Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Other items

The value of military weapons sales worldwide jumped in 2004 to the highest level since 2000, driven by arms deals with developing nations, especially India, Saudi Arabia and China, according to a new Congressional study.
The total of arms sales and weapons transfer agreements to both industrialized and developing nations was nearly $37 billion in 2004, according to the study.

The above is from Thom Shanker's "Weapons Sales Worldwide Rise to Highest Level Since 2000" in this morning's New York Times.

Among the weapons sales in the last year would be Israel's to China, as Rob noted Sunday when he e-mailed Ze'ev Schiff's "U.S. sanctions still in place in spite of military exports deal" (Israel's Haaretz).

Despite the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Israel and Washington to end the dispute over Israel's sale to China of spare parts for attack drones, U.S. sanctions continue.
As part of the understanding, Israel has agreed to monitor its export of equipment and dual-use technologies, with a special regulation passed last week by the Knesset Economics Committee.
The memorandum, signed by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, does not contain an earlier demand that the Knesset enact legislation to monitor weapons exports within 18 months. It does not require Mofaz to apologize for the sale of the spare parts for the drones Israel manufactured. The U.S. also acceded to Mofaz's request to reach an agreement before disengagement was carried out. However, the agreement does indicate that the sanctions against Israel will be lifted gradually, and that their complete removal depends exclusively on a U.S. decision.

Liang e-mails to note Anne E. Kornblut's "Bush Renews Drive to Overhaul Social Security:"

Five years after delivering a major campaign address here about the need to revamp Social Security, President Bush returned on Monday with a similar message, urging an overhaul of the retirement system as he celebrated changes to Medicare that will take effect at the beginning of next year.
In a speech at the James L. Brulte Senior Center, Mr. Bush began laying the groundwork for a return to domestic issues when Congress reconvenes next week.

Todd S. Purdum continues to probe the very odd nature of John Roberts, would be Supreme Court Justice. Today's article is entitled "Nominee Opposed Police Role for Agencies" and we'll give Purdum credit for not resorting to 'titters' and 'guffaws' over Roberts reoccuring slams of women. Roberts, like Felix Unger in The Odd Couple, gloats to a superior over having dealt with Bob Jones III: "A restrained reply to his petulant paranoia is attached for your review, telling Jones, in essence, to go soak his head." Go soak his head? Tough talker that John Roberts.

Zach e-mails to note Joseph Kahn's "Beijing Police Raid Rights Group Office:"

The Chinese police raided the office of an American-financed human rights group here on Monday shortly before the arrival of the United Nations human rights chief, as the authorities sought to keep a tight lid on dissent during the visit.
The police searched the offices and copied computer files at the Empowerment and Rights Institute, a leading legal and human rights advisory group, employees and visitors to the offices said. The group's director, Hou Wenzhuo, said as many as 10 plainclothes and uniformed police officers had come to her home as well, but had not arrested her.

In "National Briefing" we'll note the following two items:

ILLINOIS: police torture accusations A group of 46 human rights organizations, lawyers and community activists asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to investigate accusations that 135 black criminal suspects were tortured by the police on the South Side of Chicago from 1971 to 1992 in an effort to extract confessions. The torture was said to include electric shocks and burns. A special prosecutor who reviewed the cases in 2002 has not issued any findings or filed criminal charges. Jon Burge, the police commander accused of overseeing the torture, was fired in 1993. In 2001, Gov. George Ryan pardoned four black death row inmates after it was revealed that their confessions had been coerced. Gretchen Ruethling (NYT)

WASHINGTON: ruling on detainees' identities A federal judge ordered the Pentagon to ask the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, if they objected to having their identities disclosed. The decision, by Judge Jed S. Rakoff in Federal District Court in Manhattan, came in a lawsuit filed April 19 by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act. In response, the Pentagon released transcripts of tribunals held at Guantanamo in late 2004 to determine whether all the detainees were correctly classified as enemy combatants, as military officials maintained. The Pentagon blacked out the prisoners' names, arguing that publishing them would violate their privacy and could expose them and their families to reprisals. Julia Preston (NYT)

What happened to last night's entry? Written and lost:

Error: We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are unable to process your request at this time. Our engineers have been notified of this problem and will work to resolve it.

Message displayed for hours. I'll try to address The Pooper (whom everyone was e-mailing about yesterday) today.

Among the topics scheduled for today on Democracy Now!:

Damu Smith on environmental racism and who will be hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.