Monday, January 10, 2005

Media Follies, part 4

In another New Year's retrospective, here's Project Censored's annual list of "25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country’s major national news media."


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(#1) Wealth Inequality in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy

MULTINATIONAL MONITOR, May 2003, Vol. 24, No. 5
Title: "The Wealth Divide" (An interview with Edward Wolff)
Author: Robert Weissman

BUZZFLASH, March 26 and 29, 2004
Title: “A Buzzflash Interview, Parts I & II" (with David Cay Johnston)
Author: Buzzflash Staff

LONDON GUARDIAN, October 4, 2003
Title: "Every third person will be a slum dweller within 30 years, UN agency warns"
Author: John Vidal

Title: “Grotesque Inequality”
Author: Robert Weissman

Faculty Evaluators: Greg Storino, Phil Beard Ph.D.
Student Researchers: Caitlyn Pardue, David Sonnenberg, Sita Khalsa


In the late 1700s, issues of fairness and equality were topics of great debate—
equality under the law, equality of opportunity, etc. Considered by the framers of the Constitution to be one of the most important aspects of a democratic system, the word “equality” is featured prominently throughout the document. In the 200+ years since, most industrialized nations have succeeded in decreasing the gap between rich and poor.

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 employees—resulting in the well-publicized (too late) scandals involving Enron, Global Crossing, and others.


As always, America’s economic trends have a global footprint—and 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 growth—fueled 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 world’s nations reach a point of economic failure, such a situation could collapse the entire global economy.

For further information on this story, please check out the following excellent websites:,12271,1118425,00.html
David Cay Johnston interview also found on Democracy Now!, May 18, 2004.

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(#2) Ashcroft vs. the Human Rights Law that Holds Corporations Accountable

Title: “Ashcroft goes after 200-year-old human rights law”
Author: Jim Lobe

Faculty Evaluator: Meri Storino, Ph.D.
Student Researchers: Brian Ferguson, Lawren Lutrin

Attorney General John Ashcroft is seeking to strike down one of the world’s 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.

UPDATE BY JIM LOBE: The Foreign Tort Claims Act has been used as an important tool for human rights activists to keep raising the issue of impunity for severe abuses committed abroad, ordinarily by repressive governments, but increasingly by the U.S. and other corporations that are at the least, condoning abusive practices by local governments and their security forces. At the end of March, for example, a federal judge in San Francisco refused to throw out claims that the Chevron-Texaco Corporation might be liable for abuses at a Nigerian oil platform operated by a subsidiary of the company. Of course, Unocal and Exxon Mobil face similar suits.

ATCA — or more accurately the campaign against ATCA — has drawn increasing attention over the past two years. In fact, I've seen some recent ads on the New York Times op-ed page attacking ATCA on behalf of a coalition of multinational corporations.

A number of lawsuits are continuing to make it through the federal judicial system, but only one has reached the Supreme Court. It involves a lawsuit brought under ATCA by a Mexican national who was kidnapped by bounty hunters and taken to the U.S. where he was held — wrongly — in connection with the murder of a DEA agent in Mexico. He sued the US government and the bounty hunter under ATCA. A jury awarded him $25,000 in damages. For more on this case, which could be very important to ATCA's fate, I refer you to a New York Times piece written on March 31, 2004, by Linda Greenhouse, which summarizes the oral argument and background. At the same time, Dolly Filartiga, the plaintiff in the first ATCA case from 1980, had an op-ed in the New York Times on March 30, 2004, entitled ‘American Courts, Global Justice.’
Some background is also included in an editorial in the Washington Post published a week later (4/6/04) called 'Human Rights in Court.’

Unocal's case was re-argued to appeals judges sitting en banc just about one year ago, but a decision has not yet been rendered. It usually takes about a year, but there is speculation. The appeals court also wants to wait until the Supreme Court decides the Mexico case.

There has been some coverage of the Unocal case in the mainstream media but mainly about the state court case, which doesn’t rely on ATCA. There has been much more attention paid to what ATCA is and why it is being attacked.

Earth Justice and the Center for Constitutional Rights are extremely involved in the campaign against ATCA. For more information, these organizations, as well as the Human Rights Watch, are good sources.

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(#3) Bush Administration Manipulates Science and Censors Scientists

THE NATION, March 8, 2004
Title: “The Junk Science of George W. Bush”
Author: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Title: “Censoring Scientific Information”

Title: “Ranking Scientists Warn Bush Science Policy Lacks Integrity”
Author: Sunny Lewis

Title: “Politics And Science In The Bush Administration”
Prepared by: Committee on Government Reform - Minority Staff
(Updated November 13, 2003)

Faculty Evaluator: Dolly Friedel, Ph.D.
Student Researchers: Sita Khalsa, Jeni Green

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 nation’s 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.
The Bush Administration is appointing unqualified scientists with close industry ties to the advisory boards. The Office of Human Services appointed several individuals with ties to the lead industry. One of their appointees testified that lead levels, seven times the current limit, are safe for children.

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 Cheney’s 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 public’s 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 General’s 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."

UPDATE BY MR. KENNEDY: The story was the first comprehensive compilation of the systematic assault of federal science orchestrated by the White House and affecting all the federal departments that oversee the environment and public health.

During the week it was published, the Union of Concerned Scientists published another report detailing the Bush Administration’s assault on government science and its practice of purging and muzzling government science whose pronouncements impede corporate profit-taking. Twenty Nobel Prize winners have signed a letter to the President condemning the suppressing and distorting of federal science.

Numerous articles have appeared in nationally prominent publications discussing the issue, many of them citing The Nation cover story.

You can contact Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) or visit their website at I am currently writing a book for Harper Collins titled Crimes Against Nature to be published this fall about the administration’s attack on the environment. The book is based on the article with the same title which was published in the December 8, 2003 Rolling Stone issue.

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(#4) High Uranium Levels Found in Troops and Civilians

Title: “UMRC’s Preliminary Findings from Afghanistan & Operation Enduring Freedom”
“Afghan Field Trip #2 Report: Precision Destruction- Indiscriminate Effects”
Author: Tedd Weyman, UMRC Research Team

AWAKENED WOMAN, January 2004
Title: “Scientists Uncover Radioactive Trail in Afghanistan”
Author: Stephanie Hiller

Title: “There Are No Words…Radiation in Iraq Equals 250,000 Nagasaki Bombs”
Author: Bob Nichols

Title: “Poisoned?”
Author: Juan Gonzalez

Title: “International Criminal Tribune For Afghanistan At Tokyo, The People vs. George Bush”
Author: Professor Ms Niloufer Bhagwat J.

Evaluator: Jennifer Lillig, Ph.D.
Student Researcher: Kenny Crosbie

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 population–especially children–over 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, it’s 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.

UMRC’s 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 100,000—an 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.

UPDATE BY BOB NICHOLS: (Oklahoma City) Throughout the world people are familiar with the "smoking gun" solution so prized by murder mystery writers. Many think that once the smoking gun in any mystery is discovered, it is time for the "bad guys" to give up. Wish it were only so.

The smoking guns are Sgt. Hector Vega, Sgt. Ray Ramos, Sgt. Agustin Matos and Cpl. Anthony Yonnone from New York's 442nd Guard Unit—they are the first confirmed cases of inhaled uranium oxide exposure from the current Iraq conflict. Dr. Asaf Durokovic, professor of Nuclear Medicine at the Uranium Medical Research Centre conducted the diagnostic tests. The story was released April 3, 2004 in the New York Daily News. There is no treatment and there is no cure.

Leuren Moret reports, "In my research on depleted uranium during the past 5 years, the most disturbing information concerns the impact on the unborn children and future generations for both soldiers serving in the depleted uranium wars, and for the civilians who must live in the permanently radioactive contaminated regions. Today, more than 240,000 Gulf War veterans are on permanent medical disability and more than 11,000 are dead. They have been denied testing, medical care, and compensation for depleted uranium exposure and related illnesses since 1991."

Moret continues "Even worse, they brought it home in their bodies. In some families, the children born before the Gulf War are the only healthy members. Wives and female partners of Gulf War veterans have reported a condition known as burning semen syndrome, and are now internally contaminated from depleted uranium carried in the semen of exposed veterans. Many are reporting reproductive illnesses such as endometriosis. In a U.S. government study, conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs on post-Gulf War babies, 67% were found to have serious birth defects or serious illnesses. They were born without eyes (anophthalmos), ears, had missing organs, missing legs and arms, fused fingers, thyroid or other organ malformations."

"LIFE Photoessay:"

Moret concludes, "In Iraq it is even worse where babies are born without brains, organs are outside the body, or women give birth to pieces of flesh. In babies born in Iraq in 2002, the incidence of anophthalmos was 250,000 times greater (20 cases in 4,000 births) than the natural occurrence, one in 50 million births. Takashi MORIZUMI's photos: in record the tragedy in Iraq."

For more information on the American President's continuing campaign of contaminating the land, check the World Uranium Weapons Conference, ,
Check the Uranium Medical Research Center and Dr. Asaf Durakovic at ,
and for updates on the related Nuclear Power Plants see Russell Hoffman's website at: .

Write Leuren Moret, Independent Scientist and radiation specialist, City of Berkeley Environmental Commissioner, Past President, Association for Women Geoscientists:

"Depleted Uranium: The Trojan Horse of Nuclear War" by Leuren Moret, World Affairs Journal, July, 2004.

These YahooGroups host discussions about uranium munitions:
Read Bob Nichols at: .

UPDATE BY TEDD WEYMAN: UMRC found artificial uranium in bomb craters, surrounding watercourses and the bodies of civilians exposed to US Coalition bombing in Afghanistan. Civilians surveyed presented with the classical symptoms of internal contamination by uranium, which began after exposure to the bombing. The presence of artificial uranium in environmental and biological samples indicates that the bunker buster warheads used in Afghanistan are made of uranium.

