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The Top Censored Stories of 2001 & 2002

by Peter Phillips and Project Censored


VISIT
Project Censored website
[Editor's note: Longer versions and additional updates of some of the material below can be found at the Project Censored website or in the book published by Seven Stories Press. The book is worth purchasing for the second chapter alone, "9-11 Before and Beyond: A Critical Analysis."]

Washington sex scandals, celebrity exposes, gruesome murders, schoolyard attacks, gangs, crime, corruption, and conspicuous consumption fill the airwaves and newspapers. Media representatives say they need to protect their bottom-line, and that these types of news stories increase ratings. Corporate media seem to have abdicated their First Amendment responsibility to keep the public informed.

Within the consolidated-corporate media world non-sexy or low-emotional stories seldom meet the entertainment standards of the industry. Hundreds of important stories fail to receive the news attention they deserve. Censorship today is a subtle system of information suppression in the name of corporate profit and self-interest.

It is also safe to say that major media in the United States effectively represents the interests of corporate America. The corporate media elites are the watchdogs of acceptable ideological messages. They establish the parameters of news and information and decide on the general use of the massive media resources. News and information in American society has become a top down entertainment system with capsulized parrotings of government/corporate ideological messages.

One of the longest-lasting censored news stories is corporate media's failure to cover their own turf as evident by our number one story for 2001-2002. The top 25 most censored stories for 2001-2002 are the news that the corporate media failed or refuses to cover. A number of these stories will appear in the corporate media sometime in the next few years. The mainstream news rarely acknowledges Project Censored. We do, however, shame them into covering these stories -- often as if they discovered them themselves. Project Censored has moved to a new cycle for the release of our annual censored stories. The Censored book will now come out in August of each year. By moving the process forward six months Censored 2001-2002 has had a one-time 18-month review cycle.

This year, Sonoma State University Project Censored students and staff screened several thousand stories during the last eighteen months. Nine hundred stories were selected for evaluation by faculty and community evaluators. Our 90 Faculty/Community evaluators are experts in their individual fields and they rate the stories for credibility and national importance. Some 150 stories this year made it to the final voting level. Project-wide voting by 150+ people established the 25 most important stories for Censored 2001-2002. The top 25 stories were then ranked by our national judges including: Michael Parenti, Robin Andersen, Carl Jensen, Lenore Foerstel and some 20 other national journalists, scholars, and writers. While selection of these stories each year is a subjective judgmental process, we have grown to trust this collective method as the best possible means of fairly sorting and selecting important news stories censored by the mainstream press.

We hope you agree.


# 1
FCC Moves To Privatize Airwaves
SOURCES

London Guardian April 28, 20001 and Media File Autumn 2001 volume 20, #4 Title: "Global Media Giants Lobby to Privatize Entire Broadcast System" Author: Jeremy Rifkin

Mother Jones Sept/October 2001 Title: "Losing Signal" Author: Brendan l. Koerner

Media File May/June 2001 Title: "Legal Project to Challenge Media Monopoly" Author: Dorothy Kidd

IN THE MONITOR

 + FCC Tightens Censorship, Loosens Ownership Rules

 + FCC to Media Reformers: Drop Dead

 + McCain at Center of FCC Scandal

For almost 70 years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has administered and regulated the broadcast spectrum as an electronic "commons" on behalf of the American people. The FCC issues licenses to broadcasters that allow them, for a fee, to use, but not own, one or more specific radio or TV frequencies. Thus, the public has retained the ability to regulate, as well as influence, access to broadcast communications.

Several years ago, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, in their report "The Telecom Revolution: An American Opportunity," recommended a complete privatization of the radio frequencies, whereby broadcasters with existing licenses would eventually gain complete ownership of their respective frequencies. They could thereafter develop them in markets of their choosing, or sell and trade them to other companies. The few non-allocated bands of the radio frequency spectrum would be sold off, as electronic real estate, to the highest bidders. With nothing then to regulate, the FCC would eventually be abolished. The reasoning behind this radical plan was that government control of the airwaves has led to inefficiencies. In private hands, the frequencies would be exchanged in the marketplace, and the forces of free-market supply and demand would foster the most creative (and, of course, most profitable) use of these electronic "properties."

