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ISSUE: #. 88. June 2, 2003










By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Subuhi Jiwani and Wynde Priddy, Special Correspondents

1. Still No Peace
2. U.S. Detains Palestinians at Baghdad Diplomatic Mission
3. UNICEF Fears for Iraqi Children
4. Looting Continues at Archaeological Sites
5. Shi'ite Resurgence in Baghdad Shanty-Town
6. Is Iran Next?
7. Kurdish Rebels Attack in Turkey; Syria Worried
8. Al-Jazeera Director Sacked
9. Probe Faults Pentagon on Killing of Journalists
10. Saving Private Lynch: Take Three

1. Settlements Still Growing--Despite "Road Map" Prohibition
2. NYC Jewish Weekly: Apartheid Wall "An Inconvenience"
3. NYC "Salute To Israel" Day Brings Out Rival Factions
4. Likud Pol: IDF in "Gross Violations of Human Rights"
5. Israeli War Propaganda Exploits Kids Too
6. Is Abu Mazen Bahai?
7. Do the Jews "Need" Geraldo ?

1. Allied Forces Get New Chief
2. Prince Aga Khan Dead at 70; Led Afghan Aid Efforts

1. Bush Visit Highlights European Divisions
2. Dollar vs. Euro Shadow War Redux
3. Greek Lawyers to Bring War Crimes Charges Against Blair
4. Terror Plot on U.S. Bases in Germany?
5. Mosque Librarian Held in Italy
6. Basque Separatist Party Makes U.S. Terrorist List
7. Spain to Crack Down on Web Dissidents
8. Spanish Troops Killed in Plane Crash After Afghan Duty

1. African Continent Invisible Victim of Iraq War
2. Starving Africans are Football in U.S.-Europe Food Fight
3. Report: G.E. Crops Won't Solve World Hunger
4. South Africa Water Privatization Takes Grisly Toll

1. Suspected ERPI Guerillas Arrested
2. State Police Ambushed in Chiapas

1. U.S. Plans "Death Camp" at Guantanamo
2. Akron to Fingerprint School Kids for Lunch Lines
3. Undocumented Migrants File Suit Against Vigilantes
4. Mass Deportation of Palestinians
5. French Reporters Expelled
6. Burgers With a Side of Xenophobia Redux

1. Ground Zero Plans to be Revised--Again
2. Police Terror Wave Hits City
3. Dairy 5-0
4. Dissident Radio WBAI Loses Phone Lines

1. Arcata Voids Patriot Act


On May 26, gunmen ambushed a US military convoy in northern Iraq, killing a soldier and wounding four others. The eight-vehicle convoy of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment was on a resupply mission to a base near the town of Hadithah, about 120 miles north of Baghdad when it came under fire from machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Helicopters were immediately dispatched to the area to find the assailants. Four soldiers were also wounded in an apparent land-mine attack in a wealthy Baghdad neighborhood that day, military officials and witnesses said. (AP, May 26)

On May 27, gunmen opened fire on US troops at a checkpoint, killing two soldiers and wounding nine others in the town of Fallujah--a stronghold of support for Saddam Hussein's fallen Baath Party. Returning fire, US troops killed two attackers and took six Iraqis captive for questioning. Hours later, two US military police officers were injured in two attacks with rocket-propelled grenades on a northwest Baghdad police station. (AP, May 27)

Violent demonstrations broke out May 28 in Hit, a town 130 kilometers west of Baghdad, when residents protested searches of their homes by US troops backed up by local police. Over 100,000 streamed into the streets, burning police cars and throwing stones and handmade grenades at police and US soldiers. The town's police station was set ablaze, and residents reported that a US helicopter was shot down. "The Iraqi police were very rough with our women," one resident told Reuters. "They forced their way into houses without knocking, sometimes when women were sleeping. This is a very conservative town." Added another: "Saddam is gone, but we want the occupation to end. The Americans must know they can never come back to town." (Reuters, May 29)

On May 29, US troops killed two Iraqi civilians and injured two others after their vehicle failed to stop at a checkpoint in Samarra, a town north of Baghdad. Samarra was also the scene of a shootout involving US forces three days earlier in which Central Command said three Iraqi men may have been killed. (Reuters, May 29)

The new violence came as British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in the southern city of Basra, the first Western leader to visit Iraq since the war. In response to the continued bloodshed, the US announced a redeployment of forces, with the Army's 1st Armored Division took over Baghdad, freeing the 3rd Infantry Division for a shift into restive towns west of the capital, such as Fallujah and Ramadi. (Newsday, May 30)

The web site Iraq Body Count continues to monitor world press reports to arrive at a daily update of the total Iraqi civilian dead. Each incident is listed separately, noting the location, number dead, weaponry used and media source. At press time, the minimum estimate stands at 5,430 and the maximum at 7,046.

See also WW3 REPORT #87 [top]

On May 28, US troops ransacked the Palestinian Authority's diplomatic mission in Baghdad and arrested 11 people. Within hours, the State Department declared that foreign diplomats in Iraq do not have normal diplomatic immunity against searches and seizures because there is no Iraqi government to accredit them. The detained Palestinians, including charge d'affairs Majah Abdul Rahman, were taken to a US base in the city, according to Mohamed Abdulwahab, a mission official. Abdulwahab said dozens of US troops with several armored vehicles pulled up at the mission. When guards opened the gate, the soldiers burst into the building and detained those present, seizing three AK-47 assault rifles the mission used to guard against looting. The guns were properly licensed by Iraq's former government, Abdulwahab said. Reported the Long Island newspaper Newsday: "Journalists touring the building saw doors damaged by gunfire or combat boots, and an official portrait of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat that had been pulled down and smashed. A safe had been forcibly opened and file cabinets stood emptied." Said Abdulwahab: "To attack a foreign embassy is a criminal act and a breach of diplomatic immunity. They behaved like common thieves." (Newsday, May 30) [top]

The head of the UN Children's Fund, Carol Bellamy, announced that a sharp rise in acute diarrhea is hitting children in Iraq already weakened by malnutrition. In the country to assess post-war conditions under a UNICEF program, Bellamy said war-related damage is aggravating poor health conditions that existed before the conflict, with many sewage and water treatment plants, already poorly maintained because of UN sanctions, now completely halted. One quarter of Iraqi children were already malnourished before the bombs started falling.

See also WW3 REPORT #48

Bellamy also said fears of violence and lawlessness are keeping Iraqi children away from school. "Whether it is accurate or not, there appears to be a perception on the part of many families that the children, particularly the youngest children, are potentially subject to violence if they come to school." (BBC, May 18) [top]

Local authorities in Samawa, on the Euphrates River in southern Iraq, say they have repeatedly appealed to US forces to protect the nearby archeological sites of Babylon and Uruk, but their pleas have been largely ignored and looting at the site continues. They have formed their own patrols to protect the Babylonian and Sumerian ruins as best they can, but continue to find new evidence of looting. (NYT, May 27)

See also WW3 REPORT # 86 [top]

On May 30, the New York Times ran before-and-after photos of a repainted mural in the sprawling and impoverished Baghdad Shi'ite community formerly known as Saddam City. The original mural featured a portrait of Saddam Hussein. The new mural features portraits of Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, a popular Shi'ite cleric killed by Saddam's regime in 1999, and his son, Moktada al-Sadr, who many Shi'ites are now rallying behind. The shanty-town has been renamed Sadr City.

