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20 September 2002

While Bush Beats The War Drums...

Planes bomb Iraqi air bases

PRESIDENT BUSH has been stepping up his war plans, culminating in US and British warplanes bombing Iraq's air intelligence HQ at Tallil air base.

In the fifth air strike by coalition forces this month, 20 bombers attacked Saddam's command and communications links, especially along the path that planes would take in the event of an attack from bases in Kuwait or the Gulf area.

Some military experts say that the war has already begun and that "knocking out" Tallil is of vital strategic interest to an invading force.

These bombings have been in the guise of enforcing the 'no fly' zones, both northern and southern, set up after the 1991 Gulf War but the number of raids has shot up.

The Daily Mirror says there have been reports that US Special Forces had entered northern Iraq early this year, aiming to operate in the Kurdish autonomous area in the event of an invasion.

Whatever effect Saddam Hussein's agreement to arms inspections may have, President Bush still seems committed to beating ever louder at the war drums.

Afghan warlords cosseted while children starve

SINCE THE US bombers left Afghanistan, the main way to keep any stability has been for Britain and the US to dole out huge amounts of money to rival Afghan warlords to stop them rebelling against prime minister Hamid Karzai's government.

While giving out money to rich warlords, Afghanistan's ordinary people have to get on with rebuilding the country with little help. The Western powers promised aid after the bombs. But up to now they have pledged only about 3 billion of the 10 billion needed to rebuild Afghanistan.

A UN report says that a million children in Afghanistan, suffering after years of war and turmoil, are hungry and the situation is likely to get worse.

A quarter of all Afghan children die before they reach five years old. One in ten is suffering from severe malnutrition and more than half suffer from stunted growth.

Poverty and class divisions show that the interests of Afghanistan's people are only of secondary importance for Western governments.

US government spies - on American citizens

LAST YEAR, after 11 September, the Bush administration allowed the FBI to spy on US citizens to combat "domestic terrorism", reversing Congressional limits imposed after the Watergate scandal 25 years ago.

The American Civil Liberties Union described these changes as the "latest power grab by an administration that seems determined to undermine the bedrock values of liberty, equality and government accountability."

Right-wing Attorney General John Ashcroft has also given the Immigration and Naturalisation Service powers to 'racially profile' people from the Middle East.

Yet only one person out of 1,200 Americans and foreign nationals detained after 11 September has been charged with terrorist offences.

Last week three male medical students - a Jordanian, an Iranian and a Pakistani - were falsely detained on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack, based on the claims of a nurse who overhead their conversation.

After their arrest, the Community Hospital in South Miami where they were studying was bombarded by emails demanding their exclusion. Scandalously the hospital management cancelled their internship.