default.html Issue 97
Table of Contents

The Puzzle of the Enron Coverups

by Ron Callari What were the documents that were fed into the shredder -- even after the corporation declared bankrupcy? What is the White House fighting to keep secret, even going to the length of redefining executive privilege and inviting the first Congressional lawsuit ever filed against a president? Were the consequences of releasing these documents more damaging than the consequences of destroying them?


The September 11 Nuclear Scenario

by Erik Baard For the foreseeable future, America's energy policies will remain wedged between Iraq and an irradiated place. But while soldiers might be asked to die protecting fuel supplies beneath the feet of despots, it's civilians who'll suffer the immediate death or homelessness, lingering cancers, and future birth defects if terrorists smash into any of our 103 active nuclear reactors


Greenest Olympics Games Ever? Not!

by Martin A. Lee The Salt Lake City region will likely be left with significant environmental damage from the Games. "The only thing green about these Games," says Alexis Kelner, co-founder of the Utah environmental group Save Our Canyons, "is the color of the currency being thrown around." That money is going everywhere except to environmental protection


Olympic Torch Bearer Uniforms Made In Burma Sweatshops

by Jim Lobe The Salt Lake City Olympic Committee, or SLOC, is being pressed by human rights and labor groups to explain how parts of the uniform worn by more than 10,000 runners who helped carry the Olympic torch to the Winter Games were manufactured by workers in Burma


Enviro Scorecard Shows Polarization of Congress

by Cat Lazaroff Congress's first year of the Bush administration saw environmental issues dividing Democrats from Republicans more sharply than at any other time in the past two decades


Sex, Lies and Colin Powell

by Lara Riscol Bush's recently appointed co-chair to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS happens to be condom-foe Dr. Tom Coburn, a former Republican congressman and fervent abstinence-only advocate. After July's NIH report on condoms, he led a group of medical doctors demanding the resignation of the director of the Centers for Disease Control, which encourages condom use for safer sex


Bush Budget: Pennies For Helping Poor Nations

by Jim Lobe Bush left the total amount requested for economic, development, and humanitarian aid at virtually the same level as this year -- under $10 billion -- but asked for the biggest one-year increase in defense spending since 1966


Bush Defense Budget Higher Than Vietnam War Peak

by Randolph T. Holhut Does any of this make sense? Only if you see all this as an opportunity to prop up a corrupt and illegitimate government with the threat of endless war


Bush Crackdown on Immigrant Rights Alarms Judges

by Jim Lobe Regulations adopted since Sept. 11 give the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which reports to the Attorney General, power to detain non-citizens for an unspecified "reasonable time" without charges before being brought before an immigration judge and, in some cases, to effectively overrule immigration judges or the BIA who may order their release. Ashcroft also issued a secret regulation requiring immigration judges to close their hearings to the public if the INS requests them to do so for security reasons. These rules helped prompt the country's 220 immigration judges, through their union, the National Association of Immigration Judges, to submit a 20-page report asking Congress to create a separate immigration court system outside the Justice Department


What Bush Isn't Talking About

by Randolph T. Holhut The president offered a noble summation of what he called "the non-negotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, private property, free speech, equal justice and religious tolerance." Never mind that most of these things have been under siege by our own government since the Sept. 11 attacks. But something was conspicuously missing from that litany in President Bush's speech; not once did he utter the word "democracy"


Bush State Speech a Rejection of Colin Powell's Diplomacy

by Jim Lobe Powell has devoted a lot of effort to encouraging rapprochement with Iran, a process that, as with North Korea, was already well underway by the time Bush was sworn in as president one year ago. Both initiatives are now a smoking ruin, destroyed like so many suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda targets. Only this one didn't come from U.S. warplanes; it came instead directly from the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., where Bush was making his first State of the Union address