Uranium is a chemically and radiologically toxic element, clinically proven to be a cause of various types of cancer and congenital malformations (birth defects). Internal contamination of uranium is responsible for variety of systemic and organ system problems, which has never been considered or studied by the Defense Department or Veterans health programs as possible cause of Gulf War Illness. The symptoms of internal contamination by uranium in Iraq and Afghanistan civilians are identical to the symptoms of US and Coalition veterans complaining of Gulf War Illness.

The Pentagon/DoD have interfered with UMRC's ability to have its studies published by managing, a progressive and persistent misinformation program in the press against UMRC, and through the use of its control of science research grants to refute UMRC's scientific findings and destroy the reputation of UMRC's scientific staff, physicians and laboratories. UMRC is the first independent research organization to find Depleted Uranium in the bodies of US, UK and Canadian Gulf War I veterans and has subsequently, following Operation Iraqi Freedom, found Depleted Uranium in the water, soils and atmosphere of Iraq as well as biological samples donated by Iraqi civilians.

The United States and several of its Coalition partners and NATO allies have been deploying in battlefield and experimenting with chemically toxic and radioactive heavy metals in various types of bullets, bombs and warheads since the early 1970s. Uranium powder is taken from the nuclear fuel reprocessing cycle, after it has been mixed with nuclear reactor waste products and spent fuel, to supply the non-fissile weapons' manufacturing industry.

Uranium is preferred over all other "ballistic" metals (e.g. lead, iron, tungsten) because it offers a set of unique metallurgical properties: it is extremely dense yet ductile metal (not brittle); it is pyrophoric (uranium dust burns spontaneously at room temperature); and, solid metal uranium is autoigniting at 170° F. Uranium metal has a very unusual property not available in any other metal; it is "self-sharpening", meaning that when it hits a target at high velocities (1 km/sec) it erodes and breaks in such a way as to continuously re-sharpen its point — the leading points of all other warhead metals flatten or mushroom under these conditions. These properties give uranium a superior performance as a penetrating warhead alloy capable of breaching the hardest and thickest armor plating, retaining penetration capabilities at 15 % greater distances and lower speeds than the most common alternative metal, tungsten. Burning uranium is hard to extinguish, and if doused with water, it will explode. Uranium used in specially designed high velocity liquid metal penetrators can bore through 20 feet of super-reinforced concrete bunkers in classified weapons called "shaped charges" and "explosively formed penetrators". The hard (dense), resilient (ductile) and heavy (sustaining momentum) characteristics of uranium also make its optimal in the warhead of robust earth-penetrating bombs to carry them into buried targets and caves.

The mainstream press in the US and Canada does not show any general interest in the story, let alone an investigative interest. European mainstream press is more interested and follows key developments. The NY Daily News April 5, 2004 has covered Gulf War II results by UMRC's studies of US veterans. DoD has lied and misled the public and the veterans in an attempt to undermine the significance of the story. There is significant alternative press and internet press coverage. The technique for coverage is to approach the story as a debate between government and independent experts in which public interest is stimulated by polarizing the issues rather than telling the scientific and medical truth. The issues are systematically confused and misinformed by government, UN regulatory agencies (WHO, UNEP, IAEA, CDC, DOE, etc) and defense sector (military and the weapons developers and manufacturers).

UPDATE BY STEPHANIE HILLER: This is a shocking story since it suggests that experimental nuclear bombs were dropped around Kabul at the end of the war Operation Enduring Freedom. (Did they mean enduring radiation?) And what have they dropped on Iraq?

Continued research shows that we have all been irradiated here in the United States, at an enormous cost to the public health. Cancer rates alone show that genetic mutation has been rapidly increasing since the first bomb was tested in Almorgordo, NM in 1945. But the effects of low-level radiation have been systematically hidden from public view!

In April after sick vets from the current war got no help from the Pentagon, the mother of one of the soldiers went to the papers. Juan Gonzalez of the New York Daily News launched an investigation. The News paid for nine men to be tested by Asaf Durakovic. He found that four of them were contaminated with uranium. The News got the attention of New York Senator Hilary Clinton. She held a teleconference— but Durakovic was not allowed to participate!

Amy Goodman interviewed Durakovic later the same month on Democracy Now!— don't know if it was thanks to my story. AlterNet rejected the story because their source on depleted uranium, John Fahey, did not agree with it.
I don't know of any mainstream media that has picked up the story, and I don't find any references to the Gonzalez piece either. The BBC and the Seattle Post Intelligencer covered it before me.

To learn more about uranium weapons search the web! It's a huge topic. Start with the world Uranium Weapons Conference held last October in Hamburg: The Power Point by Dr. Ali shows the most excruciating consequences of Persian Gulf One -- deformed babies. Also, Join WBW! Women for a Better World has begun an information campaign to educate the public about depleted uranium, especially young people who might be called to join the military and their families, regarding the contamination of Central Eurasia. Come to our web site for more information, flyers, and to sign a petition opposing the draft for the same reason.

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(#5) The Wholesale Giveaway of Our Natural Resources

IN THESE TIMES, November 23, 2003
Title: “Liquidation of the Commons”
Author: Adam Werbach

HIGH COUNTRY NEWS, Vol. 35, No. 11, June 9, 2003
Title: “Giant Sequoias Could Get the Ax”
Author: Matt Weiser

Evaluator: Mary Gomes Ph.D.
Student Researcher: Gina Dunch

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, McKinley’s 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 Administration’s environmental policies are destroying much of the environmental progress made over the past 30 years. A prime example is the Bush Administration’s 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 Bush’s 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.
The administration poses the problem as one of unnecessary regulations that oppose tree thinning. Yet U.S. Forest Service records show that in the four national forests in Southern California that burned in early November 2003, environmentalists had not filed a single appeal to stop Forest Service tree-thinning projects to reduce fire risk since 1997. And, when Gov. Davis requested money to remove unhealthy trees throughout California’s forests, the request for emergency funds went unanswered by the Bush Administration until the end of October—and then, it was denied.

President Bush appointed Vice President Cheney to head a secretive energy task force to craft the administration’s energy policy, which constituted the same types of give aways as McKinley’s. 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.
Coal bed methane development, the Clear Skies Initiative, and the Healthy Forests Initiative are just a few examples of the Bush Administration’s efforts to undo 30 years of environmental progress. With the Senate approval of Gov. Mike Leavitt of Utah (an individual who is acquiescent to the Bush Administration’s environmental policies) as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, the situation can only get worse.

UPDATE BY ADAM WERBACH: It's ironic that the growth of the twenty-four hour news industry has resulted in even less news. The Bush Administration's war on terror has pushed the most rapid destruction of the commons witnessed this century into the back pages of major newspapers. The article "Liquidation of the Commons" published by In These Times detailed the Bush Administration's ‘say one thing do another’ policies, which have symbolized his Administration's efforts to allow industry to pollute the skies {"Clear Skies Initiative") and cut down our last remaining ancient forests ("Healthy Forests Initiative").

While most American news consumers can describe in detail the military hardware deployed in Iraq, the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of America's common assets is absent from political conversation. From the planned sale of trees in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska to the weakening of FCC media ownership caps on the people's airwaves, the Administration's policy has been to sell-off, neglect or destroy the commons — those resources which we own collectively.

It will probably be years until we understand the full cost of what we've lost during the Bush Administration. Thousands of seemingly small regulatory changes; secret out of court settlements that have sacrificed endangered species and lax enforcement of existing laws, are only a few of the symptoms of the Administration's liquidation of the commons. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, "sunlight is the best disinfectant, electric light the best policeman." Thankfully, Project Censored is helping to bring these stories to light.

For more information about Bush’s environmental policies visit: Common Assets at, Tomales Bay Institute at, the Sierra Club at and Apollo Alliance at

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(#6) The Sale of Electoral Politics

IN THESE TIMES, December 2003
Title: “Voting Machines Gone Wild”
Author: Mark Lewellen-Biddle

INDEPENDENT/UK, October 13, 2003
Title: “All The President's Votes?”
Author: Andrew Gumbel

DEMOCRACY NOW!, September 4, 2003
Title: “Will Bush Backers Manipulate Votes to Deliver GW Another Election?”
Reporter: Amy Goodman and the staff of Democracy Now!

Evaluator: Andy Merrifield Ph.D., Wendy Ostroff, Ph.D., Scott Gordon, Ph.D.
Student Researcher: Adam Stutz

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 political controversy:
In 1999 the Justice Department filed federal charges against Sequoia alleging that employees paid out more than 8 million dollars in bribes. Shortly thereafter, election officials for Pinellas County, Florida, cancelled a fifteen-million-dollar contract with Sequoia after it was discovered that Phil Foster, a Sequoia executive, faced indictment for money laundering and bribery.

* 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, the most well known of these three major groups, is under scrutiny for a memo that Diebold's CEO, Walden O'Dell, sent out promising Ohio's votes to Bush in the 2004 election. Beyond this faux pas, intra-office memos were circulated on the Internet stating that Diebold employees were aware of bugs within their systems and that the network is poorly guarded against hackers.

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;
* Former CIA Director Bobby Ray Inman;
* Retired Adm. William Owens, who served as former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and now sits on Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board;
* Robert Gates, former director of the CIA and veteran of the Iran Contra scandal.

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.

UPDATE BY MARK LEWELLEN-BIDDLE: I think this story concerns one of the most important issues of our time. From the beginning of the year, articles expressing concerns over the security of electronic voting machines, and the lack of a verifiable paper trail, have appeared in newspapers around the country as well as in mainstream magazines. Since nearly 50 million Americans will cast votes on electronic voting machines during the coming November elections, security, and the verifiability of our votes, is undeniably important. I believe, however, that the ongoing debate, as necessary as it is, remains focused on peripheral issues.