See also WW3 REPORT #87 [top]

The Bush administration's new hard line on Iran is said to be partly driven by intelligence reports that al-Qaeda leaders are being sheltered by the Iranian revolutionary guards at one of the former shah's hunting lodges. The militants suspected of taking refuge in Iran include Saif al-Adel, an Eygptian believed to be number three in the organisation, and Abu Mohammed al-Masri, a suspected organizer of the 1998 embassy bombings in east Africa. They may also include Saad bin Laden, one of Osama bin Laden's sons.

The trail of clues that led to the hunting lodge-turned-military base in the eastern highlands near the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan, surfaced after an air crash in February outside the city of Kerman killed 200 soldiers from the revolutionary guards. According to a Washington source, the crash produced intelligence that the revolutionary guards were "hosting" the al-Qaeda leaders.

According to a May 28 report in Newsday, the Pentagon now believes that the Iranian project to build a nuclear weapon has "passed the point of no return", and that Tehran no longer needs foreign assistance to build a bomb.

Deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz, and deputy head of the National Security Council Stephen Hadley met May 29 to discuss a draft "national security decision directive," which would reset US policy on Iran. The Pentagon is pushing for an aggressive policy aimed at "regime change" in Tehran. Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, is promoting the idea of reconstituting elements of the Iraq-based Mujahedeen Khalq (MEK)-- possibly under a new name--to destabilize the Iranian government. The MEK has been designated by the US state department as a terrorist group. The suggestion of its possible use has caused an uproar in the State Department and in the UK, where Foreign Secretary Jack Straw insists that his policy of engagement with Iran's reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, is working. (UK Guardian, May 29)

See also WW3 REPORT #87 [top]

Neighboring governments are taking concern at growing Kurdish power in northern Iraq. Turkish authorities reported that several government troops had been wounded in a battle with Kurdish separatist guerillas of the PKK near Tunceli in Turkish Kurdistan. (MSNBC, May 30)

Meanwhile in Syria, leaders of the Kurdish Yekiti Party denied allegations by government security officials that two of its members were seeking divide the country. Syrian authorities detained two Yekiti members, Hasan Salih and Marwan Osman, on charges of belonging to a secret organization. (, May 24)

See also WW3 REPORT #87 [top]

Mohammed Jassem al-Ali, director general of the Qatar-based satellite TV network al-Jazeera since its inception in 1996, has been sacked amid allegations he worked with Saddam Hussein's intelligence services. Ali visited Iraq before the US-led war and met Saddam during an hour-long interview. Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the US-backed Iraqi National Congress, accuses several al-Jazeera reporters of working for Iraqi agencies, based on documents found in state archives in Baghdad. Ali denies the charges. The US harshly criticized al-Jazeera for carrying footage Iraqi TV footage of dead coalition soldiers and prisoners of war, as well as repeated images of Iraqi civilians badly wounded in air strikes. An al-Jazeera spokesman said Ali would remain on the board of directors, adding that "all these rumors and allegations about Jazeera are not taken at face value whatsoever." (AFP, Reuters, May 28)

See also WW3 REPORT #79 [top]

A report by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) finds fault with the Pentagon's account of the killing of two journalists, including a Reuters TV cameraman, by US tank fire in Baghdad in April. The report found no evidence to support US military statements that the tank was responding to hostile fire from the hotel housing the reporters. The tank hit a 15th floor balcony used by Reuters in the 17-story Palestine Hotel, killing Ukraine-born cameraman Taras Protsyuk. Debris damaged the floor below, where Spanish cameraman Jose Couso of Telecinco was fatally wounded. In Madrid, relatives of Couso have asked judicial authorities to have three US soldiers extradited to Spain to face charges of "war crimes."

The CPJ said the Pentagon had yet to answer some of its questions about the April 8 shelling of the hotel, where about 100 journalists had been staying. "A CPJ investigation into the incident ... suggests that [the] attack on the journalists, while not deliberate, was avoidable," the group said in its report "Permission to Fire." The CPJ found: "There is simply no evidence to support the official U.S. position that US forces were returning hostile fire from the Palestine Hotel. It conflicts with the eyewitness testimony of numerous journalists in the hotel." In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman insisted again that the soldiers had been responding to fire. "We said we took fire from there [the hotel] and another location," spokesman Bryan Whitman said. "As long as you're taking fire from a location, you're going to return fire. They were defending themselves."

The CPJ said it interviewed about a dozen reporters on the scene, including two "embedded" with US forces who heard military radio traffic before and after the shelling. "CPJ has learned that Pentagon officials, as well as commanders on the ground in Baghdad, knew that the Palestine Hotel was full of international journalists and were intent on not hitting it," CPJ said in the report published on its web site ( "However, these senior officers apparently failed to convey their concern to the tank commander who fired on the hotel." (Gulf News, Dubai, May 29)

See also WW3 REPORT #82 [top]

More controversy has emerged around the supposedly heroic April 1 rescue of captured US Pfc. Jessica Lynch from a hospital in Nasiriyah, Iraq. Doctors told the AP they were perfectly willing to turn Lynch over, and that the display of force by US troops--who burst in with guns drawn in the dead of night and broke down doors--was not needed. "If they had come to the door and asked for Jessica, we would have gladly handed her over to them," said Dr. Hazem Rikabi. "There was no need for all that drama. Why the show? They just wanted to prove they were heroes. There was no battle. Responded Marine Lt. Col David Lapan: "We don't want it to be a fair fight. The fact that we didn;t encounter heavy resistance in the hospital was a good thing." (AP, May 29)

See also WW3 REPORT #87 [top]


The so-called "Road Map to Peace"--now ostensibly approved by the Israeli cabinet-- calls for a settlement freeze in the Occupied Territories and the removal of all settlement construction built since September 2000. Nonetheless, Israel is still building. The Israeli daily Yediot Aharanot reported May 29 that the Israeli Housing Minister plans to build 12,000 new housing units in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This includes a plan to build 502 apartments in the settlement of Maale Adumim, just north of Jerusalem. (, May 30) Maale Adumim's administration plans to build 3,500 homes for 15,000 new residents by 2008. Israel refuses to stop construction of what it considers to be the "natural growth" of settlements. "Do they want a pregnant woman to have an abortion?" Prime Minister Ariel Sharon asked recently. (Reuters, May 26)

Sharon is expected to announce the removal of some of the "illegal" settlement outposts built in the last two years, but Israeli Channel Two TV reports that Sharon has struck a deal with the US government to evacuate "provocative" outposts but leave in place "defense outposts." (Ha'aretz, June 1) There is no international legal distinction between "provocative" outposts and those such as Maale Adumim. Only Israeli law recognizes a legal distinction from settlements it calls "legal" vs. "illegal" ones. (David Bloom) [top]

A May 23 editorial in the New York Jewish weekly The Forward questions criticism leveled at Israel over the building of the Separation Fence--decried by Palestinians as the Apartheid Wall. The Forward editorial calls the wall's impact on Palestinian life a mere "inconvenience to for some innocents." Some 95,000 Palestinians will be cut off from the rest of Palestinian territory, a recent World Bank study says, and thousands of families will be deprived of their livelihood. The town of Jayyous, for example, has lost some 70% of the land belonging to its farming families--75% of whom depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Things have gotten so bad in Jayyous that the town's mayor recently cut off his own daughter's electricity because she could not afford to pay her bill.

