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In early October, Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council awarded the
country's first mobile phone licenses to three companies from the Middle
East.

Iraq lies in ruin, the US military occupation is generating a sustained
guerrilla resistance, crime is rampant in Baghdad and an Iraqi civil war
along ethnic and religious lines is a real possi

In the end, George W. Bush got Congress to approve the $87 billion he
insisted on for the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq.

The Senate voted Tuesday to ban so-called "partial-birth" abortions, marking the end of eight years of legislative skirmishes and the beginning of a major court battle, which could begin even before President Bush signs the bill into law, which he's said he'll do.

This will become the first federal ban on a specific abortion method since a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion was established by the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

As Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel writes in her weblog, this bill is just the latest in a series of increasingly aggressive assaults on women that Bush and his Administration have been launching since he took office. As abortion-rights activists like NARAL's Kate Michelman are pointing out, no one should be fooled as to the real intentions of this bill's sponsors: they want to take away a woman's right to choose.


LITTLE RED SCHOOLHOUSE RED?

Washington, DC

The latest installment in the battle over
privatization in Latin America.

Since George W. Bush arrived in DC, he has been waging a not-so-quiet war against women and families, as I detailed in a recent weblog.

Now, Bush has vowed to sign into law legislation passed yesterday by the Senate that would ban so-called "partial-birth" abortions. As NARAL President Kate Michelman said, "The Senate took its final step toward substituting politicians' judgement for that of a woman, her family, and her doctor...No one should be fooled as to the real intentions of this Bill's sponsors; they want to take away entirely the right to personal privacy and a woman's right to choose."

With Bush in the White House, women's right to choose is in greater danger now than it has been at any time since the Supreme Court issued the Roe V. Wade decision thirty years ago. It is truly, as Senator Barbara Boxer said after passage of the ban, a "very sad day for the women of America." This latest assault on women's reproductive rights is part of a larger war--waged by the Republican Party with Bush as its general.

What with the Bush White House leaking like a sieve these days, it wasn't difficult to obtain a copy of George W.'s secret birthday message to the venerable historian and former Kennedy aide Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Sources say that it was delivered by former Kennedy speech-writer and master toastmaker Ted Sorensen at Schlesinger's 85th birthday party at New York's Century Club on October 15th. The small group of revelers included actress Lauren Bacall, Jean Kennedy Smith, former NY Cultural Commissioner Schuyler Chapin and author Philip Howard.

October 15, 2003

California's opportunist attorney general looks past the allegations against Schwarzenegger.

The recent Senate roll call was a decisive rebuke to our warrior
President and one that will be understood eventually as having pivotal meaning.

In 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson sought a major supplemental appropriation to fund the rapidly expanding US presence in Vietnam, ten members of Congress said "no." The group, all Democrats, included three US Senators--Oregon's Wayne Morse, Alaska's Ernest Gruening and Wisconsin's Gaylord Nelson--and seven members of the House: Californians Phil Burton, George Brown and Don Edwards, New Yorkers Bill Ryan and John Dow, Oregon's Edith Green, and a newly-elected representative from Detroit, Michigan, named John Conyers.

Of the ten, only Conyers remains in the Congress. And, on Friday, he again cast his vote against a presidential demand for the appropriation of money to fund a distant war that critics have begun to refer to as a "quagmire." A fierce critic of the Bush Administration's domestic and international policies -- Conyers likes to say, "We need a regime change in the United States" --the Congressman voted against the Bush Administration's request for an $87 billion supplemental appropriation, most of which will be used to fund the continued occupation of Iraq. "(The Administration is) adding $87 billion on top of the $67 billion already spent, and there is no end in sight," Conyers said, echoing his criticism of appropriations for Vietnam

When he voted against the Iraq appropriation, however, Conyers had a lot more company.

Bus depots are one of many environmental culprits that contribute to health problems in poor communities of color.

Pandering of the highest sort was on display last Friday, as President Bush announced that his Administration will "target" Americans who visit Cuba in violation of US laws. In addition to making it much more difficult to visit the country, Bush has instructed the Department of Homeland Security to step up its inspections of travelers and shipments between Cuba and the US. (This is at a time when the department can't even effectively handle security at US ports.)

Bush's policy has nothing to do with our security, or with democratic reforms in Cuba or with common sense. It is designed to win Cuban-American votes and money in the key electoral states of Florida and New Jersey; it is another piece in the "Bashcroft" assault on Americans' civil liberties. It also reveals the power that a handful of unrepresentative reactionary oligarchs in Miami have to restrict the movements of other American citizens.

As Cuba expert Peter Kornbluh told me, "I see this latest Administration act as a sign of its weakness on Cuba, its inability to do much substantive to mollify the hardline crowd in Miami which has been screaming about the fact that intercepted refugees are being repatriated and the Administration is not encouraging hijackers from Cuba, indeed is sending them back...This Administration doesn't want another Mariel boatlift, so it can't ease up on the illegal migration issue. It has little latitude to say it is toughening its stance except to cut back on travel. For domestic political reasons, of course, the White House is curtailing the one thing the US can do to help Cuba evolve--people-to-people contact."


DEBATING HOWARD DEAN

Bolingbrook, IL

As Stevie Smith once wrote, while impersonating God, "I will forgive you
everything,/But what you have done to my Dogs/I will not forgive." About
Dan Rhodes's novel Timoleon Vieta Come Home<

John Coetzee's new book reads like a suicide note.

Is Zionism a failed ideology? This question will strike many people as
absurd on its face.

Democrats can win the farm and small-town vote--if they pay
serious attention.

The so-called clash of civilizations is not limited to militant Islam
against superpower Christianity, nor to wealthy nations opposed by a
multitude of poor ones.

Making the connections between food, family and the health of the
earth.

Even though the Joseph Wilson affair has convulsed the capital for many
weeks, much of what makes it important is still ignored.

Click here to read more from Katha Pollitt.