Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Other Items

In the rural mind, Surat, in Gujarat state, looms with outsized allure, and its girth is growing to match. In less than 15 years, its population has more than doubled, to an estimated 3.5 million, making it India's ninth largest city. The majority of Surat's residents are migrants, drawn by its two main industries, diamonds and textiles.
Surat's growth spurt is being replicated across India. At least 28 percent of its population now lives in cities and many more of its citizens move in and out of them for temporary work. In some southern states, nearly half the population is in cities. In 1991, India had 23 cities with one million or more people. A decade later it had 35.
As the people shift, so does the very nature of India. This is a nation of 600,000 villages, each of them a unit that has ordered life for centuries, from the strata of caste to the cycles of harvest. In this century, cities' pull and influence - not only financial but also psychic - are remaking society. Less visible than the heated consumerism or western sexual habits changing India, this slow churning may be more profound and, for a country weaned on the virtues of village life, more wrenching.

The above is from Amy Waldman's "All Roads Lead to Cities, Transforming India" in this morning's New York Times. This part four in her part four look at changes in India which is too bad because it's actually been the topic of a number of favorable e-mails to this site. Krista noted that it was December of 2004 when Waldman was turning in some of the "best articles" the paper's run.

The paper has a (moment?) of interest in torture and extraordinary rendention, Rob e-mails to note Scott Shane's "German Held in Afghan Jail Files Lawsuit" about Khaled el-Masri:

The lawsuit appears to be the first to single out a web of companies that operate a fleet of aircraft believed to be used by the C.I.A. The companies identified in the suit were Aero Contractors, a Smithfield, N.C., company that provides crews and maintenance; Premier Executive Transport Services of Dedham, Mass., which in 2003 owned the Boeing business jet that the lawsuit says was used to take Mr. Masri from Macedonia to Afghanistan; and Keeler and Tate Management L.L.C., of Reno, Nev., which owns the jet now.
The lawsuit could force the C.I.A. to acknowledge its secret relationship with the companies, said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the A.C.L.U. He said the A.C.L.U. took the case to penetrate what he called the "culture of impunity" in the Bush administration for human rights violations and to force the C.I.A. to abandon practices in conflict with American values.
A spokesman for Mr. Tenet, who served as C.I.A. director from 1997 to 2004, said he had no comment, as did a spokesman for the C.I.A.

Linked name prior to excerpt goes to the Democracy Now! report discussing Khaled El-Masri Monday. From "Extraordinary Rendition Scandal Reaches New Heights: Rice on the Offensive in Europe Over Bush Administration's Use of 'Torture Flights:'"

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to British M.P. Andrew Tyrie, a chair of the All Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition. What is the feeling in the British Parliament right now around this issue? And in Britain, do you call it “kidnapping”?
ANDREW TYRIE: Well, the attitude of a lot of people is deep concern without knowing quite where to turn. A lot of people in Britain, and I'm talking now more widely, British public opinion, are very, very concerned about terrorism. You have got to remember that in Britain, we have had 30 years of terrorism, so we're quite experienced about it. And I know it’s relatively new for the United States, but it's not at all new for us. We’ve got a spectrum of opinion from some saying, ‘Well, if you can torture some information out of people and thereby save some lives, maybe that's a good thing,’ right the way through to those who think that torture under any circumstances is completely wrong.
I think that the mood of the British public opinion has moved much more in the direction of those who are against torture. And that's because, I'm afraid, our closest ally, the United States -- or I should really say the U.S. administration -- has lost the confidence of a large chunk of British opinion and, indeed, European opinion. And it's done that because, to us, used to terrorism as we are in Spain, Germany, France, Britain, we think America has overreacted. We think the U.S. administration overreacted to September 11, that regime change and preemptive action are not the way to go around trying to deal with terrorism, and that what we saw in Abu Ghraib and what we hear about from Guantanamo is not likely to win over the hearts and minds of moderate Muslim opinion.
And we know from hard experience -- the British know in dealing with the I.R.A., the Irish terrorists, the French know from dealing with terrorists in Algeria, that these techniques, these very, very heavy-handed techniques tend to inflame the problem. So, it's not just a question of my personal moral repugnance against all this that leads many to be concerned, but it is something much more practical, as well. Is this going to help us actually deal with the problem we’ve got? And in the view of, I think, an increasing number of the British population, and that's reflected in Parliament, the answer to that is: No, it's not helping us.

