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Censored 2005 :
The Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2003~2004
(#1) Wealth Inequality in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy
MULTINATIONAL MONITOR, May 2003, Vol. 24, No. 5
BUZZFLASH, March 26 and 29, 2004
LONDON GUARDIAN, October 4, 2003
MULTINATIONAL MONITOR, July/August, 2003
Faculty Evaluators: Greg Storino, Phil Beard Ph.D.
THE DOMESTIC TREND
In the late 1700s, issues of fairness and equality were topics
of great debate
However, since the late 1970s wealth inequality, while stabilizing or increasing slightly in other industrialized nations, has increased sharply and dramatically in the United States. While it is no secret that such a trend is taking place, it is rare to see a TV news program announce that the top 1% of the U.S. population now owns about a third of the wealth in the country. Discussion of this trend takes place, for the most part, behind closed doors.
During the short boom of the late 1990s, conservative analysts asserted that, yes, the gap between rich and poor was growing, but that incomes for the poor were still increasing over previous levels. Today most economists, regardless of their political persuasion, agree that the data over the last 25 to 30 years is unequivocal. The top 5% is capturing an increasingly greater portion of the pie while the bottom 95% is clearly losing ground, and the highly touted American middle class is fast disappearing.
According to economic journalist, David Cay Johnston, author of Perfectly Legal, this trend is not the result of some naturally occurring, social Darwinist survival of the fittest. It is the product of legislative policies carefully crafted and lobbied for by corporations and the super-rich over the past 25 years.
New tax shelters in the 1980s shifted the tax burden off capital and onto labor. As tax shelters rose, the amount of federal revenue coming from corporations fell (from 35% during the Eisenhower years to 10% in 2002). During the deregulation wave of the 80s and the 90s, members of Congress passed legislation (often without reading it) that deregulated much of the financial industry. These laws took away, for example, the powerful incentives for accountants to behave with integrity or for companies to put away a reasonable amount in pension plans for their employeesresulting in the well-publicized (too late) scandals involving Enron, Global Crossing, and others.
THE GLOBAL IMPACT
As always, Americas economic trends have a global footprintand this time, it is a crater. Today the top 400 income earners in the U.S. make as much in a year as the entire population of the 20 poorest countries in Africa (over 300 million people). But in America, national leaders and mainstream media tell us that the only way out of our own economic hole is through increasing and endless growthfueled by the resources of other countries.
A series of reports released in 2003 by the UN and other global economy analysis groups warn that further increases in the imbalance in wealth throughout the world will have catastrophic effects if left unchecked. UN-habitat reports that unless governments work to control the current unprecedented spread in urban growth, a third of the world's population will be slum dwellers within 30 years. Currently, almost one-sixth of the world's population lives in slum-like conditions. The UN warns that unplanned, unsanitary settlements threaten both political and fiscal stability within third world countries, where urban slums are growing faster than expected. The balance of poverty is shifting quickly from rural to urban areas as the world's population moves from the countryside to the city.
As rich countries, strip poorer countries of their natural resources in an attempt to re-stabilize their own, the people of poor countries become increasingly desperate. This deteriorating situation, besides pressuring rich countries to allow increased immigration, further exacerbates already stretched political tensions and threatens global political and economic security.
UN economists blame "free-trade" practices and the neo-liberal policies of international lending institutions like the IMF and WTO, and the industrialized countries that lead them, for much of the damage caused to Third World countries over the past 20 years. Many of these policies are now being implemented in the U.S., allowing for an acceleration of wealth consolidation. And even the IMF has issued a report warning the U.S. about the consequences for its appetite for excess and overspending.
In developing countries, the concentration of key industries profitable to foreign investors requires that people move to cities while forced privatization of public services strip them of the ability to become stable or move up financially once they arrive. Meanwhile, the strict repayment schedules mandated by the global institutions make it virtually impossible for poor countries to move out from under their burden of debt. "In a form of colonialisation that is probably more stringent than the original, many developing countries have become suppliers of raw commodities to the world, and fall further and further behind," says one UN analyst. World economists conclude that if enough of the worlds nations reach a point of economic failure, such a situation could collapse the entire global economy.
(#2) Ashcroft vs. the Human Rights Law that Holds Corporations Accountable
ONE WORLD.NET and ASHEVILLE GLOBAL REPORT, May 19, 2003
Faculty Evaluator: Meri Storino, Ph.D.
Attorney General John Ashcroft is seeking to strike down one of the worlds oldest human rights laws, the Alien Torts Claim Act (ATCA) which holds government leaders, corporations, and senior military officials liable for human rights abuses taking place in foreign countries. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) vehemently oppose the removal of this law, as it is one of the few legal defenses victims of human rights violations can claim against powerful organizations such as governments or multinational corporations. The attempt to dismiss the law comes less than a year after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Unocal Corporation could be held liable for human rights abuses committed against Burmese peasants near a pipeline the company was building. By attempting to throw out this law, the Bush Administration is effectively opening the door for human rights abuses to continue under the veil of foreign relations.
The ATCA dates back to 1789 when George Washington signed legislation for an anti-piracy bill. An obscure segment of the bill gave foreign citizens the right to sue in United States courts over violations of international law. After being used only twice in its first two hundred years of existence, the law has been the basis of some 100 lawsuits since 1980. A landmark ruling in that same year awarded a Paraguayan woman $10 million dollars for the torture and murder of her brother committed by a Paraguayan police official, who was living illegally in the U.S. That ruling effectively opened the door for foreign citizens to seek justice through litigation in U.S. courts.
Business groups argue that human rights lawyers and courts that interpret the ATCA too broadly have wrongly exploited the law. The Bush Administration agrees stating the law interferes with foreign policy. Non-citizens would be allowed to file lawsuits that could potentially embarrass foreign governments the U.S. needs cooperation from in the war on terrorism. Critics of recent ATCA suits also argue that the original statute provides no actual authority to file suit and only paves the way for Congress to do so should it adopt a separate act defining which violations can be addressed in court.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, upholding the law could jeopardize aspects of the war on terrorism. "A U.S. government employee or contractor working in a high-risk law enforcement, intelligence of military operation could be sued for their participation," says Mark Rosen, a retired U.S. Navy captain and specialist in defense and homeland-security issues.
(#3) Bush Administration Manipulates Science and Censors Scientists
THE NATION, March 8, 2004
CENSORSHIP NEWS: THE NATIONAL COALITION AGAINST CENSORSHIP NEWSLETTER,
Fall 2003, #91
ENVIRONMENT NEWS SERVICE and ONEWORLD.NET, February 20, 2004
OFFICE OF U.S. REPRESENTATIVE HENRY A. WAXMAN, August 2003
Faculty Evaluator: Dolly Friedel, Ph.D.
Critics charge that the Bush Administration is purging, censoring, and manipulating scientific information in order to push forward its pro-business, anti-environmental agenda. In Washington, D.C. more than 60 of the nations top scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, leading medical experts, and former federal agency directors, issued a statement on February 18, 2004 accusing the Bush Administration of deliberately distorting scientific results for political ends and calling for regulatory and legislative action to restore scientific integrity to federal policymaking.
Under the current administration, the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) has blacklisted qualified scientists who pose a threat
to its pro-business ideology. When a team of biologists working
for the EPA indicated that there had been a violation of the Endangered
Species Act by the Army Corps of Engineers, the group was
replaced with a corporate-friendly panel. In addition,
a nationally respected biologist, Dr. James Zahn, was ordered by
EPA representatives not to publish a study identifying a health
endangering bacteria in industrial hog farms.
In the case of global warming, the Bush Administration has made efforts to stall actions by Congress designed to control industrial emissions. The EPA altered a report on the environmental damage of a hydraulic fracturing process developed by Halliburton, Dick Cheneys former company. Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of benzene into the ground, which in turn contaminates ground water supplies over the federal limit.
In December 2002, the EPA weakened a Clean Air Act regulation, known as the New Source Review (NSR), to make it easier for coal fired utilities to generate more power without having to install additional emissions controls. The Bush Administration halted the prosecution of some 50 power plants that were alleged to be in violation of the of the old NSR rule while at the same time drastically reducing funding for the Superfund toxic cleanup program. In October 2003, the General Accounting Office, Congress investigative arm, reported that the revised NSR rule could limit assurance of the publics access to data about and input on decisions to modify facilities in ways that affect emissions. Essentially, this makes it more difficult for the public to monitor local emissions, health risks, and NSR compliance.
In June 2003, the Administration published its comprehensive report on the environment -- that contained no information on climate change and did not address global warming.
The EPA claimed a few days after the 9/11 catastrophe that the air quality was safe in the security zone surrounding the World Trade Center. An Inspector Generals report released in August 2003 revealed that press releases were being drafted or doctored by White House officials in order to quickly reopen Wall Street.
A study conducted by the EPA found that high levels of atrazine, a carcinogen, were discovered in drinking water, well over the government standard allotment. When the findings were reported, the Bush Administration did not address the level of atrazine, but instead moved the research to a company in Switzerland, taking environmental control away from local scientists.
In January 2003, President Bush appointed marketing consultant Jerry Thacker to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. Mr. Thacker has referred to homosexuality derogatorily and has described AIDS as the gay plague. In May 2003, the New York Times reported that Health and Human Services (HHS) may be applying unusual scrutiny to grants that used key words such as men who sleep with men, gay, and homosexual.
Princeton University scientist Michael Oppenheimer states, "If
you believe in a rational universe, in enlightenment, in knowledge
and in a search for the truth, this White House is an absolute disaster."
(#4) High Uranium Levels Found in Troops and Civilians
URANIUM MEDICAL RESEARCH CENTER, January 2003
AWAKENED WOMAN, January 2004
DISSIDENT VOICE, March 2004
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, April 5,2004
INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE, March 2004
Evaluator: Jennifer Lillig, Ph.D.
Civilian populations in Afghanistan and Iraq and occupying troops have been contaminated with astounding levels of radioactive depleted and non-depleted uranium as a result of post-9/11 United States use of tons of uranium munitions. Researchers say surrounding countries are bound to feel the effects as well.
In 2003 scientists from the Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC) studied urine samples of Afghan civilians and found that 100% of the samples taken had levels of non-depleted uranium (NDU) 400% to 2000% higher than normal levels. The UMRC research team studied six sites, two in Kabul and others in the Jalalabad area. The civilians were tested four months after the attacks in Afghanistan by the United States and its allies.