This privatization proposal was considered too ambitious by the Clinton administration. However, in February 2001, within months after a more "pro-business" president took office, 37 leading US economists requested, in a joint letter, that the FCC allow broadcasters to lease, in secondary markets, the frequencies they currently use under their FCC license. Their thinking was that with this groundwork laid, full national privatization would follow, and eventually nations would be encouraged to sell off their frequencies to global media enterprises.

Michael K. Powell, FCC Chairman, and son of Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a recent speech compared the FCC to the Grinch, a kind of regulatory spoilsport that could impede what he termed a historic transformation akin to the opening of the West. "The oppressor here is regulation," he declared. In April 2001, Powell dismissed the FCC's historic mandate to evaluate corporate actions based on the public interest. That standard, he said, "is about as empty a vessel as you can accord a regulatory agency." In other comments, Powell has signaled what kind of philosophy he prefers to the outdated concept of public interest. During his first visit to Capitol Hill as chairman, Powell referred to corporations simply as "our clients."

Read update Challenges to this proposed privatization of airways have emerged from a number of sources. One group, the Democratic Media Legal Project (DMLP) in San Francisco, argues that even the existing commercial media system, aided by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, is unconstitutional because it limits diversity of viewpoints, omits or misrepresents most social, political, and cultural segments, and is unaccountable to the public. Therefore, explains DMLP, advertising-based media and the 1996 Act, which encourages mergers and cross-ownership of media outlets to the exclusion of the vast majority of people, have deprived the people of their right to self-governance -- as self governance can occur only when we have the unimpeded and uncensored flow of opinion and reporting that are requisite for an informed democracy.

The course of wireless broadcasting is approaching an unprecedented and critical crossroad. The path taken by the United States, and by the other industrialized nations that may follow our lead, will profoundly influence the ability of the citizenry of each country to democratically control the media.


# 2
New Trade Treaty Seeks to Privatize Global Social Services
SOURCES

The Ecologist February, 2001 Title: The Last Frontier Author: Maude Barlow

Extensive international corporate media coverage including:


Toronto Star, 3/3/02
The Herald (Glasgow) 2/27/02
The Hindu, 11/17,01
The Weekend Australian, 8/25/01
The Gazette (Montreal) 6/15/01
The Financial Times (London)

IN THE MONITOR

 + French Corp Giants Push for Water Takeover

 + U.S. Energy Plan Casts Long Shadow Around The Globe

 + U.S. Military Preparing For Wars Over Natural Resources

A global trade agreement now being negotiated will seek to privatize nearly every government-provided public service and allow transnational corporations to run them for profit.

The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is a proposed free-trade agreement that will attempt to liberalize/dismantle barriers that protect government provided social services. These are social services bestowed by the government in the name of public welfare. The GATS was established in 1994, at the conclusion of the "Uruguay Round" of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). In 1995, the GATS agreement was adopted by the newly created World Trade Organization (WTO).

Corporations plan to use the GATS agreement to profit from the privatization of educational systems, health care systems, child care, energy and municipal water services, postal services, libraries, museums, and public transportation. If the GATS agreement is finalized, it will lock in a privatized, for-profit model for the global economy. GATS/WTO would make it illegal for a government with privatized services to ever return to a publicly owned, non-profit model. Any government that disobeys these WTO rulings will face sanctions. What used to be areas of common heritage like seed banks, air and water supplies, health care and education will be commodified, privatized, and sold to the highest bidder on the open market. People who cannot afford these privatized services will be left out.

Services are the fastest growing sector of international trade. If GATS is implemented, corporations will reap windfall profits. Health care, education, and water services are the most potentially lucrative. Global expenditures on water services exceed $1 trillion each year, on education they exceed $2 trillion, and on health care they're over $3.5 trillion.

The WTO has hired a private company called the Global Division for Transnational Education. This company plans to document policies that "discriminate against foreign education providers." The results of this 'study' will be used to pressure countries with public education systems to relinquish them to the global privatized marketplace.

The futures of accountability for public services, and of sovereign law are at stake with the GATS decision. Foreign corporations will have the right to establish themselves in any GATS/WTO-controlled country and compete against non-profit or government institutions, such as schools and hospitals, for public funds.

