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Archive: March 2006

Celebrity Sightings: Ben Bernanke

Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke in the Oval Office

A real, DC-style, celebrity sighting this morning at the Fresh Fields at 14th and P. First, we saw the guy in the security detail standing by the entrance with the earpiece (do you think that they know its a cliché?). Then, a few yards ahead, a typical-looking, middle-aged, guy, maybe just a little bit fresher-faced than the average, with a woman that I will assume was his wife. Yes, none other than Alan Greenspan's replacement as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, former Princeton-economics professor, Ben Bernanke.

Bush Administration Defends Privacy Rights of Guantanamo Prisoners

You probably saw that the Associated Press (AP) won an important court case against the Bush administration last week. AP used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request the names of detainees currently being held in the US detention center in Guantanamo, Cuba. The Bush administration objected, AP took the government to court, and the court decided in favor of AP, yielding the release of an extensive set of documents with the names and identities of many of the prisoners. (You can read the details, directly from AP, here.)

What you may have missed is that Bush-administration lawyers, in what must count as cynical even for Bush-administration lawyers, argued against releasing the identities of detainees because it would be a violation of their privacy. (You can't make this stuff up. Here's another AP story in case you don't believe me.)

Building Prisons in Iraq

A Reuters story from last Wednesday has not received the kind of attention it deserved. Apparently, the only new reconstruction funding for Iraq in the US State Department's most recent budget request is for prisons. Specifically, the State Department asked "Congress for $100 million for prisons but no other big building projects" (you know, such as schools, hospitals, housing, and roads, say).

According to Reuters, the insurgency --those mostly foreign, dead-enders, who have been on their last legs since about May 2003, if you believe Vice-President Cheney-- has led the United States to curb rebuilding programs and to divert funds to training Iraq's security forces.

Orange Jumpsuits

My friend, Kathy Ogle, participated in a dramatic action in the halls of Congress yesterday to protest US-sponsored torture at our detention center in Guantanamo, Cuba. She's written an excellent letter describing what she did and why she did it, which I've reprinted here.

It is truly astonishing that we are actually having a debate in this country about whether we, as a people, should use torture. I am very grateful that Kathy, the Torture Abolition and Survivor's Coalition (TASSC), and so many others are speaking up.

Exporting People

Sarah Gammage (full disclosure: we're married --to each other) has written an excellent paper on "Exporting People and Recruiting Remittances: A Development Strategy for El Salvador".

As the abstract states, the paper "...contributes to the broader analysis of migration by examining ... current state-led strategies to enhance and capitalize upon ... human and financial flows." The main arguments of the paper are that "...the Salvadoran state and elites that benefit from migration and remittances are seeking to manage and facilitate these flows" and that "...these state-led strategies are being actively encouraged by multilateral and bilateral institutions which are keen to incorporate and promote a discourse on migration and development that sees remittances as windfall income without acknowledging the enormous human, social and economic costs of migration."