Cindy Sheehan

Since I haven’t really followed her work over the past few years, I was a bit annoyed when I heard she had “quit”. Who is she to “quit”, and to do so so publicly, I wondered? War, empire, are filthy, despicable, genocidal affairs. Opposing them is not like a job that one can “quit”, is it? Opposing them, in my view, doesn’t even mean one is deserving of special praise. But then I read her exit note, and found it some of the best and most refreshing reading I have seen in some time.

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Pet Panacea of India’s Ruling Classes

by Badri Raina
first published May 22, 2007

India’s ruling think gurus are forever on the lookout for a smart panacea for what they perceive the country’s ills. In arguing for a two-party political system, the idea seems to be to subdue the proliferation of organic discontent among the lower orders of the polity by imposing a mechanical structural arrangement from the top.

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Pakistan in the region

Zia Mian directs the Project on Peace and Security in South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs, Princeton University. He is a writer and filmmaker on South Asia and nuclear issues. Previous interviews are here:

February 2004
February 2003

I caught up with him by phone on April 27, 2007 – just as the current crisis was beginning.

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Irreversible Damage: conservatives in power

People think of bloggers as astute observers of the press. I think if you read this blog carefully you realize that I, unfortunately, am not. I read a few foreign papers and get a fair amount of material from email, because of my work at ZNet. And on the other side, I don’t have the stomach to pay constant attention to the North American mainstream media. When I do try to read it in detail, it is often a very painful experience (the most recent and painful experience being the foray into Mitch Potter’s writing).

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Another round of climate denial

Two blogs ago I was expressing incredulity that the Dominion would provide a forum for climate denial in the form of Denis Rancourt, who has a good reputation as an activist but whose essays on the climate are preposterous. According to Rancourt’s blog, Rancourt has recently inspired sociologist and activist David Noble to tackle the climate issue in an essay that basically calls George Monbiot a dupe for his deference to politicized science. I find this all rather depressing. Rancourt and Noble’s anti-science arguments seem to me to leave people without any standard for evaluating arguments. I like science because the idea of science is that there is much about the world that can be understood, and that anyone can figure out how something works, it is a matter of time and effort. If it’s all politicized, then perhaps we can just cherry pick those scientific (or pseudoscientific) arguments that suit us and leave the rest. Certainly that is what Rancourt’s essay does, and that is also what Alexander Cockburn’s recent piece on the topic does – indeed, it relies on the same claims. Cockburn’s piece, like Rancourt’s, didn’t pass peer review at any (politicized) scientific journal, but it did get past the editors of ZNet, where I work. I did not think it should have, but I only saw it after the fact. In any case we asked George Monbiot to reply, which he did very effectively. So did some climate scientists, at the excellent site . It’s a bit of an embarrassment that long-discredited arguments are being trotted out by really respected leftists. I suppose it’s because it was Gore, rather than someone with a more decent record, who raised the profile of the issue. But this is one aspect of left behaviour I don’t agree with. It’s as if because the dems or the establishment say something, it’s automatically false. But I guess that’s a corollary of there being no factual matters and everything being political – no need to evaluate claims, if they’re coming from people with bad politics…

The recently-breaking (5-year old) Harper Afghan detainee abuse scandal

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have been reporting on the torture of detainees of the “war on terror” since about 2002. There are plenty of specific reports of people dying in detention, people being tortured to death, and so on. Some of that is documented in “Bleeding Afghanistan”, the book written by my friends Sonali Kolhatkar and James Ingalls.

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