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Posts from January 2002

Sharon Threatens Arafat’s Life

War criminal Ariel Sharon has enhanced his sterling reputation as a leader for peace in the Middle East by saying he’s sorry he didn’t have Yasser Arafat killed [NY Times] during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the early 1980s, which he led (this is the same invasion in which he surrounded the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps with Israeli troops, and then let in Phalangist militia who slaughtered and tortured thousands of unarmed Palestinian civilians).

The two-facedness of Sharon’s policy is sometimes simply stunning. Sharon has repeatedly demanded that Israel will not negotiate with the Palestinians for peace while Israel is under fire and the threat of terrorism (all the while maintaining military assaults on the illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip). And now he turns around, and, as head of a government with an established policy of assassinating suspected Palestinian militants, starts talking like a New York mafioso:

There was an agreement in Lebanon not to liquidate Yasir Arafat, he said. Actually, I am sorry that we did not liquidate him. An Israeli sniper is said to have had Mr. Arafat in his sights as the Palestinian leader boarded a ship to leave Beirut for Tunis, but he did not receive the order to fire.

Now how, exactly, is Arafat to be expected to work for peace while under a clearly implied threat on his life?

Meanwhile Israeli and US leaders [NY Times] condemn Yasser Arafat for attempting to import heavy weapons into the Palestinian Authority. Christ, they are being militarily assaulted by Israeli tanks and helicopter gunships, and you act all surprised when they import weapons to defend themselves against invasion? If we started classifying all the weapons Israel buys and builds as enhancing terror (George W.’s words), then Israel would be considered one of the single biggest terrorist states in the world. Oh, but wait, Israel receives $2,040,000,000 every year from US tax dollars for direct military aid, and $720,000,000 more in economic aid. The Palestinian weapons, at least, were not purchased on your and my dime.

Now, listen. I don’t like Yasser Arafat. He deserves credit as a military leader resisting the Israeli occupation, but as a governor he has proven to be dictatorial, corrupt, sometimes two-faced, and has sold out the Palestinians on a number of issues. The Palestinian people deserve better than him. But this is simply absurd. If Yasser Arafat had made a comment like this, Israeli government officials and President Bush would both be on every news program in the world screaming bloody murder. But Ariel Sharon says it, and all the State Department spokesperson has to say is, Remarks like these can be unhelpful.

For further reading:

Corporate Elites Meet & Greet, New York Times Makes Shit Up

For the most part, the New York Times’ story on the World Economic Forum beginning its proceedings in New York is just a gooey report on the men who had the air of money and power hobnobbing inside the Waldorf-Astoria, … like the start of summer camp. Now I really wonder if this sort of fluff reporting on a serious conference of the global economic and political elite is necessary. But, more to the point, the Times has decided to creatively reinvent history:

That has not prevented critics from painting the Forum in the darkest colors. The World Economic Forum will celebrate war in Afghanistan and the Middle East, attacks on civil liberties, and corporate tax cuts, proclaimed a group called A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) in its call for demonstrations which will get under way in earnest with marches on Saturday.

At the New York W.E.F. summit, the world’s richest C.E.O.s will collaborate with the world’s most powerful politicians to set the global economic agenda, declared another group, Students for Global Justice.

Whether the protests reach the violence of last year’s meeting in Davos remains to be seen. Some of the opposition groups acknowledge that a clash with New York’s finest in the aftermath of Sept. 11 would not sit well with the public.

Now, it’s a bit irresponsible to spending only two dismissive paragraphs on the fact that there are, in fact, people who have serious problems with what goes at the WEF, while spending the rest of the front-page story gushing about how elite and idealistic it all is (for more responsible coverage, I suggest the Times’ recent in-depth article on anarchism, buried in the New York Region section). What concerns me a bit more, however, is that they are simply making shit up when they say that the protests at Davos last year had any violence to be reached.

In reality, last year’s protests in Davos featured 250 activists staging a peaceful march. In 2000, the worst violence was a few windows being broken at a McDonald’s. In 2001, the worst violence was snowballs being tossed at police barricades.

Well, I should take that back. There was violence at the 2001 protest. See, the Davos local authorities decided to ban any exercise of the right to peaceful public assembly, so protestors were met by over 1,000 Swiss security agents armed with batons and tear gas guns. The demonstrators’ peaceful march was turned back with police barricades and water cannons. But this isn’t exactly the sort of violence that the Times story was claiming had happened.

This is, unfortunately, part of a general press smear campaign against the globalization movement, which has invented protestor violence out of thin air in protests in Seattle, DC, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia… at all of these there was plenty of police violence against demonstrators but the virtually none initiated by protestors. In Seattle and DC, heavy tear gas bombardments were used; in Los Angeles I watched mounted cops stage dragoon attacks with batons on protestors who had done nothing other than run away from rampaging peace officers. And yet the New York Daily News compared protestors to the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and threatened them, You have a right to free speech, but try to disrupt this town, and you’ll get your anti-globalization butts kicked. Capish?

Sidebar: I’ve noticed that they’ve been awfully cagey about just how many women are at the invite-only WEF meeting; one article lumped in women amidst everyone else in the overwhelming minority at the WEF (third world leaders, human rights activists, union leaders, etc.). The Times’ editorial column said it was some 3,000 Davos Men, and a sprinkling of Davos Women. For all their apologia, it’s really hard to shade just how reactionary in constitution their Good Ol’ Boys meeting is.

For further reading

President Bush Defends Right to Private, Smoke-filled Room

Our Fearless Leader and Dick Cheney have conclusively proven that they really have nothing to hide at all, cross their hearts hope to die, in the Enron debacle, by refusing to turn over documents from secret meetings with Enron executives during Dick Cheney’s energy task force proceedings [New York Times]. Quod Fearless Leader:

We’re not going to let the ability for us to discuss matters between ourselves to become eroded, the president said this afternoon at a session with reporters. It’s not only important for us, for this administration, it’s an important principle for future administrations.

George, I hate to break it to ya, but not only is this just making you look like you’re dirty as hell, but it’s also offensive to basic principles of democratic governance. As a private citizen you have every right to secretive, closed-door meetings. As the President of the United States, however, you have a responsibility to conduct your affairs openly, under complete public scrutiny. Your ability to conduct meetings in smoke-filled rooms with your big-time campaign contributors is not more important than the American people’s right to open and democratic governance.

I can’t believe these idiots are probably going to waste the Supreme Court’s valuable time over this idiocy. If G.W. seriously thinks he’s going to avoid dirt coming out on his administration because of this, I have a few hundred documents in Houston I’d like him to shred.

The award for best summary of the Enron debacle and the administration’s stonewalling goes to Gary Trudeau of Doonesbury:

Doonesbury on the Enron scandal

I did not have political relations with that man!

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