The Forward seems to consider this sort of phenomenon humorous. "The complaint seems almost comical at first glance," the venerable weekly writes. "It's not uncommon for major public works projects to inconvenience some innocents. The cost must be weighed against the project's larger good. Thousands of New York families lost their homes when the Cross-Bronx Expressway was constructed in the 1960s, but nobody called in the United Nations. The displaced families licked their wounds and moved on. Palestinians inconvenienced by the fence might be expected to do the same..." (Forward, May 23; Electronic Intifada, Apr. 25)

There is a grim irony in The Forward's Cross-Bronx Expressway analogy. Over 1,500 families were forcibly relocated by the project when work commenced in 1955, and thousands more were forced out in the subsequent waves of insurance-write-off arson as the South Bronx community rapidly declined, its heart ripped out by the mammoth highway. Twenty years after the project began, the South Bronx looked like post-war Berlin. Author Robert Caro in "The Power Broker," his classic biography of the project's mastermind, New York's long-reigning development czar Robert Moses, actually drew an analogy to Russian Jews who were forced to flee their villages in the Czarist pogroms. In his discussion of the city's 1955 South Bronx relocation program, Caro quotes from Isaac Bashevis Singer's "Fiddler on the Roof":

FIRST MAN: "After a lifetime, a piece of paper, an edict from the authorities, and we must all leave our homes."

MENDEL: "Rabbi, we've been waiting for the Messiah all our lives. Wouldn't this be a good time for him to come?"

RABBI: "We'll have to wait for him someplace else. Meanwhile, let's start packing."

(Robert A. Caro, "The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York," Vintage Books, 1974, p. 879)

See also WW3 REPORT #75)

(David Bloom and Bill Weinberg) [top]

Anti-occupation protestors briefly blocked the procession of pro-Israel marchers at the June 1 "Salute to Israel" day parade in New York City. In a "Trojan horse" tactic, the demonstrators joined and marched with the "Friends of the IDF" contingent--only to surprise their fellow marchers by suddenly unfurling anti-occupation banners across Fifth Avenue. The banners read "Israel out of Palestine" and "Dismantle Israeli Settlements." The protest itself was quickly dismantled by authorities while jeering pro-Israel onlookers voiced their displeasure. "Traitors!," one woman yelled. Demonstrator Daniel Lang-Levitsky explained the action thusly: "The Israeli government supports violent, illegal settlers as they seize Palestinian farms, attack Palestinians in their villages and hoard water and other essential resources. We're blocking this parade to say enough! There's nothing to celebrate about Israel's racist war on Palestinians." NYC's local Channel Seven news covered the protest.

A block near the beginning of the parade route was lined on opposite sides by pro-Israel parade-goers and Palestine activists, who numbered some 200. Some signs on the pro -Israel side read: "Arafat is a Pedophile"; "Abu Mazen is a Nazi"; "End the Arab Occupation of the Holy Land"; "Only Cowards Kill Children," and "Roadtrap to Auschwitz."

The counter-demonstration was organized largely by the coalition group Palestine Activist Forum of New York (PAFNY). One of the constituent groups of PAFNY is Jews Against the Occupation (JATO), whose member Sam J. Miller commented: "As a Jewish New Yorker, I wish we had a parade to celebrate our Jewish heritage instead of being asked to salute Israel's violence against Palestinians and its violations of human rights."

Alongside the PAFNY counter-protesters was contingent of ultra-orthodox Jews who reject Zionism and believe that a Jewish state in the Holy Land before the return of the Messiah is apostasy. Their organization is called Neturei Karta, an Aramaic term for "Guardians of the City"--a reference to the sanctity of Jerusalem. Pro-Israel marchers seemed shocked at the sight of men in full Hasidic regalia holding a Palestinian flag.

(David Bloom for WW3 REPORT on the scene; PAFNY: press release, June 1) [top]

Member of the Knesset Michael Eitan of the right-wing Likud party shocked military officials with his line of questioning during a recent Knesset hearing. "I am not certain that the responsible officials are aware of the fact that there are gross violations of human rights in the field despite army regulations," Eitan said. Brigadier Gen. Eli Yaffe, head of operations for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), replied that "we are aware that there are exceptional cases." When Yaffe failed to supply actual figures of abuses, Eitan replied, "How can you not know? Are there a few instances or thousands?" Eitan concluded: "If the army doesn't keep statistics, it cannot be seriously dealing with the problem." (UK Guardian, May 27) (David Bloom) [top]

Much has been made of pictures of Palestinian children being taught to appreciate guns and other assorted munitions. Such photos are cited as examples of Palestinian incitement to violence and hatred (see WW3 REPORT #42). Here WW3 REPORT readers can see examples of an under-reported parallel Israeli phenomenon: on May 22, the UK Jewish Telegraph carried a picture on its website of a little Israeli girl in the Jewish settlement of Avun Shalut straddling the barrel of an Israeli tank. "A BARREL OF FUN," reads the caption. An Israeli flag flies behind her. Another example, of two Israeli children admiring a machine gun with an Israeli flag overhead, can be seen here. (David Bloom) [top]

In a May 28 interview with Ha'aretz, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, popularly known as Abu Mazen, tried to put an old rumor to rest--that he is a member of the Bahai faith, and not a Muslim. On May 23, leaflets circulated in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem charging Abbas with being Bahai--presumably the work of Palestinian hardliners seeking to discredit the moderate Abbas. "I am a believing Muslim, the son of a family of believers, and committed to the religion's commandments," he responded. (UK Guardian, May 29).

The pacifistic Bahai faith is schismatic from Islam, and is the successor to the Baba faith started in 1844 by Sayyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi (1819-1850), A.K.A. the Bab (the gate), in Shiraz, Iran, and which quickly gained adherents. The Shah's prime minister felt his religious influence with his patron could be jeopardized should Shah and Bab meet, so the prime minister had the Bab intercepted when he was on his way to Tehran in 1847. Years of persecution and public trials followed, during which the Bab's movement grew--although Babis, as the followers were called, were frequently massacred by the Shah's forces. But the Bab found tolerance at the hands of the governor of the central Iranian city of Isfahan, a Georgian Christian who had converted to Shi'a Islam. The governor ordered the city's Muslim clergy to accommodate the Bab, and it his here that several of his most important works were written.

In 1850, the Shah and prime minister caught up with the Bab and had him shot. Some of his followers sought revenge by attempting to assassinate the Shah in 1852. The plot failed, and in the course of the resultant persecutions, most of the leading Babis were massacred. The Bab's body was hidden in various places in Iran for the next fifty years, until it reached its final resting place in a shrine on the side of Mount Carmel in the city of Haifa, Palestine [later to become Israel]. (;

The Bab's religion eventually evolved into the Bahai faith following Husayn-Ali (1817-92), A.K.A Baha'u'llah, or "The Glory of God," whose coming was predicted by the Bab. During his harsh imprisonment in 1852, Husayn-Ali experienced religious visions. This was the start of forty years of revelation for Husayn-Ali, who revealed himself as Baha'u'llah in 1852. These years were spent in exile and in prison. Baha'u'llah died in an Ottoman prison in Acre, Palestine in 1892. (

Israeli Prof. Moshe Sharon, chairman of Bahai studies at the Hebrew University, told Ha'aretz's Akiva Eldar in 2001: "It's impossible for Abu Mazen to be Bahai. First of all, if the Bahai say someone isn't Bahai, then there's no chance they are. They know all their members and they have complete rosters of their members. Secondly, according to the Bahai religion, it is absolutely forbidden for a believer to live permanently in the Land of Israel, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. If you decide to be a Bahai, you have to immediately leave the country [all the Bahai in Israel are temporary emissaries]. Third, according to the faith's founder, Baha'u'llah, Bahai are prohibited from any nationalistic political activity [as opposed to international frameworks]. A Bahai cannot be Arafat's deputy."