Bush Follows The Law When It Suits Him

by Ted Rall During the last few months, at least 6,000 people have vanished off the streets of the United States. Kidnapped by government agents, they have no idea when -- or if -- they will be released from prison. The Bushies say these people overstayed their visas, that they have links to Al Qaeda, that they don't wash their hands after using the toilet, that America is safer because they're behind bars. Is any of this true? Who knows? Since they haven't been granted access to lawyers or allowed to call their families, no can talk to them. Bush says they have no rights because they're not American citizens


Bush Speech Subtext: We Will Find A New Enemy

by Mushahid Hussain In his State of the Union address before Congress last week, President George W. Bush talked about the war against terrorism as an open-ended campaign without any finite time limits, targeting a troika of enemies whom he dubbed the "axis of evil." By listing this "axis of evil" as a danger to American national security interests, the United States has provided itself justification both for a future military operation against these countries and, equally important, a permanent military presence in the region


Cheney, Energy Task Force Defies GAO

by Danielle Knight The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, is planning to sue the White House to obtain the release of documents detailing meetings between corporate executives and an energy task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. The lawsuit was the first by the GAO against a federal official for failing to cooperate in a Congressional inquiry


Enron At a Glance

Compiled by Theresa Amato, President of Citizen Works Enron employees were the single largest funding source of George W. Bush's presidential campaign, and gave $623,000 directly to President Bush throughout his career


Can We Trust Congress To Investigate Enron?

by John Moyers When it comes to recusal, the question is not: How much money does it take to buy a politician? A better question is: How much does it take to undermine public confidence that a politician is acting in the public interest? That's a question citizens must answer for themselves, but a little number crunching adds some helpful perspective. Compare committee assignments against the handy nonpartisan contribution data at OpenSecrets.org and the result is eye-opening. Enron's reach goes far and deep


Enron Debunks Myth Of "Conservative Values"

by Randolph T. Holhut Until its collapse, Enron profited in an atmosphere of deregulation. It could give millions of dollars to politicians to get laws rewritten to help make it easier to do business. It could lie to investors about the true financial condition of the company. It could open hundreds of secret offshore subsidiaries to hide its debt and avoid taxes. It could manipulate the energy markets to rip off consumers for billions of dollars in inflated electric rates. It could do all these things secure in the knowledge that nothing bad would happen. And Enron probably would have gotten away clean, had their lies not caught up with them


How Enron Brokered Elections

by Adam Lioz Recent reporting has brought to light one example of Enron's successful control of elections. Brody Mullins in Congress Daily has demonstrated that Kenneth Lay recruited Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to challenge former Rep. Craig Washington in 1994. Lay took issue with Washington's vote against NAFTA and sought to replace him with someone more sympathetic to his "free trade" principles


Repubs Scramble For Ways To Spin Enron Ties

by David Corn It may be true there was not much the Bush Administration could have done to save Enron -- not that it deserved saving -- or protect the employees and investors. But it warmly embraced Lay's policy and personnel recommendations -- conduct which, if not illegal, still warrants scrutiny


Sharp Rise in Slovakian Neo-Nazi Activity

by Diego Cevallos Since the fall of communism in late 1989, former communist states have seen an explosion in neo-Nazi and fascist movements. Estimates by the LPO put as many as 12,000 people involved in skinhead and neo-Nazi gangs in countries like Hungary and the Czech Republic


Wind Power Now Fastest Growing Energy Sector

by Danielle Knight Electricity generated by wind power worldwide jumped 31 percent last year, making it the fastest-growing part of the energy sector, according to new estimates by industry and environmentalists. The Washington-based Earth Policy Institute says global wind electric generating capacity rose from 17,800 megawatts in 2000 to 23,300 megawatts in 2001 -- enough to satisfy the needs of 23 million people


Central America Awash in Weapons

by Nefer Munoz The government of Costa Rica and the non-governmental Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress expressed their concern over the large number of firearms still in the hands of civilians, a legacy of the armed conflicts that plagued the region in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. The return of peace to Central America left thousands of weapons used by the guerrillas and the armed forces, including AK-47 and M16 assault rifles, RPG-7 missiles and hand grenades, circulating in the region