From ethical and moral corruption, we move, back to the Times, to the next "c" word that's also been a hallmark of the administration, cronyism -- Brian highlights Eric Lipton's "Governor's Relative Is Big Contract Winner:"

Rosemary Barbour happens to be married to a nephew of Mississippi's governor, Haley Barbour. Since the Reagan administration, when Mrs. Barbour worked as a White House volunteer as a college student, she has been active in the Republican Party.
She also happens to be one of the biggest Mississippi-based winners of federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

Danny Schecter addresses the media's inability to follow through on the big stories in "Media Scandals Across the Arab Western Divide" (

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Shock and awe has given way to a shocking media scandal of the week in Iraq.
The latest revelations of pay for play journalism, admitted now to some degree by the Pentagon, is that US government funds are going to pay off or otherwise subsidize journalists.
Blogger Tony Pierce notes that "this week the LA Times broke the story that the U.S. Military had hired several companies to carry out 'strategic communications' in foreign countries with heavy US Military presence, including a company once called Iraqex, but now called Lincoln Group. The Times discovered that it turned out that many of those communications involved paying Iraqi newspapers to run US propaganda, and yesterday the Pentagon admitted the Times was right, that the US was back in the propaganda biz."
This Lincoln Group is just one part of the information warfare strategy that drives the Bush strategy in Iraq. Bullets and "bullet points," in Paul Krugman's phrase, have long been the twin towers of the Bush strategy to engineer perceptions and win support for the Iraq war and its political objectives.
Does anyone remember the ill-fated Office of Strategic Communications run by Iran Contra alumnus John Poindexter with its plan for planting stories favorable to US goals in the press overseas? When it was first announced, and exposed back in 2003, there was a media uproar followed by an announcement that the plan was being shelved and the office closed.
Except Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld made clear he was going to do it anyway - but under a different name. And he did.

Also noting Rumsfeld is Matthew Rotschild in Lloyd's highlight, "Rumsfeld, The Blunderbuss" (This Just In, The Progressive):

Taking a leaf from Spiro Agnew's playbook, Donald Rumsfeld blamed the media.
In a speech on Monday, Rumsfeld said: "We've arrived at a strange time in this country where the worst about America and our military seems so quickly to be taken as truth by the press."
Actually, the mainstream press was criminally gullible in the lead-up to the Iraq War. And even to this day, it rarely shows us the casualties--both U.S. and Iraqis.
And who is Rumsfeld to talk about truth, anyway?
"Secretary Rumsfeld made 52 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in twenty-three separate public statements or appearances," according to "
Iraq on the Record: The Bush Administration’s Public Statements on Iraq," prepared for Representative Henry A. Waxman.
Then there's the torture scandal, which he himself is complicit in.
After all, he sent out a directive approving the use of dogs on detainees, only to withdraw it six weeks later under pressure from the Navy.

Sally notes Salim Muwakkil's "Torture in the Homeland" (In These Times):

Torture is much in the news these days. "We do not torture," President George Bush declared last month, after the Washington Post revealed that the CIA maintains an international archipelago of covert prisons where it can torture terror suspects.
News of these secret torture chambers has added new ammunition to critics' charges that the Bush administration condoned torture at Abu Ghraib, still condones it at Guantanamo Bay and outsources prisoners to nations where torture is a routine form of interrogation.
Some Americans are angered that critics dare to connect the Bush administration to torture. Other countries may torture people, they argue, but the United States is a nation that respects laws and human rights.
Well, I'm here to tell you that torture, like terrorism, is as American as apple pie.

Abhinav Aima's "Another Bright Shining Lie" (Common Dreams):

Condoleezza Rice has become the second American Secretary of State in as many years who has addressed a global audience and presented misinformation, half truths and outright lies in order to defend the malicious and relentless attacks on human rights and human dignity that are being perpetrated by the Bush administration.
The first great lie was the one presented by then Secretary of State Colin Powell, when he shook a fake bottle of anthrax in the face of world leaders on Feb. 5, 2003, insinuating that Iraq possessed 25,000 liters of the same, and also told tall tales of Iraqi mobile production facilities for biological weapons, Iraqi chemical weapons stockpiles and an advanced Iraqi nuclear weapons program.
When outraged U.N. weapons inspectors politely demanded evidence for these charges they were provided red herrings and false leads. When the frustrated U.S. inspectors complained that none of the U.S. charges could be substantiated after their searches in Iraq, they were ridiculed by the Bush administration and its lapdog press and labeled as corrupt, lazy and incompetent.
Now we have Condoleezza Rice, the Cold Warrior who professed the need for relentless battle against the 'evil empire' and who now puts that crusade to good use against America's latest enemy -- Anyone that Bush accuses of supporting terrorists.

Torture and human rights crimes are among the topics for today's Democracy Now! (Rod e-mailed to note this):

* On the 30th anniversary of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor we examine newly declassified U.S. government documents how the U.S. government supported the invasion and occupation.
* British journalist Stephen Grey joins us in our New York studio to discuss how he helped expose that the CIA was flying detainees to secret prisons around the world.

The e-mail address for this site is