Prof. Sharon also emphasized that one of the tenets of faith for the religion states that a person is not born Bahai, and every believer must "seek the truth" personally. Therefore, it's impossible for Abu Mazen to be, as rumors claim, "the son of a Bahai family that converted to Islam." Sharon also pointed out that the Bahai faith is banned in all Arab countries. (Ha'aretz, Dec 18, 2001) (David Bloom)

For further information, see "A short introduction to the Bahai faith" [top]

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported May 20 that TV journalist Geraldo Rivera has rediscovered his Jewish roots. Rivera also told the Washington Post that "the Jews need me right now," but JTA dryly notes that "the Jews, apparently, are decidedly mixed about his arrival." Rivera, the product of a Jewish mother and a Puerto Rican father, was recently Bar Mitzvahed in Jerusalem, and promises to "take this whole Judaism thing seriously" from now on.

Count the right-wing Jewish media watchdog Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) among Rivera's detractors. In April 2002, CAMERA criticized Rivera after he claimed that although he "would die for Israel," Palestinian suffering was turning him also into a "Palestinian-ist." In CAMERA's words: "Although uninformed coverage of the Israel-Palestinian crisis is common, Rivera's combination of inanity and incessant self-reference to his own feelings, reactions and experiences has prompted particular audience disgust and derisive criticism from other journalists."

Rivera expects to marry in a Reform Jewish ceremony this coming August. Among the wedding guests will be Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Israeli Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (JTA, May 20) (David Bloom) [top]


Along with a troop rotation, Maj. Gen. John Vines replaced Lt. Gen. Daniel K. McNeill as commander of Coalition Joint Task Force, the US-led allied force in Afghanistan. Under the rotation, 4,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division are replaced by a similar number from the 10th Mountain Division, which was last in Afghanistan in 2001. Some 8,500 US troops form the bulk of the 11,500-member allied force in Afghanistan and at air bases in neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. On a May 1 visit to Kabul, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced that the combat phase of operations is to now be superceded by the reconstruction effort. But Five US servicemen have been killed in attacks in Afghanistan in the last six months, and several more wounded. (NYT, May 28)

See also WW3 REPORT #86 [top]

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, scion of the hereditary ruling family of the Ismaili Shi'ite sect and a wealthy private philanthropist who held several UN humanitarian posts, died May 12 at the age of 70 in Boston, MA. He was both the youngest and longest serving UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), taking the post at age 33 in 1965 and serving for 12 years. Current UNHCR chief Ruud Lubbers, said "He left an indelible imprint on UNHCR history, leading the agency through some of the most challenging moments." Prince Sadruddin spearheaded UN responses to the wars in Bangladesh, Vietnam and Uganda at the UNHCR. He also headed humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan from 1988 to 1990, and following the 1991 Gulf War. His famous motto was to keep a "cool head and warm heart without getting cold feet." Born in Paris in 1933, Sadruddin was son of Sultan Mohammed Shah, or Aga Khan III--spiritual leader of the world's Ismaili Muslims. He later became uncle of Karim Aga Khan IV, now leader of the world's Ismailis. The family traces its lineage all the way back to the Prophet Mohammed. Decorated with a long list of international awards, including the French Legion of Honor, the Harvard-educated Prince Sadruddin held French, Swiss and Iranian passports, and considered himself a "citizen of the world." The announcement of his death was made by the Geneva-based Bellerive Foundation, an environmental group founded by Sadruddin to help preserve Alpine birdlife. (AP, May 16)

The Ismailis, who differ from mainstream Shia in recognizing seven imams (or successors to the Prophet) rather than twelve, waged a resistance struggle against the caliphates of Damascus and Baghdad for centuries before establishing their own caliphate under Egypt's Fatamid dynasty in 909. The Ismaili Fatimids led the struggle against the Crusaders until being overthrown by the Kurdish warrior Saladin's Sunni armies in 1171. Ismaili communities survive throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and India. Many of the Hazara ethnic group in Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountain range are followers of Ismaili Shia. ( [top]


President Bush arrived May 30 at a gala to mark the 300th anniversary of Russia's Czarist capital of St Petersburg brought together key players in the bitter debate over the US-led invasion of Iraq--including the leaders of France, Germany and Britain. While Bush joined the other leaders at a Saturday banquet at the 18th century Peterhof palace on the Baltic Sea, his late arrival calculatedly left time only for the briefest encounter with French President Jacques Chirac, his most bitter European critic. (Reuters, May 30) Bush even plans on minimizing his interactions with Chirac at his next stop--the G8 summit in the French city of Evian. He will be in Evian less than a day before flying to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, for a meeting with Arab leaders. (Reuters, June 1)

Bush's May 29 stop in Poland, a key US ally on Iraq, was marked by political controversy. The mayor of Krakow complained he had been excluded from Bush's visit to the city because of his opposition to the war on Iraq. "It is customary that the mayor, as the host of this city, should take part in the welcoming ceremony. But the Americans have said they will not have it," Mayor Jacek Majchrowski told private radio RMF. "It is strange that guests dictate where the host should or should not be." Majchrowski wrote a newspaper article entitled "Pax Americana" in March, harshly criticizing the US-led campaign in Iraq, in which Poland also took part. He has welcomed anti-war marches in Krakow, praising the protesters as having "saved the honor of the city." (Reuters, May 29)

Sings mount of a fundamental European realignment. On April 30, the leaders of France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg--all critics of the Iraq campaign--agreed to beef up military cooperation in an effort to make the continent's defense less dependant on the US. While they insisted the move was not aimed at weakening NATO, the agreement was opposed by the UK, Spain, Italy and other nations which supported the Iraq campaign. The new plans call for a military planning "nucleus" based in Brussels, which NATO brass have criticized as a redundant and potentially rival structure. Meanwhile, US Marine Gen. James Jones, Rumsfeld's newly appointed NATO commander, is said to be reviewing US military installations in Germany with an toward moving some to Poland and other countries to the east. (WP, April 30)

In a gesture of historical chutzpah, in early May, Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski invited his German counterpart Peter Struck to contribute troops to the Polish-led force which is to jointly occupy Iraq with US and British forces. Writes the New York Times: "It was an invitation that the Germans summarily, even angrily, dismissed." (NYT, May 13)

See also WW3 REPORT #73 [top]

Billionaire investor George Soros said in a TV interview May 20 he was selling US dollars in currency markets, adding to the greenback's woes. His comments on CNBC came as the dollar was plumbing four-year lows against Europe's common currency. In his comments, Soros assailed Bush administration policies and said he was buying the euro and the currencies of Australia, Canada and New Zealand against the dollar, as well as gold. The euro closed above $1.17 US that day, as gold set a three-month high at $370 an ounce. Soros, founder of Quantum Endowment Fund, one of the world's largest hedge funds, was dubbed "the man who broke the Bank of England" for his role in betting heavily that the pound would fall in 1992. As a result, the UK suffered a humiliating exit from Europe's exchange rate mechanism. It was rumored that Soros earned $1 billion in a single day with his bet against the British pound. (Reuters, May 21)