Few, if any, of the authors are pursuing questions raised in the original article: why are IT companies and defense contractors so deeply involved in the movement to foist electronic voting machines onto not only the American electorate, but voters around the world? Why is there so much secrecy surrounding the companies who have designated themselves the certifiers of the security and reliability of electronic voting machines and software? Why is one of those self-designated testing centers, Wyle labs, who recently admitted to certifying Sequoia software despite known flaws, still being allowed to certify voting software? If electronic voting is as safe and reliable as its proponents claim it to be, why did the Election Systems Task Force (Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, EDS, and Accenture) deem it necessary to hire a high-powered Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm (Information Technology Association of America) to convince us? One does not have to be conspiratorially bent to admit that these are intriguing questions.

Another issue, which is receiving no public scrutiny, is that by taking the control over the electoral process away from local officials and placing it in the hands of a very small number of for-profit corporations, we are effectively privatizing America's most public endeavor. After a recent election here in Lafayette, using Diebold voting machines, I called election officials to ask some questions. One of them was, “Where were the votes counted?” The election official responded, “Right here; we count them ourselves.” I asked how the votes were counted. Changing her tone to that of one instructing a third-grader, the official patiently explained to me that, “Each machine has a memory card that stores the votes. When the polls close, we bring all the cards back to headquarters and insert them into a machine and count the votes.” Understanding full well that the official missed the irony of her words, I thanked her for her time, and hung up.

I first became interested in electronic voting machines when I read Bev Harris’ Black Box Voting. It is an invaluable book for anyone concerned with the direction in which the American electoral process appears to be headed. Her website,, contains a wealth of information, as well as numerous links to other organizations working toward the development of open voting solutions.

2:31 AM  
Blogger Management said...

(#7) Conservative Organization Drives Judicial Appointments

THE AMERICAN PROSPECT, Vol. 14, Issue 3, March 1, 2003
Title: “A Hostile Takeover: How the Federalist Society is Capturing the Federal Courts”
Author: Martin Garbus
Title: “Courts Vs. Citizens”
Author: Jamin Raskin

Faculty Evaluator: Barbara Bloom, Ph.D., Tony White, Ph.D.
Student Researcher: Liz Medley

In 2001 George W. Bush eliminated the longstanding role of the American Bar Association (ABA) in the evaluation of prospective federal judges. ABA’s 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 Studies—a national organization whose mission is to advance a conservative agenda by moving the country’s legal system to the right.

The Federalist Society was started in 1982 by a small group of radically conservative University of Chicago law students—Steven Calabresi, David McIntosh, and Lee Liberman Otis. Reagan’s 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 counsel’s 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 right’s 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 life’s 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.

UPDATE BY MARTIN GARBUS: One of the most important issues in the country is the control of one of the three branches of government, the judiciary. While Presidents and Congressmen get elected every few years, judicial appointments are for life, and some federal court appointments have gone from 40 to 50 years. Our courts deal with nearly every aspect of our life; work conditions and wages, schools, civil rights, affirmative action, crime and punishment, abortion and the environment, amongst others.

Since the publication of my article, Bush tried to force through the most conservative group of nominees ever submitted by a President. He succeeded at times, but other appointments were rejected or stalled. Bush retaliated by making appointments while Congress was not in session. On May 18, 2004, a disastrous agreement was approved — Bush agreed not to make further recess appointments and the Democrats agreed to let Bush have 25 “free” appointments.

There will, of course, be future books and articles about this subject. My book, “Courting Disaster,” is one of them. It examines the Court from 1980 to the present. The best websites are those maintained by People for the American Way:, the Alliance for Justice: , and the American Civil Liberties Union: The sole focus of the Alliance for Justice is to try and stop extreme conservative judicial nominations.

The article and the book in which it appeared, drew a great deal of attention. One of the results was that I had a series of four debates with Ken Starr, the former Independent Prosecutor, on this and a number of other issues. I also did a good deal of television, radio and other public speaking on the issue of judicial appointments.

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Blogger Management said...

(#8) Secrets of Cheney's Energy Task Force Come to Light

JUDICIAL WATCH, July 17,2003
Title: Cheney Energy Task Force Documents Feature Map of Iraqi Oilfields
Author: Judicial Watch staff

Title: “Bush-Cheney Energy Strategy:Procuring the Rest of the World’s Oil”
Author: Michael Klare

Faculty Evaluators: James Carr, Ph.D., Alexandra Von Meier, Ph.D.
Student Researcher: Cassie Cypher, Shannon Arthur

Documents turned over in the summer of 2003 by the Commerce Department as a result of the Sierra Club’s and Judicial Watch’s 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 project’s 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 destruction—or 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 Administration’s struggle to keep secret the workings of Cheney’s Energy Task Force has been ongoing since early in the President’s 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 Enron’s 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 Cheney’s 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.

UPDATE BY MICHAEL KLARE: The issue of U.S. dependence on imported oil has only become more critical over the past few months as U.S. oil demand has risen and global supplies have contracted, pushing up gasoline prices in the U.S., and thereby threatening the economic recovery now (supposedly) under way. This, in turn, has made oil prices and dependency an issue in the presidential election, with President George W. Bush defending the status quo and Senator John Kerry, the presumed Democratic nominee, calling for dramatic action to reduce U.S. dependence on imported petroleum.

The contraction of global supplies is due in large part to political turmoil in the major producing areas — precisely the sort of situation I predicted in my article. In particular, the pace of overseas oil production has been moderated by repeated sabotage of oil infrastructure in Iraq, terrorist strikes on foreign oil firms in Saudi Arabia, ethnic unrest in the Delta region of Nigeria, and continuing political turbulence in Venezuela. Together, these developments have pushed oil prices to their highest levels in decades. At the same time, the Bush Administration has shown no inclination to reduce U.S. military involvement in major overseas producing areas, especially the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea basin and Africa.

All of this has had one effect: The major news media are beginning to pay much closer attention to the links between political turmoil abroad and the economics of oil at home. Most major newspapers, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, have published articles on various aspects of this problem. Still, the media remains reluctant to explain the close link between the energy policies of the Bush Administration and U.S. military strategy.

A number of new books have come out (or soon will) that bear on this subject. My own book, “Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Petroleum Dependency” will be published by Metropolitan Books in August. Also highly recommended are: “Out of Gas,” by David Goodstein (W.W. Norton); “The End of Oil,” by Paul Roberts (Houghton Mifflin); and “The Party's Over,” by Richard Heinberg (New Society Publishers).

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Blogger Management said...

(#9) Widow Brings RICO Case Against U.S. Government for 9/11

SCOOP.CO.NZ, November 2003
Title: “911 Victim’s Wife Files RICO Case Against GW Bush”
Author: Philip J. Berg

SCOOP.CO.NZ, December 2003
Title: “Widow’s Bush Treason Suit Vanishes”
Author: W. David Kubiak

Faculty Evaluator: Andy Merrifield, Ph.D.
Student Researcher: Amelia Strommen

Ellen Mariani lost her husband, Louis Neil Mariani, on 9/11 and is refusing the government’s 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 plaintiff’s 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 doesn’t show, doesn’t listen, and doesn’t write, what is being communicated?”

UPDATE BY W. DAVID KUBIAK: Three thousand unresolved deaths, strong evidence of treason, and a horizon of endless war still remain matters of capital concern. To this date, the scenario of complicity alleged in Ellen Mariani's landmark RICO suit remains the most cogent and credible 9/11 narrative ever offered to an America raised on Court TV.

Her case lays out the facts and logic so clearly that even ordinary folks can "get it" and start waking up their own. That is this story's unique and mortal danger, and the reason Big Media still shun it to this day.

The 9/11 Commission's maximal presumption of "failure" and "incompetence" spawns wildly more trivial questions than an inquest that does not rule out foreknowledge or complicity. The commission perforce dithers over policy issues, miscommunications, organizational defects, and a tragic litany of regrettable (but blameless!) bureaucratic mistakes.

Examining those same 9/11 facts from a detective's point of view — as an unsolved and as yet quite successful crime —exposes far deeper concerns. The prime questions now become prosecutorial and focus attention on the critical issues of Motive, Opportunity and Means. Who ultimately gained most from the attacks? Who had the power to commit, permit or abet them? Who spotted or created the chance for them to occur?

Ellen's case is historic simply because it was the first to apply these obvious questions, especially "cui bono?" —who really profited? — to all the 9/11 news of recent years. Last summer her reading of the official story's lies and contradictions sparked an unprecedented "racketeering!" shazam, but given her elemental Law & Order approach to the facts at hand, any country sheriff might have made the same call.

Today in light of this year's revelations from Paul O'Neill, Richard Clark and Sibel Edmonds, Ellen's early attempts at connecting the dots — between the war-hungry neocons' public longing (in September 2000) for "some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor" and the subsequent ignored warnings, quashed inquiries and crippled air defenses that finally made their dream come true — all appear pattern perfect thus far.

Since Ellen's charges imply not just criminal conspiracy, but also literal treason, they are fast reviving a long ailing impeachment debate. An April 2004 national Retro poll showed that 39% of the public favored a Bush impeachment if only for his Iraq war lies. This growth of popular outrage was remarkable but hardly actionable since Impeachment Articles must issue from the same feckless House of Reps that signed off on the war. However, as Bush's polls and credibility continued to plummet and GOP solons watched his coattails turn to lead, it became more plausible that a survivalist few might recognize that in 9/11 at least, they shared no collective guilt, and be more willing to swap doomed leaders for their own electoral skins.

By May 2004 such intuitions were starting to bubble up in the anti-war zeitgeist, partially inspired by loud 9/11 truth demands from Ed Asner, Howard Zinn, the US Green Party, theologian David Ray Griffin, and Commission-disillusioned victim family groups. These lofty calls were further reinforced by rather amazing facts on the ground. On May 26th the Toronto Star reported on a national poll showing that 63 per cent of Canadians believed the U.S. government had "prior knowledge of the plans for September 11th, and failed to take appropriate action."

