Beyond the Blast

MotherJones.com's guide to undercovered news, commentary and resources to help put the Sept. 11 terror attacks and their aftershocks into context. Updated throughout the day.

Fri Nov. 2, 2001 3:00 AM EST

November 2, 2001

Will philanthropy suffer under terrorism law? -- The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Non-proft and charitable telemarketers could suffer under anti-terrorism legislation signed into law by President Bush in late October, reports Deborah Blum. The law requires telemarketers to "promptly and clearly" state why they're calling and to give the name and mailing address of the organization they're calling on behalf of; some in the industry fear all that disclosure will be cumbersome and off-putting to donors.

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Bush's Muslim Republicans -- The New Republic
Grover Norquist is best known in Washington circles as president of Americans for Tax Reform, and is respected as one of the right's most effective lobbyists against "big government." In recent years, however, Norquist has added another issue to his agenda: recruiting Arab and Muslim Americans for the Republican Party. Unfortunately, reports Franklin Foer, many of Norquist's new recruits don't seem to represent the "peaceful and good" Muslim population President Bush has spoken of. Some have spoken admiringly of Hamas "freedom fighters" in the West Bank and Gaza, and one told a rally of the radical Hizbollah group that "America has to learn if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come."

Deadly duds -- Human Rights Watch
Cluster bombs, one of the many forms of munitions being used by the US in Afghanistan, have drawn the ire of human rights groups for being particularly dangerous for civilians. According to Human Rights Watch, a ranking American official banned the use of cluster bombs in Bosnia because "the fragmentation pattern was too large to sufficiently limit collateral damage." Moreover, many of the bombs fail to explode on impact, and wind up on the ground where they pose the same danger as landmines. The group's study reports that about 1,600 Kuwaiti and Iraqi civilians have been killed by such dud cluster bombs.

Nation states back in vogue? -- In These Times
Following the Sept. 11 attacks, David Moberg argues, globalization has lost some of its appeal among US officials. "At least for the foreseeable future, well-functioning nation-states are still essential for the welfare of both their own citizens and the international community," Moberg claims. For the Bush administration, it means that for the moment, nation building is on and the push for a unified global economy, with free reign for multinational corporations, will have to wait.

November 1, 2001

Terrorism fears boost anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe -- Stratfor.com
Mounting evidence suggesting that the Sept. 11 terror attacks may have been partly planned in Europe -- hijacker Mohammed Atta visited the Czech Republic several times, and active al Qaida cells have been found in Germany and the UK -- are giving a boost to anti-immigrant groups in several countries, reports Stratfor.com, a Texas-based strategic intelligence publication. Some Italian politicians, for instance, have suggested denying entry to Muslims and shutting down mosques and Islamic cultural centers with ties to terrorist organizations. But European Union officials, who want to see labor markets remain fluid and well-supplied, can be counted on to oppose such efforts, asserts Stratfor.com.

Diplomats left in the dark on detainees -- The Boston Globe
At least seven embassies have complained to the US State Department about Washington's failure to notify countries whose citizens were being held in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks, John Donnelly and Wayne Washington report. Pakistan, for example, only learned of the detention of one of their citizens when journalists called the Pakistani Embassy to inquire about the detainee's death in a New Jersey jail. ''I'm sure Americans would be concerned if they were treated this way in another country," says Abdulwahab al-Hajjri, Yemen's ambassador to the United States.

October 31, 2001

CNN boss: They hit us first -- The Washington Post
CNN chairman Walter Isaacson is ordering correspondents to balance their coverage of the destruction wrought by US bombing in Afghanistan with reminders of why we're bombing in the first place, Post media columnist Howard Kurtz reports. Kurtz says Isaacson sent a memo to the network's international correspondents outlining his concerns, expounding on them in a later interview. "You want to make sure that people understand that when they see civilian suffering there, it's in the context of a terrorist attack that caused enormous suffering in the US," says Isaacson.

The brains behind al-Qaida? -- The Christian Science Monitor
America's public enemy number one, Usama bin Ladin, may really deserve to chart at only number two or three, according to a Pakistani journalist who has interviewed bin Ladin extensively, reports Scott Baldauf. The journalist, Hamid Mir, who bin Ladin hand-picked to be his biographer, says that bin Ladin is a gifted orator but is not the group's true leader. Mir believes al-Qaida's real thinker is Egyptian radical Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Heat-seeking missiles vs. yak fat -- The New Republic
The approaching Afghan winter is generally expected to make things more difficult for the American military, but the optimistic Nicolas Thompson points out some ways in which the cold weather could actually help. Heat-seeking missiles work better, for instance, when there's more of a temperature contrast between target and surroundings, and helicopters perform better in thicker, colder air. But the Taliban may have one crucial technological advantage, reports Thompson. Instead of conventional gun lubricants, which can freeze in sub-zero temperatures, the Taliban use yak fat.

October 30, 2001

Bombing's bottom line -- The Christian Science Monitor
The air war over Afghanistan is costing the United States about $1.2 billion a month, David R. Francis reports. There is no way to forecast how the costs may change, Francis notes, but if the offensive were to continue in similar fashion for a year, the total price tag could reach between $15 billion and $20 billion. That would represent a pretty good deal when compared to the $60 billion spent on the fast but furious Gulf War, but Francis points out that the US will probably pay the bulk of the current bill itself, whereas allies like Saudi Arabia and Japan picked up much of the tab for the Gulf War.

Don't put that cluster bomb in your mouth -- Reuters (via Commondreams.org)
American military planes are currently dropping two kinds of small yellow packets on Afghanistan: can-shaped unexploded cluster bombs and square food parcels. Apparently concerned that confused locals may inadvertently try snacking on the explosives, US radio broadcasts in Persian and Pashto are explaining to Afghans on the ground how to tell the difference.

British pundits discuss the upshot of Sept. 11 -- The Guardian (UK)
The Guardian and the Royal United Services Institute are currently hosting a conference on the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, bringing together some of the United Kingdom's most respected thinkers on issues of war, terror and security.

Meager prospects for media companies -- The Economist
The airline industry isn't the only sector to have suffered since Sept. 11. Media giants such as AOL/Time Warner, Viacom and Dow Jones are all reporting slumping profits or outright losses this quarter, due in large part to the fallout from the twin terror attacks. "Companies with news divisions have been soaked twice: once by the added cost of dispatching crews and reporters to cover the attacks and the war in Afghanistan, and of the extra pages or news bulletins needed to cover these events; and again by the loss of advertising revenue," reports The Economist.

October 29, 2001

The positive side of smallpox -- slate.com
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that the smallpox vaccine, last administered in the United States in 1972, is only valid for three to five years. Still, Slate's Jon Cohen says there is reason to be hopeful, citing a smallpox outbreak in England early in the last century. Studies of the 1902-1903 smallpox outbreak in Liverpool indicate that more than 90 percent of adults who had been vaccinated as children escaped serious illness or death, compared with just 25 percent of people who had never been vaccinated.

Who's Who in Afghanistan -- BBC
The BBC offers this guide to the major groups and figures on the ground in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, the Northern Alliance and other important players. Most descriptions are short, but the package does include some lengthier profiles of key players.

Groups file FOIA -- The Nation
The first challenge to the omnibus anti-terrorism bill came barely 72 hours after President Bush signed it into law, as a coalition of civil libertarians, human rights activists, Arab-American leaders and others demanded information on the more than 800 people detained since September 11.

Compiled by MotherJones.com staff.

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