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    World News
12/8/03 - 12/14/04

Sunday  12/14/03

topVenezuelans learn the write stuff  12/14/03 Guardian: "More than a million people have enrolled in Mission Robinson, a literacy campaign launched by Chávez's left-wing government. It is tinged with revolutionary evangelism. Tens of thousands of 'missionaries' have been recruited to teach the 'patriots' who enrol. Soldiers - the 'Army of Light' - have distributed 80,000 TVs and video recorders to makeshift classrooms across the country, from city shanty towns to remote Indian villages. 'Chávez uses popular language with a certain religiosity. He uses the symbols of the people and he taps into their hopes and beliefs. He makes direct contact with the popular classes, something his opponents have failed to do,' says Oscar Schémel of polling firm Hinterlaces."

US Officials and Iraqis Agree That Conflict Will Get Worse  12/14/03 LA Times: "Like others, these men dismissed the notion that their fight will diminish once Hussein is killed or captured, as U.S. officials hope. "We are not fighting for Saddam," one said."

Pdvsa planes are now carrying top officials from Cuba and Venezuela  12/14/03 Vcrisis: "The planes owned by state-run oil giant Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (Pdvsa) have made unusually frequent flights to Cuba. Cuban ministers, diplomats, relatives, and officials are frequent beneficiaries of the so-called "colitas"."

Saturday  12/13/03

topFlorida first in U.S. to dedicate prison to faith-based program  12/13/03 Palm Beach Post, FL: "Hard time will soon be hallowed time for nearly 800 Florida inmates who will be given the option of repaying their debt to society in the nation's first prison dedicated entirely to faith-based rehabilitation programs. Gov. Jeb Bush made the surprise announcement Friday at a White House-sponsored news conference in Tampa that spotlighted President Bush's attempts to give religious organizations a greater role in solving social problems."

Thursday  12/11/03

topThe US Terrorism Plot That the Media Ignores  12/11/03 Memory Hole: "In May 2003, white supremacists in Texas were caught with a sodium cyanide bomb, other bombs, illegal weapons, hate literature, fake I.D., and chemicals, including hydrochloric acid and nitric acid. In mid-November, three people pleaded guilty to related charges, while seized documents indicate that there are other co-conspirators at large. The feds have served "hundreds of subpoenas across the country," and the plot has been included in the President's daily intelligence briefings. But most of us have never heard about it. The only media that saw fit to report about this terrorist plot within the US were a few newspapers and TV stations in Texas. The Web-based news outlet WorldNetDaily ran a story about it, but Google News shows that there hasn't been a word in the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, or any other big media outlet. Why have the media decided that this is a non-story?"

CONGRESS Democracy crumbles under cover of darkness  12/11/03 St. Louis Post Dispatch, MS: "House Republicans bend rules, press for votes during wee hours to escape the light of accountability."

Wednesday  12/10/03

topMore Afghan children die in raids  12/10/03 BBC 

MOVING TARGETS by SEYMOUR M. HERSH - Will the counter-insurgency plan in Iraq repeat the mistakes of Vietnam?  12/10/03 New Yorker: "According to American and Israeli military and intelligence officials, Israeli commandos and intelligence units have been working closely with their American counterparts at the Special Forces training base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in Israel to help them prepare for operations in Iraq. Israeli commandos are expected to serve as ad-hoc advisers—again, in secret—when full-field operations begin. (Neither the Pentagon nor Israeli diplomats would comment. “No one wants to talk about this,” an Israeli official told me. “It’s incendiary. Both governments have decided at the highest level that it is in their interests to keep a low profile on U.S.-Israeli coöperation” on Iraq.) The critical issue, American and Israeli officials agree, is intelligence. There is much debate about whether targeting a large number of individuals is a practical—or politically effective—way to bring about stability in Iraq, especially given the frequent failure of American forces to obtain consistent and reliable information there… But many of the officials I spoke to were skeptical of the Administration’s plans. Many of them fear that the proposed operation—called “preëmptive manhunting” by one Pentagon adviser—has the potential to turn into another Phoenix Program. Phoenix was the code name for a counter-insurgency program that the U.S. adopted during the Vietnam War, in which Special Forces teams were sent out to capture or assassinate Vietnamese believed to be working with or sympathetic to the Vietcong. In choosing targets, the Americans relied on information supplied by South Vietnamese Army officers and village chiefs. The operation got out of control."

Political prisoner Hugo Pinell needs your support to be free after 39 years  12/10/03 SF Bay View: "At least one reason Yogi was singled out for even harsher punishment than other comrades was his refusal to disassociate himself with “Blacks” and hang with the “Mexicans” as the prison apartheid mandated at that time. Yogi, originally from Nicaragua, identifies Black, as his father was an African-Nicaraguan. His being bilingual was of course an advantage in organizing and struggling for international unity behind the walls."