The current round of GATS negotiations has identified three main priorities for future free-trade principles. First, GATS officials are pushing for "National Treatment" to be applied across the board. "National Treatment" would forbid governments from favoring their domestic companies over foreign-based companies. This idea already applies to certain services, but GATS will enforce it to all services. This will create an expansion of mega-corporate access to domestic markets and further diminish democratic accountability. The economically dominant western countries would like to make it illegal for "developing" countries to reverse this exclusive access to their markets.

Second, GATS officials are seeking to place restrictions on domestic regulations. This would limit a government's ability to enact environmental, health, and other regulations and laws that hinder "free-trade." The government would be required to demonstrate that its laws and regulations were necessary to achieve a WTO-sanctioned objective, and that no other commercially friendly alternative was available.

Read update Third, negotiators are attempting to develop the expansion of "Commercial Presence" rules. These rules allow an investor in one GATS-controlled country to establish a presence in any other GATS country. The investor will not only be allowed to compete against private suppliers for business, but will also be allowed to compete against publicly funded institutions and services for public funds.

This potential expansion of GATS/WTO authority into the day-to-day business of governments will make it nearly impossible for citizens to exercise democratic control over the future of traditionally public services. One American trade official summed up the GATS/WTO process by saying, "Basically it won't stop until foreigners finally start to think like Americans, act like Americans, and most of all shop like Americans."


# 3
United States' Policies in Colombia Support Mass Murder
SOURCES

COUNTER PUNCH July 1-15, 2001 Title: "Blueprints for the Colombian War" Author: Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair

ASHEVILLE GLOBAL REPORT October 4, 2001 Title: "Colombian Army and Police Still Working With Paramilitaries" Author: Jim Lobe

STEELABOR May/June 2001 Title: "Colombian Trade Unionists Need U.S. Help" Authors: Dan Kovalik and Gerald Dickey

RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH NEWS December 7, 2000 Title: "Echoes of Vietnam" Author: Rachel Massey

IN THE MONITOR

 + Colombia: A Primer

 + Bush Effort to Link Drugs, Terrorism Alarms Colombia

 + Drugs are New Pretext for U.S. Intervention

 + Colombia Paramilitaries Terrorize Schools, Unions

 + Is Colombia Our Next Vietnam? (1999)

 + The Big Muddy in Colombia

Over the past two years, Colombia has been Washington's third largest recipient of foreign aid, behind only Israel and Egypt. In July of 2000, the U.S. Congress approved a $1.3 billion war package for Colombia to support President Pastrana's "Plan Colombia." Plan Colombia is a $7.5 billion counter-narcotics initiative. In addition to this financial support, the U.S. also trains the Colombian military.

Colombia's annual murder rate is 30,000. It is reported that around 19,000 of these murders are linked to illegal right-wing paramilitary forces. Many leaders of these paramilitary groups were once officers in the Colombian military, trained at the U.S. Military run School of the Americas.

According to the Human Rights Watch Report, a 120-page report titled "The ‘Sixth Division': Military-Paramilitary Ties and U.S. Policy in Colombia," Colombian armed forces and police continue to work closely with right-wing paramilitary groups. The government of President Pastrana and the U.S. administration have played down evidence of this cooperation. Jim Lobe says that Human Rights Watch holds the Pastrana administration responsible for the current, violent situation because of its dramatic and costly failure to take prompt, effective control of security forces, break their persistent ties to paramilitary groups, and ensure respect for human rights.

Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair contend that the war in Colombia isn't about drugs. It's about the annihilation of popular uprisings by Indian peasants fending off the ravages of oil companies, cattle barons and mining firms. It is a counter-insurgency war, designed to clear the way for American corporations to set up shop in Colombia.

Cockburn and St. Clair examined two Defense Department commissioned reports, the RAND Report and a paper written by Gabriel Marcella, titled "Plan Colombia: the Strategic and Operational Imperatives." Both reports recommend that the U.S. step up its military involvement in Colombia. In addition, the reports make several admissions about the paramilitaries and their links to the drug trade, regarding human rights abuses by the U.S. -trained Colombian military, and about the irrationality of crop fumigation.

Throughout these past two years, Colombian citizens have been the victims of human rights atrocities committed by the U.S. -trained Colombian military and linked paramilitaries. Trade unionists and human rights activists face murder, torture, and harassment. It is reported that Latin America remains the most dangerous place in the world for trade unionists. Since 1986, some 4,000 trade unionists have been murdered in Colombia. In 2000 alone, more trade unionists were killed in Colombia than in the whole world in 1999.

