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Table of Contents

One Nation Under Siege

by Christian Parenti For a sneak preview of a future American police state, travel south from the comfortable illusions of the San Francisco Bay Area into the dirty air of California's Central Valley on Interstate 99 to Fresno, a sprawling, poorly planned city of 350,000. Pass the forest of pole-perched McDonald's, Best Western and Motel 6 signs and turn off on one of the city's southern exits into the sprawling ghetto of the southwest side. There, on the dim side streets, among the little bungalows and dying rail yards, massive paramilitary police operations are under way on almost any night

The Riot Academy

by Jennifer Gonnerman The popularity of the Mock Prison Riot is a sign of the times. The nation's prison population has quadrupled over the last two decades, climbing to 2 million. At the same time, the law enforcement technology industry has also exploded. Its annual sales now exceed $1 billion, according to OLETC. (This figure includes stab-proof vests, helmets, shields, batons, and chemical agents.) All this new equipment for suppressing inmate revolts can create the impression that prison riots are on the rise. They are not. Rather, the hunger of companies for new customers in this post-Cold War era and the availability of government dollars have fueled a military-style buildup inside many of the nation's prisons

Blurring the Lines Between Soldiers and Cops

by Joe Collins In 1989 Congress passed amendments to the National Defense Authorization Acts, designating the Pentagon as the lead federal agency for anti-drug intelligence, and providing an increased role for the National Guard in the interdiction role. Interestingly enough, it also directed the armed forces to conduct training exercises in known drug- trafficking areas in the U.S., considered to be a "work-around" of the Posse Comitatus Act. This work-around stipulates that, if during the course of normal military training any member of the armed forces witnessed what could be construed as drug-related criminal activity, he was duty bound to report it to his chain of command, who would forward that information to the appropriate "authorities"

Russia Shuts Down Its EPA

by Sergei Blagov The Kremlin says it is dissolving Russia's environmental protection agency in an effort to cut costs and combat bureaucracy, but Russian ecologists and some legislators say it is a sign that the nation is drifting further away from the civilized world

Error 404: News Not Found in Your Daily Paper

he press has always treated Microsoft gently, allowing Bill Gates to wage a campaign of subterfuge and disinformation -- even though the corporation may be attempting to steal the Y2000 elections

Suicide Rate Soaring For Mexican Youth

by Pilar Franco Suicide is now the third leading cause of death among Mexico's young people, who are increasingly overwhelmed by psychological ailments and family or social problems. Doctors themselves are a high-risk group for suicide. The profession has the highest alcoholism rate in Mexico as well as high amphetamine consumption, as many doctors take the drug to stay awake on the job

Cocaine Exposure Dooms Infants, Study Says

A connection between cocaine use during pregnancy and attention dysfunction in children is suggested in a study by researchers at Cornell University and the University of Kentucky

Cocaine Exposure Doesn't Harm Infants, Study Says

There's new evidence that prenatal cocaine exposure won't trigger children to become the misbehaving, difficult troublemakers society predicted they would be

Gulf War Vets Show Brain Damage

by Mindy Baxter Brain scans of veterans who returned from the Gulf War sick show evidence of significant brain-cell loss, similar in magnitude to results found in patients with brain diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis, as well as dementia and other degenerative neurological disorders, although the brain areas affected are different

Media Goes Easy on Prescription Drugs, Researchers Find

by John Lacey  Newspaper and television reports on new medications tend to exaggerate their benefits, ignore their risks, and fail to disclose their costs, according to a collaborative study in the June 1 New England Journal of Medicine. The study also found that only 40 percent of news stories citing experts with financial ties to the drug being studied disclosed this potential conflict of interest

CIA Admits Tolerating Contra- Cocaine Trafficking in 1980s

by Robert Parry In secret congressional testimony, senior CIA officials admitted that the spy agency turned a blind eye to evidence of cocaine trafficking by U.S.-backed Nicaraguan contra rebels in the 1980s and generally did not treat drug smuggling through Central America as a high priority during the Reagan administration

Congress Threatens Nations Who Support War Crimes Court

by Thalif Deen A leading human rights organization has denounced U.S. lawmakers for introducing legislation that would punish countries supporting the creation of an International Criminal Court (ICC). Proposed U.S. legislation that would bar American military aid to any country ratifying the treaty establishing the court