To galvanize this awareness into action, movement leaders turned to Ellen's RICO suit as an ideal impeachment template because it could flush the entire puppeteer crew and not just Howdy Dubya from the stage. It also held the promise of a national "teachable moment" as the whole military-petro-industrial backdrop of the crime at last heaved into view. Finally, 9/11 impeachment offered progressives a far more energizing course of Bush-lethal action than half-hearted huzzahs for the stay-the-course mantra and globalization banzais of the Kerry campaign.

All of this ferment will doubtless be peaking as Project Censored 2005 hits the stands. If you want to join in and help remake history, first read Griffin's "The New Pearl Harbor," or Nafeez Ahmed's, "War on Freedom." Then check in at, and find something patriotic (in the old sense) to do.

UPDATE BY PHILIP J. BERG, ESQ.: The tragedy of “911” is the most significant event of our lifetimes. It is a great honor for this story to be selected. It is our firm belief that the RICO lawsuit we filed is one of the most significant cases in our history. To date, the Bush Administration has done more to diminish individual rights than any other administration in 225 years. With the enactment of the Stabilization Act and Patriot Act I, the attempted enactment of Patriot Act II, the photographing and fingerprinting of individuals entering the United States from certain countries and the planned “color coding” of everyone in the United States by the summer of 2004, “1984” is becoming a reality today, twenty years after the date it was projected. “911” has provided the pretext for the global military expansion we are seeing today, with its enormous costs in lives, federal funding and environmental damage.

After speaking around the country, we have found that people are amazed at the lack of media coverage of the RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] lawsuit filed on behalf of Ellen Mariani and all law-abiding citizens of the United States and the world. The mainstream press has ignored our RICO lawsuit as well as most aspects of “911” until recently. But Bush’s arrogance in placing pictures of “911” in his re-election ads, along with the continued stonewalling of the “911 Commission” and the ineffectiveness of the “911 Commission,” has now brought this story to the forefront.

RICO was created in the 1960s by Congress to go after the mafia, the mob. It is our position that there is a “mob” in the Bush White House. When the events of “911” are investigated and when the “right” questions are posed, there is no way to avoid the conclusion that “911” occurred with the complicity of Bush and his administration.

The RICO lawsuit is the best available vehicle for bringing all of the overwhelming, independent research concerning “911” to the point where the “truth of 911” will be revealed.

During the six months since the RICO lawsuit was filed, we have been involved in procedural issues. We have therefore withdrawn the case from Philadelphia and re-filed it in Federal Court in Washington, DC, so that the events of “911” can be in front of the Court as soon as possible.

Our updated website can be reviewed daily for developments in the RICO lawsuit. Our petition, available on the website, is important for two reasons: 1) signing it shows support for the “truth of 911;” and 2) more important, reading the comments from the hearts of individuals around the world serves – like the writings of Anne Frank - to help people realize the actual effects of “911.” We feel it is essential for the mainstream and independent media to report the “truth of 911,” the most important event of our lifetimes. It must be reveled now, not for forty years from now, as has occurred with other major events in history.

Other pro-active groups where the RICO lawsuit is referenced, include:,,,,,,,,,,,

INSIDE JOB: Unmasking the Myth of 9/11, by Jim Marrs
Preface by Ellen Mariani
With major excerpts from the Mariani RICO filing in the Appendix
The New Pearl Harbor, by David Ray Griffin
-Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11

2:36 AM  
Blogger Management said...

(#10) New Nuke Plants: Taxpayers Support, Industry Profits

Title: “Nuclear Energy Would Get $7.5 Billion in Tax Subsides, US Taxpayers Would Fund Nuclear Relapse If Energy Bill Passes”
Authors: Cindy Folkers and Michael Mariotte

Title: “US Senate Passes Pro-Nuclear Energy Bill”
Authors: Cindy Folkers and Michael Mariotte

Faculty Evaluators: Lynn Cominsky, Ph.D., Tamara Falicov, Ph. D.
Student Researchers: Andrea Martini and John Hernandez

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 industry’s 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.

Domenici’s 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 Act’s 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.

UPDATE BY: MICHAEL MARIOTTE AND CINDY FOLKERS: The 2003/2004 Bush Energy Bill has continued to stall in the Senate despite use of several convoluted legislative procedures to pass it. This legislation was born from the secretive Cheney Energy task force meetings, which have been the focus of much legal action. The secrecy of this task force is renowned and is yet another attempt by the Bush Administration to cut off the public from government access. The energy industry trade organization, Nuclear Energy Institute, met with the task force more times than any other single energy interest. It is no surprise that the bill is loaded with tax breaks, subsidies and policy initiatives for old energy sources, giving very little to energy efficiency or renewable energy efforts. This is an energy policy more suitable for 1960 and lacks vision and any foundation for our energy independence.

Through the relentless efforts of NIRS and many other national and local activists and environmental groups, the Energy Bill (HR-6) was defeated on November 21, 2003 by a cloture vote of 57-40. Bill proponents could not overcome a filibuster supported by both Republicans and Democrats. The many controversial provisions contained in HR 6, including the $6-15 billion tax production credit for new nuclear reactors, made it unpopular among both parties. In total, there was more to hate about this bill than to like and it couldn’t even be brought to the floor for a final vote.

In 2004 Senator Domenici introduced the energy bill again as S 2095. This bill changed very little from the original legislation. The notable exception is that the nuclear tax production credits (PTC) were excluded. But the bill still did not have the support to pass the Senate so Domenici decided to split the bill in two, attempting to pass the policy and tax sections separately. NIRS is now in the process of opposing these two bills. The policy portion of the bill has failed at this point, but the tax portion of S 2095 could still pass as an amendment to another bill. Again, the nuclear PTC is not part of this energy tax package, but Domenici has threatened to add it separately. This tax credit will amount to at least $6 billion and could reach as much as $15 or even $19 billion, according to estimates by EarthTrack.

Throughout this entire process, the press has covered the overall bill, especially controversial MTBE-related provisions, and numerous newspapers have taken strong editorial stands against it. However, virtually without exception these stories are/were woefully silent on the bill’s nuclear provisions. Since the PTC could be upwards of $15 billion in total cost, it deserves the spotlight as yet another amazing giveaway to the nuclear industry, this time to initiate a nuclear resurgence with taxpayer-supported construction of new reactors.

For more information, contact NIRS, 1424 16th Street, NW, Suite 404, Washington, DC 20036.; 202-328-0002,

Or contact Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program, 215 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20003, 202-546-4996,

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(#11) The Media Can Legally Lie

CMW REPORT, Spring 2003
Title: “Court Ruled That Media Can Legally Lie”
Author: Liane Casten

Title: "Florida Appeals Court Orders Akre-Wilson Must Pay Trial Costs for $24.3 Billion Fox Television; Couple Warns Journalists of Danger to Free Speech, Whistle Blower Protection"
Author: Al Krebs

Faculty Evaluator: Liz Burch, Ph.D.
Student Researcher: Sara Brunner

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 Akre’s threat to report the station’s actions to the FCC did not deserve protection under Florida’s whistle blower statute, because Florida’s 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 Akre’s 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, “It’s vindication for WTVT, and we’re very pleased… It’s the case we’ve been making for two years. She never had a legal claim.”

UPDATE BY LIANE CASTEN: If we needed any more proof that we now live in an upside down world, the saga of Jane Akre, along with her husband, Steve Wilson, could not be more compelling.

Akre and Wilson won the first legal round. Akre was awarded $425,000 in a jury trial with well-crafted arguments for their wrongful termination as whistleblowers. And in the process, they also won the prestigious “Goldman Environmental” prize for their outstanding efforts. However, FOX turned around and appealed the verdict. This time, FOX won; the original verdict was overturned in the Appellate Court of Florida’s Second District. The court implied there was no restriction against distorting the truth. Technically, there was no violation of the news distortion because the FCC’s policy of news distortion does not have the weight of the law. Thus, said the court, Akre-Wilson never qualified as whistleblowers.

What is more appalling are the five major media outlets that filed briefs of Amici Curiae- or friend of FOX – to support FOX’s position: Belo Corporation, Cox Television, Inc., Gannett Co., Inc., Media General Operations, Inc., and Post-Newsweek Stations, Inc. These are major media players! Their statement, “The station argued that it simply wanted to ensure that a news story about a scientific controversy regarding a commercial product was present with fairness and balance, and to ensure that it had a sound defense to any potential defamation claim.”

“Fairness and balance?” Monsanto hardly demonstrated “fairness and balance” when it threatened a lawsuit and demanded the elimination of important, verifiable information!

The Amici position was “If upheld by this court, the decision would convert personnel actions arising from disagreements over editorial policy into litigation battles in which state courts would interpret and apply federal policies that raise significant and delicate constitutional and statutory issues.” After all, Amici argued, 40 states now have Whistleblower laws, imagine what would happen if employees in those 40 states followed the same course of action?

The position implies that First Amendment rights belong to the employers – in this case the five power media groups. And when convenient, the First Amendment becomes a broad shield to hide behind. Let’s not forget, however; the airwaves belong to the people. Is there no public interest left—while these media giants make their private fortunes using the public airwaves? Can corporations have the power to influence the media reporting, even at the expense of the truth? Apparently so.

In addition, the five “friends” referred to FCC policies. The five admit they are “vitally interested in the outcome of this appeal, which will determine the extent to which state whistleblower laws may incorporate federal policies that touch on sensitive questions of editorial judgment.”

Anyone concerned with media must hear the alarm bells. The Bush FCC, under Michael Powell’s leadership, has shown repeatedly that greater media consolidation is encouraged, that liars like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are perfectly acceptable, that to refer to the FCC interpretation of “editorial judgment” is to potentially throw out any pretense at editorial accuracy if the “accuracy” harms a large corporation and its bottom line. This is our “Brave New Media”, the corporate media that protects its friends and now lies, unchallenged if need be.