See also WW3 REPORT #84 [top]

A group of lawyers in Greece is planning to take UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to the new International Criminal Court on war crimes charges related to the Iraq conflict. The Athens Bar Association says it feels an ethical and juristic responsibility to seek action from the court, which was formally inaugurated in March. The bar association is citing Blair and his foreign secretary Jack Straw for war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as violations of international law, human rights and a number of treaties. The British government, which has backed the new international court, dismisses the claims as groundless and insists it acted in accordance with international law in all its actions in Iraq. The Greek lawyers are considering making similar legal move against the Spanish prime minister, but not the US, which does not recognize the court's jurisdiction. (Australian Broadcasting Company, May 27)

See also WW3 REPORT #84 [top]

On May 6, a German court convicted a Turkish man of illegally explosives, after prosecutors dropped the more serious charge the he and his American fiancee had planned to bomb the European headquarters of the US Army in Heidelberg. Osman Petmezci was arrested in September after police found gunpowder, chemicals, metal pipes and a poster of Osama bin Laden in his apartment. He was sentneced to 18 months in jail by the Heidelberg state court. HJis fiancee, Astrid Eyzaguirre was released after a witness retracted her account of being told of the plot by Eyzaguirre, who works at a liquor store on the base. "I'm an Army brat," Eyzaguirre said. "I grew up in the Army, my father was in the Army. How could I ever do something like that?" (NYT, May 7) [top]

On May 6, Italian anti-terrorism police in Milan announced they had arrested the librarian of a northern Italian mosque on charges of recruiting dozens of militants for Anar al-Islam terrorist training camps in northern Iraq. Police said they arrested the librarian, Noureddine Drissi, also known as Abou Ali, at the Milan train station hours after he returned from Iran with his wife and three children. Drissi, a Tunisian immigrant, is charged with "criminal association for international terrorism aims." Italy has arrested over 100 on suspected terrorist ties since 9-11, but most have been released for lack of evidence. (NYT, May 7)

For more on Ansar al-Islam see WW3 REPORT # 80 [top]

On May 7, President Bush rewarded his Iraq war ally Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain with an Oval Office meeting, White House dinner--and official designation of the Basque separatist group Batasuna as a terrorist organization by the US State Department. Batasuna is the political wing of the armed separatist group ETA, which attempted to assassinate Aznar in 1995. (NYT, May 8)

On March 17, Spain's supreme court declared Batasuna illegal, barring the organization from elections and freezing its assets. (La Jornada, Mexico, March 18) But before May 25 municipal elections, the Basque public TV station broadcast a video of masked ETA militants urging voters to ignore the ban and cast for Batasuna candidates. The Spanish government pledged an investigation. Charged deputy prime minister Mariano Rajoy: "This is not a question of broadcasting news. It's a question of a terrorist group carrying out propaganda on a publicly owned televsiion channel." (NYT, May 17)

NOTE: ETA, for Basque Fatherland and Liberty, was already on the State Department terrorist list. [top]

The Spanish government has asked for three-to-five-year prison terms for two of its citizens who maintain an anti-war web page, a move that Spain's left has denounced as "a witch hunt." The ruling Popular Party asked for the sentence in the case of two members of the United Left (IU) charged with libel of government members. The officials are described as accomplices to murder on the website, for their complicity in the war on Iraq. A Madrid court has been asked to order Spanish security forces to investigate this and other websites under a counter-intelligence operation code name "Nodo50" [apparently after the site , which hosts several Spanish and Latin American radical left web pages]. (Granma International, Cuba, May 9) [top]

A chartered plane bringing home 62 Spanish troops from a four-month "peacekeeping" tour in Afghanistan crashed in bad weather while trying to make a refueling stop in the Turkish Black Sea port of Maska May 26. All on board were killed. (NYT, May 27) [top]


African leaders are pressing the international community to not let the enormous financial burden of reconstruction in Iraq relegate their continent's needs to the "back burner," as South African President Thabo Mbeki characterizes the problem.

The UN's World Food Program (WFP) reports that global food aid has been falling. Last year it dipped to less than 10 million metric tons, from 15 million in 1999. This has translated into massive relief shortages in developing countries. This year, for example, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Gambia, Senegal and Mali only have 40 per cent of their external food aid requirements.

In April the US Congress approved a $79 billion emergency spending package for the initial costs of the war on Iraq and post-war reconstruction. Such an amount would finance HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs for about 10 years, based on UN estimates. Yet the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has raised only $2 billion since the initiative's creation in 2001. (Africa Recovery, UN, May 2003)

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has pleaded with the Security Council in recent weeks to support greater foreign intervention in Congo and West Africa, where war, disease and hunger are reaching genocidal proportions. The Bush administration, which is skeptical of UN peacekeeping and still nursing a grudge against France, has been reluctant to back expansion of UN operations in Africa--particularly in francophone countries such as Congo where the French are likely to lead any intervention force. However, as the UN warns of a new wave of mass ethnic killings in Congo, US officials have finally begun to consider support for further UN intervention in the troubled region. (Washington Post, May 25)

The UN says some 40 million people in Africa urgently need humanitarian assistance this year, at a total cost of $1.8 billion. Relief pledges fall $1 billion short of that amount. WFP director James Morris is pressing donors to cover that gap, and to not allow resources to be diverted from the humanitarian, social and economic crises confronting Africa. Morris went so far as to accuse donors of applying a double standard. Why do "we routinely accept a level of suffering and hopelessness in Africa we would never accept in any other part of the world?" he asked at a UN Security Council meeting in April.

Mr. Morris' appeal for more resources for Africa comes at a time when the international community has mandated the agency to launch a $1.3 billion dollar food aid operation in Iraq. (Africa Recovery, UN, May 2003)

See also WW3 REPORT #86

(Wynde Priddy) [top]

President Bush has accused Europe of impeding US efforts to fight famine in Africa because what he calls "unfounded" fears over genetically engineered (GE) foods. According to Bush, Africa's long-term hunger could be greatly reduced through the use of GE foods. "Our partners in Europe are impeding this effort," he said. "They have blocked all new biocrops because of unscientific fears." (Newsday, May 21)

Bush also alleged that Europeans, by closing their markets to bioengineered foods, have caused African nations to avoid investments in such crops. These accusations were made in a speech to a graduating class of cadets in Connecticut May 21.

Though the speech was the first public address on the subject by Bush, the accusations have fueled the fire of a long-standing disagreement between the US and the European Union, which has imposed a freeze on genetically modified foods. The Bush administration maintains that scientific studies have shown that the foods do no harm. Critics counter that there has not been sufficient testing on the long-term effects.