NDU is more radioactive than depleted uranium (DU), which itself is charged with causing many cancers and severe birth defects in the Iraqi populationespecially childrenover the past ten years. Four million pounds of radioactive uranium was dropped on Iraq in 2003 alone. Uranium dust will be in the bodies of our returning armed forces. Nine soldiers from the 442nd Military Police serving in Iraq were tested for DU contamination in December 2003. Conducted at the request of The News, as the U.S. government considers the cost of $1,000 per affected soldier prohibitive, the test found that four of the nine men were contaminated with high levels of DU, likely caused by inhaling dust from depleted uranium shells fired by U.S. troops. Several of the men had traces of another uranium isotope, U-236, that are produced only in a nuclear reaction process.
Most American weapons (missiles, smart bombs, dumb bombs, bullets, tank shells, cruise missiles, etc.) contain high amounts of radioactive uranium. Depleted or non-depleted, these types of weapons, on detonation, release a radioactive dust which, when inhaled, goes into the body and stays there. It has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. Basically, its a permanently available contaminant, distributed in the environment, where dust storms or any water nearby can disperse it. Once ingested, it releases subatomic particles that slice through DNA.
UMRCs Field Team found several hundred Afghan civilians with acute symptoms of radiation poisoning along with chronic symptoms of internal uranium contamination, including congenital problems in newborns. Local civilians reported large, dense dust clouds and smoke plumes rising from the point of impact, an acrid smell, followed by burning of the nasal passages, throat and upper respiratory tract. Subjects in all locations presented identical symptom profiles and chronologies. The victims reported symptoms including pain in the cervical column, upper shoulders and basal area of the skull, lower back/kidney pain, joint and muscle weakness, sleeping difficulties, headaches, memory problems and disorientation.
At the Uranium Weapons Conference held October 2003 in Hamburg, Germany, independent scientists from around the world testified to a huge increase in birth deformities and cancers wherever NDU and DU had been used. Professor Katsuma Yagasaki, a scientist at the Ryukyus University, Okinawa calculated that the 800 tons of DU used in Afghanistan is the radioactive equivalent of 83,000 Nagasaki bombs. The amount of DU used in Iraq is equivalent to 250,000 Nagasaki bombs.
At the Uranium Weapons Conference, a demonstration by British-trained oncologist Dr. Jawad Al-Ali showed photographs of the kinds of birth deformities and tumors he had observed at the Saddam Teaching Hospital in Basra just before the 2003 war. Cancer rates had increased dramatically over the previous fifteen years. In 1989 there were 11 abnormalities per 100,000 births; in 2001 there were 116 per 100,000an increase of over a thousand percent. In 1989 34 people died of cancer; in 2001 there were 603 cancer deaths. The 2003 war has increased these figures exponentially.
At a meeting of the International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan held December 2003 in Tokyo, the U.S. was indicted for multiple war crimes in Afghanistan, among them the use of DU. Leuren Moret, President of Scientists for Indigenous People and Environmental Commissioner for the City of Berkeley, testified that because radioactive contaminants from uranium weapons travel through air, water, and food sources, the effects of U.S. deployment in Afghanistan will be felt in Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China and India. Countries affected by the use of uranium weapons in Iraq include Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Turkey, and Iran.
(#5) The Wholesale Giveaway of Our Natural Resources
IN THESE TIMES, November 23, 2003
HIGH COUNTRY NEWS, Vol. 35, No. 11, June 9, 2003
Evaluator: Mary Gomes Ph.D.
Not since the McKinley era of the late 1800s has there been such a drastic move to scale back preservation of the environment. In 1896 President William McKinley was extremely pro-industry in terms of forests and mining interest giveaways. Mark Hanna, McKinleys partner against American populist William Jennings Bryan, raised more than $4 million in campaign contributions stating that only a government that catered first to the needs of corporate interests could serve the needs of the people.
The Bush Administrations environmental policies are destroying much of the environmental progress made over the past 30 years. A prime example is the Bush Administrations Clean Skies Initiative. The Clean Air Act of 1970 has made skies over most cities cleaner by cutting back pollution let out by major power companies. However, the Clean Skies Initiative allows power plants to emit more than five times more mercury, twice as much sulfur dioxide, and over one and a half times more nitrogen oxides than the Clean Air Act.
Another example is in Gillette, Wyoming where a significant amount of natural gas (coal bed methane) exists. The only way to extract the gas is by draining groundwater to the level of the coal in order to release it. The Bureau of Land Management estimates that if all goes ahead as planned, the miners will discard more than 700 million gallons of publicly owned water a year. The mining of coal bed methane is as expensive as it is wasteful, and the industry has received promises from Congress of a $3 billion tax credit to help them on their way. It makes little economic sense to drill for marginal coal bed methane when larger deposits are elsewhere. Meanwhile, the U.S. government agencies normally responsible for protecting the land now serve as customer relations organizations for mining companies.
Bush's Healthy Forests Initiative is funding projects for logging
companies to gain access to old growth trees and paying them for
brush clearing. Matt Weiser discusses the new draft for the Forest
Service management plan, which allows logging of up to 10 million
board feet of lumber each year. President Bushs plan could
even include removal of the very trees the monument was established
to preserve the giant sequoias, which are found nowhere else
in such abundance.
President Bush appointed Vice President Cheney to head a secretive energy task force to craft the administrations energy policy, which constituted the same types of give aways as McKinleys. Not only are corporate interests put first, but taxpayers are now paying to clean up the mess left behind. The Bush Administration has cut the Superfund budget, and Congress is shifting the burden of clean up from polluters to the American taxpayer.
Some administration officials still have active ties to corporate
interests. Undersecretary of the Interior, J. Steven Griles, a former
industrial lobbyist, is still being paid by his former employer,
National Environmental Strategies (NES). NES lobbies for coal, oil,
gas, and electric companies.
(#6) The Sale of Electoral Politics
IN THESE TIMES, December 2003
INDEPENDENT/UK, October 13, 2003
DEMOCRACY NOW!, September 4, 2003
Evaluator: Andy Merrifield Ph.D., Wendy Ostroff, Ph.D., Scott Gordon,
Conflicts of interest exist between the largest suppliers of electronic voting machines in the United States and key leaders of the Republican Party. While the technical problems with the voting machines themselves have received a certain amount of coverage in the mainstream media, the political conflicts of interest, though well documented, have received almost none. Election analysts on both sides of the fence are charging that while particular industries have traditionally formed alliances with one or another of the parties, political affiliations within the voting machine industry are inappropriate and have dangerous implications for our democratic process.
Election Systems & Software (ES&S), Diebold, and Sequoia
are the companies primarily involved in implementing the new, often
faulty, technology at voting stations throughout the country. All
three have strong ties to the Bush Administration and other Republican
leaders, along with major defense contractors in the United States.
ES&S and Diebold, owned by brothers Bob and Todd Urosevich,
will be counting about 80% of the votes cast in 2004. Each one of
the three companies has a past plagued by financial scandal and
* Michael McCarthy, owner of ES&S (formerly known as American
Information Systems), served as Senator Chuck Hagel's campaign manager
in both the 1996 and 2002 elections. Senator Hagel owns close to
$5 million in stock in the ES&S parent company. In 1996 and
2002 eighty percent of Senator Hagel's votes were counted by ES&S.
Diebold has now taken steps to use an outside organization, Scientific Applications International Corporation (SAIC) of San Diego, to take responsibility for security issues within their software. But this presents yet another conflict of interest. A majority of officials on the board are former members of either the Pentagon or the CIA, many of whom are closely allied with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Members of the board of directors include:
* Army Gen. Wayne Downing, former chief counter-terrorism expert
on the National Security Council;
Additionally, SAIC has had a plethora of charges brought against them including indictments by the Justice Department for the mismanagement of a Superfund toxic cleanup and misappropriation of funds in the purchase of F-15 fighter jets.
Some of the most generous contributors to Republican campaigns are also some of the largest investors in ES&S, Sequoia, and Diebold. Most notable of these are government defense contractors Northrup-Grumman, Lockheed-Martin, Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and Accenture, a member of the U.S. Coalition of Service Industries and a major proponent of privatization and Free Trade of services provided by the WTO and GATT. None of these contractors are politically neutral, and all have high stakes in the construction of electronic voting systems. Accenture was involved in financial scandals, and charged with incompetence in both Canada and the US throughout the '90s and 2000s.
Under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) passed in October of 2002, states have been required to submit plans to make the switch from punch cards to a primarily electronic system in time for the 2004 elections. It should be noted that the voting machine companies continue to hold title to the software even after implementation. Populex, the company contracted to provide voting systems in Illinois has former Defense Secretary, Frank Carlucci, on its advisory board.
(#7) Conservative Organization Drives Judicial Appointments
THE AMERICAN PROSPECT, Vol. 14, Issue 3, March 1, 2003
Faculty Evaluator: Barbara Bloom, Ph.D., Tony White, Ph.D.
In 2001 George W. Bush eliminated the longstanding role of the American Bar Association (ABA) in the evaluation of prospective federal judges. ABAs judicial ratings had long kept extremists from the right and left, off the bench. In its place, Bush has been using The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studiesa national organization whose mission is to advance a conservative agenda by moving the countrys legal system to the right.
The Federalist Society was started in 1982 by a small group of radically conservative University of Chicago law studentsSteven Calabresi, David McIntosh, and Lee Liberman Otis. Reagans Attorney General Edwin Meese was an early sponsor of the society. The society today includes over 40,000 lawyers, judges, and law professors. Well-known members include: John Ashcroft, Solicitor General Theodore Olson, Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, and Federal Appellate Judge Frank Easterbrook. Under both Bush Administrations, judicial appointments have been coordinated by the office of the [legal] counsel to the president. The counsels staff is comprised mainly of federalists.
Jamin B. Raskin writes that traditional concerns about conservative judges are that they will fail to protect the rights of political minorities from an attack by an overzealous majority. Raskin says the concern is now the opposite. These judges are a political minority undermining the democratic rights of the people."
With the help of the Federalist Society, Bush has the capability to turn the courts over to ultra right-wing ideologues. The Federalists intend to control all Federal circuit courts, which will be devoted to fulfilling the radical rights agenda on race, religion, class, money, morality, abortion, and power. Currently, anti-abortion judges control seven of the twelve federal circuit courts.