The next assault: the Fox station then filed a series of motions in a Tampa Circuit Court seeking more than $1.7 million in trial fees and costs from both Akre and Wilson. The motions were filed on March 30 and April 16 by Fox attorney, William McDaniels—who bills his client at $525 to $550 an hour. The costs are to cover legal fees and trial costs incurred by FOX in defending itself at the first trial. The issue may be heard by the original trial judge, Ralph Steinberg—a logical step in the whole process. However, Judge Steinberg must come out of retirement if he is to hear this, so the hearing, set for June 1, may go to a new judge, Judge Maye.

Akre and her husband feel the stress. “There is no justification for the five stations not to support us,” she said. “Attaching legal fees to whistleblowers is unprecedented, absurd. The ‘business’ of broadcasting trumps it all. These news organizations must ensure they are worthy of the public trust while they use OUR airwaves, free of charge. Public trust is alarmingly absent here.”

Indeed. This is what our corporate media, led by such as Rupert Murdoch, have come to. How low we have fallen.

Jane Akre and be reached at:

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(#12) The Destabilization of Haiti

Title: “Interview with Aristide’s lawyer, Brian Concannon”
Reporter: Dennis Bernstein

GLOBALRESEARCH.CA, February 29, 2004
Title: “The destabilization of Haiti”
Author: Michel Chossudovsky

DOLLARS AND SENSE, September/October 2003
Title: “Still Up Against the Death Plan in Haiti”
Author: Tom Reeves

KPFA - DEMOCRACY NOW!, March 17, 2004
Title: “Aristide talks with Democracy Now! About the leaders of the coup and US funding of the opposition in Haiti”
Reporter: Amy Goodman

ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 16, 2004
Title: “Aristide Backers Left Out of Coalition”
Author: Ian James

Faculty Evaluator: Tony White, Ph.D., Richard Zimmer, Ph.D.
Student Researchers: Brooke Finley and Jocelyn Boreta

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 Radio’s 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 Haiti’s 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, Aristide’s 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 Haiti’s civil service and ultimately led to the collapse of Haiti’s state system. Aristide served until the end of his presidential term in 1996.

Aristide was re-elected in Haiti’s 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 Bush’s own tainted election, his administration questioned the election of seven senators from Aristide’s 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 Aristide’s 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 Haiti’s 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 Haiti’s 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 Haiti’s 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 Aristide’s refusal to privatize Haiti’s 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.

Haiti’s 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.

Dennis Bernstein is executive producer of Pacifica Radio's "Flashpoints" (KPFA-FM 94.1 in Berkeley, Calif.). Lyn Duff ( is a writer currently based in Jerusalem. She traveled to Haiti in 1995 to help establish that country's first children's radio station. She is writing a book on Haiti. This story was written on 3/19/04.
For an update on this story, please see Chapter 10 - Haiti: The Untold Story.

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(#13) Schwarzenegger Met with Enron's Key Lay Before the California Recall

COMMON DREAMS, August 17, 2003
Title: “Ahnuld, Ken Lay, George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Gray Davis”
Author: Jason Leopold

THE LONDON OBSERVER, October 6, 2003
Title: “Arnold Unplugged— It’s Hasta la Vista to $9 Billion”
Author: Greg Palast

Additional Sources:
San Francisco Chronicle and CommonDreams, October 11,2003
Title: “Schwarzenegger Electricity Plan Fuels Fears of Another Debacle”
Author: Zachary Coile

San Francisco Chronicle, May 26, 2001
Title: “Enron’s Secret Bid to Save Deregulation: Private Meeting With Prominent Californians”
Authors: Christian Berthelsen, Scott Winokur, Chronicle Staff Writers

Faculty Evaluators: Laurie Dawson, John Lund
Student Researchers: Karina Pinon, Chris Bui and Josh Sisco

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “solutions to California’s energy woes” reflect those of former Enron chief Ken Lay. On May 17, 2001, in the midst of California’s energy crisis, which was largely caused by Enron’s scandalous energy market manipulation, Schwarzenegger met with Lay to discuss “fixing” California’s 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 Califonia’s 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 California’s energy debacle of 2000, Davis and Bustamante filed suit under California’s 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 Enron’s 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 Enron’s role in California’s energy crisis and proposed saddling consumers with the $9 billion loss. Discussions further focused on preventing Davis’s 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, Bustamante’s 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 California’s electricity markets with an energy strategy driven by some of the same members of former Gov. Pete Wilson’s team who led the push for energy deregulations in the 1990s.

Consumer groups are warning that the Governor’s proposals would expose electricity users to greater fluctuations in prices while limiting state oversight of power trading—a combination that could allow the type of market manipulation that plagued California during the state’s 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.”

UPDATE BY JASON LEOPOLD: There's a certain amount of prejudice the mainstream media has toward investigative news stories that are published by alternative news outlets. News stories appearing in alternative publications are often dismissed or ignored by major news outlets as the work of conspiracy theorists, to cite just one example.

Often times, reporters for major newspapers never bother to follow up on a story printed in an alternative publication because, the way they see it, if it was that important it would have appeared in a bigger publication. Such was the case with the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Enron/George Bush/Dick Cheney story, which I wrote about in August 2001 while Schwarzenegger was campaigning for governor of California.

There were one or two major newspapers that made scant reference to the secret meeting Schwarzenegger attended in May 2001 at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills with Ken Lay, the disgraced former chairman of Enron Corp, the energy company that exploited California's electricity market for financial gain. Schwarzenegger was tapped by Lay because of his celebrity clout in addition to the fact that he was being courted by Republicans to replace Davis as governor.

But those publications failed to put the timing of the meeting into context. Had they done so, it may have saved Gray Davis' job. If they dug a little deeper, they would have found that while Schwarzenegger listened to Lay's pitch on why California shouldn't abandon deregulation, one energy company was nailed by federal energy regulators for shutting down it's power plants to create an artificial shortage and boost wholesale prices in the state.

The discovery, however, was kept secret by federal energy regulators so Vice President Dick Cheney could release his National Energy Policy in May 2001. Had federal energy regulators released the evidence of the manipulation that took place in California it would have certainly derailed Cheney's energy policy since it called for deregulating energy markets nationwide.

However, while Schwarzenegger shook hands with Ken Lay, former Gov. Gray Davis was lobbying President Bush and Cheney for price controls on soaring electricity prices. Bush and Cheney publicly blamed Davis for the crisis, saying he was too slow to act and dismissed his claims about an energy cartel manipulating the state's power market. That, in part, skewed public opinion and left many in the state thinking that the crisis was Davis's fault.

But, two years later, following Enron's bankruptcy, evidence emerged proving Davis was right. Energy companies were manipulating the market and were responsible for skyrocketing prices and blackouts. After I connected the dots, showing how Schwarzenegger allowed himself to be courted by Lay, I asked him about the meeting at the Peninsula. Schwarzenegger said he didn't remember.

But now, three years to the day after he left the Peninsula with the outline Lay handed him for keeping deregulation in place, Schwarzenegger is implementing Lay's vision. In late April, the new governor sent a proposal to the state's Public Utilities Commission urging regulators to reopen California's power market to competition. Since this story was published, Reliant Energy was indicted by federal prosecutors for manipulating the California electricity market, the first criminal charges ever brought against a corporation related to the 2000-2001 energy crisis.

California's energy woes are of particular importance today because the state's grid operator is forecasting a shortage of electricity in the summer of 2004 if unusually high heat blankets the state, which is exactly what the National Weather Service predicted in early 2004.

For consumer groups, hot weather combined with a free market is a recipe for disaster. They fear that a heat wave will force electricity prices through the roof in a competitive market and that there aren't enough safeguards in place to protect consumers from another round of manipulation.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer agrees.

In April 2004, Lockyer published a 96-page report saying that California's power market is still ripe for manipulation. Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, won't heed the warnings. He's surrounded himself with a who's who of special interests that are advising him on energy policy.

But Schwarzenegger's aides won't reveal the identity of the people advising the governor on his energy plan. In a page pulled straight out of President Bush and Dick Cheney's playbook on government secrecy, Schwarzenegger's aides have refused to disclose the names of the individuals who helped write the governor's energy plan, the one that was sent to the state's Public Utilities Commission in April 2004.

The aides claim that the governor met with consumer groups before drafting the state's energy policy, but the state's three leading consumer groups, all of which have been at the forefront of the energy debate since 1999 have never spoken with Schwarzenegger or his staff. The governor's aides won't say which consumer groups he met with or how many meetings he had. Not surprisingly, the consumer groups oppose the governor's energy policy because it benefits big business at the expense of consumers and puts the state in a vulnerable position again.

For more information on this topic, the following websites are extremely useful.
Consumer groups that have been on top of the energy story:The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights,; The Utility Reform Network,; The Utility Consumers Action Network, These government agencies publish the most up to date news on the state’s energy issues: The California Public Utilities Commission,; The California Independent System Operator, To monitor the state’s refund issue: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,

2:38 AM  
Blogger Management said...

(#14) New Bill Threatens Intellectual Freedom in Area Studies

YALE DAILY NEWS, November 6, 2003
Title: “New Bill threatens intellectual freedom in area studies”
Author: Benita Singh

Title: “Speaking in ‘Approved’ Tongues”
Author: Kimberly Chase

Faculty Evaluator: Robert Manning
Student Researchers: David Sonnenberg, Josh Sisco

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 course’s 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.”

2:38 AM  
Blogger Management said...

(#15) U.S. Develops Lethal New Bio-weapon Viruses

The New Scientist, October 29, 2003
Title: "US develops lethal new viruses"
Author: Debora MacKenzie

Faculty Evaluator: Lynn Cominsky Ph.D.
Student Researcher: Brian Pederson

Mainstream media coverage:
CBS News, November 1, 2003
CNN News, October 31, 2003

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 system’s 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.

The New Scientist website at
or the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at

2:38 AM  
Blogger Management said...

