Thursday, March 10, 2005
In a god-awful crime bill being worked on, Justice Dept & Henry Hyde want to drop min requirements for counsel in death penalty while wiping out fed habeas corpus, pretty much. Now, Miss. & Ark. limit imposition in death to $1,000. A GA Circuit uses lowest bidder
Budget agreement made. $134b of new taxes over 5 yrs, no capital gains cut. Will raise gas taxes by 12¢/gallon. Taxes on cigarettes, alcohol. Also luxury tax -- 10% on cars over $30,000, boats $100,000, jewelry & furs $5,000, which I’ve heard called a foot in the door for a nat. sales tax. The gas tax (up from 9¢) will go to gen revenue rather than highway & mass transit. Enterprize zones.. $119b in spending costs over 5 yrs, $60b in Medicare, ½ through holding down costs, ½ in increasing premiums & deductibles
Philip Agee has lost his Nicaraguan passport & a judge has rejected his bid to get US passport
Deukmejian vetoes bill to put sales tax on cars based on level of pollution
-And vetoed reductions in licensing fees for low-pollution cars
Croatia’s Serbs dec several counties autonomous
Economist 9/29/90 has entered the fray on signals sent by US to Iraq. Iraq was a pro-Soviet radical state before 1980, but there were 2 schools: 1) that result on war is that Hussein is a reformed character, 2) the artful dodger school that he played moderate to get W. support against Iran. State Dept took 1st position, ignoring evidence like meddling in Lebanon against Syria, razing of Kurdish villages, and 1) speech Feb. 24 to Arab Co-operation Council that US as only superpower was dangerous. 2) April 2 threat to burn Israel. US saw this as nervousness, needing reassurance. 3) May 28 secret speech to Arab League that Gulf states keeping oil price too low. Feedback to Hussein. April 12, 5 Senators inc Dole met Hussein. The transcript released by Iraq has Dole, whose state exports grain to Iraq, tell him that VOA reporter who criticized Iraq secret police had been fired. Simpson said Hussein’s problems not w/American people but its “haughty and pampered press” (and this was after a Br journalist executed). 2 weeks later Asst Sec for Middle E John Kelly was fighting sanctions, which would reduce admin’s “restraining inf”. Arabs defended his April 2 speech. 4) A July 17 Revolution Day speech attacking Gulf states, referring to Iraq as the Arabs’ one reliable defender. The imperialists would not dare attack Iraq w/its new weapons, so were waging econ war, keeping oil prices low, through Gulf states: Kuwait & UAE part of “an imperialist-Zionist plot against the Arab nation.” 5) July 24 moved 2 armored divisions to Kuwait border. Ambassador Glaspie told Hussein next dy that US understood Iraq desire for dearer oil, took no sides on border dispute w/Kuwait, and Amers. would understand if he just had 5 mins. on US tv. Conclusion: on assumption that Hussein a reformed character, pattern was he’d say something outrageous, W. experts told govs not to over-react, and the under-reaction was taken as a sign of weakness. [Comparison to start of Korean War obvious]
Thatcher says Article 51 of UN Charter gives allies enough authority for violence w/no further authorization
House passes joint resolution supporting Bush’s actions 380-29. Nonbinding & doesn’t give further authority. Congress ignoring its responsibility again
Exxon files claims against Coast Guard, which it says was responsible for Valdez spill. Shouldn’t have licensed Valdez’s crew, should have warned it about to crash
Donald Regan says S&L crisis from too many restrictions
Bush wants a temp (6-12 mos) waiver of requirement that he certify Pakistan doesn’t have nukes, to give it aid
Rajiv Gandhi, in opposition, changes mind & doesn’t give Singh the 2/3 he needs to impose dir rule on Punjab & bar state elections
Israel to distribute gas masks next week but not to W Bank & Gaza-- No, wasn’t orig. planned. Palestinians will have to buy theirs
Thatcher wants UN to order Iraq to pay compensation and that W should seize Iraqi assets (and pay it out how?)
