Friday, December 24, 2004

The Custer Battles Sham 

... According to the 19 December edition of the LA Times, lawyers for Custer Battles security firm argued they could not be sued for a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme in Iraq because the allegedly stolen money belonged to Iraqis, not Americans.

 "The potentially precedent-setting case could undercut fraud claims involving billions of dollars in reconstruction contracts that were issued by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority and paid for with money belonging to the Iraqi people," the LA Times said. ...

Nothing's Changed Since 9-11 

MANAGUA, Nicaragua -- As head of foreign relations for Nicaragua's principal opposition party, Samuel Santos has frequently visited the United States and met with State Department officials twice in the past three years. He visited Miami in January. His sisters live in California.

But in transit to Rome in February, Santos was detained at Miami International Airport by U.S. immigration officials. Held for 20 hours, he was questioned, his U.S. visa was canceled, and he was deported home.

The reason was stated in a document given to him by U.S. officials: He is a member of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, the leftist movement headed by Daniel Ortega that took power in 1979, fought a decade-long war against U.S.-funded contra rebels and is now one of Nicaragua's two main political parties.

One of several Sandinistas whose visas suddenly were revoked, Santos alleges his ordeal is a result of U.S. officials using post-Sept. 11 security measures to settle old scores with Cold War enemies that have nothing to do with current terrorism concerns.

Turning Your Back on Bush? 

I don't know if this is a good idea or not. Turning your back on a snake like Bush could be risky business.

The election is over. The fight is not.

Elections are only one part of democracy. We need to think strategically about direct action, learn from a rich history of nonviolent activism, and develop new tactics to take on this administration.

Let's start from the start: Inauguration Day.

On January 20th, 2005, we're calling for a new kind of action. The Bush administration has been successful at keeping protesters away from major events in the last few years by closing off areas around events and using questionable legal strategies to outlaw public dissent. We can use these obstacles to develop new tactics. On Inauguration day, we don't need banners, we don't need signs, we just need people.

We're calling on people to attend inauguration as they are: members of the public. Once through security and at the procession, at a given signal, we'll all turn our backs on Bush. A simple, clear and coherent message.

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Sunday, December 19, 2004

Blah, Blah, Blog 

The typical Web log is an online diary written by a teenage girl to inform her friends, in bimonthly updates, how she has been spending her time. But a tiny upper tier of bloggers produce daily commentary that can influence domestic politics, set agendas for the news media, and perhaps even sway global affairs, say Daniel W. Drezner and Henry Farrell, two bloggers and political scientists at American universities.

According to a New York University study cited by the authors, the top dozen bloggers account for about 20 percent of traffic to blogs. "When less renowned bloggers write posts with new information or a new slant," the authors write, "they will contact one or more of the large-focal-point blogs to publicize their posts."

"This self-perpetuating, symbiotic relationship," Mr. Drezner and Mr. Farrell continue, "allows interesting arguments and information to make their way to the top of the blogosphere" -- and thence to the media at large.

When little-known bloggers write from repressive states like Iran and China, the authors write, the blogosphere stands a chance of shining light on hitherto unknown abuses in places where there is no free press.

Mr. Drezner, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago, writes a daily blog at http://www.danieldrezner.com

Mr. Farrell, an assistant professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, writes for a group blog at http://www.crookedtimber.org

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