(#16) Law Enforcement Agencies Spy on Innocent Citizens

Agenda, July--August 2003
Title: “Big Brother Gets Bigger--Domestic Spying & the Global Intelligence Working Group”
Author: Michelle J. Kinnucan

Community Alliance, April 2003
Title: “Police Infiltrate Local Groups”
Author: Mark Schlosberg

CovertAction Quarterly, Fall 2003
Title: “Denver Police Keeping Files On Peace Groups”
Author: Loring Wirbel

SF Indymedia, October 4, 2003
URL: (first publish of Rhodes article)
Title: "Local Peace Group Infiltrated by Government Agent"
Author: Mike Rhodes

Reprinted: Community Alliance, November 2003

North Bay Progressive, Volume 2 # 8, October 2003
Title: Fresno Peace group Infiltrated by Government Agent
Author: Mike Rhodes

World Socialist Web Site,, 1/10/04
Title: Bush Administration Expands Police Spying Powers
Author: Kate Randall

Faculty Evaluator: Andrew Botterell
Student Researcher: Joni Wallent

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 agencies—including the military—formulated 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 Ashcroft’s 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 Union’s (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.
The intentions of current intelligence gathering activities have little use in the prevention of terrorist attacks, and have more to do with the reconstruction of local, state, federal, and private enforcement agencies with unrestricted access to citizen records.


The story of the Global Intelligence Working Group is more important now than when it was first published because its National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan (NCISP) has largely been put into service. There was a flurry of mainstream media attention on May 14, 2004, in response to a Department of Justice (DoJ) signing ceremony and press conference. Unfortunately, the coverage had little, if any, analysis and most articles mainly regurgitated a DoJ press release. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

Attorney General John Ashcroft today announced the launch of the [NCISP], an initiative designed to link federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies so that they can share intelligence information to prevent terrorism and crime. He was joined in the announcement by Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI; Deborah Daniels, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs; General Frank Libutti, Undersecretary for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection at the Department of Homeland Security; Chief Joe Polisar, President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police; Melvin Carraway, Superintendent of the Indiana State Police and Chairman of the Global Intelligence Working Group; and Carl Peed, Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The NCISP is built around three guiding reforms: prioritization, with the emphasis on prevention, mobilization of resources, and coordination of intelligence gathering and integration.

"The [NCISP] is the first of its kind in the nation, uniting law enforcement agencies of all sizes and geographic locations in a truly national effort to prevent terrorism and criminal activity," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "By raising cooperation and communication among local, state and federal partners to an unprecedented level, this groundbreaking effort will strengthen the abilities of the justice community to detect threats and protect American lives and liberties."

The implementation announced by Ashcroft in May differs from earlier proposals in several ways but the significant threats to the civil liberties of Americans and resident aliens are undiminished. The protections of a republican form of government and the inadequate safeguards erected during the 1970s and 1980s have been further weakened with little, if any, notice or opposition from politicians or the media. The American Civil Liberties Union sounded the alert last year when the DoJ proposed to change 28 CFR 23, the “Criminal Intelligence Systems Operating Policies.” Beyond that, however, they and other civil liberties organizations seem unaware of the threats to civil liberties posed by the changes in federal, state, and local police spying and information sharing. Activists should contact the ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, and other civil liberties groups to alert them.

A slightly more recent version of the original article appears on the Political Research Associates web site at The Federation of American Scientists Intelligence Resource Program has posted some of the relevant documents in its news section (; their Secrecy News is recommended (go to The DoJ’s GIWG site ( remains an important source of information although they have apparently removed some files from the site.

2:39 AM  
Blogger Management said...

(#17) U.S. Government Represses Labor Unions in Iraq in Quest for Business Privatization

The Progressive, December 2003
Title: Saddam's labor laws live on
Author: David Bacon

Left Turn, March/April 2004, v. 12
Title: "Ambitions of Empire: The Radical Reconstruction of Iraq’s Economy"
Author: Antonia Juhasz

Faculty Evaluators: Haidi LaMoreaux Ph.D., Susan Garfin Ph.D.
Student Researchers: Katie Drewieske, Adam Stutz

In the Wall Street Journal on May 1, 2003 an article leaked the confidential Bush Administration documents outlining “sweeping plans to remake Iraq’s 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:

DynCorp/Computer Sciences Corp
Flour Intercontinental
Creative Associates International Inc.
Research Triangle Institute

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) Bechtel’s contract has been extended to include the distribution of water just as Halliburton’s 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 Hussein’s 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 Ba’ath 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 Iraq’s major industries.

But the CPA, while striking down almost all of Hussein’s 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 aren’t 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 don’t 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 Minister’s time.

UPDATE BY DAVID BACON: The disaster that is the occupation of Iraq is much more than the war that plays nightly across U.S. television screens. The violence of grinding poverty, exacerbated by economic sanctions after the first Gulf War, has been deepened by the U.S. invasion. Every day the economic policies of the occupying authorities create more hunger among Iraq's working people, transforming them into a pool of low-wage, semi-employed labor, desperate for jobs at almost any price.

The effects of U.S. policy on daily life, especially the economic situation of most Iraqis, go largely ignored in the U.S. media, although anyone walking the streets of Baghdad cannot miss them. Children sleep on the sidewalks. Sewage still pours into the Tigris River, and those who must depend on it for drinking or cooking continue to get sick. The violence of poverty is not held to be a violation of human rights in the United States – just one manifestation of the great division in the world between the wealthy, industrialized north, and the developing south. The U.S. does not recognize that human rights include economic and social rights, in part because they are collective rights of groups, social classes, or even nations.

The story on labor in Iraq detailed these violations of human rights. Most of the specific CPA decrees mentioned in the story, suppressing union rights and setting the stage for privatization, are unarguably violations of international human rights standards.

Conventions 87 and 98 of the International Labor Organization, guaranteeing freedom of association, makes the continued enforcement of the 1987 ban on unions illegal. Convention 135, preventing retaliation against workers for union activity, makes the arrests of union leaders, and their expulsion from their offices, illegal as well.

The story exposed not only the growing poverty of Iraqi workers, but the conscious effort to use a falling standard of living as an attraction for foreign investment. After the story appeared in The Progressive, the situation for workers and unions grew worse. Members of the national executive board of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions were arrested in December, along with leaders of the Union of the Unemployed of Iraq. In January and February, a wave of work stoppages and labor confrontations in the south hit Iraq's key industries - oil and electrical generation. Worker resistance grew so heated that the occupation authority was forced to withdraw decrees which would have lowered wages even further.

In an especially Orwellian moment, George Bush even declared in his January State of the Union speech that U.S. intervention in Iraq would promote the formation of free trade unions in the Middle East. Nevertheless, as of April, the occupation authority continued to enforce the Saddam-era ban on union in most workplaces.

Few other media outlets picked up the story of the violation of Iraqi labor rights. A notable exception was the labor press, especially The Dispatcher (of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union) and the Guild Reporter (of the Newspaper Guild). This labor attention reflects the growing antipathy and opposition to the war and occupation among U.S. unions, a story in itself.

There was some attention on the radio, due in part to the efforts of the Institute for Public Accuracy. None of the major national daily US newspapers, however, and none of the television networks, have run any news stories at all about Iraqi labor and workers. Perhaps this is just an extension of their failure to cover unions and workers in the US, but given the need to develop the institutions of civil society in Iraq capable of governing the country, ignoring unions and their allied popular organizations seems a kind of willful blindness typical of the occupation generally.

The best source for continued and up-to-date information about Iraqi workers and unions can be found on the website of U.S. Labor Against the War, the national network of unions opposed to the Bush war policy.

2:40 AM  
Blogger Management said...

(#18) Media and Government Ignore Dwindling Oil Supplies

Title: “Running on empty; Oil is disappearing fast”
Author: Adam Porter

GUARDIAN UNLIMITED, December 2, 2003
Title: “Bottom of the Barrel”
Author: George Monbiot

Faculty Evaluator: Rick Luttmann Ph.D.
Student Researchers: Philip Rynning, Julie Mayeda, Anna Miranda

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 isn’t 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, I’m 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.”

UPDATE BY ADAM PORTER: The story that global oil output is peaking, that the demand will continue to outstrip production, is simply the biggest story of the age. Bar none. It connects to everything else. It is a building block for all other stories; be it Iraq, corporate greed, Chinese growth or basic political power. You want to travel to Mars with no oil? You want to watch the Superbowl half time with no electricity? You want Michael Jackson to moonwalk on his limo outside court when even he can't afford to drive there anymore? Think again. It's all about oil.
Since publication of the story in New Internationalist magazine the price of oil has risen to $41 a barrel from about $30, oil workers are being killed in Saudi, pipelines and platforms are being destroyed in Iraq, Shell mislaid 23% of its reserves (whoops) and of course, oil companies are making record profits.

Mainstream response to my story was zero, nada. Some outlets are now looking at the subject in more detail. But then again they can hardly miss it. It would be a bit like not covering the Iraq war. Most of the coverage is ignorant of basic facts; all quoted reserves are lies, and parrots oil company and government policy. At least it's consistent.

If one would like more information on the subject simply go to the internet and Google for oil production, there are enormous amounts. Other than that, go to, that is a good place to start. In Spanish, go to:

UPDATE BY GEORGE MONBIOT: Since my story was published, both Shell and BP have been forced to downgrade the size of their reserves. The oil price has continued to climb: at the time of writing it stands at over $40. The mainstream media is at last waking up to the idea that this non-renewable resource won't last forever. The New York Times, the London Times and CBS have all followed up on the story I wrote. Perhaps, just perhaps, humanity will, almost for the first time in history, do something before it's too late.

Recommended websites include:;; The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre,;

2:40 AM  
Blogger Management said...

(#19) Global Food Cartel Fast Becoming the World's Supermarket

LEFT TURN, August/September 2003
Title: “Concentration in the Agri-Food System”
Author: Hilary Mertaugh

Evaluator: John Lund
Student Researcher: Anna Miranda

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 world’s food supply at every stage of food production—from 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 world’s 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 ConAgra’s 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 world’s 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.”

