Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:12:44 AM EST
Scandal Season in Washington: Fredo and Wolfie Facing Unemployment - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

The seats are getting hotter for World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Both still enjoy the support of the US president, but dismissals may be just around the corner.

Why the long face Wolfie? It was hardly an evening for merrymaking, and US President George W. Bush decided he wouldn't even try. Traditionally, the US president pokes fun at himself at the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, but with the Virginia Tech massacre still on everyone's minds, the timing at Sunday's dinner simply wasn't right.

There were other reasons for Bush to be somber as well. His press secretary Tony Snow has been diagnosed with life-threatening cancer. Over in Iraq, last week's deadly suicide bombs made a mockery of Bush's push for more security in Baghdad.

And then there were the two guests sitting at the very back of the hall.

Alberto Gonzales, still the US Attorney General, and Paul Wolfowitz, still the World Bank President, smiled bravely through the show -- but it certainly wasn't out of smugness for their futures. All of Washington is puzzling over whether and when Bush will drop one or both of them. Indeed, not even Bush confidantes deny that a presidential coup de grace for Gonzales and Wolfowitz is long overdue. Both have lost the one quality that is absolutely indispensable for their offices: moral authority.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:21:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't think of one single member of the Bush administration that has ever had inherent "moral authority".

They have only had perceived "moral authority" due to the willingness of our so called "free press" to create that appearance.

One attorney I know says a Gonzales resignation is inevitable. However, Bush and his neo-conservative handlers will remain loathe to remove the prime architect of an ongoing ideological purge within the Dept of Justice.

No entities of our governments departments, agencies, etc to my knowledge have avoided six years of continuous ideological purging, which I expect to continue to the last days of this regime's rule.  

NVA, a viable option when the political process fails.

by NorthDakotaDemocrat (NorthDakotaDemocrat at gmail dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 01:34:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't see Gonzales going. He proved the underlying Bush principle of the unitary executive with his performance. WE decide, you don't. We'll tell you what we want you to know and will tell you nothing else. We are king and you are dominion.

He did his job.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:49:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I really have no problem with Gonzales staying on. Politically he is hurt so badly that he can do very little (more) harm, and no conceivable replacement is going to restore DoJ's integrity until regime change day.

All he will do (and this is what the deciderator fails to grasp) is function as a great big scarlet letter indelibly affixed to the administration's breast, continually reminding all who see just how bad - immoral - these people really are.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:35:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wolfowitz deputy under fire over climate

One of Paul Wolfowitz's two handpicked deputies, Juan José Daboub, tried to water down references to climate change in one of the World Bank's main environmental strategy papers, the bank's chief scientist has told the Financial Times.

Recongisable intentions and methods... The deputy responded - believe it or not, they try to hold on.

by das monde on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 02:03:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Abortion legalised in Mexico City
Mexico City's legislative assembly has voted to legalise abortion in the city, the capital of the world's second-largest Roman Catholic country.

Lawmakers voted 46 to 19 in favour of the bill that will permit abortions of pregnancies in the first 12 weeks.

Mexico City previously allowed abortion only in cases of rape, if the woman's life was at risk or if there were signs of severe defects in the foetus.

Opponents of the abortion law have said they will challenge it in the courts.

by Fran on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 12:37:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China feels rising cost of interests in Africa

A deadly attack by rebels on a Chinese-run oil field in Ethiopia that left more than 70 dead is the latest example of the human and political cost of China's growing energy interests in Africa.

Tuesday's attack by rebel gunmen on the facility left 65 Ethiopians dead as well as nine workers from China, making it the deadliest in a recent spate of killings and kidnappings aimed at Chinese firms in Africa.

by das monde on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 02:14:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colonialism attracts local rebellion, whoever you are that seeks to be the Colonial master, Chinese or Western.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 04:54:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If colonists cannot refrain from grabbing, enforcing, exploiting whatever they can, what can you morally demand from locals? They start to use whatever means in their power as well.
by das monde on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 05:35:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just in case it's not clear, I agree with you completely!
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 07:30:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan's `Atonement' to Former Sex Slaves Stirs Anger - New York Times

TOKYO, April 24 -- Facing calls to compensate the aging victims of its wartime sexual slavery, Japan set up the Asian Women's Fund in 1995. It was a significant concession from Japan, which has always asserted that postwar treaties absolved it of all individual claims from World War II.

But the fund only fueled anger in the very countries with which Japan had sought reconciliation.

By the time it closed as scheduled last month, only a fraction of the former sex slaves had accepted its money. Two Asian governments even offered money to discourage more women from taking Japan's.

Critics inside and outside Japan complained about the Japanese government's decision to set up the fund as a private one, making clear that the "atonement" payments came from citizens. They saw this as another tortured attempt by Tokyo to avoid taking full responsibility for one of the ugliest aspects of the war.

"It was not directly from the Japanese government; that is why I did not accept it," said Ellen van der Ploeg, 84, a Dutchwoman who was taken from a prisoner of war camp in Indonesia and forced to work in a Japanese military brothel for three months in 1944. "If you have made mistakes in life, you must have the courage to say, `I'm sorry, please forgive me.' But the Japanese government to this day has never taken full responsibility."