Federal judges enjoy lifetime appointments, and approximately 40 percent of Bush appointees are members of the Federalist Society. The federal circuit courts are the spawning ground for Supreme Court nominees and some of these judges will be given this highest of judicial nominations. In an attempt to ensure a continuation of a conservative agenda, Bush is appointing younger judges. Justice Scalia, who was fifty years old when appointed to the Supreme Court, has already served for 17 years. There has not been a vacancy on the Court for the past 11 years.
The Federalist Society which heads this conservative judicial movement has been very aggressive in attacking judges they do not agree with. Former Senator Bob Dole spoke out against 3rd Circuit Judge H. Lee Sarokin, placing him in a judicial hall of shame along with some of his colleagues. This hostility forced Sarokin to resign. I see my lifes work and reputation being disparaged on an almost daily basis, and I find myself unable to ignore it.
One of the legal theories the Federalists are now operating under could make many federal regulations unconstitutional. Federalist Society publications, strategy sessions, and panel discussions attack cases that place individual rights above property rights, agencies that regulate business, and judges who seek to expand federal civil-rights laws and gender-equality protections. The Federalist Society sponsors practice groups to shape their policy. They have organized groups in areas such as, religious liberty, national security, cyberspace, corporate law, and environmental law.(#8) Secrets of Cheney's Energy Task Force Come to Light
JUDICIAL WATCH, July 17,2003
FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS, January 2004
Faculty Evaluators: James Carr, Ph.D., Alexandra Von Meier, Ph.D.
Documents turned over in the summer of 2003 by the Commerce Department as a result of the Sierra Clubs and Judicial Watchs Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as two charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts. The documents, dated March 2001, also feature maps of Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates oilfields, pipelines, refineries and tanker terminals. There are supporting charts with details of the major oil and gas development projects in each country that provide information on the projects costs, capacity, oil company and status or completion date.
Documented plans of occupation and exploitation predating September 11 confirm heightened suspicion that U.S. policy is driven by the dictates of the energy industry. According to Judicial Watch President, Tom Fitton, These documents show the importance of the Energy Task Force and why its operations should be open to the public.
When first assuming office in early 2001, President Bush's top foreign policy priority was not to prevent terrorism or to curb the spread of weapons of mass destructionor any of the other goals he espoused later that year following 9-11. Rather, it was to increase the flow of petroleum from suppliers abroad to U.S. markets. In the months before he became president, the United States had experienced severe oil and natural gas shortages in many parts of the country, along with periodic electrical power blackouts in California. In addition, oil imports rose to more than 50% of total consumption for the first time in history, provoking great anxiety about the security of the country's long-term energy supply. Bush asserted that addressing the nation's "energy crisis" was his most important task as president.
The energy turmoil of 2000-01 prompted Bush to establish a task force charged with developing a long-range plan to meet U.S. energy requirements. With the advice of his close friend and largest campaign contributor, Enron CEO, Ken Lay, Bush picked Vice President Dick Cheney, former Halliburton CEO, to head this group. In 2001 the Task Force formulated the National Energy Policy (NEP), or Cheney Report, bypassing possibilities for energy independence and reduced oil consumption with a declaration of ambitions to establish new sources of oil.
The Bush Administrations struggle to keep secret the workings of Cheneys Energy Task Force has been ongoing since early in the Presidents tenure. The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, requested information in spring of 2001 about which industry executives and lobbyists the Task Force was meeting with in developing the Bush Administration's energy plan. When Cheney refused disclosure, Congress was pressed to sue for the right to examine Task Force records, but lost. Later, amid political pressure building over improprieties regarding Enrons colossal collapse, Cheney's office released limited information revealing six Task Force meetings with Enron executives.
With multiple lawsuits currently pending, the Bush Administration asserts that its right to secrecy is a matter of executive privilege in regard to White House records. But because the White House staffed the Task Force with employees from the Department of Energy and elsewhere, it cannot pretend that its documents are White House records. A 2001 case, in which the Justice Department has four times appealed federal court rulings that the Vice President release task force records, has been brought before the Supreme Court. The case Richard B Cheney v. U.S. District Court for the District of Colombia, No. 03-475, to be heard by Cheneys friend and duck hunting partner, Justice Scalia, is now pending. Cases based on the Federal Advisory Committee Act and Freedom of Information Act which require the Task Force a balanced membership, open meetings, and public records, are attempting to beat the Bush Administration in its battle to keep its internal workings secret.
(#9) Widow Brings RICO Case Against U.S. Government for 9/11
SCOOP.CO.NZ, November 2003
SCOOP.CO.NZ, December 2003
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Merrifield, Ph.D.
Ellen Mariani lost her husband, Louis Neil Mariani, on 9/11 and is refusing the governments million-dollar settlement offer. Louis Neil Mariani, a passenger, died when United Air Lines flight 175 was flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Ellen Mariani has studied the facts of the day for nearly two years and has come to believe that the White House intentionally allowed 9/11 to happen in order to launch the War on Terrorism. Her lawyer, Phillip Berg, former Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania, who filed a 62-page complaint in federal district court charging that President Bush and officials, including but not limited to, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Ashcroft: (1) had adequate foreknowledge of 911, yet failed to warn the country or attempt to prevent it; (2) have since been covering up the truth of that day; (3) have therefore abetted the murder of plaintiffs husband and violated the Constitution and multiple laws of the United States; and (4) are thus being sued under the Civil Racketeering, Influences, and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act for malfeasant conspiracy, obstruction of justice and wrongful death.
Berg plans to call former federal employees with firsthand knowledge and expertise in military intelligence to provide a foundation for the RICO Act charge. Mariani intends to prove that the defendants have engaged in a pattern of criminal activity and obstruction of justice in violation of the public trust and laws of the United States, thrusting our nation into an endless war on terror in order to achieve personal and financial gains.
The suit documents the detailed forewarnings from foreign governments and FBI agents; the unprecedented delinquency of our air defense; the inexplicable half hour dawdle of our Commander in Chief at a primary school after hearing the nation was under deadly attack; the incessant invocation of national security and executive privilege to suppress the facts; and the obstruction of all subsequent efforts to investigate the disaster. It concludes that compelling evidence will be presented in this case, through discovery, subpoena power and testimony, that defendants failed to act to prevent 9/11, knowing the attacks would lead to an international war on terror.
Berg believes that Defendant Bush is invoking a long standard operating procedure of national security and executive privilege claims to suppress the basis of this lawsuit.
On November 26, 2003, a press conference was set up to discuss the full implications of these charges. Only FOX News attended the conference and taped 40 minutes, however, the film was never aired. W. David Kubiak asks, When you present documented charges of official treachery behind the greatest national security disaster in modern history, and the press doesnt show, doesnt listen, and doesnt write, what is being communicated?
(#10) New Nuke Plants: Taxpayers Support, Industry Profits
NUCLEAR INFORMATION AND RESOURCE SERVICE, November 17, 2003
WISE/NIRS NUCLEAR MONITOR, August 2003
Faculty Evaluators: Lynn Cominsky, Ph.D., Tamara Falicov, Ph. D.
Senator Peter Domenici (R-NM), along with the Bush Administration, is looking to give the nuclear power industry a huge boost through the new Energy Policy Act. The Domenici-sponsored bill will give nuclear power plants a production credit for each unit of energy produced. This provision, costing taxpayers an estimated 7.5 billion dollars, will be used to build six new privately owned, for-profit, reactors across the country. This is in addition to the $4 billion already provided for other nuclear energy programs.
Through the Energy Policy Act, Senator Domenici intends to create more incentives for nuclear power. It gives 1.1 billion dollars for the production of hydrogen fuel and 2.7 billion for research and development of new reactors under the Nuclear Power 2010 program. The Nuclear Power 2010 program is a joint government/industry effort to identify sites for new nuclear power plants and develop advanced nuclear technologies. In 2003 Congress approved an amendment to the Senate energy legislation, giving approximately $35 million to the Nuclear Power 2010 program. The program's aim is to advance and expand the nuclear industrys Vision 2020 policy, which has, as its goal, the addition of 50,000 megawatts of atomic power generation (i.e. 50 new reactors) by the year 2020. Toward this effort, the bill provides new regulations and subsidies to promote private sector investment by 2005 in order to get new power plants deployed in the U.S. by 2010.
Total capital investment for a new nuclear reactor could be in excess of $1.6 bilion dollars. The bill up for vote in Congress, will establish a "preferred equity investment" provision requiring taxpayers to back private investment in new facilities up to $200 million. The Nuclear Power bill provides a set volume at which the government will buy power from nuclear companies. Nuclear companies would charge the government 50 percent above the market price and the government would in turn resell the power to taxpayers at higher than normal rates to make up for the difference.
Domenicis will allow leach mining of uranium and push for more uranium enrichment facilities, maintaining that they are necessary for energy production. Although a new revision of the bill addresses some of the environmental concerns of a number of Senators, the charge is that this has been done simply to push the Nuclear Program forward. The new bill still allows depleted uranium to be treated as low level waste and requires the Department of Energy to take possession and dispose of waste generated at privately owned facilities (at no cost to the owner). The bill makes it easy to construct enrichment facilities by speeding up the process and easing EPA regulations.
The Energy Policy Acts promotion of enrichment facilities is likely to benefit Louisiana Energy Services, which is run by a European corporation, Erenco. This corporation has made unsuccessful attempts to build private uranium enrichment plants in Louisiana and Tennessee and is looking to get a license to build an enrichment plant in New Mexico, Domenici's home state.
Finally, the bill will repeal a ban on exporting highly enriched uranium to other countries, ignoring provisions made in the House that protect against terrorist attacks. The chance that nuclear bomb material could fall into terrorist hands would be much increased with an open market for highly enriched uranium. Also, more reactors in the United States provide terrorists with more targets. The current Administration supports the expansion of nuclear energy, yet has made no attempt to provide for its safety or oversight under Homeland Security legislation.
(#11) The Media Can Legally Lie
CMW REPORT, Spring 2003
ORGANIC CONSUMER ASSOCIATION, March 7, 2004
Faculty Evaluator: Liz Burch, Ph.D.
In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States.
