Remember to check out Mike's site (Mikey Likes It!) for his commentary.
WTO Talks At Standstill in Hong Kong (Democracy Now!):
In Hong Kong, considerable divisions between industrialized and developing countries at the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization are lowering expectations for significant agreements before talks end Sunday.
European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson: "It is hard to see where progress can be achieved in Hong Kong if talks continue in their present direction. I do not want to contemplate failure at Hong Kong. So much is at stake. Equally, I see no point in an outcome here that simply locks in low ambition, diminishes benefits for developing countries and falls short of our responsibilities to the global economy."
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson. Negotiations have stalled on a number of key trade issues. On Thursday, the Group of 77 -- the coalition of 132 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in the Third World -- announced they would reject any deal that eliminates protections for their farmers and access to foreign markets. Another group of developing nations, the Group of 20 -- which represents half the world’s population -- accused the US and European Union of holding up talks by refusing to cut state agricultural subsidies.
Meanwhile, outside the meetings, thousands of protesters continue to make their voices heard.
Oxfam’s Alison Woodhead: "The system in theory should work, but at the moment it's riggedin favour of the richest countries. The rich countries benefit from the trade rules as they exist at the moment. They're able to protect their own markets and destroy the markets of poorer countries."
The WTO probably enrages so many due to the false manner in which it presents itself. Rebecca likens it to The New Republic. It talks about "fairness" but developing nations are not idiots and they've seen what the WTO and the IMF can do (such as Argentina). Some see the orgs as modern day colonization and I would agree with that.
Report: Bush-Enacted NSA Program Monitors Phone Conversations, E-Mails (Democracy Now!):
The New York Times is reporting the National Security Agency has been eavesdropping on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals without court-approved warrants. Under a Bush administration directive enacted in 2002, the agency has monitored the international phone calls and e-mails of hundreds, and possibly thousands of people inside the country. The National Security Agency’s mission is to spy on communications abroad. Although officials said the program had helped thwart at least two potential attacks, most people monitored by the N.S.A. have never been charged with a crime.
The Times says it delayed publishing details of the program after a request from the Bush administration at least one year ago. At the request of the White House, the Times also says it has omitted information administration officials said could be useful to terrorists. The disclosure comes two days after NBC News revealed the Pentagon has kept detailed records on the events and meetings of anti-war groups across the country.
The news of the NSA spying came out at the perfect time. I'm not thrilled that the New York Times sat on the story for a year or that the government had a say in the editing process. However, in terms of today, when the Patriot Act was being pushed in the Senate, the news of the spying came at the perfect time. I really think that helped prevent the act from being pushed through for a blind renewal.
Suggested readings, Cedric's "Megachurches and a megabully," Seth's "Tales from Holiday Retail," Rebecca's "screech has no customer service skills (are you surprised)" and C.I.'s "Other Items" which rightly takes the New York Times to task for looking at Iraq and seeing only males.
Yes, if you sense that I'm rushing tonight, you are correct. But before I post and hit the door, let me note one more thing.
"What Peace Needs" (Monica Benderman, CounterPunch):
The Regional Corrections Facility at Ft. Lewis, Washington is vintage World War II. The windows are cracked and can't be closed. It's below freezing on most nights now.
I could go on--but what good will it do in this country of warmongers, idealistic pacifists, and evangelicals? Nothing like love for a cause--any cause--as long as it's impersonal enough that everyone can remain detached, can share their emotions through the war cries and protest chants, staring out into a field of people whose gazes are just as vacant as the featured speaker of the day.
The military prison is filled with the usual criminal element, narcotics and alcohol abusers, thieves, and child molesters. It has been said that the best chance of parole from this facility is for the child molesters--tells you a lot about our society--the society that professes such a high moral standard that we can dare to invade other countries to bring that same standard to their shores.
In among the criminals, sleeping on a three inch thick mattress, sitting in plastic chairs staring at the walls all day, and waiting for months at a time to have his request for a call to his attorney fulfilled, is one who is furthest from the criminal element, a man the Anti-War movement lovingly refers to as a "Prisoner of Conscience." Labels, always the labels. Sgt. Kevin Benderman stands for everything that should be right in this country. This man stands for liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, FREEDOM to be himself and live as he chooses.
And thanks to Judy and C.I. I take Thursdays off. Monica Benderman's article came out that day. Judy knew I wouldn't be able to note it here yesterday and suggested it to C.I.
I really feel for Monica and Kevin Benderman. I hope people are paying attention to their story. And when Kevin's released I hope Amy Goodman has them both on Democracy Now! the next day. Last hope, that everyone has a peaceful and pleasant weekend.