default.html Issue 74
Table of Contents

Debunking Elian

by Jeff Elliott 404 SPECIAL REPORT: Poor journalism combined with the passionate beliefs of supporters are creating a myth around Elian Gonzalez -- a myth that has the potential to be as explosive as Waco

Elian, Fidel, And Cuba's Future

by Randolph T. Holhut Castro has fed off the bluster of the Cuban exiles in southern Florida and their allies in the U.S. Congress for years. One could easily argue that Castro would have been removed from office years ago if it wasn't for the hard-liners in this country that still fuss over him

Greenwashing Dirty Business

by Asmara Pelupessy If you believe hype like the People Do campaign, it may seem that some of the largest and most environmentally destructive corporations in the world are going green. Have environmental initiatives like Earth Day 2000 inspired a shift in their practices? The answer is "no," but corporations are willing to spend millions for you to think "yes." Especially in the climate of Earth Day's 30th anniversary, these companies have been intensifying efforts to hide their destructive environmental records behind eco-friendly rhetoric. This is the art of greenwash

Garden Activists Take Grass Roots Action

by Lois Pearlman The group "gives away gardens," with only two stipulations -- that they are grown without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides, and the owners agree to give back 25 percent of the harvest for seed saving . P.E. A. opposes the proliferation of genetically engineered seeds and chemically-based agribusiness, but its emphasis is more on setting an example by creating organic gardens, than on preaching politics

The Anti-Environmental Movement

by Bill Berkowitz Right-wing think tanks and industry associations are the major players behind the movement opposing environmental regulation and attacking environmentalists. These groups are devoting a great deal of time, energy and money to the issue of global warming, where both regulation and actions by environmentalists intersect

"Global Green Deal" Better Alternative to World Bank

by Mark Hertsgaard Instead of financing rainforest destruction and climate change, the Bank should support a Global Green Deal: a program to renovate human civilization environmentally from top to bottom while truly fighting poverty. And make no mistake: poverty is central to humanity's environmental predicament. Four billion of the planet's six billion people endure deprivation inconceivable to the wealthiest one billion whose lifestyles are advertised as the global ideal. As the poor strive to improve their lot in the years ahead, humanity's environmental footprint will inevitably grow

Bear Lincoln Jailed in New Shooting Incident

by Nicholas Wilson Bear Lincoln, who was acquitted three years ago of murdering a deputy sheriff, surrendered to Mendocino County authorities Tuesday and was charged in new shooting incidents on the Round Valley Indian Reservation at Covelo. No one was injured

Dirty Politics Charged At Endangered Species Meet

by Judith Achieng Delegates attending the ongoing United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Nairobi have accused "rich nations" of buying votes from developing countries

NATO Admits Depleted Uranium Used in Serbia Bombings

by Vesna Peric Zimonjic Fears are growing in Serbia about possible health hazards following confirmation from NATO that it used depleted uranium (DU), in its air campaign against the country last year

Elian Case Throws Spotlight on Abducted Children Taken Overseas

by Gustavo Gonzalez More than 350,000 American children are abducted or prevented from returning home every year, and many of them end up being taken abroad. Unfortunately, these youngsters do not receive the same kind of attention that's being showered on Elian

IMF Protesters More than White Kids with Orange Hair

by Mary Jo Mcconahay "I see what's coming so we should shape it," said Sadiqa Yancey, 23, a bio-technology graduate from Boston. She is against patenting of genes, for instance, which she considers "science contaminated by capital," and figures she can "infiltrate" future colleagues with her point of view. Yancey, who is black, said she felt obliged to come to Washington to protest after learning how bank policies have led to cuts in health budgets in Haiti, for instance, from Haitian friends and colleagues met at conferences

Mainstream Media Discovers Activists Have a Message

by Jason Vest What happened was, to some extent, what progressives have always wanted: the mainstream media started taking them seriously. Where two years ago it was virtually impossible to get meaningful stories (or stories at all) into the corporate media about the Multilateral Agreement on Investment or Congressional hearings on the IMF, suddenly everyone wanted to write about thorny global issues. Or, at least, the people talking about them