Back in December of 1996, Jane Akre and her husband, Steve Wilson, were hired by FOX as a part of the Fox Investigators team at WTVT in Tampa Bay, Florida. In 1997 the team began work on a story about bovine growth hormone (BGH), a controversial substance manufactured by Monsanto Corporation. The couple produced a four-part series revealing that there were many health risks related to BGH and that Florida supermarket chains did little to avoid selling milk from cows treated with the hormone, despite assuring customers otherwise.
According to Akre and Wilson, the station was initially very excited about the series. But within a week, Fox executives and their attorneys wanted the reporters to use statements from Monsanto representatives that the reporters knew were false and to make other revisions to the story that were in direct conflict with the facts. Fox editors then tried to force Akre and Wilson to continue to produce the distorted story. When they refused and threatened to report Fox's actions to the FCC, they were both fired.(Project Censored #12 1997)
Akre and Wilson sued the Fox station and on August 18, 2000, a Florida jury unanimously decided that Akre was wrongfully fired by Fox Television when she refused to broadcast (in the jury's words) a false, distorted or slanted story about the widespread use of BGH in dairy cows. They further maintained that she deserved protection under Florida's whistle blower law. Akre was awarded a $425,000 settlement. Inexplicably, however, the court decided that Steve Wilson, her partner in the case, was ruled not wronged by the same actions taken by FOX.
FOX appealed the case, and on February 14, 2003 the Florida Second District Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the settlement awarded to Akre. The Court held that Akres threat to report the stations actions to the FCC did not deserve protection under Floridas whistle blower statute, because Floridas whistle blower law states that an employer must violate an adopted law, rule, or regulation." In a stunningly narrow interpretation of FCC rules, the Florida Appeals court claimed that the FCC policy against falsification of the news does not rise to the level of a "law, rule, or regulation," it was simply a "policy." Therefore, it is up to the station whether or not it wants to report honestly.
During their appeal, FOX asserted that there are no written rules against distorting news in the media. They argued that, under the First Amendment, broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves. Fox attorneys did not dispute Akres claim that they pressured her to broadcast a false story, they simply maintained that it was their right to do so. After the appeal verdict WTVT general manager Bob Linger commented, Its vindication for WTVT, and were very pleased Its the case weve been making for two years. She never had a legal claim.
(#12) The Destabilization of Haiti
KPFA RADIO-FLASHPOINTS, April 1, 2004
GLOBALRESEARCH.CA, February 29, 2004
DOLLARS AND SENSE, September/October 2003
KPFA - DEMOCRACY NOW!, March 17, 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 16, 2004
Faculty Evaluator: Tony White, Ph.D., Richard Zimmer, Ph.D.
On February 29, 2004, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced into exile by American military. While the Bush Administration and the corporate press implied that Aristide left willingly, Aristide was able to give a detailed account of his American military led kidnapping to a Haitian journalist in the United States via cell phone, who in turn, broadcast his speech on Pacifica Radios Flashpoints News, KPFA. While the U.S. was forced to acknowledge the kidnapping allegations, they were quick to discredit them and deny responsibility. The circumstances underlying the current situation in Haiti, as well as the history of U.S. involvement, is being ignored by U.S. officials and mainstream media.
In 1990 after the brutal 15-year rule of dictator Baby Doc Duvalier, 70 percent of Haitis people voted for Aristide in their first democratic election. During his first term, Aristide began to make good on his populist platform, revising the tax code to require import fees and income based taxation on the rich and pressing for an increase in the minimum wage. He was, however, soon under pressure from International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to reverse these proposals. A few months later, Aristide was overthrown by the rebel paramilitary army known as the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH). FRAPH had been trained and sponsored by the CIA. In fact, several FRAPH leaders were on the CIA payroll.
During the coup period, from 1991-1994, Aristides 1990 presidential opponent, former World Bank official Marc Bazin, was appointed Prime Minister by the military junta, and the exploitation and terrorization of the country continued as it had during the Duvalier period. Under Bazin 4,000 civilians were executed, and more than 60,000 refugees fled. It was in this context of CIA supported FRAPH killings that Bazin became a poster boy for World Bank, IMF, and Washington Consensus policies.
With the help of the Clinton Administration, Aristide returned to his position as President of Haiti in 1994. His return was conditional, based on his support of IMF and World Bank proposals implemented during his years in exile. During that time, Haiti had racked up huge amounts of external debt and was forced to turn to the IMF and World Bank for loans. In response, the IMF formed the Economic Recovery Program. Supposedly intended to help Haiti get back on its feet, the program instead imposed a budget reform program that reduced the size of Haitis civil service and ultimately led to the collapse of Haitis state system. Aristide served until the end of his presidential term in 1996.
Aristide was re-elected in Haitis 2000 presidential elections, the same year that George W. Bush entered office. Aristide won with 92 percent of the vote in an election declared free and fair by the Organization of American States, of which the U.S. is a member. However, shortly after Bushs own tainted election, his administration questioned the election of seven senators from Aristides Fanmi Lavalas party. Despite the resignation of the senators, the Bush Administration used these inflated allegations to justify the withdrawal of $512 million in Inter-American Development Bank loans to Haiti. The Administration pressured the World Bank, the IMF, and the European Union to follow with reduction of other planned assistance.
While obstructing aid and loans, the U.S. spent millions to fund the Democratic Platform of Civil Society Organizations and Opposition Political Parties. The Democratic Platform, developed by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and funded by the International Republican Institute, combines the Democratic Convergence and The Group of 184 Civil Society Organizations (G-184) in opposition to the Aristides government. The DC consists of 200 small political organizations ranging from Maoists to free market liberals and ultra-right wing Duvalierists, who refuse participation in electoral processes and who are responsible for violent attacks on the Haitian government. The G-184 is a group of civil society organizations headed by Andre Apaid, U.S. citizen and owner of Alpha Industries, one of Haitis largest cheap labor exporters producing for a number of U.S. firms including IBM, Sperry/Unisys, Remington and Honeywell.
After the forced removal of Aristide, the National Liberation and Reconstruction Front, the new paramilitary group comprised of former FRAPH members, is collaborating with the Democratic Platform in the form of neo-liberal structural adjustment. Their intent is to assist civilian political parties and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with the installation of American style democracy/corporate domination. Incidentally, NED also provided funds to the Democratic Coordination, another civil society organization based in Venezuela, which initiated the attempted coup against President Hugo Chavez.
These opposition groups, funded, trained and supplied by U.S. forces, are waging a contra style war against Haiti. The new government, led by Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, is made up of human rights criminals, drug dealers, and thugs involved in the 1990 and 2004 insurrections. A consistent and systematic campaign of terror and violence is being carried out by the likes of Guy Philippe, Louis Jodel Chamblain, and Jean Tatoune. Philippe, a drug dealer and former police chief, plucked from the Haitian army to be specially trained by U.S. forces in Ecuador, organized the Haitian opposition from the Dominican Republic where he was required to check in with the CIA two to three times a month. Chamblain, former number two man in FRAPH, sentenced twice for murder, convicted in the 1994 Raboteau massacre and in the 1993 assasination of democracy-activist Antoine Izmery, joins Philippe to lead seminars on democratic opposition with machine guns slung over their shoulders. Tatoune, another FRAPH leader also convicted of massacre in Raboteau and identified by victims as having shot several civilians, arrived in an U.S. helicopter to stand next to the de facto prime minister as a freedom fighter.
While Haitis economy was bankrupted by IMF reforms, the narcotics transshipment trade still thrives. As the hub of Caribbean drug traffic, important in the transport of cocaine from Colombia to the U.S., Haiti is responsible for an estimated 14 percent of all cocaine entering the U.S. The CIA protected this trade during the Duvalier era as well as during the military dictatorship of 1991-1994. The money from the drug transshipment trade flows out of Haiti to criminal intermediaries in the wholesale and retail trade, to the intelligence agencies, which protect the trade and to the financial and banking institutions where the proceeds are laundered. Wall Street and European banks have a vested interest in installing democracy in order to protect investment in Haitis transshipment trade routes.
Since Bush senior's presidency, the U.S. has worked hard to forge an opposition against Aristide and his administration. This opposition has been fueled by Aristides refusal to privatize Haitis public enterprises, and his increase of the minimum wage. When Aristide returned to Haiti in 1994, U.S. officials expected that many of its public enterprises (the telephone company, electrical company, airport, port, three banks, a cement factory and flourmill) would be sold to private corporations, preferably U.S. multinationals working in partnership with the Haitian elite. Aristide refused, prompting the withdrawal of $500 million in promised international aid. In February 2003, Aristide moved, again against strong opposition from the business sector, to double the minimum wage. This increase affected more than 20,000 assembly line workers contracted by corporations such as Disney and Wal-Mart.
Haitis government worked for alternatives to neo-liberal development, corporate domination, and essentially U.S. hegemony, joining with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to form a trade bloc against the FTAA and other initiatives. They established cooperative projects with Venezuela and Cuba, securing regular shipments of oil from Venezuela at very reduced prices and substantial medical assistance from Cuba. CARICOM has called for an investigation into the abduction of President Aristide, and President Hugo Chavez has offered Aristide asylum in Venezuela. After two weeks exile in the Central African Republic, Aristide has been granted temporary asylum in Jamaica, only about 130 miles from Haiti.
(#13) Schwarzenegger Met with Enron's Key Lay Before the California Recall
COMMON DREAMS, August 17, 2003
THE LONDON OBSERVER, October 6, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle, May 26, 2001
Faculty Evaluators: Laurie Dawson, John Lund
Arnold Schwarzeneggers solutions to Californias energy woes reflect those of former Enron chief Ken Lay. On May 17, 2001, in the midst of Californias energy crisis, which was largely caused by Enrons scandalous energy market manipulation, Schwarzenegger met with Lay to discuss fixing Californias energy crisis. Plans to get deregulation right this time called for more rate increases, an end to state and federal investigations, and less regulation. While California Governor Gray Davis and Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante were taking direct action to re-regulate Califonias energy and get back the $9 billion that was vacuumed out of California by Enron and other energy companies, Schwarzenegger was being groomed to overthrow Davis in the recall. Thus canceling plans to re-regulate and recoup the $9 billion.
After the Californias energy debacle of 2000, Davis and Bustamante filed suit under Californias unique Civil Code provision 17200, the Unfair Business Practices Act, which would order all power companies, including Enron, to repay the nearly $9 billion they extorted from California citizens. The single biggest opponent of the suit, with the most to lose, was Enrons CEO, Ken Lay.