Earlier this month, the US and several other countries filed a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization complaining about a five-year-old European moratorium on bio-engineered crops. The administration said it acted because Europeans had not met promises to repeal the ban. The EU called the suit "legally unwarranted, economically unfounded and politically unhelpful." EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy has said that the European regulatory system for genetically modified foods complies with trade rules. (Washington Post, May 22)

The BBC says the EU will resist the pressure to lift its block on GM food imports and Zambia has remained resolute on the issue, banning GE food aid in spite of the current drought in an effort to maintain its export markets in Europe. (BBC May 22)

(Wynde Priddy) [top]

There is no evidence to support claims that genetically modified (GM) crops [also called genetically engineered, or GE crops] will help solve world hunger, according to a new report by the UK-based development agency ActionAid. The report said GM seeds are more suited to the needs of large-scale commercial farmers, with no consistent evidence that they yield more and require less chemicals. Entitled "Going Against the Grain," said GM varieties could cause food insecurity by pushing poor farmers deeper into debt as they become more reliant on expensive seeds and chemicals. It said the development of "terminator technology" to produce sterile seeds will prevent farmers from following their traditional practice of saving seeds from one harvest to the next. "Poor communities need investment in low-cost, low-input farmer-friendly technologies, building on farmers' knowledge," the report said. "GM seeds, by contrast, are targeted at large-scale commercial farmers growing cash crops in monocultures."

The study also claimed that less than one percent of all GM research was directed at poor farmers. "GM research in Africa, for instance, focuses on export crops such as cut flowers, fruits and tobacco, which are grown in large-scale commercial plantations in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe," the report reads. Said ActionAid's UK policy chief Matthew Lockwood: "GM does not provide a magic bullet solution to world hunger. What poor people really need is access to land, water, better roads to get their crops to market, education and credit schemes." (Reuters, May 27) [top]

The New York Times ran a front-page story May 29 on the impact of water privatization in South Africa--with a photo of a rural woman in an impoverished area scooping water from a dirty puddle, unable to afford to buy it from the local utility. Ironically, the program began after the post-apartheid 1994 constitution guaranteed the right to "sufficient food and water." Simultaneously, the government started to shift the burden for those promises onto a population in which at least two-thirds live on under $2 a day. Utilities were urged to adopt "cost recovery" policies mandating that they at least break even, if not turn a profit. Private investment was also encouraged, with Johannesburg signing a water management contract with the French conglomerate Suez. Saur, another French firm, has won 25-year contracts with rural municipalities for water utility management. Saur has set up metered communal taps in KwaDukuza municipality--which three years ago was the center of a cholera epidemic which claimed 260 lives, the worst in the country's recent history. Residents in Soweto and other townships have organized strikes, refusing to pay their water and electric bills and mobilizing local plumbers and electricians to reconnect residents who have been cut off. "Privatization is a new kind of apartheid," said Richard Makolo, leader of the Crisis Water Committee in Orange Farm township. "Apartheid separated whites from blacks. Privatization separates the rich from poor."

See also WW3 REPORT #62 [top]


Mexican federal police announced the arrest May 25 of six presumed members of the Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI), a guerilla group active in the mountains of Guerrero and Oaxaca states. The arrests in Guerrero state involved forces from two elite new federal police agencies, the Special Unit against Organized Delinquency (UEDO) and the Federal Agency of Investigations (AFI). UEDO director Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos accused the men of involvement in a kidnapping this million, which helped fund the group with a $100,000 [one-million-peso] ransom. One arrested man fingered as a leader of the organization was Eudogio Suastegui Garcia, alias "El alacran" (the scorpion). Suastegui said the men were identified by family members of the kidnap victims who delivered the ransom. The arrests took place in the mountain village of Ayutla, with searches in neighboring La Viga, Zempazullo and San Isidro, where searches reportedly turned up over 200 firearms of various caliber, ammunition, military-style uniforms and a satellite telephone and ERPI documents. (Proceso, May 27)

See also WW3 REPORT #64

Note: the report of the same raid in the newspaper La Reforma May 27 put the number of seized firearms at only 12. [top]

A detachment of Chiapas state police outside the village of Venustiano Carranza were attacked by a group of "heavily-armed" gunmen May 23. No injuries were reported. Subsequent searches turned up over 30 AR-15 and AK-47 cartridges in the village. The attack came two days after the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) issued a communique announcing a presence in Chiapas and accusing the government of waging a "low-intensity war" in the restive state. The EPR's traditional strongholds are in the mountains of Oaxaca and Guerrero. (Cuarto Poder, Chiapas, May 22, 24) [top]


A May 25 report in Britain's Mail on Sunday newspaper says the US is considering plans to turn Guantanamo Bay into a "death camp," with its own death row and execution chamber. Prisoners would be tried, convicted and executed without leaving the camp, without a jury and without right of appeal. The plans were revealed in comments by Major-General Geoffrey Miller, who is in charge of 680 suspects from 43 countries at the camp.

The Pentagon reported two new suicide attempts at the Guantanamo prison camp May 28. Since the camp opened in January 2000, 18 inmates have made a total of 27 suicide attempts. (Reuters, May 29) [top]

Public school students in Akron, OH, will be fingerprinted beginning this fall to identify them in school lunch lines. After a lengthy debate, school board members voted 5-2 May 27 to spend $700,000 on a controversial, modernized cafeteria system. Said board member Curtis Walker in response to concerns raised by civil liberties groups: "We need to watch this carefully and make sure the issue of privacy does not hurt us in the end." ( Akron Beacon Journal, May 28) [top]

A lawsuit filed in state court in Jim Hogg County, TX, on behalf of six undocumented ("illegal") immigrants contends they were illegally detained, robbed, abused and threatened with death on the exotic-game ranch of Jospeh Sutton. Also named as defendants are three men said to be members of Ranch Rescue, which organizes armed patrols of the Mexican border to protect private property. Ranch Rescue came under scrutiny last year when two Mexicans were found killed in the Arizona desert. Said Joe Berra, staff attorney for the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund: "What we are saying essentially is that you can't organize paramilitary groups in Texas. Whatever our clients did does not justify the threats by the group that was protected by this rancher. What we are saying is that in this country you can't get away with that." (NYT, May 30) [top]

The first mass deportation of Palestinians in years took place late May 13, when 70 Jordanians, Palestinians and Egyptians were taken from Batavia, NY, near Buffalo, and flown to Amman, Jordan. In Amman, negotiations led to the Palestinian detainees being driven to the occupied West Bank. Writes the Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants: "This is a serious shift in policy, with implications for large numbers of Palestinians settled in the US. Many have lived with deportation orders for years with no likelihood of deportation. Now, apparently the US has changed its policy, and intends to send them to the occupied territories, regardless of longtime residence, their or their families' wishes, ongoing immigration appeals, political instability or danger."

(Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants Action Alert, May 28) [top]

Six French TV journalists who arrived in Los Angeles on May 10 and 11 to cover the Electronic Entertainment Expo, a videogame trade show, were handcuffed, body searched, interrogated and detained overnight before being expelled from the US for lacking proper travel documents. Francisco Arcaute of the Homeland Security Department's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE) said the six tried to enter with "visitor for business" visas rather than the "I" visas required for foreign journalists. In a letter to the US ambassador to France, Reporters Without Borders charged selective enforcement and demanded an investigation into the journalists' "arbitrary if not discriminatory" treatment by US authorities. (Reuters, May 21)

(From Immigration News Briefs, May 24) [top]

The May edition of Jim Hightower's Lowdown newsletter reports that as the White House-led official demonization of the French began (in what Hightower calls "a stunningly stupid outburst of knuckle-dragging jingoism"), the makers of French's mustard issued a nativist press release declaring: "The only thing French about French's Mustard is the name!" The corporation spoke of founder Robert French's "all-American dream" and about the mustard's iconic connection to hot dogs at baseball games. What the PR effort did not note is that French's is no longer American-owned--its owned by the British conglomerate Reckitt Benckiser PLC. Writes Hightower: "While French's was waving Old Glory here, it also was concerned lest it actually offend the French. After all, Reckitt Benckiser does more business in Europe than the US, so it released its 'all-American' boast only in the US--taking care to keep it off the corporate web site."