The Battle of the Peeps

by L.A. Kauffman Covertly organized actions -- from lockdowns to banner drops -- are the most useful when movements are small, for they allow a small number of people to leverage their power. We're in a different phase now, with increasing numbers of people becoming inspired to take action. In both Seattle and D.C., it was crowds of people, simply linking arms, who mainly held the blockades

The Next Citizen Showdown

by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman The next citizen showdown against corporate globalization will be on April 16 and 17, when thousands of people come to Washington, D.C. to protest -- through legal demonstrations and/or civil disobedience -- the politics of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Here's a dozen reasons why you should join the protests

by Jason Vest Since late March, a number of activists and organizers (as well as a few journalists) have been subjected to measures ranging from surveillance, implicit threats and bureaucratic intransigence apparently designed to marginalize the effectiveness of their mission

U.S. Opposes International Conference on Terrorism

by Thalif Deen U.S. delegate Robert Rosenstock says such a conference will have no "practical benefits., but a controversial issue that could come up at the conference is the subject of "state terrorism." For example, should military attacks by armed forces of any State be deemed acts of terrorism when civilians are killed?

Children Living Near Busy Streets Have Higher Cancer Risk

by Howard Wachtel A new study conducted in the rapidly expanding Denver metropolitan area indicates children living near heavily traveled streets or highways are at significantly greater risk of developing cancer, including childhood leukemia

Bush Goes for the Green

by Jim Hightower This is the same Bush who is telling everyone that to know what he will do as president, we should look at what he's done in Texas? OK, let's look. He has allowed the worst air polluters in the state -- polluters who gave half-a-million bucks to his 1998 re-election campaign -- to comply with our clean air laws on a voluntary basis. Righto ... don't want to comply, don't have to

Nader v. Scumballs

by Barbara Ehrenreich In November, progressives will face a daunting choice: Whether to participate in the great Democratic/Republic abortion referendum or vote for Nader, a.k.a. "None of the Above"

Gore-Bush Race Good News for Nader

by Dan Hamburg Now the Dems are left with Gore and the Repugs with Bush. Perfect. The more you look at their lying, sleazy, environmentally destructive, corporate-schmoozing ways, the better it is for Nader. In fact, the best spokesmen for Nader are Gore and Bush themselves. Now, if the Reform Party gets its act together and nominates Pat Buchanan, we'll have a field of candidates from which Ralph Nader will emerge like a beacon of light from the thick fog of American politics

Buchanan Aiming At Reform Party Takeover

by Jack Breibart The secretary of the Reform Party charged April 10 that the Pat Buchanan presidential campaign is "acting like school yard bullies" in its attempt to "take over" the party. Californian and long-time national party leader Jim Mangia said in a telephone interview that Buchanan's brigades were using "undemocratic" and "unprincipled" tactics to gain control of state organizations. "They're Nixonian," Mangia said

Pentagon Hypes Risk From "Rogue Nation" Attack

by Eric S. Margolis Washington plans to spend $13 billion -- and up -- on a rudimentary anti-missile system to defend against potential nuclear attacks by nefarious `rogue nations'

Washington Writes Colombia a Blank Check

by Mark Weisbrot If this were really a war against drugs, we wouldn't be spending billions in a futile attempt to destroy the FARC and the ELN -- Colombia's main guerilla groups, who have been fighting for decades against a violently repressive government. While the guerrilla groups have provided protection for coca growers, many of whom are poor peasants struggling to survive, the really big involvement in trafficking is by people on our side -- the paramilitaries allied with the Colombian armed forces

Chemical Cops

by Terry. J. Allen The tons of tear gas and pepper spray munitions Seattle police used on demonstrators and bystanders alike at the anti-WTO demonstrations last December contained chemicals implicated in lung problems, eye damage and even death. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the effects of these chemical weapons are not always confined to 15 or so minutes of intense pain and incapacitation. According to manufacturers' documents, military research and medical literature, each of these agents carries short- and long-term health risks; various formulations contain potential carcinogens

World Temp to Reach 10,000 Year High

by Gustavo Capdevila IPCC projections show that the average temperature of the Earth's surface will rise from 1.8 to 6.3 degrees Farenheit by the end of this century

Oregon Natives Seek Return of Rare Meteorite

by Graceann Hall Oregon-based Native group is seeking the return of a rare 15 and a half ton meteorite, which crashed into the Earth approximately 10,000 years ago and is now on display in a prestigious New York museum

