All posts by Diane Warth

RFID Right to Know Act of 2003

CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering) has called for a moratorium on the use of these chips.

Albrecht paints a picture of the implications: “Imagine walking into a store and having a computer take an inventory of everything you’re wearing–right down to the size and color of your underwear. Store employees could even read the contents of your wallet to determine whether you’re a desirable customer or someone they want to ignore based on your financial value. The possibilities for discrimination are quite disturbing.”

Today comes this article;

WASHINGTON (AP) — Razor blades and medicines packaged with pinpoint-sized computer chips and tiny antennae that eventually could send retailers and manufacturers a wealth of information about the products — and those who buy them — will start appearing in grocery stores and pharmacies this year.

Within two decades, the minuscule transmitters are expected to replace the familiar product bar codes, and retailers are already envisioning the conveniences the new technology, called “radio frequency identification,” will bring — even as others are raising privacy concerns.

More information can be found here.

Not surprisingly, WalMart is supporting implementation of the technology.

Sticker Shock

Speaking to reporters at a news conference in Pretoria, South Africa, Bush made a committment to help Liberia, so long as it doesn’t overextend the forces.

Bush did not say whether he will deploy troops to Liberia. He promised that “we will work closely with the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States to enforce the cease-fire, to see to it that Mr. Taylor leaves office so there can be a peaceful transition in Liberia.”

Later in this same article;

Bush’s visit to Africa began Tuesday in the Atlantic port city of Dakar, the capital of Senegal. He met privately with Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, then with a larger group that included Wade and the heads of seven other West African democracies.

Bush and his party then rode in Wade’s presidential yacht to Goree Island for a tour of a centuries-old slave house where hundreds of thousands of Africans were bought and sold like cargo.

In a speech on the island, Bush stopped short of issuing the blanket apology for slavery that some civil rights advocates had sought. But he acknowledged that the scars of slavery still sting American society.

“But however long the journey, our destination is set: liberty and justice for all,” the president said.

Spoken like a self-serving politico.

One resident of Goree described the visit like this;

“It’s slavery all over again,” fumed one father-of-four, who did not want to give his name. “It’s humiliating. The island was deserted.”

Apparently he and other residents were;

taken to a football ground on the other side of the quaint island at 6 a.m. and told to wait there until Bush had departed, around midday.

9-11 Commission Obstacles

In their interim report, Kean and Hamilton said the degree of cooperation has varied by office and agency:

_The commission is receiving access to “a wide range of sensitive documents” from Bush’s office and from the National Security Council, but “conditions have been imposed, in some cases, with respect to our access to and usage of materials.”

_The CIA assembled a team of analysts to review events leading up to Sept. 11, 2001, and their work has been invaluable. But the CIA has not responded as quickly to the commission’s requests for internal documents on management and resources.

_Records requested from the Justice Department are overdue, and the department has yet to resolve how to help the commission review the case of Sept. 11 conspiracy suspect Zacarias Moussaoui, who is awaiting trial.

_Problems with the Defense Department “are becoming particularly serious.” The commission has received no responses to requests related to national air defenses among other topics.

_Within the Homeland Security Department , elements of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service “have been slow in providing briefings, although there are recent signs of improvement.”

[LINK]

9-11 Commission

I caught the tail-end of this press conference on C-Span’s Public Affairs last night.

Despite Thomas Kean’s repeated denials that the Bush WH is impeding the investigation it would seem they are and that the ‘agencies’ are taking the heat.

A problem even Kean refused to defend was the insistence that a monitor be present during interviews the commission conducts.

One of the more interesting questions raised by a reporter was whether these delays in the delivery of requested documents might cause the findings to come out after the 2004 elections. Kean, who fielded the majority of the questions, stated one of the reasons for the conference was to call attention to the problems the commission is facing in meeting its deadline and that was their committment. He denied the delays were intended to achieve a post election publication.

How could he know this? And if he does know it with the certainty he expressed doesn’t that indicate a conflict of interest?