Making Money, the Bush Way

by Robert Scheer Last year, after George W. assumed the presidency, grateful Saudis welcomed his Poppy and his colleagues from the Carlyle Group who were in town to sign new contracts based on oil wealth. Hey, fair is fair: Bush the senior had saved the sheiks' bacon and now they give him a slice


Another Enron Victim: U.S. Funding Agencies

by Danielle Knight The Enron debacle highlights the need for closer supervision at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im). Together, these agencies have provided or insured $2.3 billion worth of financing for about a dozen Enron projects in Asia and Latin America


UN Chief to Bush, Ariel Sharon: Work With Arafat

by Thalif Deen "Arafat is the leader of the Palestinian people. By being isolated and virtually being under house arrest makes it difficult for him to lead," Annan said, referring to the Israeli armored blockade of Arafat's home and the offices of the Palestinian Authority. "He's being asked to stop the violence. He's being asked to lead and yet, as leader, he and his institutions are under so much pressure that I really do not see how that is going to help"


Bush Moving Closer To Ariel Sharon

by Jim Lobe Bush has moved much closer to the views of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, so far without explicitly adopting Sharon's apparent goal -- the final collapse of the eight-year-old Oslo peace process to reach a settlement of the 55-year-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict


World Economic Forum: The $1,000,000,000 Cocktail Party

by Dara Colwell The World Economic Forum is a 21st-century capitalist institution if there ever was one. Funded by members from 1,000 of the largest multinational corporations, it provides an opportunity for high-powered elites (who pay up to $30,000 to attend) to make plans for future globalization measures. Its self-proclaimed mission of "improving the state of the world" is bogus, protestors contend, as the forum's corporate-led agenda often directly benefits its membership. While the WEF issues no policies or legislation, it does advise the World Trade Organization. And all this happens over swank cocktails behind ornate closed doors


Sea Levels Will Probably Rise Faster Than Earlier Worst Predictions

New data showing the world’s glaciers and ice caps have exhibited significant ice loss in the 20th century, which has accelerated since 1988. That loss has contributed to at least 20 percent of the observed rise in sea level. "Some glaciers around the world now are smaller than they have been in the last several thousand years"


Arab Support For Palestinian State Seen As Fading

by Nizar Al-Aly A meeting of Arab and Muslim foreign ministers held here at the end of January yielded no tangible action to back the Palestinians in their fight for a separate state


Some Israeli Reservists Refusing To Serve In Palestinian Lands

by Ferry Biedermann   With his knitted skullcap, crew-cut and blue shirt, Rosen-Tzvi looked more like a supporter of the National Religious camp than a refusenik but he made the most attention-grabbing speech of the evening: "They duped us. When the soldiers get to the Territories they enter a terrible reality. We see people who are humiliated and frustrated, who are poor and sometimes hardly have anything to eat. Then you get your orders, which are meant to push them even further into that humiliation and poverty"


Playing With Argentina's Economy Is Playing With Fire

by Mark Weisbrot Argentina fell victim to the caprices of the global economy, as well as some bad policies -- most deadly was the fixed exchange rate that tied the peso to the dollar. These policies were supported and sponsored by the International Monetary Fund. All this would be just interesting history, if not for the fact that the IMF is at this very moment trying to force further budget cuts on Argentina's government


Bush Wants Big Increase In Foreign Military Training

by Jim Lobe   The largest increase in defense spending since 1966, proposed to Congress by President George W. Bush includes hundreds of million dollars for training programs and joint exercises with foreign militaries overseas, many of which are likely to be kept secret from Congress if the administration has its way. Bush also asked Congress to increase State Department-funded military aid and training programs by some 13 percent -- to about one-fourth of all U.S. foreign aid next year