A report says EPA fails to care for ecosystem, by focusing on risks to human health, ignoring their interconnection. EPA insufficient on alteration of wetlands & forests, loss of biological diversity, global warming
Amnesty says Mauritania is killing people who are black
Senate also supports Bush actions to date, 96-3 (Kennedy, Kerry, Hatfield)
Soviets trying to restrain US from military action against Iraq. Head of Soviet military says sanctions are working
A Florida record store owner convicted of obscenity for selling album of 2 Live Crew
Bush having trouble w/R’s on budget. Sununu has threatened re-election of R’s who oppose. Gingrich, who objects, and is House Whip, will not use his mechanism.
Buthelezi refuses to meet Mandela, wanting to come as head of Inkhata, not Kwa-Zulu
Uganda may have invaded Rwanda. A Rwandan refugee serving as major-gen in Ugandan army, invading at head of thousands of refugees. Uganda disclaims it. Rwanda wants Belg help
Sen. confirms Souter 90-9 (Kennedy, Cranston, Brock Adams, Daniel Akaka, Bill Bradley, Quentin Burdick, Frank Lautenberg, Mikulski, Kerry). That’s more backbone than on Kennedy or Scalia.
Oh, Germany unified yesterday.
Deukmejian’s last act was to veto 419 bills, 1/5 of Lege’s output. He is against AIDS ed., mental health, day care for disabled, state workplace safety inspections...
Labour Conf might allow PR for local elections, EMPs, but not nat. It voted to reduce defense to the EC average (about 1/4) -- which Kinnock will ignore
Yes, the Rwandan thing is tribal, the Tutsi being the invaders. I guess it’s not Uganda invading
US gives Israel $400m in loan guarantees for Soviet Jews, does get promise not to settle in Occupied, but E Jerusalem ok
Romania admits old Securitate members are still used to maintain pub order, a “few thousand”
US gets GATT to order Thailand to take US cigarettes. But can still ban ads
A rebellion led by Philippines former security asst has captured Mindanao
Gorby uses powers to allow cops to set wholesale prices (on most things)
India: 25% of girls die by 15.
Conventional arms pact limits NATO & Warsaw Pact to same levels
House has added 12 new capital crimes to Crime Bill, inc genocide, terrorist attacks on planes & trains, mail bombings, murders during bank robberies. No lawyer standards or fair compensation. Would have 6 mos after state appeals exhausted to file fed habeas corpus, just one. Death penalty for reckless endangerment, treason & espionage, murder of fed-protected witnesses
Nomination of ambassador to Burma withdrawn, not because D’Amato said that he had tried to stop the KGB-plot-to-kill-the-pope, but because Burma objects to his saying that its citizens had right to determine form of gov
Labour Conf votes to implement PR for MPs
Bush & Congress are in staring contest over budget. House voted down the budget 254-179, with liberals & conservs against. When voting, everybody waited for everybody else to vote, trying to see who’d be blamed. Ultimately, 40% of R’s & 42% D’s supported
David Duke, the Klansman, is running for US Senate in Louisiana. The R nominee quit to help the D beat him. Duke is down as a Republican also
Br finally to join Eur currency systems (EMS). I think trying to get in early & sabotage decisions due soon on single currency & cent. bank
Philippines beat the rebellion
The Crime Bill also reduces aggravating factors for death sentence from 2 to 1. An dno free counsel to poor prisoners challenging state death sentences through fed habeas proceedings
Cincinnati Mapplethorpe case ends in acquittal
Israeli intelligence says only 240,000 Kuwaitis remain, of normal 600,000, and that there are now more Iraqis than that there.