Lay, a very close friend and long time associate of President Bush and Vice-president Cheney, and one of their largest campaign contributors, hastily assembled a meeting with prominent Californians (confirmed by the release of 34 pages of internal Enron email) to strategize opposition to the Davis-Bustamante campaign and garner influential support for energy deregulation.
Included in the meeting were Michael Milken, junk bond king convicted of fraud in 1990 who currently runs a think tank in Santa Monica that focuses on global and regional economies; Ray Irani, Chief Executive of Occidental Petroleum; former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan; and movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Riordan and Schwarzenegger were at that time being courted as GOP gubernatorial candidates.)
Attendees of the meeting received a small four-page packet entitled Comprehensive Solution for California. The packet called for an end to the federal and state investigations into Enrons role in Californias energy crisis and proposed saddling consumers with the $9 billion loss. Discussions further focused on preventing Daviss proposed re-regulation of energy markets.
With Davis in office and Bustamante his natural successor, there would be little chance of dismissing rock-solid charges of fraudulent reporting of sales transactions, fake power delivery scheduling, and blatant conspiracy. The grooming of a governor amenable to a laissez-faire and corrupt energy market was essential. Recalling Davis and replacing him with Schwarzenegger was the solution. With Governor Schwarzenegger in office, Bustamantes case is dead, as few judges will let a case go to trial to protect a state whose governor has allowed the matter to be settled.
Governor Schwarzenegger is currently preparing a push to deregulate Californias electricity markets with an energy strategy driven by some of the same members of former Gov. Pete Wilsons team who led the push for energy deregulations in the 1990s.
Consumer groups are warning that the Governors proposals would expose electricity users to greater fluctuations in prices while limiting state oversight of power tradinga combination that could allow the type of market manipulation that plagued California during the states energy crisis of 2000-01.
Deregulation has already cost the state $50 billion, give or take, said Mike Florio, senior attorney for the Utility reform Network, Why on earth anyone would want to do that again is mystifying to us.
(#14) New Bill Threatens Intellectual Freedom in Area Studies
YALE DAILY NEWS, November 6, 2003
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, March 11, 2004
Faculty Evaluator: Robert Manning
The International Studies in Higher Education Act of 2003 threatens the freedom of education and classroom curriculum. In 1996 the Solomon Amendment was passed, denying federal funding to any institution of higher learning that refused to allow military recruiters on private and public university campuses. On September 17 of 2003 Congress passed House Resolution 3077, the International Studies in Higher Education Act of 2003.
The Bill was first proposed in a June 2003 congressional hearing called International Programs in Higher Education and Questions about Bias. It was authored by Rep. Peter Hoekstra R-Mi, Chairman of the House of Subcommittee on Select Education and Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence. He states the changes would let the government keep closer track of how the money is spent.
The bill portrays academic institutions as hotbeds for anti-American sentiment, specifically area studies programs. It proposes an advisory board that would be responsible for evaluating the curricula taught at Title VI institutions, course materials assigned in class, and even the faculty who are hired in institutions that accept Title VI funding. The advisory board would report to the Secretary of Education and make funding recommendations based on their findings.
Included in the monumental Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI prohibits any discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.
Both college leaders and lobbyists stated that the complaints of bias were inaccurate and that the new board would be used to interfere with curricular decisions on their campuses. Rep. Peter Hoekstra tried to alleviate those concerns by adding to the bill language that would bar the advisory board from mandating, directing, or controlling the curriculums of such college programs. However, some Democratic lawmakers feel that even greater protections were needed in the bill to ensure that the advisory board would not be used to intimidate scholars to toe an ideological line (The Chronicle of Higher Education October 31, 2003). Professors fear not what such a board is supposed to do, but what it would try to do.
Conservative academic Stanley Kurtz testified in support of HR 3077 and the advisory board. Kurtz stated that "the ruling intellectual paradigm in academic area studies is "post-colonial theory. His problem with this idea is that The core premise of post-colonial theory is that it is immoral for a scholar to put his knowledge of foreign languages and culture at the service of American power. According to Singh, Kurtz argues that the root of anti-Americanism, is not our repeated missteps abroad, unilateral occupation, or the continuing deaths of innocent civilians, but rather, post-colonial scholarship. He feels that post-colonial theory is the cause for bias against America, driving his conclusion that Title VI programs are putting national security at risk as they indoctrinate their students with a hatred of America.
With the ratification of H. R. 3077, any academic discipline that includes cultural studies will be under the scrutiny of the advisory board. These include African, European, Latin American and Iberian, Middle Eastern and East Asian studies departments as well as any language program. To add to this horrific agenda for control, professors whose ideological principles may not support U.S. practices abroad can have their appointments terminated, any part of a courses curriculum containing criticism of U.S. foreign policy can be censored, and any course deemed entirely anti-American can be barred from ever being taught.
Proponents of HR 3077 insist that no one is forced to agree with government policies unless they want government money (Michael Bellesiles, Sunday Gazette: Jan 11, 2004). To add to this, the government states that schools with Title VI funding must also push students within the areas of study listed above into government security jobs. If they do not, they could be denied government funding.
According to an editorial written by UC Berkeley history Professor Beshara Doumani, The driving forces behind the provision of this bill, are the same individuals who have been promoting the war on Iraq. Their aim is to defend the foreign policy of the Bush Administration by stifling critical and informed discussions on U.S. College campuses (Seattle Post-Intelligencer p.7 on 04/02/2004). All this is doing is placing anyone in international studies under a stricter control of the government. (Michael Bellesiles , Sunday Gazette: Jan 11, 2004)
With the ratification of House Resolution 3077, the bill would rob our society of the open exchange of ideas on college campuses that is vital to our democracy (Seattle Post-Intelligencer p.7, 04/02/2004). This bill could allow the government to begin programming and censoring what students are being taught at institutes of higher education that receive Title VI funding. Singh states that Kurtz comments indicate the American and Euro-centric ideology that the study of foreign languages and cultures serves no greater purpose than serving American interests.
(#15) U.S. Develops Lethal New Bio-weapon Viruses
The New Scientist, October 29, 2003
Faculty Evaluator: Lynn Cominsky Ph.D.
Mainstream media coverage:
Scientists funded by the US government have developed a way to make pox viruses incredibly deadly. Ostensibly, this research is being conducted as part of the plan to fight possible bio-terror attacks. The new virus kills all mice even if they have been given antiviral drugs along with a vaccine that would normally protect the victim from death. Mark Buller of the University of St. Louis has managed to modify mousepox, rabbitpox, and cowpox viruses so that they are deadly to vaccinated mice nearly 100% of the time through the introduction of an immunosuppressant protein called Interleukin-4 (IL-4). The modified pox viruses eliminate the immune systems cell-mediated response. They are now immune to the antiviral drug Cidofovir, known to be the last line of defense in treating resistant viruses.
Scientists at the Australian National University in Canberra made the original discovery by accident, though their virus only killed off sixty percent of infected mice. As a side effect of introducing IL-4 into pox viruses, the virus becomes species specific and non-communicable, though no one is quite sure why this is the case.
The implications of this discovery and their disclosure are staggering. IL-4 is a protein common in genetic research and as such is available on the Internet for as low as sixty dollars. Furthermore the procedure is simple, something that a biology graduate student should be able to manage without trouble. The bio-terrorist potential for an IL-4 modified pox virus that infects humans is extraordinary. Like anthrax, only those who come into contact with the virus itself would become infected. The virus would not spread and infect the attackers. Neither would it require state of the art scientific facilities to create such a virus. Buller and his team are currently working on a drug to resist the new viruses, but have so far been unsuccessful in making it 100% effective.
(#16) Law Enforcement Agencies Spy on Innocent Citizens
Agenda, July--August 2003
Community Alliance, April 2003
CovertAction Quarterly, Fall 2003
SF Indymedia, October 4, 2003
Reprinted: Community Alliance, November 2003
North Bay Progressive, Volume 2 # 8, October 2003
World Socialist Web Site, www.wsws.org, 1/10/04
Faculty Evaluator: Andrew Botterell
With virtually no media coverage or public scrutiny, a major reorganization of the US domestic law enforcement intelligence apparatus is well underway and, in fact, is partially completed. The effort to create a new national intelligence collection, analysis, and sharing system has frightening implications for privacy and other civil liberties.
In the aftermath of 9/11, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) with Department of Justice (DOJ) assistance decided to organize a summit in early 2002; the topic was Criminal Intelligence Sharing: Overcoming Barriers to Enhance Domestic Security. At the summit, a select group of 100 criminal intelligence experts and VIPs from local, state, and federal agenciesincluding the militaryformulated what came to be known as the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan (NCISP).
The IACP summit report calls for the creation of a Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council (CICC). The Global Intelligence Working Group became operational under the umbrella of John Ashcrofts Department of Justice (DOJ) as the first incarnation of the CICC in the fall of 2002.
While they invoke the terror of 9/11, the NCISP and related documents offer no argument that 9/11 could have been prevented with better intelligence sharing between federal and state/local law enforcement. The IACP summit report simply asserts While September 11 highlighted urgency in improving the capacity of law enforcement agencies to share terrorism-relevant intelligence data the real need is to share all--not just terrorism-related--criminal intelligence. Information would be shared though out all channels of enforcement agencies. State and local agencies are to act as partners in the participation of collection, analysis, dissemination, and ultimately resulting in police infiltration collecting criminal intelligence.
Several police departments have increased surveillance and intelligence gathering activity against innocent citizens exercising their constitutional rights to participate in religious and social protests. The Denver Police were collecting criminal intelligence data on American citizens participating in political, religious and social gatherings. The Denver Police Intelligence Bureau has conducted infiltration and observation on groups such as: American Friends Service Committee, Citizens for Peace in Space, and Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission. Records on participants of these events were filed and shared between undercover police groups in Denver and national agencies
American Civil Liberties Unions (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the city of Denver and the police admitted to maintaining files on 3,200 individuals and 208 organizations.