Read update Another problem resulting from the Colombian "drug war" has been the health consequences of the U.S. -sponsored aerial fumigation. Since January 2001, Colombian aircraft have been spraying toxic herbicides over Colombian fields in order to kill opium poppy and coca plants. These sprayings are killing food crops that indigenous Colombians depend on for survival, as well as harming their health. The sprayings have killed fish, livestock, and have contaminated water supplies.

The U.S. provides slightly over 1 billion dollars of military aid for what is known as "Plan Colombia," yet it is more a war against citizens and those who are fighting for social justice. U.S. aid is not improving conditions for the people of Colombia, but rather supporting the government and right-wing paramilitary groups. According to an American member of the international steelworker delegation, Jesse Isbell, who recently visited Columbia, "The U.S. says one thing to the American public when in reality it is [doing] something totally different. Our government portrays this as a drug war against cocaine but all we are doing is keeping an ineffective government in power."


#4
Bush Admin Hampered FBI Probe of Bin Laden Family Before 9/11
SOURCES

PULSE 1/16/02 Title: "French book indicts Bush Administration" Author: Amanda Luker

TIMES OF INDIA November 8, 2001 Title: "Bush took FBI agents off Bin Laden family trail" Author: Rashmee Z. Ahmed

THE GUARDIAN (London) November 7, 2001 Title: "FBI and US spy agents say Bush spiked bin Laden probes before 11 September" Author: Greg Palast and David Pallister

Corporate media coverage; L.A. Times, 1/13/02 Part A-1, page 11

IN THE MONITOR

 + Bush Was Allied With Taliban Until August, Book Says

 + Oil Sheiks Created This Mess

 + Meet the Military Industrial Complex (Carlyle)

 + Making Money, the Bush Way

A French book Bin Laden, la verite interdite (Bin Laden, the forbidden truth) claims that the Bush Administration halted investigations into terrorist activities related to the bin Laden family and began planning for a war against Afghanistan before 9-11.

The authors, Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, are French intelligence analysts. Dasquie, an investigative reporter, publishes Intelligence Online, which is a respected newsletter on economics and diplomacy. Brisard worked for French secret services and in 1997 wrote a report on the Al Qaeda network.

In 1996, high-placed intelligence sources in Washington told the Guardian, "There were always constraints on investigating the Saudis." The authors allege that under the influence of U.S. oil companies, George W. Bush and his administration initially halted investigations into terrorism, while bargaining with the Taliban to deliver Osama bin Laden in exchange for economic aid and political recognition. The book goes on to reveal that former FBI deputy director John O'Neill resigned in July of 2001 in protest over the obstruction of terrorist investigations. According to O'Neill, "The main obstacles to investigating Islamic terrorism were U.S. oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it." The restrictions were said to have worsened after the Bush administration took over. Intelligence agencies were told to "back off" from investigations involving other members of the bin Laden family, the Saudi royals, and possible Saudi links to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Pakistan. John O'Neil died on 9/11 in the World Trade Center.

An FBI file coded 199, which means a case involving national security, records that Abdullah bin Laden, who lived in Washington, originally had a file opened on him "because of his relationship with the Saudi-funded World Assembly of Muslim Youth -- a suspected terrorist organization." The BBC reiterated a well-known claim, made by one of George W. Bush's former business partners, that Bush made his first million dollars 20 years ago from a company financed by Osama's elder brother, Salem. It has also been revealed that both the Bushs and the bin Ladens had lucrative stakes in the Carlyle Group, a private investment firm that has grown to be one of the largest investors in U.S. defense and communications contracts.

Brisard and Dasquie contend that the government's main objective in Afghanistan was to unite the Taliban regime in order to gain access to the oil and gas reserves in Central Asia. Brisard and Dasquie report that the Bush government began negotiations with the Taliban directly after coming into power and representatives met several times in Washington, Islamabad, and Berlin.

There were also claims that the last meeting between the United States and Taliban representatives took place only five weeks before the attacks in New York and Washington.

Read update Long before the September 11th attacks, the United States had decided to invade Afghanistan in the interest of oil. In February of 1998, at the hearing before a sub-group of the Committee on International Relations, Congress discussed ways to deal with Afghanistan to make way for an oil pipeline. Jane's Defense News reported in March 2001 that an invasion of Afghanistan was being planned.