-Egypt says Israel has been in secret contact w/Iraq, hoping for mutual promises not to attack
-UN troops in s.Iraq noticed the buildup of Iraqi troops before the invasion, but US ignored it
Fr, Belg, Zaire are helping Rwanda
Salvador Jesuit murders Nov89. Seems log books of military HQ contain false entries of rad attacks on the priests’ living quarters before & during the murder, indicating prior knowledge & attempt to frame guerillas
Bush vetoes stop-gap budget, Congress fails to override
David Duke got 44% and lost
USSR offers Japan 2 of its 4 islands (Kurile) back
Socialists won Austrian parl elections (43% of votes), right People’s Party 32%, a drop in seats. Greens 4.5% (gain 1), far-right Freedom Party doubled seats
A S Korean army deserted says military counter-intelligence has spied reg on 1,300 people, inc opposition leaders. The defense minister & head of security fired
The Crime Bill does allow approval based on prior racism in state cases. R’s claim would set up quotas
Israelis killed 21 stone-throwers in highest daily death count
Rwanda claims there are 10,000 murders
Brazils’ enw gov says it has stopped a secret military program (est 1975) to build a-bomb. Much of the technology leaked from civilian nuke plant. One of the 2 who carried it out, retired Air Force Brigadier, has since headed a group of rocketry scientists working privately in Iraq
Bush signed emergency funding, budget still not worked out
Bush has changed his mind since yesterday, twice, about whether he’d accept tax increases for rich in exchange for lower capital gains tax. Now says let Congress do it. My leader.
The coincidence of Israel’s massacre with a time when US needs Arabs means US leading on UN condemnation
-Shamir talks of “an organized provocation, a Satanic scheme.”
-No one in gov, or Labor, criticized police
UN negotiations over commission to go to Israel. US has magnanimously decided to allow the report to be read, but wants it general, while Arabs want specific recommendations on Palestinian safety & protecting Muslim holy sites. This will all be academic if Israel doesn’t allow them in. Meanwhile, Palestinian Council deciding whether to allow Palestinian to arm. This’ll be the 1st US support of a UN condemnation of Israel since 1982.
2 weeks before elections, Pakistan has arrested Bhutto’s husband for kidnapping & extortion. The gov has yet to produce evidence of the corruption they claimed under Bhutto in the 2 mos since she was fired
It will be interesting how many spies turn up. A man high in W Ger counterintelligence who ran double agents, was one for the E Gers. What he didn’t like was that the KGB tried to take him over, last week, meaning they’re still at it. So were E Ger intelligence, up until Feb. at least. Also, the person responsible for the daily intelligence report to the Chancellor
Israel: Shamir’s spokesperson said the question of whether excessive force used is a “marginal point.” Labor has spoken up, condemning the gov for... not protecting Jews at Wailing Wall well enough. The Min of Relig Affairs pub. ads calling on Jews to turn out at Wall.
Br threatening to give Hussein an ultimatum.
-Edw Heath will go to Baghdad to talk about Br hostages--without gov sanction
L’Express claims to have the US plan to free Kuwait in 4 days. Would cost 20,000 US dead. Would destroy Iraqi air force on ground, its military industry by cruise missiles.
Walesa says if he wins, the press will be (magically?) rearranged to reflect that
There are just 4 W. embassies left in Kuwait (US, Br, Fr, Canada).
In Lebanon, an assassin missed Gen. Aoun. But, his force surrounded by Syrians, retired to the Fr embassy; he is history
Senate (not House) passed amend for parental notification for abortions in any hospital or clinic w/Fed funds (almost all) -- no judicial bypass. The motion to table failed 45-58. Sen. Wilson, running for governor here, hasn’t been in DC in weeks, saying he’d go back if his vote counted. It would have & he didn’t. I trust he’ll give his pay check back.
Israel says there was a clever Arab plot to embarrass the Israelis by being killed.