Rising Wave of Fascism Worries UN

by Gustavo Capdevila The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, expressed concern March 21 about the resurgence in Europe of an extremist right-wing that feeds nostalgia for the Nazi past, and she condemned attacks against Moroccan immigrants in southern Spain

Natives Furious After Australia Denies "Stolen Generation"

by Sonny Inbaraj Aboriginal activists threatened April 3 to hold violent protests at the Olympics later this year after the government said they exaggerated the effects of a decades-long policy of taking Native children from their parents and resettling them with white families. Dubbed the "stolen generation," the practice may have disrupted 1 out of 3 Native familes between 1910 and the 1970s

U'wa Tribe Confronts Surprised U.S. Oil Exec

by Danielle Knight A leader of a Colombian Native group, in a visit to the United States Congress last week, confronted a surprised executive of a U.S. oil company and demanded that it halt all plans to drill on land claimed by the tribe

Many Questions About Background of Russian President Putin

by Scott Harris Putin first moved into politics in St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad, Russian's second city. And one reason some people believe that Yeltsin liked Putin as a potential successor to himself is that Putin worked for a time in the Federal Property Management Agency, which is the center of corruption in the Russian government that was in charge of managing the huge assets still controlled by the Russian federal government. Some speculate -- although there's no direct evidence -- that anyone who had a high level position in the Federal Property Management Agency in the early 1990s, was very likely involved in some, at best questionable, activities. Some think that President Yeltsin may have felt he would be safe being succeeded by Putin, because Yeltsin may have some of what Russians call compromising material on him, which Putin would not want revealed

Chechen Refugees Complain West Not Listening to Reports of Russian Abuse

by Sophie Arie Each accusation is backed up with harrowing witness accounts and stark legislative evidence concluding that Russian troops, who the refugees bitterly refer to as mercenaries (kontraktniki), are waging war on the whole Chechen population, not just the independence fighters they officially set out to crush. According to scores of testimonies, thousands of Chechen men are being stopped, stripped to the waist to check for rifle bruising to the shoulder, inspected for traces of gunpowder on their hands and often detained and beaten

Hundreds of Groups Want Review of Vatican Chair at UN

by Mithre J. Sandrasagra At a press conference March 14, Frances Kissling, president of CFFC, said that, "to grant state status and special privileges to this religion (Roman Catholicism) over all others is simply unfair." No other religion is recognized as a state in the United Nations, although many participate as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), she added

Third World Angered As U.S. Asks To Reduce UN Dues

by Thalif Deen U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke wants a cut in Washington's annual assessed payments: from 25 percent to 20 percent of the UN's regular budget. The budget for 2000-2001 stands at about $1.3 billion. At present the United States is also the largest single defaulter, owing more than $1.7 billion in outstanding dues, primarily because a right-wing Republican-dominated Congress has been holding back payments for political reasons. This, in turn, has triggered a cash crisis at the UN resulting in staff cuts and austerity measures

Calif Commissioner Nixed $3.6 Billion Penalty Against Insurers

by Joe Shea California's "politically ambitious" state insurance commissioner Charles Quackenbush opted to reject fines and special payments totaling more than $3.6 billion against State Farm, Allstate and 20th Century for failing to live up to insurance policies covering victims of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, and received $55,000 in campaign contributions from two of the insurance companies after his decision, the Los Angeles Times reported

Egypt's Hepatitis C Crisis Traced to Old Public Health Program

by Larry Roberts Hepatitis C virus was apparently transmitted through the contamination of reusable needles and syringes used in the treatment of schistosomiasis, a condition caused by a parasite in the blood. Researchers say the treatment campaigns may account for the world's largest transmission of blood-borne pathogens resulting from medical intervention. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians received the treatment from the 1950's to the 1980's

UN Chief Praises Cuba For Healthiness, Literacy Rate

by Thalif Deen Secretary General Kofi Annan has singled out Cuba as one of the few developing nations with "impressive" achievements in social development. Annan said that Cuba's achievements in health, education and literacy were all the more significant given the size of its domestic product per capita -- and the suffering the country has undergone since the U.S.-imposed economic embargo of July 1963

