One Year Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq

It has been one year since the illegal invasion of Iraq by the United States. The invasion came after twelve years of economic sanctions that killed 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5, almost constant bombing in the US imposed “No-Fly Zones”, and a series of lies used to justify the war. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media is echoing the official line of the Bush Administration by featuring cabinet members and other supporters talking about how the invasion has “made the world a safer place” while ignoring civilian casualties, current dangers facing Iraqi civilians, corporate war profiteering, and the 107+ billion dollar cost of the war.

Independent Evaluations of the Iraq Invasion:

Recent Studies:

March 20 Antiwar Protests in Grand Rapids:

There is an antiwar rally and march tomorrow in downtown Grand Rapids at the Calder Plaza at 1:00pm (on Ionia between Michigan and Ottawa). There has also been a call made for a “Youth Against War” rally and march that will join up with the main rally. That group will be assembling at Grand Rapids Community College at 12:30pm.

There will of course be full coverage of the events on Media Mouse and the Michigan IMC.

Coca-Cola: Executives Get Bonuses, Death Threats for Workers in Colombia

Last year Coca-Cola paid $8.4 million in bonuses to its top six executives, despite laying-off 3,700 employees during the year. Those 3,700 employees constituted 7% of Coca-Cola’s workforce and some have questioned the decision to pay bonuses to executives while dismissing many workers. Such questions seem especially relevant in light of Coca-Cola’s record revenues and earnings in 2003.

Coca-Cola is a corporation notorious for mistreatment and abuse of workers abroad, so it should not come as any surprise that the corporation is more concerned with compensating executives than retaining jobs. Coca-Cola continues to hire paramilitaries to suppress union organizing in Colombia, with recent acts of repression leading to a hunger strike that began on March 15th.

More Information:

US funds Opposition in Venezuela

Now that the U.S. government has succeeded in subverting democracy in Haiti, they can go back to their continuing effort of subverting democracy in Venezuela. Since he came into power, the US has been determined to get Hugo Chavez removed, despite the fact that he is the democratically elected leader of Venezuela. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that, in 2002, the US paid out more than a million dollars to opposition political groups in Venezuela. This funding has been made by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) a non-profit agency financed entirely by Congress. It distributes $40m ($22m) a year to various groups in what it says is an effort to strengthen democracy. In Venezuela, the NED channeled the money to three of its four main operational “wings”: the international arms of the Republican and Democratic parties – the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs respectively – and the foreign policy wing of the AFL-CIO union, the American Center for International Labor Solidarity.

If the NED exists to “strengthen democracy,” then why would it support the opposition forces that staged a coup against Chavez in 2002? Historically, the role of the NED has not been, as it claims, to support deomocracy, but rather it works to promote neo-liberal economic policies. Chavez’s crime, in the eyes of Washington, is not being anti-democratic but rather being anti-neo-liberal. As Chavez himself says “I consider myself a humanist, and a humanist has to be anti-neo-liberal.” As to Chavez’s opinion of George W. Bush, the unelected leader that is funding Venezuela’s opposition groups, Chavez referred to him quite understandably as an “asshole.”

For more information on events in Venezuela, check out the Venezuela Watch section on Z-net.

Update on the Situation in Haiti

On Tuesday, lawyers for exiled Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide served papers to Secretary of State Collin Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft asking that the US prosecute the “kidnapping” committed as “part of a coup d’etat organized and implemented by officials of the government of the United States of America to remove and replace the democratically elected president of Haiti.”

The mainstream media’s coverage of Haiti has been deplorable, and while a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor does actually raise the prospect of a US backed coup without immediately dismissing the possibility, the article is an exception in the company of awful coverage. With the media’s growing willingness to adopt official government positions without questioning them, the independent media continues to provide the only critical perspectives. Democracy Now was able to conduct a relatively lengthy interview with Aristide on his removal from Haiti and Z Net has a new essay from Noam Chomsky providing background on the situation in Hati in addition to a new section on “Haiti Watch” section on Z Net with updates on Haiti.

What is Really Going on in Haiti

It has been nearly impossible to get accurate information about the situation in Haiti from the corporate media, with most of the Haiti reporting heavily distorted. MADRE has prepared a “backgrounder” on the situation in Haiti that explains what is happening and provides some historical context. Democracy Now is reporting that the United States has armed the paramilitaries and is likely giving logisitcal support.

In keeping with their anti-immigration stance, the Bush Administration has announced that refugees from Haiti will be denied entry to the United States, even as the Haitian president has warned of a possible refugee crisis in the coming weeks .

UPDATE (03.01.04):

Democracy Now is reporting that Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was “abducted” by the United States.

GRIID Releases Study on Local News Coverage of Israel/Palestine

The Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) has just completed a study of local TV and print news coverage of Israel/Palestine.

The Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) has just completed a study of local TV and print news coverage of Israel/Palestine. The 90-day study was conducted from early August through early November 2003. Considering that many Americans still rely on local news as their main news source, it is reasonable to say that the public perception of Israel/Palestine is as follows:

  • The problem stems from a dispute between two groups that can’t get along
  • Palestinians are terrorists and Israel is defending itself
  • People in the Middle East are violent
  • the US role is to try and bring peace

GRIID acknowledges that these conclusions are far from the truth, but think it is important to recognize what the public perception about Israel/Palestine and the US role in that region is.

GRIID hopes that people working on this issue will find the study useful in developing a strategy of public education. The report can be downloaded from our website at