In Fresno, California a local peace and justice group discovered that they had been infiltrated by an undercover law enforcement officer. Fresno Sheriff Aaron Kilner, known to the Peace Fresno group as Aaron Stokes, attended several peace meetings and anti-war vigils. Peace Fresno found out about the infiltration when a local obituary reported the death of Officer Kilner in a motorcycle accident. Officer Kilner was listed in the obituary as working for the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
On the same day that Saddam Hussein was captured, President Bush
sign into law the Intelligence Authorization Act for 2004. The act
essentially expanded the Patriot Act by allowing government to request
personal information on individual citizens from stockbrokers, car
dealerships, credit card companies and any other businesses where
cash transactions occur. By broadening definitions of financial
institutions, the Bush administration expanded the 2001 USA Patriot
Act. The FBI does not have to appear before a judge nor demonstrate
"probable cause." Moreover, a national Security Letter
comes attached with a gag order thereby preventing businesses from
informing their clients that their records have been surrendered
to the FBI.
(#17) U.S. Government Represses Labor Unions in Iraq in Quest for
The Progressive, December 2003
Left Turn, March/April 2004, v. 12
Faculty Evaluators: Haidi LaMoreaux Ph.D., Susan Garfin Ph.D.
In the Wall Street Journal on May 1, 2003 an article leaked the confidential Bush Administration documents outlining sweeping plans to remake Iraqs economy in the US image. Hoping to establish a free-market economy in Iraq the US is calling for the privatization of state-owned industries such as parts of the oil sector. This all-inclusive plan for mass privatization of Iraq is divided into three stages. In the first stage corporations are not only able to establish their businesses in Iraq, they are also able to own Iraqi resources, including two of the most precious Iraqi resources: oil and water. In the second stage, all Iraqi resources would be turned over to private ownership. The final stage includes the establishment of a Free Trade Area in the Middle East paving the way for US domination of the entire region.
The beginning of the corporate invasion was signaled by the many multi-million dollar contracts that were handed to corporations via the Bush administration. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) secretly sent out bids for contracts. Iraqis, humanitarian organizations, the United Nations and any non-US led business were left out of the contract bids. Although Halliburton and Bechtel are some of the most well known corporations that have received these contracts, there are a plethora of others that have been included in these secret bids:
With Halliburton now responsible for the extraction and redistribution of oil, Bechtel has been handed the contract to oversee the management of water systems and waste water management. Being the largest private company in the world responsible for water management, (it is involved in over 200 water and waste water treatment plants around the world) Bechtels contract has been extended to include the distribution of water just as Halliburtons was for oil. With this in mind, the private ownership of Iraqi water supplies could have devastating consequences for the Iraqi population.
In addition to the privatization of the Iraqi resources, the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq has kept in place many of Saddam Husseins anti-labor practices.
In 1977, Saddam Hussein purged unions and made radical parties illegal. Many labor leaders were executed or fled the country to live in exile. Ten years later, Hussein reclassified the people who worked in large state enterprises as civil servants. That meant that the government employed 70 percent of Iraqi workers, and made it illegal for them to form unions or to bargain for better working conditions.
Since the Hussein regime fell last April 2003, workplace-organizing activity has exploded. Union organizers emerged quickly, spearheading a drive for better wages. A worker strike was held in Basra two days after British troops arrived. Workers demanded the right to organize and protested the appointment of a Baath party official as the new mayor. Similar demonstrations have been going on throughout the country. 400 union activists met in Baghdad in June 2003 to form the Workers Democratic Trade Union Federation, and planned to reorganize unions in many of Iraqs major industries.
But the CPA, while striking down almost all of Husseins other laws, has kept the ban on unions, keeping wages low and unemployment high (at about 70 percent). They are privatizing the state enterprises that employed most of the workers. As of December 2003, 138 of the 600 state-owned businesses were being offered for sale.
On Sept. 19, 2003, the CPA published Order No. 37, which suspends income and property taxes for a year and limits future taxes to 15 percent. Later that day, they issued Order No. 39, permitting 100 percent foreign ownership of businesses (except oil) and allowing repatriation of profits. Outright ownership of, access to, and profits from Iraqi oil fields is still under dispute although it is likely that U.S. interests will prevail.
The CPA has set an emergency pay scale for Iraqi workers wages, which for most is $60 a month. This is the same wage scale that workers had under the Hussein regime. Benefits under Hussein included frequent bonuses, profit sharing, medical coverage, and food subsidies. There is no overtime pay under the CPA, no benefits, and an increase in the exchange rate has made imports and essential items very expensive. Workers have had a drastic cut in income since April 2003 as a result of CPA decisions.
Low wages arent the only problems unions hope to combat. Working conditions are exhausting and dangerous. Under the Hussein regime, the workday was seven hours long. Now a day shift is 11 hours, a night shift is 13 hours. Safety glasses and other safety equipment are virtually unknown in most industries. If workers get sick or hurt, they must pay for their own medical care and also lose pay for the time they miss. Life has gotten much worse, said one worker. Everything is controlled by the coalition. We dont control anything.
Workers in the businesses to be privatized could face even more problems in the future. If they have no legal union, no right to bargain and no contracts, they may not be able to oppose the privatization of their plants and potential huge job losses. A plant manager in one industry seemed willing to talk to the union in his factory, but since finances and wages are controlled by the CPA, he is not able to sign any kind of contract with the group.
The factory manager pointed out that under the Hussein regime, the 3,000 workers were guaranteed jobs for life. He was not allowed to lay off anyone. But if his business were privatized he would have to fire about 1,500 people in order to make a profit; since there is no unemployment insurance, he will be killing those workers and their families.
Iraqi Labor Undersecretary Nuri Jafer says he would like to start an unemployment insurance program, but so far no country is willing to help fund it. Meanwhile, none of the $87 billion that Congress allotted for Iraq will go to increase wages or implement a large jobs program.
A delegation from U.S. Labor Against War a group of American union and labor councils visited Iraq in October to investigate conditions. They asked Jafer repeatedly whether or not the 1987 law banning unions would be repealed, but he would not answer the question. The British CPA representative at the Labor Ministry also refused to answer, and complained that the foreign union delegations that visited the ministry were wasting the Labor Ministers time.(#18) Media and Government Ignore Dwindling Oil Supplies
NEW INTERNATIONALIST, October 31, 2003
GUARDIAN UNLIMITED, December 2, 2003
Faculty Evaluator: Rick Luttmann Ph.D.
If the former industry executives, geologists, and statisticians in the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) are correct, oil may have already reached its highest levels of production potential. But U.S. leaders, and the mainstream media, refuse to acknowledge that we are headed for an inevitable oil crisis with extreme consequences sure to impact every aspect of our lives. As the peak is reached, oil prices will start to rise (as they have every year since 2000). As the oil decline accelerates, prices will rise even faster.
The problem is that our lives have become hard-wired to the oil economy. Oil powers the machinery of modern society and lubricates its engines. Materials need to be transported and companies need working people to make them. Workers in turn need to run a car, pay for electricity to heat their house, buy food (that is packaged in plastic). High transportation prices mean high food prices. Oil is the main ingredient in plastics and polyester: the clothes we wear, the carpets we walk on, frames for our computers, seats to sit on, bottles to drink from, and band-aids to salve our wounds. What will replace them, and who will be able to afford them, as the price of oil starts to rise? This story isnt about the end of oil as it is often portrayed; it is the beginning of the end of oil. But this still means a paradigmatic shift at a level not seen since the Industrial Revolution.
Our government has yet to begin diversifying our energy. Head of the energy investment bank Simmons & Co. International, Matthew Simmons said, I am an advisor to the Bush Administration. Although, Im not sure they are listening. What I basically told them is that we had some looming energy problems: that we were barreling into a really nasty energy crisis. We need a new energy. But a viable alternative has yet to be developed. These economic problems will be exacerbated by the direct connection between the price of oil and the rate of unemployment. The last five recessions in the US were all preceded by a rise in the oil price.
Alternative energy, such as hydrogen, which President Bush mentioned in his State of the Union speech in January of 2004, has its own complexities and system requirements. Hydrogen, natural gas, bio-diesel, and nuclear energy sources are all considered alternative fuels. Wind and solar power are considered renewable energy resources. The viability of these options depends directly on how we plan to implement them.
The only rational response to both the impending end of the oil age and the menace of global warming is to redesign our cities, our farming, and our lives. But this will not happen without massive political pressure, and our problem is that no one ever rioted for austerity. People tend to take to the streets because they want to consume more, not less.
Author Adam Porter offers these tips: Eliminate non-essential energy use, and encourage others to do the same. Move towards renewable sources. Drive only when necessary. Buy local to defray the strain from transportation consumption. Get involved locally to plan within the community. Write your local paper as well as your representatives. The greater the demand for public discourse, the sooner the U.S. government will supply a solution. In 1976, President Jimmy Carter said, We must face the prospect of changing our basic ways of living. This change will either be made on our own initiative in a planned way, or forced on us with chaos and suffering by the inexorable laws of nature.
(#19) Global Food Cartel Fast Becoming the World's Supermarket
LEFT TURN, August/September 2003
Evaluator: John Lund
Over the last two decades, agribusiness and food retail mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and informal contract agreements have transformed the agri-food system into a powerful network of transnational corporations that have the power to control the worlds food supply at every stage of food productionfrom gene to market shelf. By cooperating with one another rather than competing, transnational corporations escape the scrutiny of federal anti-trust regulators and manipulate the market through non-merger alliances. In April 2002, the worlds two largest seed corporations, DuPont and Monsanto announced that they would agree to swap their key patented agricultural technologies and drop all outstanding patent lawsuits.
The flurry of mergers and acquisitions throughout the agri-food system has created highly concentrated markets as agribusinesses expand their dominance by diversifying their commodities. Cargill is among the top five companies in the US market for flour milling, grain and oilseed processing, salt production, corn and soybean exports, turkey production and processing, pork processing, and beer processing.
As fewer corporations control each stage of food production, farming is becoming a kind of serfdom. Consolidation among suppliers and processors leave farmers with few choices of who to buy from and who to sell to. Dominant agribusinesses have the ability to drive up the prices they charge for inputs while watering down the prices they pay for outputs. Furthermore, the rise of patented seed varieties places farmers in an even worse position, as agricultural biotech companies gain ownership of the germplasm itself.
Consolidation in the food system is not limited to the production and processing side. Consolidation activity among food retailers has catalyzed a domino effect of mergers and acquisitions. ConAgra, a company few Americans have heard of, is a major force in food production in the US and has continued to aggressively acquire small rivals while expanding its operation worldwide. It is estimated to be the #3 seller of retail food products in the world. Although consumers might be unfamiliar with the name ConAgra, they will recognize some, if not all, of ConAgras popular brand names: Armour, Butterball, Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, La Choy, Orville Reddenbacher, Parkay and Hebrew National, just to name a few. ConAgra is also known for a recall of 19 million pounds of tainted beef after 47 people were sickened and one died from E. coli poisoning in 2002.
