Friday, May 13, 2005

3 Highlights from the latest Nation

There's another article in the Times that I'd like to comment on but I'm feeling under the weather and let's take that as a sign that we could all use a break from the Times.

I haven't received the latest Nation (it should be mailed out today) but we'll note three articles that haven't yet been noted here. (The story on Hager was linked to yesterday via BuzzFlash.)

Naomi Klein has "Torture's Dirty Secret: It Works." Here's an excerpt:

The fear is even thicker among Muslims in the United States, where the Patriot Act gives police the power to seize the records of any mosque, school, library or community group on mere suspicion of terrorist links. When this intense surveillance is paired with the ever-present threat of torture, the message is clear: You are being watched, your neighbor may be a spy, the government can find out anything about you. If you misstep, you could disappear onto a plane bound for Syria, or into "the deep dark hole that is Guantánamo Bay," to borrow a phrase from Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
But this fear has to be finely calibrated. The people being intimidated need to know enough to be afraid but not so much that they demand justice. This helps explain why the Defense Department will release certain kinds of seemingly incriminating information about Guantánamo--pictures of men in cages, for instance--at the same time that it acts to suppress photographs on a par with what escaped from Abu Ghraib. And it might also explain why the Pentagon approved the new book by a former military translator, including the passages about prisoners being sexually humiliated, but prevented him from writing about the widespread use of attack dogs. This strategic leaking of information, combined with official denials, induces a state of mind that Argentines describe as "knowing/not knowing," a vestige of their "dirty war."
"Obviously, intelligence agents have an incentive to hide the use of unlawful methods," says the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer. "On the other hand, when they use rendition and torture as a threat, it's undeniable that they benefit, in some sense, from the fact that people know that intelligence agents are willing to act unlawfully. They benefit from the fact that people understand the threat and believe it to be credible."

Here's a sample of the editorial "Anti-war, Pro-democracy" and if you don't subscribe, look for the print edition because to view the article online, you have to subscribe:

The Administration portrays the choice in Iraq as between occupation and insurgent atrocity. But it's a false choice. Practical alternatives already exist. In the Iraqi election the consensus of all leading parties was that there is a need for a timetable for American withdrawal. Only a timetable accompanied by, and spurring, negotiations among all parties will give hope for an end to the instability and violence. One lesson from Vietnam, Palestine and Northern Ireland is that many insurgent nationalists can be drawn in, isolating those addicted to nihilistic sectarian violence.
[. . .]
The US antiwar movement--activists outside and inside electoral politics--must now seize the language of democracy that Bush has so devalued, finding ways to support the majority of Iraqis who want to regain control of their own future. As Naomi Klein said recently at a teach-in sponsored by the Institute for Policy Studies, "The future of the antiwar movement requires that it become a pro-democracy movement." And with Iraqis and Americans alike growing impatient, the future vitality of the Democratic Party requires that it become a strong voice for an end to occupation.

Let's note Katha Pollitt (who, by the way, has a poem in a recent New Yorker -- it arrived in the mail this week, so I'm sure it's a week behind) whose a favorite of many members. In the latest issue she has "Virginity or Death!" Here's the opening paragraph:

Imagine a vaccine that would protect women from a serious gynecological cancer. Wouldn't that be great? Well, both Merck and GlaxoSmithKline recently announced that they have conducted successful trials of vaccines that protect against the human papilloma virus. HPV is not only an incredibly widespread sexually transmitted infection but is responsible for at least 70 percent of cases of cervical cancer, which is diagnosed in 10,000 American women a year and kills 4,000. Wonderful, you are probably thinking, all we need to do is vaccinate girls (and boys too for good measure) before they become sexually active, around puberty, and HPV--and, in thirty or forty years, seven in ten cases of cervical cancer--goes poof. Not so fast: We're living in God's country now. The Christian right doesn't like the sound of this vaccine at all. "Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful," Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council told the British magazine New Scientist, "because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex." Raise your hand if you think that what is keeping girls virgins now is the threat of getting cervical cancer when they are 60 from a disease they've probably never heard of.

Okay, we'll go over three. Pin it on my bad math, if you like, but I really don't like highlighting things (on matter how strong) if they aren't available to all. Online only, you can (subscriber, non-subscriber) read reactions to the new look of the web site. Also online (available to all) is Greg Palast's "Ecuador Gets Chávez'd :"

George Bush has someone new to hate. Only twenty-four hours after Ecuador's new president took his oath of office, he was hit by a diplomatic cruise missile fired all the way from Lithuania by Condoleezza Rice, then wandering about Eastern Europe spreading "democracy." Condi called for "a constitutional process to get to elections," which came as a bit of a shock to the man who'd already been constitutionally elected, Alfredo Palacio.
What had Palacio done to get our Secretary of State's political knickers in a twist? It's the oil--and the bonds. This nation of only 13 million souls at the world's belly button is rich, sitting on 4.4 billion barrels of known oil reserves, and probably much more. Yet 60 percent of its citizens live in brutal poverty; a lucky minority earn the "minimum" wage of $153 a month.
The obvious solution--give the oil money to the Ecuadoreans without money--runs smack up against paragraph III-1 of the World Bank's 2003 Structural Adjustment Program Loan. The diktat is marked "FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY," which "may not be disclosed" without World Bank authorization. has obtained a copy.

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