Bush Campaign Spins Abortion Flip-Flop

by David Corn Recently, I ran smack into classic spin. In a 1978 interview with Bush, he said he "opposes the pro-life amendment favored by [his opponent] and favors leaving up to a woman and her doctor the abortion question." This meant that Bush was on the side of abortion-rights advocates -- and in opposition to the anti-abortion movement and the Republican Party

Support For Cuba Embargo Dropping

by Tucker Teutsch In the rush to get in bed with China, our legislative bodies have sailed easily through such "thorny" issues as human rights abuses and state-sponsored terrorist acts against the U.S. But Republicans in the House have run across another sticky question: will this radical change in attitude toward the world's largest communist country dictate a similar change toward the world's smallest

You Want The Truth About D.C. Sex?

by David Corn The problem is, these stories are tough to investigate and almost impossible to confirm. Sure, there's an ethical question about the newsworthiness of the personal lives of public figures. My short-cut answer: hypocrites deserve to be outed. You preach family values and you practice Hugh Hefner hobbies -- the voters ought to know. There is something uncomfortable about wallowing in this muck. I'd rather nail a politician for doing an improper favor in exchange for a campaign contribution. Still, I have proceeded cautiously into such sewage

Blame Bob Dole For Healthcare Costs

by Judith Gorman Bob Dole may not have made it to the White House, but before he left Washington for the greener pastures of Comedy Central and Viagra endorsements, he left us a lasting legacy. Before he exited Washington, Bob Dole set the stage for the current healthcare crisis. The Pandora's Box Dole bequeathed to us is the Bayh-Dole Act, a law which has engorged the coffers of pharmaceutical corporations, at taxpayer expense

Thank Corporate Cash for China Vote

by Marty Jezer The China vote was determined by money, not merit. Proponents argued that unregulated free trade with China would help bind the U.S. and China together in the realm of economics and politics. The lure of exports and financial investment may temper some aspects of Chinese policy, but don't expect Chinese leaders to simply give up on their own "great power" ambitions. The Clintonians may believe the Eisenhower-era hokum that what's good for corporate America is good for America, but the Chinese leaders have interests of their own. Trade with the United States is not going to inspire China to let Tibet go

Gun-Hating Moms May Be Swing Vote in Nov

by Steven Hill and Rob Richie Control of the House this year will be decided in some 35 close races -- the other 400 essentially are being conceded by one of the major parties because of incumbency or lopsided partisan splits that make the district safe, no matter how much money challengers spend. Democrats hope that some of those "million moms" and their families have become equally passionate about gun control, but that hope has yet to be tested. Given this delicate balance, both Democrats and Republicans are trying to position themselves between the swings of the polls

Will Clinton Fund Star Wars II?

by David Corn Clinton came into office as a missile defense skeptic, but in recent years, as Republicans have moved to deploy NMD as an issue against him, the President has bolstered anti-missile spending. Last year, he increased the NMD budget by $10.5 billion over six years. Here's more evidence that it is good for the Pentagon and military contractors to have a draft-dodger in the White House. As he has done so often, Clinton has attempted to absorb an issue that could inconvenience him (or Gore) politically. After all, who wants to be accused of leaving the nation vulnerable to crazed anti-American despots armed with nukes?

A Just Punishment For Clinton

by Steve Chapman Disbarment is not enough to satisfy among diehard right-wingers who think he should have been driven into political exile, if not federal prison, and it could only infuriate rabid Democratic partisans who blame all his troubles on Ken Starr. But for everyone else, it should be just about perfect

GM Seed Probably More Widespread Than Believed

by Andy Coghlan Concern over the accidental planting of genetically modified seed on several farms in Europe reached fever pitch as a company in the U.S. has warned that the problem is probably commonplace. "My guess is that it happens all the time," says Jeffrey Smith, vice president of marketing and communications at Genetic ID of Fairfield, Iowa. The company, which screens agricultural produce for GM material, found that more than half of 20 random samples of conventional seed taken from American distributors contained some GM seed