The top five supermarket chains capture one half of all food sales in the US, and it is widely predicted that there will soon be only six major retail supermarkets selling the majority of the worlds food. Because it is necessary for each and every one of us to eat and drink, we will pay what it takes to make sure we do not go hungry or thirsty. Although food may appear to be cheap with fewer and fewer retailers, lack of competition will ultimately lead to higher prices, lack of choice, and poorly paid employees. Wal-Mart typically sells grocery products at prices 14% lower than competing grocers, in part because the company is a non-union employer that hires clerks at below-poverty wages.
Food corporations rely on the consumers lack of knowledge as to where their food comes from, how it is produced, and who wins the profits. The trend toward consolidation at every stage along the food production chain has dramatically impacted the global economy and distribution of income and wealth. Given the complexities of the domestic policy-making and legislative processes, and the numerous mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and non-merger mergers, it is not surprising that few people are aware of the degree to which food companies influence food safety policies, competition and decide where and how food is produced and how much it will cost.
Prior to committing suicide as an act of political protest on September 10, 2003 against the World Trade Organization in Cancun, Mexico, Lee Kyung-Hae, a 56-year old farmer from South Korea circulated the following statement. My warning goes to all citizens that human beings are in an endangered situation in which uncontrolled multinational corporations and a small number of big WTO official members are leading undesirable globalization of inhumane, environmentally degrading, farmer-killing and undemocratic policies. It should be stopped immediately, otherwise the false logic of neo-liberalism will perish the diversities of global agriculture with disastrous consequences to all human beings.
(#20) Extreme Weather Prompts New Warning from UN
UK INDEPENDENT, July 2003
Mainstream media coverage: CNN July 3, 2003; USA Today October 29, 2003; The New York Times December 17, 2003
Faculty Evaluator: Ervand Peterson Ph.D.
The UNs World Meteorological Organization (WMO) views the events of 2003 in Europe, America and Asia as so astonishing that the world needs to be made aware of it immediately. The WMO reports extreme weather and climate occurrences all over the world. Reports on record high and low temperatures, record rainfall, and record storms in different parts of the world are consistent with the predictions of global warming. The significance of this particular report is that it comes from the highly respected UN organization known for its conservative predictions and statements. Based in Geneva, the WMO collects its information from the weather services of 185 countries.
Supercomputer models show that, as the atmosphere warms, the climate is not only becoming hotter, but very unstable, with the number of extreme events more likely to increase. In southern France record temperatures were recorded in June 2003. Temperatures rose above 104F (40C) in some places, which is 9 to 13 F above average. In Switzerland, it was the hottest June in over 250 years. In Geneva, daytime temperatures made it the hottest June ever recorded.
In the United States there were 562 tornadoes in the month of May, causing 41 deaths. This years pre-monsoon heat wave in India brought about temperatures of 113F (45C), which is 4 to 9F above normal. This extreme heat was responsible for at least 1,400 deaths. In Sri Lanka, heavy rainfall from tropical Cyclone 01B resulted in floods and landslides, killing at least 300 people. The infrastructure and the economy of southwest Sri Lanka were heavily damaged. England and Wales experienced the warmest June since 1976 with average temperatures of 61F (16C).
A WMO representative said, New record extreme events occur every year somewhere in the globe, but in recent years the number of such extremes has been increasing." Extreme heat waves that scorched Europe in August 2003 were responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. The Earth Policy Institute reports there were 35, 118 deaths. Most of the deaths occurred in France with 14,802 fatalities, followed by Germany with 7,000 and Spain and Italy each suffering over 4,000 losses. The United Kingdom, Netherlands, Portugal and Belgium combined had over 4,000 deaths.
According to recent reports of the joint WMO/United Nations Environmental Panel on Climate Change, the global average surface temperature has increased around 1F since 1861. New analyses of proxy data for the Northern Hemisphere indicate that in the 21st century increases are likely to be the largest in any century over the past 1,000 years. Average global land and sea surface temperatures in May 2003 were the second highest since records began in 1880. The ten hottest years in the 143-year-old global temperature record have all been since 1990, with the three hottest being 1998, 2001 and 2002.
(#21) Forcing a World Market for GMOs
Inter Press Service (www.ipsnews.net), 12/3/03
Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency, May 14, 2003
CMW Report, Summer 2003
SF Weekly, June 2-8, 2004
Faculty Evaluator: Al Wahrhaftig Ph.D., Eric McGuckin Ph.D.
The Bush Administration, on behalf of the biotech industry, intends to force the European Union (EU) to drop trade barriers against genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Their claim is that such a trade barrier is illegal under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and that the distribution of GMOs is a necessary part of the campaign to end world hunger. However, the reason behind U.S. governmental support for GMOs may have more to do with heavy lobbying, campaign contributions and the close relationships between government agencies and biotech companies than actual science and the war against hunger. U.S. industry loses some $300 million a year of possible GMO exports to the EU. Biotechnology promoters like Monsanto and agri-business have strenuously lobbied the administration to bring a formal WTO case against the EU while suppressing studies that show GMOs may have adverse effects on health and the environment.
The connections between biotech companies and US regulatory agencies are deep. According to globalinfo.org, Ann Veneman, US Department of Agriculture Secretary, used to serve on the board of Calgene, the company that brought us the biotech tomato. She also used to head Agracetus, a subsidiary of Monsanto. In another example of the revolving door between biotech companies and regulatory agencies, the person who wrote the GMO regulations for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was a lawyer who previously represented biotech-giant Monsanto. After writing the FDA legislation, the lawyer returned to work for Monsanto.
Another factor that has powerfully influenced the growth of the GMO industry throughout the world is the link between international development organizations (such as the World Bank) and the biotech industry. Under an approved staff exchange program the World Bank trades its employees with employees from companies like Dow, ARD, and Aventis. There are also exchanges with academic institutions, governments, and UN development agencies. One startling example involves Eija Pehu, a senior scientist with the World Banks department of agriculture and rural development. The former president of a Finnish biotech company, Pehu is also listed as a board member for the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), an influential lobbying organization whose funding comes from companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, and Bayer. The ISAAAs objective is the transfer and delivery of appropriate biotechnology applications to developing countries. They have successfully pursued this program with projects in at least 12 developing nations.
The U.S. has a history of attempting to push GMOs on developing nations through the use of food aid. Yet, despite enormous pressure and Washington PR campaigns, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique have turned down shipments of U.S. GMO aid because of health and environmental concerns. Ronnie Cummins, national director of Organic Consumers, says the real aim of the United States is to frighten poor developing nations into complying and opening their markets for controversial products.
But while GMO companies continue to open new markets abroad, the jury is still out on whether or not their products are likely to provide any real benefits. Controversy and scandal surround the biotech industry and charges that it manipulates the results of research performed on GMOs. Biotech companies create relationships with universities that conduct research on their products by providing sorely needed funding for university research departments. (Over the last three decades, funding provided to U.S. universities by the industrial sector grew faster than any other source.) Researchers who have come forward with evidence showing that GMOs can be harmful claim they have experienced pressure from university research alliances to alter results. Some assert that the priorities of private sponsors influence what should have been impartial findings. One researcher who found less than desirable results, and discussed them publicly, had the misfortune of being blacklisted and the target of a powerful GMO PR campaign to discredit his work. In 1998, Arpad Pusztai, a scientist at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland discovered that genetically modified potatoes caused inflammations and tumors in the lining of stomachs of lab rodents. After publishing his story, his home was burglarized, his research was stolen, he lost his job at Rowett after 30 years of employment, and he was maligned by the Royal Medical Society (after his research was published in the reputable scientific journal Lancet). This story was Censored #7 in 2001.
The European Union denies that it has enacted a trade moratorium and says it simply needed more time to develop systems for tracing and labeling GM foods and feed. However, even if the EU were to abide by the WTOs rules, there is no way in hell they can force the European consumers, supermarkets, or farmers to stock GMO tainted crops, says Ronnie Cummins.
Meanwhile, the anti-GMO movement in the United States is rapidly gaining steam. In March 2004, Mendocino, California became the first county in the U.S. to ban the growing of genetically modified crops and animals.
(#22) Exporting Censorship to Iraq
The American Prospect, Volume 14, Issue 9, October 1, 2003
Asheville Global Report, May 12, 2003
Faculty Evaluator: Jeffrey Holtzman Ph.D.
Soon after Coalition forces toppled the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, occupying Chief L. Paul Bremer III, reflecting on the new freedom in Iraq, told journalists that they were no longer constrained by the government and were now free to criticize whoever, or whatever, you want. But he was not telling the truth. Everything changed very quickly when Bremer was the person coming under that very criticism.
When negative critiques of his policies appeared on the Iraqi Media Network (IMN), Bremer placed controls on its content. IMN was an American-run outfit contracted by the Pentagon to put out news after the fall of Saddam. IMNs mission was two-fold: to be both a PBS-style broadcaster and a means for the occupying authorities to communicate with the Iraqis. Bremer issued a nine-point list of prohibited activity that included incitement to violence, support for the Baath Party, and publishing material that is patently false and calculated to promote opposition to the occupying authority. He clamped down further on the independent media in Iraq by closing down a number of Iraqi-run newspapers and radio and television stations. The IMN was bound to find a conflict in encouraging democratic values while under pressure to go along with the coalition forces ruling by force.
From the beginning, Pentagon decisions seemed to run counter to its well-publicized intention to create a free Iraqi society. Early last year, rather than hiring a media outlet to run the IMN, the Pentagon chose a defense contractor, Scientific Applications International Corp. (SAIC), instead. With SAICs orientation leaning more toward information control than information dissemination, it is hard to see how they were going to create a public broadcasting-style multimedia operation in post-war Iraq. The IMN was created in April, 2003, and it was not long before journalists hired by the SAIC realized their double role. The occupying authority told them to stop conducting man-on-the-street interviews, because some were too critical of the American presence, and to stop including readings from the Koran as part of cultural programming. IMN TV was also forced to run an hour-long program on recently issued occupying authority laws despite objections from Don North, a senior TV advisor to the IMN station.