Iraq is threatening that if USSR reveals its secrets to US (which it doutless has), it will hold Soviet citizens
Payment to Iran for help in Iraq? 1st World Bank loan since 1979, $300m
Iraq is supposed to have 1,000 W hostages
Thornburgh kills trial of Joseph Fernandez for Iran-Contra in the 1st case of an atty gen blocking disclosure of secrets in a criminal case
A Pamyat leader sentenced 2 yrs for fanning inter-ethnic enmity
Israel prevents Muslims attending sabbath at the mosque where 21 Palestinians killed
Israel will not allow UN commission in
Israel announces thousands of new Jewish homes in Jerusalem
State elections in new states of ex-E Ger. Christ Dems doing too well, winning 4 of 5, w/54% of Saxony. SPD won plurality only in Brandenburg, 38.8%. Will give Christ Dems back a majority (bare) in Bundesrat
I did say spies would be the interesting bit. Christopher Andrew co-wrote a book by Oleg Gordievsky of KGB, the COS London 1982-5, when defected. He says Harry Hopkins unwittingly helped USSR. That Alger Hiss was an agent. And that the Fifth Man was John Cairncross of MI6 (named by Blunt in his 1964 confession & confessed). Peter Wright was his interrogator
NYT on last week’s massacre in Jerusalem says the shooting was long after any Jewish worshippers in danger of stones, nor did police face any threat. The shooting was by automatic weapon fire, unaimed, from hip, over wide area
Gorby got Nobel Peace Prize
Sup Court let stand a military court martial of man for sex w/HIV
Sup Court allows a police force to discipline 2 cops who wore earrings off duty
Sup Court allows use of RICO in porn case where sale of mags & videotapes worth $105 resulted in 3-yr term & fines totaling almost $500,000 for indivs & corp & all assets seized
In “E Ger” CDU got 41%, SPD 26%, ex-CP 11%, Free Dems 9.4%, Greens 5.6%
Israel will encourage settlement of Soviet Jews in E Jerusalem after promising US not to. Will it give back the $400m? No, they will just not spend it in E Jerusalem. Asked to respond, State Dept said no such announcement was made
Brian Mulroney packed his upper house (Senate) w/24 appointments in a month, requiring Queen’s permission for 8 above normal, bringing it to 112. Its Liberal majority didn’t like a VAT. One of the new boys left premiership of Nova Scotia to escape a police investigation of his patronage network
US trying to tone down Br resolution to UN on Iraqi reparations, afraid of similar claims could be made against Israel
SA: abolition of Separate Amenities act comes into effect. Conserv-led towns are enacting high fees for pools & libraries, even closing down facilities rather than integrate
US aid to Pakistan is indeed suspended over nukes
Lee Kwan Yew, on way to his new friend Ch., says Tiananmen was fault of press, which encouraged Ch. students to protest. He is still waging war w/Far E Econ Review & Asian Wall ST J
George Bush Jr is director, large stockholder & $20,000/yr consultant to a Texas oil comp whose drilling rights in Bahrain are being protected by American troops. Actually one wonders how such a tiny comp (Harken) could get such rights....
Iraq hinted on a compromise, taking part of Kuwait -- in making Kuwait another province, did take those bits into an existing Iraqi province. Now seem to be building a line of defense there
Japan will send troops to Gulf, if can get parl to agree
Gorby finally came up w/a mkt plan. Has no timetables, subsidies for industries, generally ltd, and uses decree powers. This is not Shatalin’s dash-for-mkt-in-500-days plan. Prices would mostly not be mkt-determined
Ukraine Parl gives in to demonstrators: the CP PM has resigned. No treaty on relations w/USSR w/out new republic const next yr. Ukrainian conscripts will no longer have to serve outside the republic
Yet another tribunal set up to try Benazir Bhutto on charges, this time misappropriating secret service money & misuse of planes. TV has been ordered not to comment on charges. An adviser to the PM candidate, opposing her has been circulating a blatantly-obviously forged letter by her to a member of US Senate Foreign Relations Cmte, not even properly spelled or well-translated, asking him to get India to engage Pakistan militarily
Cath church has allowed 2 married men in Brazil, not converts, to become priests, provided they don’t have sex
House failed 246-175 to pass a Dellums measure to end support to UNITA (about $60m) & force admin to detail the request in public
-House did vote to shift assistance to Cambodian rebels from CIA to Pentagon once negotiations to end civil war completed. The Senate version contains the 1st legal definition of covert actions: “to influence political, economic or military conditions abroad so that the role of the United States Government is not intended to be apparent or acknowledged publicly.”
Sen. Foreign Relations Cmte members demand Bush get approval before military action against Iraq. USSR has promised to consult w/Sup Soviet
The Civil Rights Bill that Bush plans to veto reversing Sup Court decisions on discrimination, passed House 273-154, Senate 62-34.