Meanwhile, such brand names as Coca-Cola, Pepsi and McDonalds are now attempting to veil their Americanism in foreign operations. In India, Coke is trying to fend off anti-US protests by declaring its Indianness: "We are primarily Indian, employing Indians," said a top exec in a recent statement.

Hightower notes that xenophobia is serving as a substitute for real debate in the government: "Every coffee shop in America had lively discussions going, but the closest Congress got to war policy was to rule that the term 'French fried' would be removed from the menu of the House cafeteria."

See also WW3 REPORT #74 [top]


The NY-NJ Port Authority, owner of the former World Trade Center site, has signed a $3.3 million contract with Daniel Libeskind, designated architect for the redevelopment effort, just to redesign the crowning 1,776-foot "Freedom Tower" to accommodate TV antennas and other communications gear. (Newsday, May 30) This basically represents a cynical bait-and-switch on New York City, as Libeskind's plan was chosen on the merits of a memorial garden atop the tower--which has now been eliminated in the re-design. See WW3 REPORT #76

Meanwhile, the 13-member jury which has been chosen to approve a final design for the memorial to the 9-11 victims at the site is coming under heavy lobbying from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), the agency created to oversee the redevelopment effort. LMDC wants to eliminate another redeeming feature of Libeskind's plan which was key to its being chosen in the first place: preservation of the "bathtub," the sunken pit bounded by the WTC's foundation walls. (NYT, May 30) While 9-11 survivors say they consider the pit to be hallowed ground, but the Port Authority says it needs the space for a new transportation hub. See WW3 REPORT #75

Amid all the public focus on the 13-member jury and semi-public agencies like the LMDC and Port Authority, Larry Silverstein, leaseholder on the site, says he will not be bound by the details of Libeskind's plan, saying that he has veto power and that the final project will only "reflect the spirit of Dan's site plan." (NYT, May 30)

Silverstein wants the best of both worlds--his own veto power over the plans as a private developer, but immunity from the fire and building safety codes that apply to the private sector. A group of 9-11 victims' families has launched a lawsuit against Silverstein, the LMDC and Port Authority in an effort to have the Libeskind plan declared "illegal, null and void" until courts order that it is subject to all city safety codes. Said attorney Thomas Shanahan: "A government agency that operates a commercial office building should be held to the same standards as the private sector." The suit was brought by the Skyscraper Safety Campaign families group and City Council members Alan Gerson of Lower Manhattan and Helen Sears of Jackson Heights, who said: "If you build in the city of New York, you should be in compliance with the buildings regulations. When you don't have to do it, there's something wrong." (Newsday, May 30) While technically not bound by the city codes, the Port Authority always claimed the WTC was in compliance with them. However, this claim is now called into question by a federal probe into why the towers collapsed. See WW3 REPORT #85

A recent poll of New Yorkers found that a majority oppose any new skyscraper at the site, fearing it would only tempt further terrorist attacks. See WW3 REPORT #85 [top]

On May 27, relatives of Alberta Spruill, a 57-year-old African American woman who died of a heart attack when police burst down her door and detonated a flash grenade in her Harlem apartment, gathered at Convent Avenue Baptist Church, where she had been an active member. The city medical examiner ruled her death a homicide, and police admitted that they had been acting on a bad tip. Said Rev. Clarence Grant, the church's pastor: "Alberta Spruill lost her life in a homicide at the hands of police actions. It is not a new story, it is an old, old story. The time has come for us to take action." Also at the ceremony were friends of Ousmane Zongo, a young immigrant from Burkina Faso who was fatally shot by police days earlier when police raided an CD pirating operation in a warehouse in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea. Zongo was unarmed, and not involved in the pirating; police apparently opened fire when he ran. At a May 30 meeting on the killing wave at Harlem's Oberia Dempsey community center at West 127th Street, Ousmane's uncle Adama Zongo said the impact of the death was felt in his West African homeland. "When Africa cries, Harlem cries," he said, addressing the crowd through a translator in his native French. (Newsday, May 28, 31)

See also WW3 REPORT #87 [top]

3. DAIRY 5-0
Jesse Taveras, 19, of the Bronx received a summons May 25 for sitting on a milk crate outside the hair-braiding salon where he works on the Grand Concourse. "I don't believe this," Taveras said he told the cop who handed him the ticket, citing him for "unauthorized use of a milk crate." Taveras said the cop told him: "Don't blame me, Blame Bloomberg"--a reference to the city Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The crate bore the imprint of Sunnydale Farms and the following warning: "Use by anyone but registered owner is liable to prosecution, article 17A, General Business Law." An NYPD source said cops are enforcing a quality-of-life campaign called Operation Impact. (NY Daily News, May 20) [top]

Amy Goodman, host of the nationally syndicated progressive radio program Democracy Now!, reported May 28 that the main phone lines for Pacifica affiliate WBAI 99.5 in New York and Democracy Now! had both gone down. According to Goodman, WBAI's phone lines are the only ones out in its neighborhood, the heart of the downtown financial district. Adding to the mystery, Democracy Now! and WBAI use separate lines. WBAI was in the middle of its spring fundraising drive, and lost considerable money through the loss of its pledge lines at a critical time.

The suspicious incident has sparked paranoia on New York's activist scene. New York's Independent Media center reported that Pacifica station KPFA in Berkeley, CA, "experienced similar phone problems during its recent spring fundraiser." But ex-KPFA producer Larry Bensky, corresponding from Berkeley on a Pacifica e-mail list, said the phones were only out for 45 minutes as part of a general outage in the area. At WBAI, the lines were down for over 24 hours. The New York IMC also reported: "Prior to its coverage of the February 15th anti-war rally in New York City, two NYPD officers were caught yanking out the phone lines of host network, Pacifica Radio, just after it began its nationwide coverage of the day of protest." This could not be corroborated, but WW3 REPORT did report at the time that the office of United for Peace & Justice, main organizers of the protest, temporarily lost its phone lines just as the demonstration began. See WW3 REPORT #73 [top]


Over 100 cities and have passed resolutions condemning the USA Patriot Act, saying it gives the federal government too much spying power. But the Northern California town of Arcata has passed a council resolution making cooperation with the law a criminal offense. A new city ordinance imposes a fine of $57 on any city department head who voluntarily complies with investigations or arrests under the aegis of the Patriot Act, the anti- terrorism bill passed after the 9-11 attacks. (AP, May 17)

See also WW3 REPORT #72 [top]



by Bill Weinberg

The American left is drowning in essays. Every writer is a commentator, and the Internet gives each one a soapbox, opinions whizzing incessantly over the wires to a cybernetic amen chorus. The left print media--The Nation, The Progressive, In These Times--are also increasingly oriented towards personalistic opinion-spewing. Even the UK Independent's genuinely heroic Robert Fisk treats every dispatch from Iraq or Afghanistan as an excuse to get up on the soapbox, burdening his prose with indignation instead of letting his quite sufficient and powerful facts speak for themselves.