Interventions

In its July 14th print edition The Nation presented a forum dealing with the issue of humanitarian intervention. Exceptional articles dealing with questions that should be addressed internationally before any such intervention.

Here are the questions on the cover…

When is it humanitarian?

When is it aggression?

Is regime change justified?

Who decides?

What are the nonviolent alternatives?

What should be the role of the United Nations?

One of the contributors to the forum is Ramesh Thakur, vice rector of the United Nations University in Tokyo and one of the commissioners of ICISS.

Their report can be found here.

Update: Jeanne d’Arc & Body and Soul have a new look and yesterday posted a link to the online version of The Nation forum.

If you access the print page you can view all of the commentaries at once.

Objectives should require definition

THE PRISONERS ISSUE IN CEASE-FIRE AND PEACE PLANS:

_ The Tenet Plan: The cease-fire plan worked out in June 2001 by CIA director George Tenet calls on Israel to “release all Palestinians arrested in security sweeps who have no association with terrorist activities.”

_ The Road Map: The U.S.-backed road map peace plan launched last month by President Bush calls on the sides to “resume security cooperation based on the Tenet work plan” and on Israel to carry out unspecified “supportive measures” — but makes no direct mention of a prisoner release.

[LINK]

Given the ambiguity of the roadmap’s wording it’s easy enough to understand why there is disagreement over which prisoners may be released under the ‘peace plan’.

Should the Israelis agree to demands they release prisoners with ‘blood on their hands’? Further clarification is certainly needed.

The problem is that the Palestinians are demanding the release, first and foremost, of veteran prisoners who have been incarcerated for 10 years or more (there are about 450 such prisoners, some of whom have been in jail for more than 20 years), and are defined, for the most part, as having “blood on their hands.”

Israel, for its part, is willing to release mostly administrative detainees together with a small number of tried prisoners, most of whom are scheduled to be released soon and none of whom have “blood on their hands.”

[LINK]

Are these life sentences applied to prisoners who were proven to have participated in suicide bombings or simply aligned with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah? Can these life sentences be considered fair when enforced by men like Sharon who refuse to address criticisms of their illegal methods?

Is it realistic to expect the Israelis will ever choose to make such a distinction? Wouldn’t that involve a torturous and painful review of their justice system [pun intended if you desire] and examination of the events leading to the jailings? The time alone required to conduct such investigations would seem to preclude their initiation. As well there would be a question of fairness if the reviews were handled exclusively by the Israelis.

How will such an insurmountable impasse be repaired?

Certainly murdering grandmothers is not a solution.

Islamic Jihad leaders deny knowledge of it. Will they investigate it or merely allow the Israelis to retaliate against it, passively ensuring the breakdown of negotiations and in doing so, knowingly, aggressively contribute to the demise of any peace settlement?

Where are the moderators?

To accept that the United States could be that moderator is passive-aggressive as well.

If you doubt this United States Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer has defined it for you.

[LINK]

Arab MK Ahmed Tibi Wednesday slammed as “crude” and “irresponsible” remarks by United States Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, who this week called Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) a “relatively weak man” who tends to “run away from problems.”

Tibi said the Palestinian Authority had lodged a protest with Washington and requested clarifications over remarks Kurtzer made while speaking Monday evening to some 150 rabbis and Jewish lay leaders in Jerusalem

American support of Abbas was secondary to the U.S. desire to remove Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat from power, Kurtzer said in the Monday appearance. “Our objective was not to empower an individual named Abu Mazen; our objective was to disempower an individual named Arafat.”

and…

Kurtzer repeated U.S. President George W. Bush’s assertion that the U.S. is not interested in an internal Palestinian cease-fire except as a means to dismantle terror groups, and that the U.S. will not accept a potential breakdown of the hudna as an excuse for failing to do so.

The Bush administration drew criticism from their most loyal cheerleaders due to their recent recommendation that monies go directly to the Palestinian Authority ostensibly to ‘buy the peace’.

That an administration counseled by advocates of Middle East reordering would make such a gesture might also be judged an effort to buy a peaceful lull in the conflict as they carry out a much more complicated agenda.

The objective should be defined by an international consensus.