Sunday, April 24, 2005

Pakistan wanting to pull out on Bush?, civilians casualties in Iraq, modified corn, Russia spied on the German army, is it still spying?

Since Pakistan can't seem to convince the Bush Administration of its sincerity in combating terrorism, perhaps it is time for our government to review its blind cooperation with the so-called war on terror.

What's that from? The conclusion of an editorial from Pakastani's newspaper The Nation. You can find more from it at Watching America (which we've made a permalink today as a result of e-mails asking "what was that link again?"). More from the editorial:

Perhaps this is the first time that any Pakistani official has taken such a strong position against the United States, which is constantly nudging us to "do more" to fight terrorism, and telling us that it's "your turn."
And he rightly pointed out to the U.S. Commander that Pakistan was not his jurisdiction and that his assertion that the country is planning a military operation is an infringement of our sovereignty.
If the Pakistan Army is annoyed with Washington, it might be because of the U.S. failure to keep its promise to provide technical assistance to help Pakistan's forces stop cross-border movement.

From IPS, note Susan Wood's "Balancing the Iraq Equation:"

A humanitarian aid worker's death in Iraq last week is spurring calls for a public accounting of civilian casualties by the United States government and more attention to the issue by the U.S. media. Marla Ruzicka, 28, who fought to obtain recognition and compensation for Iraqis injured in U.S. military attacks, did not live to see all her goals accomplished. But a week before a car bomb took her life and that of her Iraqi co-workers, Ruzicka wrote a toughly worded essay. In it, she contradicted senior Pentagon officials, stating that military commanders do keep track of Iraqi civilians killed by U.S. forces and that the number is important. Despite Gen. Tommy Franks' assertion in 2002 that U.S. soldiers ”don't do body counts” -- echoed more recently by Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld -- it is ”standard operating procedure” to file a report when a noncombatant is shot, Ruzicka wrote, citing an unnamed brigadier general. ”The American public has a right to know how many Iraqis have lost their lives since the start of the war and as hostilities continue,” she wrote in her statement, published on the website of the organisation she founded, the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict. Amid the outpouring of sympathy over her death, Ruzicka's statement is certain to put wind in the sails of those who say either that the Pentagon is lying when it claims it doesn't track civilian casualties or that it can and must undertake such a task, both as a humanitarian imperative and in the interests of U.S. credibility.

From Der Spiegel, we'll note Holger Stark's "From Russia with Love:"

For years, a Russian consul spied on the German army. Officials got wind of it and tried to turn him into a Russian defector. As the situation began to blow up in their faces, German officials hustled to end the matter discreetly - so as not to endanger the current German-Russian love affair.
[. . .]
Under the agents' scrutiny, a member of the German army entered the restaurant. He was carrying classified documents with him that contained information about telecommunications and arms technology. As so often occurred in the past, the secret documents quietly changed hands.
The man receiving them spoke German with a thick Russian accent and paid a hefty sum. His pockets full and the transaction completed, the the army officer got up and left the restaurant. The other man was left to pay the bill. As soon as he did, he was captured by the waiting German agents.
When they arrested him, the agents discovered that the criminal turned out to be a Russian diplomat. The operation has since turned into myth -- one of the most dramatic espionage scandal since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It has all the components of a juicy spy thriller: treason, a chase and a diplomatic scandal. In fact, it even forced the man -- 45-year-old Russian Consul Alexander Kuzmin, to return to Russia early.
The truth is that Kuzmin had been working for the notorious Muscovite military secret service GRU. His mission: to spy on the German military. The case illustrates how keenly, 15 years after the collapse of the Iron Curtain, Russian agents are to search for and obtain classified information. Russian In fact, President Vladimir Putin -- himself a former KGB agent -- and his secret service seem to be creating their very own translation of "Glasnost." For them, it has come to mean the chance to spy on both friends and enemies.

Also from Der Spiegel, Marica e-mails for us to note Wolfgang Reuter's "Stalking Genetically Modified Corn:"

From now on, the EU will require an analytical report from an accredited lab for all corn imports from the US. The report must unequivocally guarantee that the contents do not include any Bt10 corn, a genetically modified corn variant from the Swiss company Syngenta. The plant has a gene that makes it resistant to the antibiotic Ampicillin -- and it is not certified in either the US or Europe.
The fear is that if humans consume animals that have been fed with the corn, they could develop immunities to antibiotics. Between 2001 and 2004, Syngenta released about 700 tons of the illegal seeds into the US market by mistake, enough to produce about 150,000 tons of corn. In the US, the exact source of an agricultural product can't be traced. A certificate from the producers stating that any given shipment doesn't contain Bt10 is thus simply not possible.
Green environmental politicians, led by Consumer Protection Minister Renate Kuenast, feel that this confirms their skepticism over genetic engineering and are up in arms about what Kuenast calls the "unbelievable sloppiness" of mixing genetically modified corn in with other variants (see interview). Chief among the products hit by the quasi-embargo is corn gluten feed, of which approximately 4 million tons are sent to the EU every year. The sales loss might amount to nearly $350 million. Other countries, including Japan, are now considering whether they will follow the draconian EU measures as well.
In addition to the ban on feed, the US faces recalls, actions for liability as well as enormous damage to the reputation of US corn. A similar accident with Starlink brand genetic corn cost the US economy over a billion dollars in 2001. The subsequent costs could be much higher this time, especially if until-now lethargic US consumers begin to question the safety of genetically modified varieties of grain.

From Canada's CBC News, "Car bombings kill Iraqi police:"

Two suicide bombers launched attacks Sunday on a police academy in northern Iraq, killing 15 people and wounding 40.
The first bomber drove into the compound in Tikrit and blew up his vehicle in a crowd of police officers, officials said.

The e-mail address for this site is
(And this isn't the end of our what's being covered by non U.S. media. I'm just doing it in pieces as I go through the e-mails.)