Additionally, coalition forces were ordered to seize the only TV station in Mosel Iraq because they had televised some programs from the network Al-Jazeera in its broadcast. The independent station had lost its cameras to looters so they had turned to a mix of Arabic news channels and NBC to continue broadcasting. The Commander of the 101st Airborne Division, Maj. Gen. David Petraeus gave the order to seize the station. But in a surprising show of bravery and professional ethics, Major Charmaine Means, the head of the Army public affairs office in Mosul, would not agree to the seizure, saying that to do so would mean the station would be intimidated into airing only material approved by the U.S. Military. She refused twice to follow her superior officers orders, after which she was relieved of her duties. The station was eventually taken over by coalition forces. IMN has said that it would like to take over the offices in Mosul. IMN's having direct control over the facilities would give the American authority a broadcasting foothold in northern Iraq.
The Occupying authority is now developing an independent media commission run by journalists rather than the U.S. Army to enforce Bremers rules more judiciously and to develop a more rational set of media regulations.
(#23) Brazil Holds Back in FTAA Talks, But Provides Little Comfort for the Poor of South America
Inter Press Service (www.ipsnews.net), November 15, 2003
Left Turn, Mar/Apr, 2004
Faculty Evaluators: Robert Girling Ph.D. LeiLani Nishime Ph.D.
The Free Trade Agreement of the America's (FTAA) could become the biggest trading block in history, expanding NAFTA to 34 countries from Canada to the bottom of South America. This deal is unlikely to meet its January 2005 deadline, now that the second largest player in the negotiations, Brazil, is holding back. Brazil played an important part in the November, 2003, Cancun WTO meeting. Led by President Lula, a 20-country coalition that opposed the agenda of the northern countries caused the meeting to end abruptly and collapse.
The United States has reacted swiftly by making bilateral agreements with individual Central and South American countries and threatening to restrict their access to U.S. markets if they refuse to cooperate. In many cases, these poorer countries have no choice but to agree to the very strict and unfair agreements that the United States demands. Countries such as Peru, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, and many other Central American nations involved in the FTAA want access to U.S. markets, even if it means relaxing anti-trust laws and workers rights. This tactic of coerced bilateral agreements has, so far, been successful in hindering Brazil from building coalitions with neighboring countries. Brazil is the fifth largest nation in the world, both in size and population. Boasting a consumer market of 182 million people, the United States desperately wants in.
Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, the President of Brazil, has taken a very anti-Washington stance in the recent talks on the FTAA. All 34 countries had demands put upon them in a two-tier system. Since the United States and Brazil both sit comfortably in the top tier, they are able to opt out of any negotiations not favorable to them. This has allowed the United States to keep its farm subsidies, which is the only way the U.S. sugar industry can compete with the largest sugar exporter in the world, Brazil. In return, Brazil is not obligated to open up any of its service industry and government contracts to foreign competition.
Since NAFTA did little to stop jobs in Mexico from going overseas, particularly to China, where wages and operating costs are even cheaper than Mexico, Brazilian politicians are very hesitant to sign up for Washington's latest economic plan. A poll by the University of Miami indicated that 76 percent of Latin American business people, journalists, academics, and government officials believe that the FTAA plan would benefit the United States and not Brazil. This is one reason President Lula is staying away from the FTAA and bolstering talks abroad with India and China that focus on technology and natural resources.
(#24) Reinstating the Draft
SALON, November 3, 2003
BUZZFLASH.COM, November 11, 2003
WAR TIMES, October-November, 2003
Evaluator: Robert Manning
The Selective Service System, the Bush Administration, and the Pentagon have been quietly moving to fill draft board vacancies nationwide in order to prepare for a military draft that could start as early as June 15, 2005. In preparation several million dollars have been added to the 2004 Selective Service System (SSS) budget. The SSS Administration must report to Bush on March 31, 2005 that the system, which has lain dormant for decades, is ready for activation. The Pentagon has quietly begun a public campaign to fill all 10,350 draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board slots nationwide. An unpopular election year topic, military experts and influential members of Congress are suggesting that if Rumsfelds prediction of a long, hard slog in Iraq and Afghanistan (and a permanent state of war on terrorism) proves accurate, the U.S. may have no choice but to draft.
Congress brought twin bills, S. 89 and H.R. 163 forward in 2003, introduced by Democratic Representative Charles Rangel and Democratic Senator Fritz Hollings. Entitled the Universal National Service Act of 2003, their aim is To provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons (age 18-26) in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes. These active bills currently sit in the Committee on Armed Services.
Dodging the draft will be more difficult than those from the Vietnam era remember. College and Canada will no longer be options. In December 2001, Canada and the US signed a Smart Border Declaration, which could be used to contain would-be draft dodgers. The declaration involves a 30-point plan which implements, among other things, a pre-clearance agreement of people entering and departing each country. Reforms aimed at making the draft more equitable along gender and class lines also eliminate higher education as a shelter. Underclassmen would only be able to postpone service until the end of their current semester. Seniors would have until the end of the academic year.
In May 2000, Delaware was the first state to enact legislation requiring that drivers license information be sent to the SSS. By August 2003, thirty-two states, two territories and the District of Columbia followed suit. Non-compliance with sending information to the SSS has always been punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Up to now, the government has never acted on these measures, but levied punishment would bar violators from federal employment and student loans. The SSS has altered its website (www.sss.gov) to include a front-page denial of a draft resurrection, but continues to post the twenty-four page Annual Performance Plan which includes its June 15 deadline still intact.
In addition to the possibility of a draft, the continual recruitment of Latinos into the armed forces has been creating volatile reactions from anti-recruitment advocates. The target recruitment of Latinos began during Clintons tenure in office. Louis Caldera, then Secretary of the Army, was able to discern that Latinos were the fastest growing group of military-age individuals in the United States. In May of 2003, the military was involved in a diplomatic dispute when recruiters made their way across the border. The headmaster of a Tijuana high school threw out the recruiter, and the Mexican government was vehemently upset. The Pentagon has preyed on the fact that Latinos and Latinas often enter the military in search of civilian skills they can apply in the workforce.
In 2001, Department of Defense statistics showed that while 10% of military forces are comprised of Latinos, 17.7% of this group occupies frontline positions. This includes, infantry, gun crews, and seamanship. With the armys continual banter about educational subsidies of up to $30,000 for college and completion of GED requirements, the glitz and glamour of the military has enhanced misconceptions about the nature of military service for Latinos.
Charles Pena, director of defense studies at the libertarian Cato Institute presents a comparable conflict between the United States and the Middle East and the British and Northern Ireland where the occupying army encountered hostile opposition from civilian populations. In that situation the occupying army needed a ratio of 10 or 20 soldiers per 1,000 population, ...If you transfer that to Iraq, it would mean youd need at least 240,000 troops and maybe as many as 480,000. With no sign of retreat or resolution and every indication of increasing opposition in locations occupied by troops, it will likely be deemed necessary to increase and maintain military presence. Additionally, there is the massive exodus of ally troops and aid from areas of occupation and combat. The US has been unable to draw major assistance from other countries and high enlistment bonuses have been both ineffective and expensive in light of the rapidly growing debt. Add to the growing list of unfavorable realities an unwillingness of soldiers to re-enlist, and the US is unable to meet the soldier quotient needed to continue occupation of Iraq alone; excluding the probability of troops expanding occupied territory and the White House promise of war in multiple theaters.
(#25) Wal-Mart Brings Inequality and Low Prices to the World
MULTINATIONAL MONITOR, October 2003
Faculty Evaluators: Phil McGough, Laurie Dawson
Country by country, the world is discovering the great value of shopping at Wal-Mart, says John Menzer, president of the international division of Wal-Mart, the worlds largest retailer. Menzers vision is one where Wal-Mart becomes a global brand, just like McDonalds or Coca- Cola, monopolizing the global retail market.
What Menzer fails to tell shareholders is the fact that Wal-Mart is also facing lots of consumer pressure both at home and abroad for some of their business activities. Wal-Marts strategy of corporate takeovers in other countries has come into question. When entering a new market, the company never opens directly to the public; instead they buy into an already fully operational company and slowly take control. First, a large competitor is eliminated, then Wal-Mart gains real estate and employees creating a massive presence in its targeted location.
In addition, by taking over existing stores rather than opening new ones, Wal-Mart avoids the community opposition that it faces in the U.S. Al Norman, the founder of Sprawl-Busters, who has been described by CBSs 60 Minutes as the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement says. What Wal-Mart did in Mexico was very instructive. Mexico was a testing ground for the method of operation. They basically acquired existing stores. They moved into Mexico and that became the theme in other countries like the UK, Germany, and Japan. They would buy into an existing operation, rather then start from scratch.
Wal-Mart opposition overseas has been from unions (over low pay), local regulators (over predatory pricing), and small businesses that face financial ruin. Recently, the company has also come under pressure from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) in the US for not allowing union representation in their superstores. With new superstores opening that contain groceries as well as all other Wal-Mart amenities, competitor supermarket chains with unions are worried about their future revenues.
Just as Wal-Mart exports sprawl, it exports bad labor practices. Uni-Comerce, the global trade union for commercial workers, characterizes Wal-Mart as an obsessively anti-union company at home and abroad. The company builds its competitive advantage on low wages, poor benefits, and a squeeze on producers. Through predatory pricing, it can force both large and small competitors out of business, according to Uni-Commerce. Worldwide, Wal-Mart is the most serious threat to employment, wages, and working conditions in commerce. The problem with low pay and unions is one of the main obstacles the company faces in its international expansion plans. The rift between unions and Wal-Mart, say financial analysts Fallstreet.com, is intensifying with each global step the company makes.
Wal-Mart also threatens small shops in countries in which it does not even operate. In 1998 the Irish government adopted a cap on the size of stores. But companies like Swedish furniture retailer IKEA and Wal-Mart are believed to be pressuring government officials to lift the cap. The only place such large stores would be built would be out of town, creating sprawl. Any country that has predominantly smaller stores will be shocked by the superstore format, argues Norman.
In five or six years, you could be talking about 5,000 to 6,000 Wal-Mart stores outside of the United States, says Norman. Wal-Mart is Americanizing retailing around the world. It is a really undesirable outcome both culturally and economically for a U.S. company to be exercising so much power.