Times of India reported that in June of 2001, the U.S. Government told India that there would be an invasion of Afghanistan in October of that year. By July of 2001 George Arney, with the BBC, also reported the planned invasion.


# 5
U.S. Intentionally Destroyed Iraq's Water System
SOURCES

The Progressive September 2001 Title: "The Secret Behind the Sanctions: How the U.S. Intentionally Destroyed Iraq's Water Supply" Author: Thomas J. Nagy
IN THE MONITOR

 + Slow Motion Genocide in Iraq

 + Mideast Wars Over Water Coming, UN Warns

During the Gulf War the United States deliberately bombed Iraq's water system. After the war, the U.S. pushed sanctions to prevent importation of necessary supplies for water purification. These actions resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians many of whom were young children. Documents have been obtained from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which prove that the Pentagon was fully aware of the mortal impacts on civilians in Iraq and was actually monitoring the degradation of Iraq's water supply. The destruction of civilian infrastructures necessary for health and welfare is a direct violation of the Geneva Convention.

After the Gulf War, the United Nations applied sanctions against Iraq, which denied the importation of specialized equipment and chemicals, such as chlorine for purification of water. There are six documents that have been partially declassified and can be found on the Pentagon's web site at www.gulflink.osd.mil. These documents include information that prove that the United States was fully aware of the costs to civilians, especially children, by upholding the sanctions against purification of Iraq's water supply.

The primary document is dated January 22, 1991 and is titled, "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities." This document predicts what will take place when Iraq can no longer import the vital commodities to cleanse their water supply. It states that epidemics and disease outbreaks may occur because of pollutants and bacteria that exist in unpurified water. The document acknowledges the fact that without purified drinking water, the manufacturing of food and medicine will also be affected. The possibilities of Iraqis obtaining clean water, despite sanctions, along with a timetable describing the degradation of Iraq's water supply was also addressed.

The remaining five documents from the DIA confirm the Pentagon's monitoring of the situation in Iraq. In more than one document, discussion of the likely outbreaks of diseases and how they affect "particularly children" is discussed in great detail. The final document titled, "Iraq: Assessment of Current Health Threats and Capabilities," is dated, November 15, 1991, and discusses the development of a counter-propaganda strategy that would blame Saddam Hussein for the lack of safe water in Iraq.

The United States' insistence on using this type of sanction against Iraq is in direct violation of the Geneva Convention. The Geneva Convention was created in 1979 to protect the victims of international armed conflict. It states, "It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installation and supplies, and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive." The United States, for nearly a decade, has "destroyed, removed, or rendered useless" Iraq's "drinking water installations and supplies."

Although two Democratic Representatives, Cynthia McKinney from Georgia and Tony Hall from Ohio, have spoken out about the degradation of Iraq's water supply and its civilian targets, no acknowledgment of violations has been made. The U.S. policy of destroying the water treatment system of Iraq and preventing its re-establishment has been pursued for more than a decade. The United Nations estimates that more than 500,000 Iraqi children have died as a result of sanctions and that unclean water is a major contributor to these deaths.


# 6
U.S. Government Pushing Nuclear Revival
SOURCES

Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists July/August 2001 Title: "The New-Nuke Chorus Tunes Up" Author: Stephen I. Schwartz

Corporate News Coverage:

Los Angeles Times, March 17, 2002.
USA Today, March 18, 2002.

The U.S. Government is blazing a trail of nuclear weapon revival leading to global nuclear dominance. A nuke-revival group, supported by people like Stephen Younger, Associate Director for Nuclear Weapons at Los Alamos, proposes a "mini-nuke" capable of burrowing into underground weapon supplies and unleashing a small, but contained nuclear explosion. This weapons advocacy group is comprised of nuclear scientists, Department of Energy (DoE) officials, right wing analysts, former government officials, and a congressionally appointed over-sight panel. The group wants to ensure that the U.S. continues to develop nuclear capacity into the next half century.

Achieving this goal of nuclear dominance will take far more than just refurbishing existing weapons and developing new ones. A decade long effort, that would cost in the $8 billion range, would be needed just to bring old production sites up to standard. Billions more would be needed to produce and maintain a new generation of nuclear weapons. This plan has not been presented to the public for their consideration or approval.