Israel formally retracts promise not to settle Soviet Jews in E Jerusalem. Won’t give the money back
House voted to raise tariffs on Ch. imports. Bush promises a veto. 247-174. But Senate blows it
Perez de Cuellar declines to send a pointless commission to Israel
Senate to hold ½ military aid to El Salvador & will eliminate the rest if El S. breaks off talks or fails to prosecute the Jesuit killers
Ger police raid hq of ex-E Ger CP. The party evidently transferred $63m to Moscow. The party says it was to cover expenses for students sent to study in USSR. The houses of Gysi & Modrow entered despite their parl immunity. And the hq was entered w/out a warrant
Ironies abound. Iraq is rationing oil now. And offering oil to the outside world at $21/barrel, the price they were pushing for in July I believe, while the rest of us pay $40.
-The US buildup is now complete. Everyone figures war is inevitable, but the longer this goes on, the less support there is
2 Live Crew acquitted in Florida
Heath met Hussein & got some hostages released unconditionally
A Palestinian youth stabbed 3 Israelis to death. Shamir blames UN because it condemned Israel. Jerusalem is shut off to Palestinians from Occupied
The White House dog Millie has published a book (141 pp., $17.95). Garry Trudeau says that “in Bush the dog we find exactly that mixture of deference, blind fealty and dopey exuberance that has proven such a potent cocktail for Bush the man.”
Senate Banking Cmte last week approved $57b for S&L bailouts, w/8 minutes discussion. Of course this is off-budget & follows $50b last yr, which went where? The Treasury Sec refused to come to Congress to justify it.
US has resumed subsidized wheat to Ch. -- on Aug. 1...?
Bush vetoes the Civil Rights Bill. Bush has proposed his own “civil rights” bill limiting compensation to $(50 or 150,000) & allowing unltd later challenges to a plan by employees hired later, using same facts & arguments previously tried unsuccessfully
Under Pakistan’s new election system, non-Muslims can’t vote for Muslims, only for people of own faiths. Of the 217 seats, 207 are open, 4 to Hindus, 4 Christians, 1 Ahmadis, 1 to Parsis, Sikhs, scheduled castes, w/nationwide constituencies. All of which means 10% or more of pop will not be able to participate in real nat politics
Iraq to free all Fr hostages. And Bulgarian
Israeli Agric Minister: “Anyone who is employing Arabs from the territories is employing potential murderers.” Also says should expel the family of any Arab killing Israeli & destroy his house.
NYT find of 50 health centers offering abortions, 20 cancelled when found woman had AIDS
Sen. failed by 1 vote, 66-34 (the latter all R’s) to override Bush on Civil Rights Bill
Eliz. Dole resigns as Sec Labor, where she’s been v. quiet
Bhutto has lost election v. badly. She claims vote-rigging
Panama to sue Noriega for $6b
Soviet Parl votes that central laws take precedence. W/in hrs, Russian & Ukraine Parl voted that would only take effect w/republican ratification
House & Sen. end nonmilitary CIA assistance to Cambodian rebels. Future aid to be allotted publicly through other gov agencies
-And voted to cut $50m from the $300m aid to Afghan rebels
US joins UN in another condemnation of Israel, for refusing the investigating cmte
-Israeli Police Minister: “He who comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.”
-Agric Min says anyone w/a knife or light weapon should be expelled, w/his family. Or shot
SA gov model for const: 2 chambers, one 1 PR, 1 by ethnic or suchlike groups. And a bill of rights. And abolish unelected President’s council
DCIA Webster says Hussein has to go & his arsenal be destroyed
-And Cheney talking about adding another 100,000 toops -- on 4 morning news shows. We already have more than defense requires
Bush threatening to veto mandatory sanctions on countries that produce, acquire or use chemical weapons
Iraq to allow out all... Bulgarians
Pakistan: The Islamic Democratic Alliance (no doubt a variation of “Holy Roman Empire”) won 105 of 217 seats. Plus 50+ by its partners. Bhutto’s People’s Demo Alliance got 45, ½ 1988
Budget deal (unfinished) inc top rate of 31%, up from 28%, above $80,000/couple. Few deductions over $150,000. Medicare tax on at $125,000+, up from $51,000
Israeli commission says the shootings were justified. Only 1 member ever went to the area, 2 being unable to do so for relig reasons
Kazakhstan dec sovereignty
The internat team monitoring Pakistan elections say they were not stolen. I’d say even if they weren’t stolen, they were stolen
Today Israel “reminded” troops they could shoot at stone-throwers
No one ever knew what Bush’s objections to the Civil Rights Act were. He supported jury trials & monetary damages for racial harassment but not sexual.