Bush "Axis of Evil" Speech Kills Hope For Anti-Terrorism Treaty

by Thalif Deen The UN "Comprehensive International Convention Against Terrorism" has been the subject of debate for more than two years. Barring dramatic changes in the Middle East, diplomats here say, it is unlikely to be finalized this year. The latest twist in the treaty's tortured birth came last week, when President George W. Bush delivered his State of the Union address to Congress


Opium Dealers Cheer Ban on Afghan Poppy Cultivation

by Philip Smith "We'll be rich," a delighted Kandahar opium trader told the New York Times. Ali Muhammad and a crowd of other traders in the city's booming opium market concurred that the ban was just the thing to stop plunging opium prices. According to the traders, opium prices had fallen by half in recent months, with farmers planting more poppies and middlemen releasing warehoused stocks on the market


Iran Angered Over Bush "Axis of Evil" Speech

by Thalif Deen Far from supporting terrorism, the letter said, Iran was one of the first countries to propose convening an international conference to discuss terrorism. The proposal, Arab nations have endorsed, has received lukewarm support from Washington and the 15-member European Union (EU), primarily for fear such a meeting could serve to isolate Israel for what numerous states regard as its state terrorism against Palestinians


Colombia Army Launches Major Attack on Rebels

by Yadira Ferrer In a nationally televised address, Pastrana called off the peace talks, which began in late 1998. The president said the FARC, who he labelled "terrorists," had "abused his good faith." The collapse of the peace process occurred after alleged FARC rebels hijacked a plane carrying 30 passengers Feb. 20, forced it to land on a rural road, and kidnapped Senator Jorge Gechem, the president of the Senate Peace Commission, leaving the rest of the passengers and the crew stranded but safe


Bye, Bye, Butterfly

A severe winter storm that swept across the Mexican state of Michoacan in January has killed as many as 250 million Monarch butterflies on their wintering grounds. For the past two decades, these forests have been logged and severely fragmented, and the deforestation may have contributed to the massive Monarch deaths, conservationists say. They have been warning for years that the Monarch population would suffer if logging continued to degrade their forest habitat


Enviros Blame Aluminum Industry For Dam Boom

by Danielle Knight Aluminum production is one of the most energy-intensive industries, using at least 250 gigawatt-hours of electricity, or about two percent of global energy consumption, each year, she says. The electricity required to smelt a ton of aluminum, according to the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute, could power the average U.S. household for one and a half years. More than half the aluminum industry's energy supply comes from hydropower, with many aluminum companies building dams solely to supply their smelters. Some of the world's more environmentally and socially disruptive dams have been built to meet the industry's energy demands


Enron Also Paid Off Top Journalists

by Richard Blow Of the four, only Paul Krugman of The New York Times preemptively disclosed that he had been on Enron's payroll, and he carefully avoided mentioning the amount involved, because like it or not, taking fifty grand from a company seems a lot more problematic than receiving a $250 honorarium. Meanwhile, all four men were either writing about Enron or editing magazines that were


What About The KMart Scandal?

by Mark Scheinbaum Lost in the glitzier media spotlight on Enron, and a White House which seems not to have learned from history, is the sad story of scandalous management stupidity at Kmart


Taliban Prisoners Dying In Afghanistan Lockups

by Jim Lobe Over than 3,000 Taliban prisoners of war risk death from malnutrition and disease northern Afghanistan, a human rights group warned Jan. 28. The U.S. military, it added, has known about conditions in the prison, access to which it controlled until mid-month, but so far has done nothing to alleviate them


Bush's Global-Warming Smoke Screen

by David Corn After Bush slipped into the White House, a policy dispute broke out. Silly ol' Christine Todd Whitman, Bush's EPA administrator, actually believed Bush had meant what he said, and so did Colin Powell, the new secretary of state. They argued that the United States, which produces about 25 percent of the planet's human-source greenhouse gases, should stick with the Kyoto process, which was endorsed by every other major industrial nation. Most everyone else in Bush country said, take a hike