Oil is Reason Behind $1.6 Billion Colombian Aid Package

by Michael T. Klare All this aid is supposed to strengthen Colombia's capacity to fight narcotics traffickers and the leftist guerrillas who protect them. But there is another, hidden objective -- to protect U.S. access to the largest untapped pool of petroleum in the Western Hemisphere

Fate of Microsoft Now Sealed

by Eben Moglen Bill Gates, who as a child probably didn't play well with others, has elected to knock over all the blocks rather than share. Judge Jackson, for his part, has brought the Microsoft Era to a certain and devastating end

The Demise of DrKoop.Com: A Riches to Rags Internet Story

by Tamara Straus Last year, the National Environmental Trust found that Koop had urged the U.S. House of Representatives to extend Schering-Plough's patent on the allergy drug Claritin for an additional three years, without disclosing that his Koop Foundation had received a $1 million grant from the pharmaceutical company. When questioned by the press, Koop responded, "It never occurred to me that it could be a conflict of interest"

Giuliani's Authoritarianism Is Wearing Thin

by Steve Chapman For his entire administration, he has been at war with freedom of speech -- and he's been losing badly. Since the mayor took office in 1994, the New York Civil Liberties Union has gone to court 25 times to challenge actions by his administration on First Amendment grounds. In those cases, the NYCLU reports, it has won victories in 19, with two still unresolved

New York City Ripe to Explode

by L.A. Kauffman Mayor Giuliani consistently uses police force to stifle political expression and punish his critics. Going to any publicly announced demonstration nowadays means walking into an armed camp: Staggering numbers of police are mobilized for even the tamest rallies. The police brass brazenly pick known organizers out of the crowd, jailing them on the slimmest of pretenses. Beatings are alarmingly common

Supreme Court Makes Dangerous Ruling on Nudity

by Steve Chapman It's hard to decide which is more ridiculous: The court's insistence that this regulation does not amount to censorship, or its pretense that a few scraps of fabric will eliminate the alleged side effects of erotic dancing. Imagine a law forcing art museums to put fig leaves over the private parts of nudes depicted in paintings or sculpture, or forbidding the Dance of the Seven Veils in the opera "Salome," or ordering video stores to delete Kate Winslet's unclothed torso from the movie "Titanic." It would be laughed out of the Supreme Court

FDA Mission Hopelessly Compromised

by Judith Gorman The Food and Drug Administration, responsible for safeguarding the nation's food and drug supply, has instead become hopelessly compromised. Under ferocious pressure from pharmaceutical manufacturers to expedite the drug approval process, the FDA is becoming more of a health hazard than the NRA and Big Tobacco put together

Teaching Kids to Rat on Pals for Fun and Profit

by Randolph T. Holhut A new anti-violence program started earlier this year in North Carolina is starting to make its way through our nation's public schools. It's called WAVE (Working Against Violence Everywhere). It was developed by Pinkerton Services Group, a division of Pinkerton's Inc., the international security company. And its main purpose is to teach kids how to rat out their friends and get rewards for doing so

"Don't Know" Is Scary Answer To Biotech Questions

by Donella H. Meadows A geneticist described a new rice with a pasted-in gene that allows the plant to make and store beta-carotene, the yellow pigment from which our bodies make vitamin A. Thousands of poor children in Asia, who eat little but rice, go blind or die for lack of vitamin A. The "golden rice" could solve that problem. A hand went up, and one of the students asked, "Why not just splice the beta-carotene gene into the child?"

The Invisible Working Class

by Molly Ivins One function of the income gap is that the people at the top of the heap have a hard time even seeing those at the bottom. They practically need a telescope. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt probably didn't waste a lot of time thinking about the people who built their pyramids, either. OK, so it's not that bad yet -- but it's getting that bad

Mean Laws Spring From Mean Politics

by Molly Ivins The suffering caused by these laws was easily foreseeable. Congress was warned again and again what the consequences would be, but it was in the grip of ideological fervor and Republican hubris, and could not be bothered to listen to any "bleeding hearts." It is now in the grip of plain old election-year politics, so we can expect many goodies

Time For Some Outrage!

by Molly Ivins The outrage shortage or outrage fatigue appears to be a looming national emergency. It'll be the Outrage Crisis in no time flat if we don't work up enough energy to get seriously ticked off -- by seriously, I mean ticked off enough to Do Something