Burmese military (remember the elections in May?) has brought the # of winning party’s cent. cmte under arrest to 13 of 16. Now dealing w/monks, who have refused to minister to soldiers or accept alms. Gov raiding monasteries.
Israeli report, unable to support claim that police in danger when fired, cited 2 (Arab) police employees trapped, they say. The report disputes that people shot in back, as drs. have said, citing no evidence & exhuming no bodies. Said firing on an ambulance, and shooting tear gas into a hospital, were accidents
The Turkic minority in Moldova dec autonomy & trying to hold elections
Economist suggests Aoun may have been ousted from Lebanon by Syrians because 1) Iraq no longer able to support him, 2) criticism of Syria muted now
Economist: “Sacrificial lambs face their doom in an odour of innocence. Scapegoats are smellier. The Israelis are not sure which their old allies regard them as, but do not like the sniffing.”
RR memoirs blame Congress entirely for deficit, which aren’t caused by too little taxing, but too much spending
Iraq stops rationing oil. Oil minister fired
At EEC leadership conf, Thatcher said others were in “cloud-cuckoo-land” on Eur currency, and only Br had a real democracy in which Parl would examine this carefully
At trade talk of 105 countries, Bush has decided free trade is good -- exc in shipping, civil aviation, telecommunications & banking
UN Sec Council demands reparations from Iraq
Israel will ban Palestinians in Occupied convicted of anti-Israeli actions from entering Israel
Congress will indeed forgive $6.7b of Egypt’s debt
Congress didn’t get around to providing S & L bailout money
Bhutto’s party has also lost badly in provincial elections, 15% of seats v. 40% 1988
While Bush rhetoric moving v. close to war, Gorby says Iraq’s position weakening & a military solution is unacceptable
In retaliation for halving of its military aid, Salvador military stopping foreign reporters going to NE to cover a memorial for the Dec81 Morazán massacre
Congress enacts a variation of Gramm-Rudman, dividing budget into 1) domestic, 2) foreign aid, 3) military, each w/own spending cap. Any automatic cuts would just affect a category. So military cuts can’t help domestic. OMB got to decide what is what. No doubt military stuff (nuke power, pensions) will wind up as domestic. So if Congress raises spending on a program, the OMB can order it to cut how much. So OMB will have great power over the budget
Hophouet-Boigny, 85, has won re-election
George Bush is out campaigning. Says he needs R’s in Congress while the budget deal passed w/mostly D votes. Began a campaign that R’s are party of the working class w/a $25,000/couple fundraising event
House incumbents have raised 12X as much as challengers
Israel to perm ban from Israel Arabs who have taken part in intifada, committed any crime or been put under admin detention
US deaths of military in Persian Gulf up to 43
Halloween, and Dan Quayle is on McNeil-Lehrer
Jesse Helms commercials accuse Harvey Gantt of running a “secret campaign” in gay communities and black radio stations. “Why doesn’t HG run his ad on all radio stations, so everyone can hear it...” Who knew there were radios that only receive white or black stations.
Where in the past, Congress’ reports attached to the Pentagon black budget have been treated as expressions of Congressional wishes rather than law, this yr DOD refused to spend money appropriated for strategic communication & recon, ignored instructions on the SR-71 spy-plane. This yr, they specifically have the force of law
An Israeli soldier given 2 mos jail, 3 others suspended sentences, for beating a Palestinian to death. And demoted 1 rank. Said he was just following orders.
-Israel debating bill to bar such proceedings against soldiers for abuses Dec87-Feb88