Leader of terror cell reveals data on command structure  12/10/03 UPI: ""But others treat us like dogs. I saw one put his boot on the head of an old man lying on the ground [during a raid.] Even Saddam would not have done such a thing." Another incident helped persuade Abu Mujahid to take up arms, he said. He and some friends had been standing around drinking tea when some U.S. soldiers in a passing Humvee jumped out and accused them of yelling obscenities. "They cuffed our hands and one soldier kicked me," he said. "Then they released us because we had done nothing. It was that night I went and got my gun. The next night I shot the soldier that kicked me. But his [body armor] protected him. I don't think he died." "

Tuesday  12/9/03

topIsrael trains US assassination squads in Iraq  12/9/03 Guardian, UK: "Israeli advisers are helping train US special forces in aggressive counter-insurgency operations in Iraq, including the use of assassination squads against guerrilla leaders, US intelligence and military sources said yesterday. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has sent urban warfare specialists to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the home of US special forces, and according to two sources, Israeli military "consultants" have also visited Iraq… US special forces teams are already behind the lines inside Syria attempting to kill foreign jihadists before they cross the border, and a group focused on the "neutralisation" of guerrilla leaders is being set up, according to sources familiar with the operations. "This is basically an assassination programme. That is what is being conceptualised here. This is a hunter-killer team," said a former senior US intelligence official, who added that he feared the new tactics and enhanced cooperation with Israel would only inflame a volatile situation in the Middle East. " The return of the Viet Nam era Phoenix program.

Communities in resistance  12/9/03 Latin America Press 

An African Tree Branches: Kwame Ture Shares His Roots  12/9/03 The Black World Today: "He told his young son about seeing the newly elected president of Ghana come forward to introduce his cabinet to the Parliament. The president and all the cabinet members were not wearing the formal clothes of the British colonial rulers, or the regal African robes of their village status. They wore the misshapen prison garb of the imprisonment they had endured for their nation's liberation. "Boy, you hear me, those black men marched right out of prison and into power," the exuberant sailor told his son in the Bronx home he renovated with his own hands. That son was Stokely Carmichael who later met Kwame Nkrumah, the Ghanaian president, and took on the president's first name in respect when he became Kwame Ture."

Monday  12/8/03

topPast Imperfect: Black Iraq  12/8/03 Africana: "There has been a black presence in Basra — present-day Southern Iraq — as early as the 7th century, when Abu Bakra, an Ethiopian soldier who had been manumitted by the prophet Muhammad himself, settled in the city. His descendants became prominent members of Basran society. A century later, the writer Jahiz of Basra wrote an impassioned defense of black Africans — referred to in Arabic as the Zanj — against accusations of inferiority which had begun to take root even then. The Zanj, who were primarily persons of East African descent, were to have a significant impact upon Iraqi history. They had been traded from ports along the African coast (Zanzibar, which is derived from the term "Zanj," was a major slave exporting center during the era) to clear salt marshes. Laboring in miserable, humid conditions, the Zanj workers dug up layers of topsoil and dragged away tons of earth to plant labor-intensive crops like sugarcane on the less saline soil below. Fed scant portions of flour, semolina and dates, they were constantly in conflict with the Iraqi slave system. Between the 7th and 9th centuries, the Zanj staged three rebellions, the largest of which occurred between 868 and 883 AD."

Venezuela has reasons to doubt U.S. claims  12/8/03 Final Call: by Bill Fletcher Jr., president of TransAfrica Forum and co-chair of the anti-war coalition, United for Peace and Justice.

Iraqi town's balance of power stays in doubt  12/8/03 Financial Times: "At the one remaining US military compound in the city, US soldiers on Sunday refused to leave their sand-bagged bunkers to meet a western visitor at the gate. "It's dangerous here! Go away!" yelled one. Two other such US compounds within Samarra have been vacated in the past three weeks… If what Lt Col Mohammed says is true, US forces and their Iraqi allies face open conflict with the entire town. On Sunday he accused local tribal leaders, religious clergy, and even the local police in Samarra of aiding "Saddam's mercenaries", as he calls the guerrillas."

Anti-war parents of American soldiers brave hostility at home to see the real story in Iraq  12/8/03 Independent, UK: "He says conservative radio talk shows have begun attacking his wife, a social worker, after she gave interviews to the newspapers about his trip. "They have been reading out the interviews on the air, and giving her a hard time. She's a little scared, and out of her element, to be sure." He is one of a delegation of nine family members of US soldiers and army veterans who have come to Iraq, led by the San Francisco-based human rights group Global Exchange. Most of the group oppose the occupation, while others say they simply want to see the situation for themselves."


"There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to Democracies as against despots: suspicion." -- Demosthenes

Maps & Weather

A number of maps here

Estimates of the total number of Muslims range from 0.7 to 1.2 billion worldwide and 3 to 6 million in the U.S. About 20% of all people on earth follow Islam. The religion is in a period of rapid growth.

Christianity is currently the largest religion in the world. It is followed by about 33% of all people -- a percentage that has remaind stable for decades. It is expected that, if current trends continue, Islam will become the most popular religion sometime in the mid-21st century.


Death from Americatop

Iraq news: Soaring death rates among Iraqi children, 1999 BBC, UNICEF 500,000 child deaths

Ramsey Clark: Report to UN Security Council re: Iraq, 1/26/2000
1.5 million deaths

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