Enough With The Apologies

by Molly Ivins It was a bad week for the Bush camp, apology-wise, as only two days earlier a Bush appointee to the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards had to apologize for having sworn during a deposition that calling black people "porch monkeys" is not a racial slur. However, all this was balanced by Gore's daily apology for the Buddhist temple fund-raising affair

Elian's Family Problems

by Molly Ivins If I may be presumptuous enough to offer some well-meant advice to the Miami Cuban community: Y'all need to think a little bit about the public relations of this deal. Do you have any idea how horrible it will look if there is any violence involved with turning Elian over to his father? You may not agree with the law in this case, but if you want to perfectly demonstrate that none of you gives a toot about this poor child, go ahead and stage a riot outside the house where the kid is living

The Prop 13 Disaster

by Molly Ivins How much intelligence does it take to conclude that Prop 13 has been a disaster for the state? For that matter, how much objectivity does it take? The results of Prop 13 are easily quantified

Pundits Grapple With Independent Media

by Norman Solomon These days, news stories about "independent media" often emphasize the use of digital technology. But the most important successes are human rather than technical. No matter how modern the streaming audio and video, it wouldn't matter much if people across the country and around the planet weren't eager to find out what anti-corporate demonstrators are doing and why they're doing it

Media Already Puts Spin on A16 Protest

by Norman Solomon As a warm-up, The Wall Street Journal began its lead editorial with the declaration that protesters "will be bringing their bibs and bottles to the nation's capital this week to have a run at the annual spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank." In the next sentence the newspaper labeled the array of expected protesters "a smorgasbord of save-the-turtles activists, anarchists, egalitarians, Luddites and Marxists"

From the Media to Elian, With Love

by Norman Solomon Elian, so far this spring, we've made sure that many millions of Americans think about you every waking hour. Your story is big. So, count your blessings. Any number of 6-year-olds, unfilmed and unextraordinary, can only dream of a day when America's magic media alchemy will turn their suffering into infotainment

Child Abuse of Elian by ABC/Disney

by Norman Solomon Many psychiatrists, pediatricians and other specialists in children's health have strongly criticized the faux interview as damaging to the small boy. The spectacle was even too much for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a hardliner against the Castro regime, who called the televised sessions "inexcusable" and said: "It breaks my heart to see a 6-year-old child on TV being interviewed about things that he has no idea what's going on." So why did Diane Sawyer -- and other bigshots at ABC/Disney -- insist on carrying out the scheme? For the same reasons that they pursue so many of their projects: Arrogance. Self-promotion. And greed

NPR Joins Effort to Crush Low Power Radio

by Alexander Cockburn Ever since NPR forced its affiliates to accept nationally syndicated NPR programming, the proportion of locally originated and community-oriented programming on these public radio stations has plummeted, and many listeners are discontented. Low-power FM is a huge threat to the NPR empire

To Make Mistakes is Glorious

by Alexander Cockburn History isn't like a bus, conveniently carrying a destination sign above the windshield. Every time I go to a political gathering on the left, it's filled with people, myself included, who have made mistakes about the way history was headed, about the vulnerability of capitalism, but who were on the right track all the same. The most mistaken people of all are those so frightened of making mistakes that they end up missing the right bus when it finally comes round the corner

Gays and Marriage

by Alexander Cockburn Across the country, many gays are smarting after a hefty slab of California's voters took the opportunity last month to say "no, absolutely not" to the notion of gay marriage. But the dismay is tempered by other gays asking, "Why did we ever want the sacred institution in the first place?"

A Little Anti-Constitutional Message

by Alexander Cockburn So, here we have a "quality" show designed to make viewers suspicious of constitutional protections, and of the morals of criminal-defense attorneys. Other shows habituate viewers to the idea that cops can be effective guardians of the peace only if they trample on such protections. It was not always so. If one watches reruns of "Perry Mason" and "The Fugitive," one finds that police were often portrayed unsympathetically on the former, and usually on the latter. But for years now, we've been subjected to a Niagara of pro-police propaganda on TV shows, 11 o' clock news reports and in the newspapers, such material providing the mulch for our present police culture

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