IPS.
And let's close off by noting our friend Luke in Australia and his site wotisitgood4, let's note and quote from "perle choker:"
* the other day i questioned why the nyt hadnt covered the fact that the SEC are looking to sue perle. they actually ran a truncated version (hidden in the 'MEDIA & ADVERTISING' section) of the bloomberg piece. compare and contrast.
* heres the bloomberg headline: "Perle, Ex-Pentagon Aide, May Face SEC Suit Over Hollinger Role"* heres the nyt headline: "Hollinger Director Warned".
* curiously, a news.google of the nyt headline "Hollinger Director Warned" comes up empty.
* the nyt ends with this from halfway thru the bloomberg article: "Mr. Perle said that he never profited from the deals." (news.googling that phrase comes up empty as well)
* here are some of the bits from the bloomberg article from *below* where the nyt story stops:
Where are the bits? Click the link to read Luke's post in full.
The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org and that's probably it for the night. KeShawn e-mailed that he's still working on what he would like posted and hopes to have it done tomorrow.
We have two community members Women's History Month notes today so that should catch us up if we're behind. I'll attempt to highlight The Progressive tomorrow and my apologies for running out of time for that this weekend.