Biodiversity Reduces Lyme Disease, Study Says

It's well-known that biodiversity makes ecosystems healthier. But new research shows that biodiversity may make people healthier too. People are less likely to get Lyme disease if they live in areas with a greater diversity of small mammals

Elian Case Resonates In German Custody Situations

by Jim Lobe At the same time that a federal appeals court announced that six-year-old Elian Gonzalez could not apply for asylum against his Cuban father's wishes, Clinton was pressing German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin on behalf of U.S. parents who have lost custody of their children to courts in Germany. Germany, it turns out, is one of the world's worst violators of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

U.S. Agency Cuts Support to Enviro Groups Critical of Mining

by Danielle Knight After JATAM held a workshop in November 1999 condemning Newmont's actions, Muhammed said he received a call from the U.S. embassy inquiring whether the funds used in the workshop were derived from USAID. According to Muhammed, the embassy said they received a complaint from Newmont protesting the use of U.S. taxpayers' money to fund a campaign against a U.S. company

Indonesia Begins Probe of Suharto Foundations

The current investigation focuses on his seven foundations, the case of the "national car" project Timor which had been awarded to a Suharto son, and allegations that Suharto used presidential decrees to enrich himself and his family. By presidential decree, Suharto raised huge amounts of funds through these foundations. The decree stipulates that all state corporations set aside five percent of their profits and give them to the foundations, which were supposedly formed to help the poor

Africa Health Quality Similar To Middle Ages

by Gustavo Capdevila Sub-Saharan Africa has plunged to levels not seen in the developed world since the middle ages, said one WHO official. According to the new measurement, among the 191 members of WHO, people in Japan can expect 74.5 years of healthy life, while those in Sierra Leone can expect less than 26

Infant Deaths Fell When Nearby Nuke Plants Closed

by Danielle Knight Infant mortality rates around five U.S. nuclear power reactors dropped almost immediately after the reactors closed, according to a new study. Raising questions whether allowable emissions of "low-level" radiation from nuclear plants endanger nearby residents, the study has prompted calls for the U.S. government to begin considering adverse health effects associated with nuclear plants before renewing their operating licenses

Maquiladora Plants Look For Safer Countries

by Pilar Franco Soaring crime rates in Mexico are threatening to trigger the flight of "maquiladora" export assembly companies, which account for 45 percent of the country's exports, business executives say

Economic, Terrorism Fears Grow in Philippines

by Marites Sison Barely two years into his presidency, Estrada is already feeling the pinch from nearly all sectors of society -- from the poor who are believed to have voted him into office, the influential Roman Catholic Church, the politically-active middle class, businessmen, members of the opposition, and reactivated rebel groups. Filipinos, according to businessman Raul Concepcion, "are as downhearted now as they were back in 1989" when rebel military soldiers launched a failed but bloody coup against then-president Corazon Aquino

Corporations Trump Human Rights in Burma Decision

by Mark Weisbrot Souter's concern about the President speaking "for the Nation with one voice" echoes arguments made by the lawyer for the National Foreign Trade Council, the consortium of more than 600 companies that won this case. "As trade becomes more important, it becomes more important for Congress to speak with one voice." That "one voice" is the voice of big business, with the federal government increasingly acting as a mere echo chamber. Even worse, our government is working overtime to stifle dissent

Child Casualties of the Drug War

by Steve Chapman Lockney Texas appears to be one of only two school districts in the country (the other is in nearby Sundown) that have instituted mandatory drug testing for all students. While some schools require such tests for kids who play on athletic teams or participate in extracurricular activities, Lockney does it for every single youngster -- and not just in high school but in junior high. Anyone enrolled, from the sixth grade on, has to submit to a urinalysis for drugs, and is subject to random tests afterward

Unsafe at any Speed

by Steve Chapman Neither Al Gore nor George W. Bush has made an issue of banning car phones, perhaps because they fear alienating voters who think they can't live without them. But the stark political reality is two out of every three Americans -- including 31 percent of those who say they frequently use the phone while driving -- favor a ban on the practice

Sugar Lobby Revises USDA Guidelines

When the USDA announced its revision of the federal food guidelines on May 27th, the nutritionists' language had been quietly dropped. Now they tell Americans to "choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugar"

