Tag Archives: must read

The Wal-Mart Manifesto

27 Feb

It's been a while since I've recommended a must-read article, but click over and read Timothy Noah demolish the idea that Walmart is good for its workers.

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The Fake Crisis

18 Jan

Rolling Stone interviews Paul Krugman about
the future of Social Security
. It's a must read.

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Curious George and the Junk Science

11 Jul

Check out this impassioned description of The Junk Science of George W. Bush by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

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Trial Lawyers

11 Jul

While the GOP is trying to tarnish Sen. Edwards (my choice for Prez, but I'll take him at #2 on the ticket) as a, shudder, "Trial Lawyer," the New York Times shows why we need trial laywers. Why? Because corporations are evil (sometimes) and the trial lawyers are the ones that do defend the common man against them. Even our future robot overlords will need trial lawyers.

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An American Nuremberg?

23 May

Did American leaders commit crimes that are punishable by the death penalty? That is an intriguing possibility according to a recent article by MSNBC. It appears that the White House General Counsel wrote several memos warning President Bush about the use of the Geneva convention to convict Americans of war crimes in American courts:

The White House's top lawyer warned more than two years ago that U.S. officials could be prosecuted for "war crimes" as a result of new and unorthodox measures used by the Bush administration in the war on terrorism, according to an internal White House memo and interviews with participants in the debate over the issue.

The concern about possible future prosecution for war crimes—and that it might even apply to  Bush adminstration officials themselves— is contained in a crucial portion of an internal January  25, 2002, memo  by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales obtained by NEWSWEEK. It urges President George Bush declare the war in Afghanistan, including the detention of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, exempt from the provisions of the Geneva Convention.

In the memo,  the White House lawyer focused on a little known 1996 law passed by Congress, known as the War Crimes Act, that banned any Americans from committing war crimes—defined in part as "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions. Noting that the law applies to "U.S.  officials" and that punishments for violators "include the death penalty," Gonzales told Bush that  "it was difficult to predict with confidence" how Justice Department prosecutors might apply the law in the future. This was especially the case given that some of the language in the Geneva Conventions—such as that outlawing "outrages upon personal dignity" and "inhuman treatment" of prisoners—was "undefined."

One key advantage of declaring that Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters did not have Geneva Convention protections is that it "substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act," Gonzales wrote.

"It is difficult to predict the motives of prosecutors and independent counsels who may in the future decide to pursue unwarranted charges based on Section 2441 [the War Crimes Act]," Gonzales wrote.

The best way to guard against such "unwarranted charges," the White House lawyer concluded, would be for President Bush to stick to his decision—then being strongly challenged by Secretary of State Powell— to exempt the treatment of captured Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters from Geneva convention provisions.
   
"Your determination would create a reasonable basis in law that (the War Crimes Act) does not apply  which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution," Gonzales wrote.

The New York Times has more on the memos.

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“Babes in Toyland”

23 May

The Washington Post has a facinating article on the Americans working for the CPA in Iraq.. Read it and then read Kevin Drum's take on Babes in Toyland.

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“Broken Engagement” by Gen. Wesley Clark

23 May

In the category of must read articles for the week, one clearly shouldn't miss " by Gen. Wesley Clark" href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2004/0405.clark.html"> "Broken Engagement
" by Gen. Wesley Clark
:

During 2002 and early 2003, Bush administration officials put forth a shifting series of arguments for why we needed to invade Iraq. Nearly every one of these has been belied by subsequent events. We have yet to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; assuming that they exist at all, they obviously never presented an imminent threat. Saddam's alleged connections to al Qaeda turned out to be tenuous at best and clearly had nothing to do with September 11. The terrorists now in Iraq have largely arrived because we are there, and Saddam's security forces aren't. And peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which prominent hawks argued could be achieved "only through Baghdad," seems further away than ever.

Advocates of the invasion are now down to their last argument: that transforming Iraq from brutal tyranny to stable democracy will spark a wave of democratic reform throughout the Middle East, thereby alleviating the conditions that give rise to terrorism. This argument is still standing because not enough time has elapsed to test it definitively–though events in the year since Baghdad's fall do not inspire confidence. For every report of a growing conversation in the Arab world about the importance of democracy, there's another report of moderate Arabs feeling their position undercut by the backlash against our invasion. For every example of progress (Libya giving up its WMD program), there's an instance of backsliding (the Iranian mullahs purging reformist parliamentarians).

What is certainly true is that any hope for a "domino theory" rests with Iraq's actually becoming something that resembles a stable democracy. But here, too, there has been little progress. Despite their heroic efforts, American soldiers have been unable to make the country consistently stable and safe. Iraq's various ethnic entities and political factions remain deeply divided. Even the administration has concluded that the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council lacks credibility with the ordinary Iraqis it is intended to represent. The country's reconstituted security forces have been ineffectual–indeed, in some cases, they have joined the armed resistance to our occupation. The ease with which the demagogue Muqtada al-Sadr brought thousands to the streets and effectively took over a key city for weeks has sparked fears that an Iranian-style theocracy will emerge in Iraq. And the American and Iraqi civilian death tolls continue to mount.

Whether or not you agreed with the president's decision to invade Iraq–and I did not–there's no doubt that America has a right and a duty to take whatever actions are necessary, including military action, to protect ourselves from the clear security threats emanating from this deeply troubled part of the world. Authoritarian rule in these countries has clearly created fertile ground for terrorists, and so establishing democratic governance in the region must be seen as one of our most vital security goals. There is good reason, however, to question whether the president's strategy is advancing or hindering that goal.

You can probably guess where the rest of the article is headed, but that shouldn't stop you from reading it.

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