2:41 AM  
Blogger Management said...

(#20) Extreme Weather Prompts New Warning from UN

Title: “Extreme Weather Prompts Unprecedented Global Warming Alert”

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.
Student Researchers: Shannon Arthur, Cassie Cyphers, Melissa Jones

The UN’s 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 104ºF (40°C) in some places, which is 9 to 13º 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 year’s pre-monsoon heat wave in India brought about temperatures of 113ºF (45°C), which is 4 to 9ºF 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 61ºF (16°C).

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 1°F 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.

Document last updated 10/26/2004.
The following articles were used for reference in making corrections to temperature change in this document.
Site 1Site 2

2:42 AM  
Blogger Management said...

(#21) Forcing a World Market for GMOs

Inter Press Service (, 12/3/03
Title: "Agriculture: Biotech Boom Linked to Development Dollars - Critics"
Author: Katherine Stapp

Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency, May 14, 2003
Title: “U.S. WTO Dispute Could Bend Poor Nations to GMOs-Groups”
Author: Emad Mekay

CMW Report, Summer 2003
Title: “A Rebuttal to the Tribune”
Author: Liane Casten

SF Weekly, June 2-8, 2004
Title: “Bioscience Warfare”
Author: Alison Pierce

Faculty Evaluator: Al Wahrhaftig Ph.D., Eric McGuckin Ph.D.
Student Researcher: Larissa Heeren

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, 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 Bank’s 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 ISAAA’s 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 WTO’s 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.

UPDATE BY KATHERINE STAPP: With public concerns over genetically modified (GM) foods intensifying this year, the agricultural biotechnology industry appears to be focusing even more intently on developing countries, where regulations governing their use are generally more lax.
In April, the European Union announced tougher labeling requirements for genetically modified products. In May, agricultural giant Monsanto said that it was dropping plans to commercialize a variety of GM wheat in the United States and Canada because of consumer and farmer opposition.

By contrast, India's $200-million-dollar National Technology Project (NATP), funded in part by the World Bank, has stepped up experimentation with transgenic cotton, rice, sorghum, groundnut, chickpea and pigeon pea. According to reports from the Pesticide Action Network, dozens or more World Bank-funded projects, in Brazil, Indonesia, India, Peru, Romania, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Kenya refer explicitly to agricultural biotechnology.

In a related development (since many of the same companies involved in biotech also manufacture pesticides), PAN also gave the Bank a failing grade on sustainable farming practices. Its review of 100 Bank projects determined that only nine percent comply with the Bank's stated commitment to reduce pesticide use in its agricultural projects.

This growing divide between North and South is illustrated by estimates from industry groups like the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), which tout the spread of GM crops. In January, the ISAAA announced that "7 million farmers in 18 countries — more than 85 percent resource-poor farmers in the developing world — now plant biotech crops, up from 6 million in 16 countries in 2002." Interestingly, since IPS made inquiries, ARD scientist Eija Pehu is no longer listed on the ISAAA's web site as a member of its Board of Directors (although Gabrielle Persley, a long-time advisor to the Bank, is still there).

Activists are also focusing World Bank funding for GM trees through its Prototype Carbon Fund, which facilitates emissions trading to comply with the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases. They fear that pollen drift from these GM "carbon sinks" could contaminate native species, and also open the door for widespread planting of GM trees in developing countries.

The World Bank's lack of accountability to governments or civil society is at the heart of many complaints about its activities, underlining the importance of the independent media in exposing abuses. In terms of the mainstream press' response to the IPS story, I'm not aware that there was one.

More information can be found at PAN's web site (, the Global Justice Ecology Project (, the Bank's Staff Exchange site (, which lists its "corporate partners", and a new book titled "Gene Traders: Biotechnology, World Trade and the Globalization of Hunger" by Brian Tokar (Toward Freedom press 2004).

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(#22) Exporting Censorship to Iraq

The American Prospect, Volume 14, Issue 9, October 1, 2003
Title: Exporting Censorship to Iraq
Author: Alex Gourevitch

Asheville Global Report, May 12, 2003
Title: U.S Army Major Refuses Order to Seize Iraq TV Station
Author: Charlie Thomas

Faculty Evaluator: Jeffrey Holtzman Ph.D.
Student Researchers: Sara Brunner, Doug Reynolds

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. IMN’s 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 SAIC’s 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 Bremer’s rules more judiciously and to develop a more rational set of media regulations.

UPDATE BY ALEX GOUREVITCH: My main interest in writing the article was to identify the core problems with the idea of 'exporting democracy' to other countries. I had heard there were problems with developing an independent and public media in Iraq and thought that looking at how the U.S. tried to manage the development of open media and 'free speech' would be an excellent way of showing how external 'democratization' doesn't work because democracy has to come from the inside. The people have to define the parameters of their politics, interpret principles like free speech, for themselves.

I thought my article exposed the contradiction between the logic of occupation and the logic of democratic politics, and I think this continues to be a problem. For instance, one of the triggering events of the recent and ongoing Sadrist uprising was the CPA's decision to shut down al-Hawza al-Natiqa, a low circulation newspaper supportive of Moqtada al-Sadr. Less radical Iraqis have also responded negatively to heavy-handed treatment of the media. On May 4, the Washington Post reported that the editor-in-chief of Al-Sabah, the U.S. funded newspaper in Iraq, Ismael Zayer, resigned along with some editors and reporters. Zayer told the Post that "We thought that Americans were here to create a free media" but "instead, we were being suffocated."

The CPA justifies its restrictions and censorship on the grounds that there is a tradeoff between liberty and security, especially when it comes to potentially incendiary speech. The problem isn’t that Iraqis don’t appreciate this trade-off or that the CPA is perceived as uneven and politically motivated in its application of the law. Rather, what upsets Iraqis is that it is the CPA that reserves the authority to decide when security, or some other value, trumps liberty. In fact, it appears that after the June 30 'hand over of sovereignty' the CPA will keep its authority to enforce Article 14 (the statute allowing the shutting down of media outlets if they are deemed to threaten law and order). The essential problem here is not just whether the CPA’s decisions are fair or proper, but that they get to make the decisions in the first place.

What kind of sovereignty do the Iraqis have if they are not allowed to interpret their own constitution? The contradiction between the logic of occupation and the logic of democracy continues, and will persist so long as the CPA or the coalition force remains in Iraq.

There has been some mainstream press coverage of this issue, although my story in particular has not received a great deal of attention. The New York Times did publish a short summary and snippets of the article in its Sept. 28 - Oct. 4 issue of The Week in Review Reading Desk: The Reading File, section. Other than that, it has not received a great deal of attention. For further information on these topics, the best places to go are independent media watchdog groups like Index on Censorship,; Reporters Without Borders, and

UPDATE BY CHARLIE THOMAS: After Major Charmaine Means was relieved of command, she was reassigned to a stateside post at Fort Bragg. Maj. Gen. David Petraeus was promoted to Lt. General and is back in Iraq in charge of training all Iraqi military and security forces.

Since the seizure of the Mosul TV station, the whole world has become aware of the illegal actions of the U.S. in Iraq. Fresh reports of violations of the Geneva Convention are frequent. Col. David Hogg, in an off-the-cuff remark, noted that U.S. forces routinely take hostages: “...his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note: ‘If you want your family released, turn yourself in.’” (Washington Post, July 28, ‘03). Article 34 of the Geneva Convention is specific: "The taking of hostages is prohibited."

Many news outlets reported that U.S. forces kept sick and injured civilians away from the hospitals during the siege of Falluja, but none noted that this behavior is a war crime.

And now comes former Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey, a veteran of the invasion of Iraq, reporting that he and his troops were ordered to, and did, fire on unarmed protestors, killing most of them.
After the World Trade Center attack, the U.S. essentially declared itself exempt from international norms. The military is following the civilian leadership: “In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions." - White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, 1/25/02 (Memorandum to the President)

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(#23) Brazil Holds Back in FTAA Talks, But Provides Little Comfort for the Poor of South America

Inter Press Service (, November 15, 2003
Title: "Trade: US Moves to Squeeze FTAA Opponents"
Author: Emad Mekay

Left Turn, Mar/Apr, 2004
Title: "Lula's First Year"
Author: Brian Campbell

Faculty Evaluators: Robert Girling Ph.D. LeiLani Nishime Ph.D.
Student Researchers: Hilton Jones, Chris Cox

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.

UPDATE BY BRIAN M. CAMPBELL: The election of Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva and the Workers Party in Brazil was heralded as a defeat for neo-liberalism and the beginning of a new era in Brazil, where people would be put before the dictates of international capital. The aim of this story was to look at what had happened to that promise during the first year of the Lula administration.

Latin America has been the guinea pig for neo-liberal policies. Free market theories were given the green light immediately after the military coup on September 11, 1973 that murdered the elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende. The result has been 30 years of escalating poverty and economic collapse across the region.

During the period 1980 to 2000, per capita income grew at a mere one-tenth of the rate of the previous decade, leaving the continent scarred by poverty and inequality. In Brazil, out of a population of 175 million, 53 million are poor, 23 million are homeless, and 8 million are unemployed. Meanwhile, three percent of the population own two-thirds of the land. Argentina has an unemployment rate of 21.5%—a country that used to feed the world can no longer feeds its own people. In Bolivia, 60% of the population is defined as poor. These figures are not unique to these countries, but sum up the experience of countries from Mexico to Chile: by the end of the 1990s, 11 million more people lived in poverty than at the beginning of the decade.

In 2003 the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, the body that coined the phrase “lost decade” to sum up the regions experience during the 1980s, issued another report that read in part: “Half the countries in the region have seen GDP per head fall in the past five years and the economies that grew rapidly during the 1990s have slowed down.” Perhaps the most extreme example of the failure of the neo-liberal model was the economic implosion and social uprising in Argentina in December 2001.