Italy's New Generation of Shadow Warriors

by Eric Margolis Gladio's elderly veterans have been succeeded by a younger generation of shadow warriors dedicated to combating the still powerful communist influence in Italy. Rome's last coalition government was headed by the 'reformed' Communist Party, and is now led by the Socialists. Charges are flying that Gladio may somehow be behind the resurgence of the Red Brigades in a baroque plot to destabilize Italy's current leftwing governments

Think Race Discrimination Is Gone? Think Again

by Molly Ivins One-third of seniors currently have no insurance to cover drug costs, and because we permit pharmaceutical companies to charge rip-off prices, it is not uncommon to find seniors with drug bills running over $1,000 a month

Executing Gary Graham

by Molly Ivins Graham is no poster boy for the anti-death-penalty camp. He's a bad actor who belongs in prison -- several violent robberies and a rape. But whether we like it or not, his record doesn't prove that he's guilty of the Bobby Grant Lambert murder for which he is about to be executed. But I think the question here is simple: Would YOU want to be put to death on the strength of one eyewitness who got a glimpse from 35 feet away at night -- especially if there were better eyewitnesses and alibi witnesses?

Strolling Along Bush Wall of Shame

by Molly Ivins My favorite thing at the Texas Republican Convention was the advertising in the back of the hall that constituted an almost perfect record of the major scandals, conflicts of interest and bad public policy that have occurred during the W. Bush gubernatorial administration. There they all were, proudly displaying their gratitude to Bush and the party

Shameless Inheritance Tax Grab

by Molly Ivins You have to admit, that House of Reps -- they used to call it "the People's House" -- what an imagination, what a sense of humor. Here we are looking at an income gap between the rich and the rest of us that is almost beyond human comprehension -- the richest fifth of Americans now have 80 percent of all the total wealth of the nation, leaving 20 percent of the wealth for the other 80 percent of us in a practically harmonic convergence -- and the House thinks the rich need a big tax break

Corporate Free Speech "Rights"

by Molly Ivins In a little-noted decision in early June, the Supremes declined to limit the way that telephone companies can use information about their customers to market new services on the grounds that it would infringe on U.S. West's free-speech rights. What this means is another erosion of your privacy, allowing phone companies to study your calling habits without your permission

Campaign Reform? Hah!

by Molly Ivins The problem is simple. The party in power, the one with the most incumbents, gets most of the special-interest money because incumbents are overwhelmingly likely to be re-elected. So whatever party is in power is opposed to campaign finance reform. Democrats, theoretically, favor reform, in part because business money goes mostly to conservatives, and business money in politics outranks labor money by a large margin (in case you were wondering why permanent trade status for China got through Congress). So when the D's were in, the House would pass reform and the Senate wouldn't, or vice versa. The R's just vote against it, under orders from their leaders, who aren't about to throw away a money advantage like the one they've got

Big Skirmish in the Privacy War

by Molly Ivins The Federal Trade Commission came out in May with proposals for some fairly tough new privacy rules on the Internet. But lo and behold, industry groups and the Republicans in Congress (happy recipients of mucho dinero from high-tech groups) promptly announced that nothing needs to be done

That Texas Image Problem

by Molly Ivins In this festive election year, our governor has put us once again in the national spotlight, and it's not flattering. Texas, where three white guys out looking for a good time decide to drag a black man to death behind a pickup. Where the retarded and the insane are executed to barbaric yowps from drunken frat boys in Huntsville. Where the guv's response to the dirtiest air in the nation is to politely ask polluters if they will please volunteer to quit polluting instead of making them do it

131 Executions Later, Maybe Justice Isn't Perfect

by Molly Ivins It took Bush only 131 executions to find a case where he thought there might be some doubt about the matter. No, I take that back. He did once grant a pardon: He had to. That was the memorable case of Henry Lee Lucas, the serial liar, who confessed to 150 murders before our brighter law-enforcement minds started to wonder if he was telling the truth

No Compassionate Conservative, He

by Molly Ivins Governor, I think you should know there is not one single thing you have ever done in public office that has helped the Reyna family. If you've ever wondered why I seem a little sour about your record, chalk it up to the Reynas

