05 November 2005
Mexico has once again proved wrong its reputation as a country in the shadow of the United States. By announcing last Friday that it was becoming the hundredth country to ratify the article of the statute of Rome consecrating the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mexico has given itself a symbol. It has also reiterated its refusal to sign any kind of immunity agreement with the United States.
A slap in the face for the big neighbour: the Bush administration over the last few years has not stinted in its efforts to abort the ICC, this tool the international community has equipped itself with to sanction the authors of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. "They started at first with an extremely high-pressure campaign to avert having sixty countries ratify the Treaty of Rome," relates Amnesty International's Francis Perrin. "Faced with the failure of that strategy, they wanted to force countries to sign immunity agreements that theoretically would prohibit them from transferring American citizens to the Court," he continues. With a weighty argument: if a country refused to sign one of those immunity agreements, the American administration would reserve the right to cut off all military aid, and even the financing of training for judges or anti-AIDS programs.
Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, as well as Costa Rica and even Trinidad and Tobago have rejected this blackmail. And have paid dearly for that rebellion: according to the Coalition for the ICC (CICC), a galaxy of NGOs in favour of international justice, twelve Latin American countries have already lost their aid.’
The International Criminal Court Divides The Americas
The government of Kabul has overseen progress in building government institutions, creating security forces, and improving access to education and health. Terrorist leaders have been arrested, and the economy has grown.
On September 18, 2005, Afghanistan held its first legislative elections in more than 30 years for the National Assembly and Provincial Councils. At the same time, critical challenges remain. Security has deteriorated over the past year.
The Taliban, which once harbored Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, is resurgent. The central government has not been able to establish its authority outside Kabul, and the economy is in dismal shape. Reconstruction has faltered, and the drug trade is thriving as never before.
The United States must devote more attention and resources to establishing a secure and democratic Afghanistan.
In the document, "Afghanistan: Four Years After the Invasion", the Center for American Progress assesses progress in four areas: improving security, strengthening governance, curtailing the drug trade, and building the economy. It then offers a set of recommendations.’
Afghanistan - Four Years After The Invasion
03 November 2005
Former Iraqi deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, has denied telling Norman Coleman’s Senate Investigation that George Galloway personally profited from or solicited oil allocations.
Aziz, who is in a US military jail in Iraq, told his lawyer, Badia Aref, on October 25 – the day the Senate released its report – that he never discussed oil allocations under the oil for food programme with Galloway.
Aziz’s denial shoots down in flames Norm Coleman’s allegations against Galloway.’
Tariq Aziz Pulls Plug On Senate’s Galloway Smears
Lee Raymond, chairman of Exxon Mobil Corp., Jim Mulva, chief executive of ConocoPhillips, and John Hofmeister, president of the U.S. unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, will be among the industry executives to be questioned at a Senate hearing, according to congressional and industry officials.
Earlier in the day, Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Chris Dodd, D-Conn., renewed their call for passage of a windfall profits tax on oil companies. They hoped to put such a proposal - a 50 percent tax on the sale of oil over $40 a barrel - into a tax bill later this month, they said. The revenue would be given to consumers in form of an income tax rebate.
These huge profits "come as a windfall, falling into the laps of the big oil companies with little or no additional effort or expense," argued Dorgan.’
Oil Execs to Be Asked to Justify Profits
Wal-Mart: Is This The Worst Company In The World?
02 November 2005
By Award winning journalist John Pilger.
Breaking The Silence
Pictures provided by President G. W. Bush.
The recent announcement that Exxon Mobil has earned the largest quarterly profit in the history of our nation makes it clear just how this bad oil company price gouging has become. Reports show that Exxon Mobil brought in a 3rd quarter profit of nearly $10 billion. This is the largest corporate quarterly profit ever, and more than $4 billion dollars more than the company brought in during the 3rd quarter of last year.
To put this in perspective, this means that Exxon Mobil hauled in more profits in three months than corporate behemoths Coca-Cola Co., Intel Corp. and Time Warner Inc. earn in an entire year.
And Exxon Mobil is not alone. ConocoPhillips Co. 3rd quarter profits increased by 89% from last year's level. Royal Dutch Shell's profits increased by 68%; and Marathon Oil's profits more than tripled. In fact, all of the major oil companies experienced record-breaking profits, bringing in an estimated $28 billion more in profits this year as compared to 2004.
These staggering profit margins come at a time when consumers are faced with overwhelming price increases for gas and home heating oil. The average price of a gallon of gasoline at the pump is more than $1 higher than it was just two years ago. The price increases for home heating fuel is equally daunting. The Department of Energy is currently predicting that prices for winter fuel oil, propane and natural gas will be 218% higher this year than they were in 2001.’
Stop Oil Company Price Gouging
There was such an event last week, when Iran's president declared that Israel must be "wiped off" the map. The surprise was not the statement, which was an often-repeated quote by the late Ayatollah Khomeini, directed at a domestic student audience. What was surprising was both the timing (amid discussions about whether Iran should be allowed to enrich uranium) and the relatively low-key U.S. response. Tony Blair expressed "revulsion," Chirac was "profoundly shocked," the European Union in a joint statement "condemned [it] in the strongest terms." Instead, Bush was quiet.
White House Spokesman Scott McClellan commented, "It underscores the concerns we have about Iran's nuclear intentions," and the usually vociferous U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton only said that Ahmadinejad's remarks about Israel were "pernicious and unacceptable." Those are uncharacteristically mild statements for this administration in the face of such a provocative statement by Iran against one of the U.S.' closest allies. Why?’
The Real Reason for Nuking Iran