China Cuts Greenhouse Gas, Contradicting Bush

by Danielle Knight W. Bush has said the Kyoto treaty lacks binding commitments for developing countries to reduce their greenhouse emissions and thus ensures that China, with its "huge population and endless coal reserves," would surpass the United States as the world's largest source of gases blamed for global warming. Nevertheless, the researchers found, Chinese carbon dioxide emissions produced from the combustion of fossil fuels declined by 8.8 percent from 1996 to 2000 -- an even greater reduction than the 7.3 percent drop for emissions from all sources


An Orgy of Defense Spending

by Robert Scheer Now we get to see just how cowardly the Democrats in Congress can be. President Bush has proposed the most preposterous military buildup in human history -- annual spending of $451 billion by 2007 -- and nary a word of criticism has been heard from the other side of the aisle. The president is drunk with the popularity that his war on terrorism has brought, and those sober Democrats and Republicans, who know better, are afraid to wrestle him for the keys to the budget before he drives off a cliff


Ralph Reed's Walk in the Valley of Greed

by Robert Scheer After eight years of making Pat Robertson look good, Reed was exhausted and ready for a career change. The private sector is even more lucrative than televangelism, and Enron was just one of many fat consulting contracts that was Reed's for the asking. For the Bush people, it was also a good deal


Bush Kills Off Superfund Cleanup

by Molly Ivins It's hard to think how this could be any clearer: The headlines are "Bush Proposing Policy Changes on Toxic Sites: Taxpayers Would Bear Most Cleanup Costs." "Bush to Shift Toxic Cleanups to Taxpayers"


Welcome to 1984

by Molly Ivins They say if you fight someone long enough, you become like your enemy, but this Soviet notion is such a bummer it was useless even to them back in the day. But the Bush administration is apparently determined to bring us not one but two bureaus of propaganda. The "Office of Strategic Influence" -- isn't that a beauty? -- at the Pentagon will use "the media, the Internet and a range of covert operations to try to influence public opinion and government policy abroad, including in friendly nations," according to The New York Times. "Strategic Information" will include both information and disinformation. Disinformation, in case you haven't figured it out, is made of lies


Hiding Corporate Money

by Molly Ivins Just a few years ago, Americans were quite famous for paying their taxes: no one has ever paid taxes happily, but they were regarded as one of life's inevitabilities, famously in the same category as death. But we seem to be entering a "taxes are for suckers" era: Perhaps we should call it the Leona Helmsley Movement after the hotelier who observed, "Only little people pay taxes"


Watching The House Battle Campaign Reform Is Great Theatre

by Molly Ivins Just to prove the how fouled up the whole system is, the National Association of Broadcasters (big money-givers) is even now trying to kill this bill because it contains a provision that would make TV ads cheaper for politicians to buy. What right does the Congress of the United States have to try to save democracy if it costs the NAB?


Beware The Phony Calls For Reform

by Molly Ivins So now everyone is hot for ree-form, or at least pretending to be (Rep. Bill Tauzin of Louisiana is especially amusing in the role.) They want to reform accounting, reform the campaign financing system, reform stock analysts. Take my word on this, George W. Bush will support a few cosmetic reforms, probably of 401K plans, and then run next time as a reformer


How Enron Corrupted The System

by Molly Ivins Last June, Gov. Rick Perry appointed an Enron executive to be chairman of the state Public Utilities Commission, because this is Texas and whom else would you put on the commission that regulates energy companies but an energy company executive? The next day, Perry got a $25,000 donation from Ken Lay. We might have worried about this, but Perry has cleared up the whole thing. The timing, he said, was "totally coincidental"


Giving to the Crooked, Taking From the Needy

by Molly Ivins On Jan. 25, the administration ordered federal agencies to review their contracts with Arthur Andersen and Enron, saying the scandal swirling around the companies raise doubts about whether they should continue to receive taxpayer money. This would be well and good if the same administration had not, on Dec. 27, repealed a Clinton-era rule that prevents the government from awarding federal contracts to businesses that have broken environmental, labor, tax, civil rights or other laws