There is a sense that the gasbaggery so in vogue now is an emotional compensation for the left's very marginalization. The shrillness of the rhetoric rises in inverse proportion to the left's power. We are talking to ourselves, entrenching each other in our sidelined sanctimony. Nuance is considered a sign of weakness, and acknowledgement of moral complexities akin to treason. Self-righteousness is the only acceptable stance--how else to justify our irrelevance? The Internet, which was supposed to liberate information, has become an instrument of our ghettoization.

There is also an insidiously sinister reason that this pseudo-journalism becomes entrenched: it is easier. It requires less (if any) research, and fact-checking is nearly optional. There is a sense that in opinion pieces, accuracy doesn't quite count. In this sense, the left has merely capitulated to the general dumbing down of the American media. Because opinion-spewing can be quite engaging--far more so than serious journalism on complex matters frequently is--this kind of writing demands less of the reader (and I hope that what you are reading right now is a case in point). The infotainment ethic has infected its critics.

WORLD WAR 3 REPORT began two weeks after the 9-11 disaster to monitor both the mainstream media reporting on the War on Terrorism, as well as rad-left Internet chatter, separating the wheat from the chaff in each and presenting it every Monday as a digest. We took our name from the pro-war Thomas Friedman's Sept. 14 New York Times column proclaiming 9-11 the "Pearl Harbor" of World War III--yet, because we are leftists, we are accused of alarmism in adopting his phrase. Bucking the vogue, we have opted for rigor--perhaps to the point of obsession--and generally resisted the temptations of opinion, doling it out only in measured doses.

On various occasions, we have caught errors in screeds much praised and circulated on the lefty e-lists. In our very first issue, we noted that, contrary to Robert Scheer's assertion in a Los Angeles Times column, the US did not exactly give Drug War aid to the Taliban. The aid went to NGOs working in Afghanistan--not to the Afghan government; and it was for crop-substitution programs--not enforcement. Scheer has more than earned his chops as a journalist over his long and distinguished career--and the CIA did indeed provide covert aid to the Taliban, via its Pakistani proxies. But Scheer simply got it wrong--because (we assert) he was writing an opinion piece, not actual reportage. (See WW3 REPORT #1)

Another case: last year, the New York Times' usually execrable William Safire ran a strongly-worded column warning that the Homeland Security Act would set up a sinister Pentagon cyber-surveillance program known as Total Information Awareness (TIA). The lefties ate up this little piece of vindication from their usual nemesis, and the piece zipped over those closely-surveilled Internet lines for weeks. One minor glitch: the Homeland Security Act and the Total Information Awareness program have nothing to do with each other, bureaucratically speaking. TIA, as a Pentagon program (hello, William?), comes under the Department of Defense. The Homeland Security Act established the Homeland Security Department--not new Pentagon programs. Obviously, both TIA and Homeland Security are threats, and thematically related ones. But getting the facts wrong just makes us less effective at fighting them. (See WW3 REPORT #61)

Another case: Earlier this year, former CIA analyst Stephen C. Pelletiere ran a New York Times op-ed which aasserted "Iraq is not to blame for the Halabja massacre," the 1988 gas attack on the Kurdish city that instantly killed 5,000. Pelletiere--a CIA Middle East exeprt from the 1980s, when the US was "tilting" to Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war--cited a little-known Defense Intelligence Agency report finding evidence that it was actually Iranian forces that gassed Halabja. Pelletiere's piece was widely distributed on the Internet under the title "Did Saddam Really Gas His Own People?" Well--yes he did. Halabja was only the worst gas attack on the Kurds during Saddam's brutal 1988 counter-insurgency campaign, code-named "Anfal." Numerous smaller chemical attacks went largely unreported--despite their grisly toll. A brief survey of human rights reports documents this reality. And nobody has asserted that they were all carried out by Iran. The left's refusal to face the grim realities of the Saddam Hussein regime in the prelude to its overthrow by US-led forces has contributed to its current impotence and directionlessness. (See WW3 REPORT#72)

While there is a surfeit of "blogs" out there that provide a regular survey of what's reported, there are few that attempt to actually digest the reportage--rewrite, provide political context, annotate with historical background, check facts when something smells funny, and put the actual facts ahead of what political goals they may serve. There is especially a paucity of left-wing reporting--what used to be called advocacy journalism. Objective journalism is a fiction, because nothing in the human sphere can ever be objective. But for writing to be journalism at all, a certain degree of distance is required. Writing needn't be mere propaganda to serve the causes of peace and resistance--nothing is to be gained from obfuscation, sloppiness or hiding facts, from ourselves or others.

Is WW3 REPORT sustainable? Producing it on a weekly basis is nearly a full-time job for myself and co-editor David Bloom, and the steady trickle of donations doesn't compensate for our time. Our contributors such as Subuhi Jiwani and Wynde Priddy also deserve to be paid for their work. Additionally, I have for too long been putting off a long-planned trip to South America to research my new book (which Verso has agreed to publish) on the War on Terrorism, corporate resource-grabs and indigenous resistance in the Andes. This summer, War Resisters International are holding their annual meeting in Medellin, which would afford me the rare opportunity to meet with the non-violent opposition in Colombia in a context of openness and visibility. Inevitably, I will have to rethink my commitment to a weekly, comprehensive global news digest.

In keeping with our democratic spirit, we put the following two-part EXIT POLL before our readers:

1. Should WW3 REPORT continue? And, if so, in which of the following formats:

a) WW3 REPORT should continue as it is, weekly, until guilt-tripping neurotic Jewish editor-in-chief Bill Weinberg gives himself a bad back, cataracts and carpal tunnel syndrome from too much computer time, as he continues to live a miserable hand-to-mouth existence. (Hey, this is the kind of self-referentialism that you guys are supposed to eat up, right?)

b) WW3 REPORT should surrender to the zeitgeist and become a monthly, running two or three in-depth pieces of reportage a month--including first-hand reports from the Andes--as well as occasional opinion pieces and book reviews of the sort offered this week by Subuhi Jiwani and myself. In this case, the project could keep going even if I was hopping between cyber cafes in Colombia and Peru.

c) WW3 REPORT should become a bi-weekly as a compromise between the other two options, running a mix of news briefs and more in-depth journalism and reviews. This would make editing it from the road in South America more challenging, but still (perhaps) possible.

2. Are you willing to pay to see WW3 REPORT continue? There is no way that I can both go to the Andes and keep the report going without raising a daunting sum of money in a very short time. We are throwing a benefit for ourselves on Saturday, June 14, 7:30 PM at 49 East Houston Street in New York City. Ten bucks at the door, plus pass-the-hat. All proceeds will go to send me to South America and pay the contributors who will hopefully pick up the slack in my absence. How about it, are you willing to shell out or what? Will you be there, and bring your checkbook?

a) Yes, I am there! WW3 REPORT must survive, and Bill Weinberg must go to South America!

b) Sorry, I can't make it that night, but I am sending a check today. $10 for students and unemployed, $25 for real proletarians, $75 for trust-fund rads, $100 for professionals with health insurance, $500 for confused Republicans who like us because we're "anti-government," $5,000 for movie stars. You know who you are.

c) Get lost! I wouldn't give that miserable, self-promoting, jihad-loving, kvetchaholic, francophobe anarchist crank Weinberg a thin dime!

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