"The Republican Democrat?" Because political repression breeds terrorism, mightn't toppling Saddam have made the world safer anyway -- even if Iraq and Al Qaeda had no real pre-war ties? Perhaps. But the Baghdad-bungling Bushies deserve zero points for consistency. Not when they've also opened relations with, or increased support for, despotic regimes in Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Nepal, China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Angola and more. Whether motivated by war-on-terror politics or untapped oil reserves, argues Joshua Kurlantzick in Harper's Magazine (September), such alliances can only hurt us in the long run.
"Who Owns the West?: Oil and Gas Leases." "Oh!" cry the Bushies. "We must have more access to domestic oil and gas sources, to lessen our dependence on foreign oil! And the wicked environmentalists won't let us!" Nonsense, says the Environmental Working Group (Aug. 25). An exhaustive, groundbreaking EWG study of federal land-use records indicates that while the feds have opened humongous tracts of the American west to energy interests since 1982, dependence on foreign energy sources ballooned anyway -- just like the campaign funds ($60 million or so) that oil and gas companies funneled to Republicans over the past four years. A press release, and link to the full report, are at www.ewg.org/oil_and_gas/newsrelease.php.
"The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib." New reports on the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, writes Robin Cook, make it "impossible to sustain the pretext that the brutality in Abu Ghraib was the result of isolated sadism and not the product of a systemic policy." Tony Blair's former foreign secretary explains why the involvement of military intelligence agents and the pattern of abusive interrogation techniques impute responsibility "to the top of the Bush administration." Cook's column, written for the London Independent, is available on CounterPunch (Aug. 27) at www.counterpunch.org/cook08272004.html.
"Worker compensation lagging behind productivity gains." Even if you've got a job, the three-year-old "recovery" that W paints with so many smiley faces mightn't help you much. The Economic Policy Institute (Aug. 18) reports that while productivity is rising, wages remain stagnant, and gains in total employee compensation are largely explained by the rising cost of health and pension plans -- neither of which improves employee living standards. And many workers don't receive such benefits anyway. So where's all the productivity going? Trickling up into profits, which few workers have the power to bargain for. www.epinet.org/content.cfm/webfeatures_snapshots_08182004
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