The desperation inflicted by the neo-liberal economic model has not gone unchallenged by the people of the region. Fights against International Monetary Fund-mandated privatization plans have raged in El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Many have been successful but have at best delayed the neo-liberal juggernaut. It was under these conditions and in this atmosphere that the people of Brazil went to the polling booths. The result was an entire country saying no to the dictates of neo-liberalism.

During the election campaign, the mainstream media had spread various scare stories about the impact that a Workers Party administration would have on the health of the Brazilian economy—meaning the ability of foreign owned companies to take money out of the country. Such talk caused a crisis in the economy and forced Lula to agree to abide by IMF rules. After Lula was inaugurated, he followed the rules of the international banking institutions and subsequently was lauded by newspapers such as the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. Any failure to follow through on pre-election commitments to Brazil’s poor have not been covered.

The best source to follow the progress of the Lula administration can be found on the Brazilian Landless Laborers website at

Another useful resource is the ZNET website, especially the pages on Latin America and Brazil,

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Blogger Management said...

(#24) Reinstating the Draft

SALON, November 3, 2003
Title: "Oiling up the Draft Machine?"
Author: Dave Lindorff

BUZZFLASH.COM, November 11, 2003
Title: "Would a Second Bush Term Mean a Return to Conscription?'
Author: Maureen Farrell

WAR TIMES, October-November, 2003
Title: "Military Targets Latino Youth"
Author: Jorge Mariscal

Evaluator: Robert Manning
Student Researchers: Jenifer Green, Adam Stutz

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 Rumsfeld’s 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 driver’s 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 ( 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 Clinton’s 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 army’s 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 you’d 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.

UPDATE BY MAUREEN FARRELL: While the draft became newsworthy in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, the mainstream media brushed most concerns aside. "Military Draft Unlikely for ‘War’ on Terrorism,”ABC News reported on Sept. 18, 2001, citing military analysts' opinions. The Brookings Institutions’ Michael O'Hanlon, however, admitted that, should the U.S. military become involved in an extended occupation, then perhaps we’d be looking at “the kinds of man power requirements that would advise in favor of a draft." By May 2004, O’Hanlon updated his prediction, citing mounting casualties and an over-reliance on National Guard and reserve troops in Iraq. “The most likely cause [for reinstatement of the draft] would be an even more severe over-deployment of the all-volunteer force. . . ,” he wrote in the Los Angeles Times.

Though Rep. Charles Rangel also addressed conscription concerns, by the time my story appeared on, little had been written about changes that would make “draft dodging” more difficult. Few mentioned that draft laws had been changed in 1971 to restrict college deferments and even fewer discussed the sweeping new policies regarding selective service registration. The border agreement between Canada and the U.S. (yet another roadblock to would-be draft dodgers) received even less press.

I first became interested in this story in July 2002, after reading a letter to the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer regarding pending legislation linking drivers' license applications to selective service registration. At the time, half of all U.S. states had enacted such legislation (with scarce media attention) and as of April 9, 2004, all but 13 states had either passed such legislation or were in the process of doing so (also with scarce media attention).

Since this story broke, Presidential candidates Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader have raised concerns over conscription's ever-increasing likelihood; Sen. Chuck Hagel has called for a national debate on the issue; and the Selective Service System's proposal to draft women and extend the draft registration age from 25 to 34 has been uncovered. Yet the mainstream media continues to ignore the larger implications in regard to he 2004 election. (The Internet remains an exception, however. BuzzFlash has featured several editorials on the subject and in May 2004, conservative columnist Paul Craig Roberts, writing for, wrote: “If Bush is reelected, wider war and a draft to feed it seem a certainty.")

This story is important for several reasons, but most notably for the questions it raises. Why did the Selective Service System feel compelled to insure compliance through new laws? Does this shift have anything to do with the larger, but also underreported agenda to widen the war in the Middle East? Do most Americans comprehend the long-term consequences of President Bush’s stated desire to “change the world”?

An informed citizenry is crucial to democracy. Given that our military is already overextended, Americans need to scrutinize this administration's intentions for “dealing with” Iran, Syria and other countries. And before they vote, they should also understand that extended military commitments would most likely require a return to the draft — and that this time around, neither college nor Canada would provide refuge.

For map of states linking drivers’ license applications to Selective Service registration:
For information on how the draft has changed since Vietnam:
For more on the U.S.-Canada “Smart Border Agreement”:

UPDATE BY JORGE MARISCAL: My article called attention to the Pentagon's efforts to double the number of Latinos in the U.S. military by 2006 and to the on-going militarization of public school systems. As popular support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq began to decline throughout early 2004, the Latino/a community became increasingly aware of the negative consequences of military service, the distortions used by military recruiters to seduce young people, and the increasingly limited range of alternatives available to working-class youth.

Counter-recruitment activities in predominantly Latino schools increased as never before. For the first time, activists, students, and educators in Los Angeles held a citywide counter-recruitment conference at Manual Arts High School. The organization formed at that conference continues to leaflet local high schools and hold meetings for parents and teachers. I was able to deliver lectures on militarism and the militarization of public schools at a number of venues throughout the Southwest. In April, activist Fernando Suarez del Solar and I spoke to approximately 300 students at the University of Texas, El Paso. Many of them vowed to begin counter-recruitment projects. Others said they would reconsider their decision to enlist in the military as a way to receive funding for education. We witnessed similar results in Albuquerque, San Antonio, and other cities with large Latino populations. Students at several universities in Puerto Rico organized protests to challenge the use of funding for ROTC programs. Efforts to establish a national network of counter-recruitment groups were successful and organizers called a national meeting for the summer of 2004 in Philadelphia.

Working with Fernando Suarez del Solar (who lost his son during the invasion of Iraq) and his Guerrero Azteca Project, our organization Project YANO visited numerous high schools, colleges, and Latino parents' groups in California. Across the state, students leafleted their schools with information about the truth behind the recruiters' sales pitch. At an anti-war poetry recital in San Diego, poet Jimmy Santiago Baca joined young local poets to raise funds for YANO's important work. YANO continues to produce Spanish language literature on the realities of military life and the partial truths presented by recruiters. Its director, Rick Jahnkow, advises other groups on how to begin and sustain counter-recruitment activities. YANO and its sister organization COMD continue to offer sound advice on the possibility of a military draft.

Mainstream coverage of the issues presented in my story was minimal. French, Swiss, and British journalists contacted us on several occasions but U.S. media outlets did not. In terms of our work in Spanish-language communities, we received a great deal of coverage from Spanish-language radio and television (e.g. Univision, Radio Bilingue) as well as the Spanish-language print media. Public radio stations with limited Latino programming in English (such as KPFK in Los Angeles) conducted several interviews with YANO members and associates.

Additional information about the issues raised in my story can be found at the following locations: Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities (YANO),; Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (COMD),; American Friends Service Committee (AFSC),; Guerrero Azteca Project,

2:43 AM  
Blogger Management said...

(#25) Wal-Mart Brings Inequality and Low Prices to the World

Title: “Welcome to Wal-World”
Author: Andy Rowell

Faculty Evaluators: Phil McGough, Laurie Dawson
Student Researcher: Mariah Wegener-Vernagallo, Doug Reynolds

“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 world’s largest retailer. Menzer’s vision is one where Wal-Mart becomes a global brand, just like McDonald’s 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-Mart’s 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 CBS’s “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, 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.”

UPDATE BY ANDY ROWELL: Wal-Mart’s unstoppable spread continues. In September 2003 Wal-Mart announced the "continuation of its aggressive unit growth for the fiscal year beginning February 1, 2004". In the U.S. Wal-Mart planned to open approximately 50 to 55 new discount stores, 220 to 230 new Supercenters, 25-30 new Neighborhood Markets and 35-40 new Sam’s Clubs. Wal-Mart International planned to open 130 to 140 units in existing markets.

In March 2004, Wal-Mart Brazil announced the acquisition of Bompreco, a retail chain in northeastern Brazil with 118 units (hypermarkets, supermarkets and mini markets).

In April 2004 the company’s international operations stood at 1,494 total units; Mexico (641) Puerto Rico (53) Canada (236) Argentina (11) Brazil (144) China (35) South Korea (15) Germany (92) United Kingdom (267). Its international sales were $47.5 billion, a 16.6 percent increase over the previous year. International operating profit was $2.3 billion, an increase of 18.6 percent compared to the previous fiscal year.

And so it goes on. Where will the next Wal-Mart be? Will it be your local community? Do you want a world run by Wal-Mart, where raw economic muscle of a huge global retailer can out-price any local competitor and put them out of business? In this cut price war the consumer will lose, the environment will lose and communities will lose.

In the U.K, Wal-Mart’s takeover of Asda has had a devastating effect. Award-wining food journalist Joanna Blythman’s new book called "Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets" published May 2004 outlines how: "I learned that UK supermarkets now jump to the tune of our second largest chain, Asda. Since 1999 when it was taken over by the biggest retailer in the world, the U.S. chain Wal-Mart, Asda’s strategy of ‘Every Day Low Pricing’, has triggered a supermarket price war in which chains without buying muscle are disadvantaged. In order to keep up with Asda, our leading chains in the UK must be ever more ruthless in the way they operate or else risk losing their place at the supermarket superpowers, top table".

This means that suppliers are squeezed, farmers are squeezed and supermarkets source from the cheapest overseas suppliers where labor, human rights and environmental standards are the lowest. Every week in the UK, 50 specialist shops like butchers and bakers are closing and one farmer or farm worker commits suicide. We enter a race to the bottom where everyone loses, especially the consumer.

Additional information: Al Norman’s Sprawl-buster,; Joanna Blythman’s “Shopped”,; Friends of the Earth supermarket campaign,; Coalition of groups in the UK against supermarkets,; Wal-Mart and unions,; selection of Andy Rowell articles,

Resources: Al-Norman ˆ guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement has a new book out called The Case Against Wal-Mart. To order: Call toll free (in the US) 877-386-5925 or E-mail or visit:

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