"If this were a pure government fund, I could have accepted it," Ms. van der Ploeg said in a telephone interview from Houten, the Netherlands. "Why should I accept money from private Japanese people? They were also victims during the war."

The Japanese government has held up the fund as one way it has tried to redress a past wrong, even as, in Washington, the House of Representatives is considering a resolution that would call on Japan's government to unequivocally acknowledge its role in the wartime sexual slavery, and apologize for it.

Of those former sex slaves -- known euphemistically here as comfort women -- who accepted money from the fund, most did so secretly to avoid criticism. Supporters of the women in the four places where women were compensated individually -- South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and the Netherlands -- became deeply divided over whether to accept the money.

Even those who favored accepting the money said the fund reflected the absence of moral clarity in Japan, an opinion that was reinforced in March, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied the Japanese military's role in coercing women into sexual slavery.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 03:10:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OSHA Leaves Worker Safety in Hands of Industry - New York Times

WASHINGTON, April 24 -- Seven years ago, a Missouri doctor discovered a troubling pattern at a microwave popcorn plant in the town of Jasper. After an additive was modified to produce a more buttery taste, nine workers came down with a rare, life-threatening disease that was ravaging their lungs.

Puzzled Missouri health authorities turned to two federal agencies in Washington. Scientists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which investigates the causes of workplace health problems, moved quickly to examine patients, inspect factories and run tests. Within months, they concluded that the workers became ill after exposure to diacetyl, a food-flavoring agent.

But the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, charged with overseeing workplace safety, reacted with far less urgency. It did not step up plant inspections or mandate safety standards for businesses, even as more workers became ill.

On Tuesday, the top official at the agency told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing that it would prepare a safety bulletin and plan to inspect a few dozen of the thousands of food plants that use the additive.

That response reflects OSHA's practices under the Bush administration, which vowed to limit new rules and roll back what it considered cumbersome regulations that imposed unnecessary costs on businesses and consumers. Across Washington, political appointees -- often former officials of the industries they now oversee -- have eased regulations or weakened enforcement of rules on issues like driving hours for truckers, logging in forests and corporate mergers.

Since George W. Bush became president, OSHA has issued the fewest significant standards in its history, public health experts say. It has imposed only one major safety rule. The only significant health standard it issued was ordered by a federal court.

The agency has killed dozens of existing and proposed regulations and delayed adopting others. For example, OSHA has repeatedly identified silica dust, which can cause lung cancer, and construction site noise as health hazards that warrant new safeguards for nearly three million workers, but it has yet to require them.

"The people at OSHA have no interest in running a regulatory agency," said Dr. David Michaels, an occupational health expert at George Washington University who has written extensively about workplace safety. "If they ever knew how to issue regulations, they've forgotten. The concern about protecting workers has gone out the window."


Instead of regulations, Mr. Foulke and top officials at other agencies favor a "voluntary compliance strategy," reaching agreements with industry associations and companies to police themselves.

Administration officials say such programs are less costly, allowing companies to hire more workers and keep consumer prices down. The number of voluntary agreements has grown in recent years, but they cover a fraction of the seven million work sites that OSHA oversees, or less than 1 percent of the work force. Sixty-one food plants out of the tens of thousands across the country participate; industry representatives say other businesses are taking steps to protect workers on their own.

Critics say the voluntary programs tend to have little focus on specific hazards and no enforcement power. Because only companies with strong safety records are eligible, they argue, the programs do not force less-conscientious businesses to improve their workplaces. A 2004 study by the Government Accountability Office found some promising results from such programs, but recommended against expanding them until their effectiveness could be assessed.

"OSHA has been focusing on the best companies in their voluntary protection program while doing nothing in the area of standard setting," said Peg Seminario, the director of occupational safety and health at the A.F.L.-C.I.O. "They've simply gotten out of the standard-setting business in favor of industry partnerships that have no teeth."

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 03:15:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very well.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 05:59:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(just if there was any doubt...)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:00:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A cynic might say that this is Bush's way of saving Social Security.

Thank goodness no one around here would stoop to such snark.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 06:24:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Panel Hears About Falsehoods in 2 Wartime Incidents - New York Times

WASHINGTON, April 24 -- House Democrats burrowed into the histories of Pfc. Jessica D. Lynch and Cpl. Pat Tillman in a hearing on Tuesday, holding up the episodes as egregious examples of officials' twisting the truth for public relations in wartime.

They received help in making their case from witnesses who have mostly shied from the spotlight, Ms. Lynch and Corporal Tillman's mother, Mary, and brother, Kevin, who enlisted in the Army along with him after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary," said Ms. Lynch, speaking softly but firmly into the microphone as more than 12 photographers clicked away in front of her.

Accounts from officials of Ms. Lynch's bravery held the nation in thrall in the early stages of the Iraq invasion in 2003 after her maintenance convoy went astray near Nasiriya and she was taken prisoner. After her rescue, which was made into a television movie, she disputed those who said she fought off Iraqi soldiers until she was captured. She never fired a shot, she restated on Tuesday.

The "story of the little girl Rambo from the hills who went down fighting" was untrue, she said.

Kevin Tillman was scathing in his assessment of how his brother's death in Afghanistan in 2004, which was later determined to be a result of American fire, was initially portrayed by the military as an act of heroism in the face of enemy fire.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 03:27:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series