Bush Smitten On Reagan's Star Wars

by Molly Ivins Much in the news is the charmingly misleading headline that says, "Bush Proposes Deep Cuts in U.S. Nuclear Arsenal." If true, that would be welcome news indeed, but that ain't what his proposal is about. What George W. Bush actually said was: "To heck with the ABM treaty -- we're going to build Star Wars"

Bush Sucks Up To Wall St. With Social Security Plan

by Molly Ivins Remember the saying, "Don't shoot 'til you see the whites of their eyes"? In the matter of privatizing Social Security, this translates to, "Don't sign on until you've seen the details in ink." Of course, if we had any details of George W. Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security, this would be an easier column to write. Which is exactly why you won't see him filling in the blanks anytime soon

Spinning The Los Alamos Story

by Norman Solomon "The real scandal," she told me, "is that while the media focuses attention on a couple of lost and found hard drives, the U.S. weapons labs -- Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia -- are spending billions of taxpayer dollars busily developing new and improved nuclear weapons, almost completely shielded from public scrutiny or even awareness. Moreover, the U.S. is continuing to brandish these weapons on a daily basis"

Gore's "E-Government" Nothing To Cheer

by Norman Solomon The digital divide is far from the only problem with the e-government boom. While Gore asserts that it will bring remedies to "an electorate that is too often alienated and often feels voiceless in a system corroded by special interests and powerless to make change," the whole idea of online government is a cyber-placebo. The notion that e-government gives power to the powerless is nice -- but delusional

Long Hot Summer of Punditry Ahead

by Norman Solomon Every four years, when summer begins, the national media curtain rises on an overheated stage of presidential politics. Like drama critics clutching their programs, thousands of journalists are keenly alert to the feverish orchestration for the Republican and Democratic conventions later in the season. The political show must go on -- no matter how phony it may be

Media Is Israel's Security Zone

by Norman Solomon When Israel completed its Lebanon pullout, mainstream U.S. news outlets remained in sync with the kind of coverage that they've provided for more than two decades. In March 1978, the UN Security Council demanded unconditional Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. Ever since, the flagrantly illegal -- and brutal -- military occupation has been shrouded by a thick media haze in the United States

Gays and the "Hate Crimes" Folly

by Alexander Cockburn The politicians love hate crime bills because they let them off the hook so easily. Why not go after something that would actually give some gays in Wyoming, for example, some rights -- some anti-discrimination legislation? How many cower in fear that they will lose their jobs or housing as same-sexers? In 2000, 31 years after Stonewall, there is still no state law in New York that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation

Police Ready For Convention Crackdown

by Alexander Cockburn The message of the state is clear enough. The only "good protesters" are those waving a couple of placards in a cop-designated parking lot 4 miles from downtown. All others are "bad demonstrators," targets for pepper spray, police bludgeons, wire taps, preemptive hassles and a very hard time in court if they have the audacity to contest whatever charges the local prosecutors lay on them

The End of Southern California

by Alexander Cockburn By the mid-nineties, Southern California's coastal sage scrub had almost disappeared; so had 97 percent of the vernal pools. Southern maritime chaparral had been reduced to 2,400 acres in the United States, with 400 of these on Carmel Mountain, just north of San Diego, just west of what is now one of the largest freeway interchanges in California. The chaparral has gone, and so, too, as a site for anything but high-priced real estate, has poor, bulldozer-carved Carmel Mountain

Tom Wolfe's Yap

by Alexander Cockburn Tom Wolfe doesn't blame the ordinary folk for failing to cheer America's second century. Wolfe, don't forget, pretends to speak for the ordinary folk against the intellectuals. In his latest retread of a stunt he's been pulling since he unveiled "radical chic" all those years ago, he now calls these intellectuals "the Rococo Marxists." In Wolfe's inflamed imagination, these RMs have somehow stealthily persuaded the American people that it's wrong to be vainglorious about Empire. Marxism has this power in America? He's got to be kidding

McCaffrey's Wars

by Alexander Cockburn Those with memories stretching back to the 1980s might note a certain resemblance between the fight over Colombian aid and the fight about aid to the Nicaraguan Contras and to the government of El Salvador

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