Dubya's State of The Union: Wealth as Usual

by Molly Ivins George W. Bush sides with the malefactors of great wealth not because he is a tool of the rich or because Enron bought him with campaign contributions -- that's who he is, that's what he really believes, that's his life experience


Of Course Enron's a Political Scandal

by Molly Ivins The funniest line of argument about Enron so far is, "This is not a political scandal." Boy, there's a triumph of denial. Of course it's a political scandal


The Conceit of Thomas Friedman

by Norman Solomon Friedman fixates on four words in particular. "My motto is very simple: Give war a chance," he told Diane Sawyer four months ago on "Good Morning America." It was the same motto that he'd used two and a half years earlier in a Fox News interview. Different war; different enemy; different network; same solution


Full Page Apology Ads Abound

by Norman Solomon Such ads are carefully crafted by PR agencies that specialize in blending tones of repentance, wisdom and resilience. The aim is to make headway with investors, Wall Street analysts, journalists and the general public. So, a contrite Andersen ad pledges that "we will be accountable for our actions, will learn from the experience, and will become a better firm as a result"


America's Royalty: The Super Rich

by Norman Solomon For the journalistic mainstream, privatization -- whether in Western India or Northern California -- was beneficent. Ken Lay and the rest of Enron's smart guys were ahead of the curve. Visionary hotshots


Is GWB Our FDR? Not Hardly

by Norman Solomon Moving beyond facile analogies between Dec. 7, 1941 and Sept. 11, 2001 -- we should realize that the real Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke in ways that would horrify George W. Bush. "No business which depends for existence by paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country," President Roosevelt declared in June 1933, a few months after taking office


Sex in the Courts

by Alexander Cockburn The hoofprints of Lucifer are everywhere. And since this is America, eternally at war with the darker forces, the foremost Enemy Within is sex, no quarter given


Throw All The Religious Books Out

by Alexander Cockburn By all means, let us sweep the Jewish Bible, the Christian Bible and the Koran off every bookshelf whither might stray the hand of impressionable youth. Such a cleansing act would return us to the very roots of the European enlightenment


S.F. Uses Terrorist Label To Jail AIDS Dissident Activists

by Alexander Cockburn Why this astonishing bail? What it boils down to is that the two accused are dissidents notorious for raising all kinds of inconvenient, sometimes obscene hell about AIDS issues. They've long been detested by San Francisco's AIDS establishment, which Petrelis, in particular, has savaged as being disfigured by overpaid executives, ineffective HIV prevention campaigns and all-round complacency and sloth


Dita Sari to Reebok Award: No Thanks

by Alexander Cockburn Isn't Reebok at least trying to do something decent? The way Dita Sari sees things, the answer is that the attempt is a phony. All the awards in the world, all the window dressing with Desmond Tutu, Carly Simon, Sting and Robert Redford doesn't alter the basic facts: that workers in the third world are being paid at the absolute minimum to make a very profitable product, at a value added in the tens of millions. According to Ballinger, the labor cost of a $70 pair of sneakers made in China, Vietnam or Indonesia is $1 or less


Enron Flew Under the Radar

by Robert Scheer The Enron debacle is just the most damning in a long list of evidence that the zealots of deregulation did this country, and its free-enterprise system, a terrible disservice. The financial markets are now roiled and may be permanently damaged by profound suspicion of corporate practices on the part of investors, who now realize they have good reason to fear the worst


Did CNN Rob John Walker Lindh of a Fair Trial?

by Cynthia Cotts Rather than trying to incriminate Lindh, Robert Young Pelton said, he only wanted to make sure the American received medical care and that he wouldn't be killed. He suggests the tape has been misused by prosecutors whose case against Lindh relies heavily on TV interviews, instead of facts provided by firsthand sources. Instead of using the CNN interview to turn Lindh into a convenient "symbol of hatred," Pelton said, the Bush administration should be focusing on Saudi and Egyptian terrorist suspects currently at large in America



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