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Graphic Journalism by Dan Archer


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2010 January 26

The faintest specks of hope, followed by the predictable horrors.

Given the less than chirpy tone of the last rant, I’ll kick things off with an optimistic bang: news from Japan that the much-maligned military base planned for Okinawa has suffered a ‘setback’, to use US military parlance. In standard english, that means there are now too many people bitterly opposed to it to be conveniently ignored and forgotten about. Think peace in Iraq (we’ll get to that in a second) and you’ll see what I mean.

At last the groundswell of feeling against Uncle Sam’s maniacal militarism has finally found its spokesperson in the form of Susumu Inamine, the newly-elected mayor of Nago, Okinawa, who plans to revoke the 2006 US-Japan agreement that would move the majority of US troops (some 25,000+) currently based in Futenma, Okinawa to his hometown. Whose population is around 60,000. As if the prospective dash of cosmopolitanism wasn’t alluring enough, Nago is also turning down the opportunity to have a US helicopter crash land on its university campus, or servicemen rape its schoolgirls –  once in 1995 and again in 2008.  The move is a major spanner in the works for the US, who only want to leapfrog onto the undoubtedly far more pliant island of Guam by 2014 anyway. Oh wait, the locals are against a base there too. Don’t they know anything about national security?

The other glimmer of hope comes from the very man who once symbolized hope to millions, el presidente Obama. Speaking out against the indefensibly bad move from the Supreme Court last week to open the sluice gate on corporate contributions to the US electoral process, Barack raged: “[this] opens the floodgates for an unlimited amount of special interest money in our democracy…This ruling strikes at our democracy itself”. Let’s hope no one reminds him that he has half of Wall Street kicking around in his cabinet.  For an educational (and infuriating) way to waste away an afternoon, check out and trace the flow of green to the white house. It’s not often that I (or anyone) looks to the UK as the paradigm of political process, but at least we have caps on campaign spending.

And now, the bad news. Apparently there aren’t enough accountants in Iraq, and the US-backed reconstruction effort, spearheaded by US firm Dyncorps, is hemorrhaging cash to the tune of $2.5bn lost expenses in training the iraqi police force.  Once the moneymen get there, someone point them towards Afghanistan, where -yep, you guessed it- Dyncorps is also in charge of getting things up and running.

Coming  soon: tomorrow’s inauguration in Honduras of conservative, coup-supporting President Porfirio Lobo, who takes office after the bloodiest months in his country’s recent history.  Fear not, the last installment of the Honduran Coup: the graphic history is on my drawing board as I type. And for that Friday feeling, be sure to check out the sweat patches on Tony ‘Teflon’ Blair as the non-stick ex-PM tells us all how he and Dubya saved us from Saddam at the Iraq Inquiry this Friday.

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