Part of the plan includes the building of "mini-nukes," which would have a highly accurate ability to penetrate underground stockpiles of weapons and command centers. The recent interest in such weapons is based on two premises. First, the belief that only nuclear weapons can destroy these underground networks, so the "mini-nuke" would deter other countries from using these underground systems. Second, these new bombs would give government the option to launch a nuclear strike to take out a small target while delivering minimal civilian casualties. It is believed that these bombs could specifically target underground headquarters or weapon stockpiles in Korea, Iraq, or Iran.

Princeton theoretical physicist Robert W. Nelson has studied the question for the Federation of American Scientists. Nelson concluded, "No earth-burrowing missile can penetrate deep enough into the earth to contain an explosion with a nuclear yield even as small as 1 percent of the 15-kiloton Hiroshima weapon. The explosion simply blows out a massive crater of radioactive dirt, which rains down on the local region with an especially intense and deadly fallout." Nelson used data from the Plowshares program of the 1960s and from the 828 underground nuclear tests conducted in Nevada. The two sources show that full containment of a 5-kiloton explosion is only possible at 650 feet or more, while a 1-kiloton explosion must take place at least 450 feet into the earth. These figures are taken at optimum conditions, where weapons are placed in a specially sealed shaft in a well understood geological environment. The "mini-nukes" will be expected to penetrate into deeply hardened targets in unyielding conditions. Nelson also concludes that a 10-foot missile could only be expected to penetrate 100 feet into concrete and steel, a depth far too shallow to contain even a very small explosion.

Read update The Panel to Assess the Reliability, Safety, and Security of the United States Nuclear Stockpile has recommended spending $4 billion to $6 billion over the next decade to restore the production capabilities of plutonium pit plants in the U.S. The DoE is currently spending $147 million on pit production at Los Alamos this year and is requesting $218 million for 2002. A renovated Los Alamos will be capable of producing up to 20 pits a year by 2007. Last year the DoE received $2 million to design a new pit plant capable of producing 450 cores of plutonium a year. This would generate approximately half the amount of plutonium produced during the latter period of the Cold War. The facilities at some of these nuclear production plants are in drastic states of disrepair.

Only 26 percent of the weapons complex buildings are in excellent or good condition. One laboratory building at Los Alamos wraps pipes carrying radioactive waste in plastic bags to prevent leakage. The roofs at other facilities are allowing rainwater to seep into the rooms where nuclear weapons are inspected and repaired.


# 7
Corporations Promote HMO Model for School Districts
SOURCES

Multi-National Monitor January/February 2002 Title: "Business Goes to School: The For-Profit Corporate Drive to Run Public Schools" Author: Barbara Miner

The Progressive Populist November 15, 2000 Title: "Dunces of Public Education Reform" Author: Frosty Troy

North Coast Xpress Winter 2000 Title: "Corporate-Sponsored Tests Aim to Standardize Our Kids" Author: Dennis Fox

In These Times June 2001 Title: "Testing, Testing: The Miseducation of George W. Bush" Author: Linda Lutton

IN THE MONITOR

 + Just a Test: Bush's Inadequate Education Plan

 + Bush: Education Good, Schools Bad

 + Bush's Phony Education "Solutions"

 + Market Research in Schools Becoming Common

For decades, public schools have purchased innumerable products and services from private companies -- from text books to bus transportation. Within the last decade, however, privatization has taken on a whole new meaning. Proponents of privatized education are now interested in taking over entire school districts. "Education today, like healthcare 30 years ago, is a vast, highly localized industry ripe for change," says Mary Tanner, managing director of Lehman Brothers, "The emergence of HMOs and hospital management companies created enormous opportunities for investors. We believe the same pattern will occur in education." So while the aptly named Educational Management Organizations (EMO's) are being promoted as the new answer to impoverished school districts and dilapidated classrooms, the real emphasis is on investment returns rather than student welfare and educational development.

According to some analysts, Bush's proposal for national standardized testing is helping to pave the way for these EMO's. Bush wants yearly standardized testing in reading and math for every student in the country between the third and eighth grades. "School districts and states that do well will be rewarded," Bush states in his education agenda, No Child Left Behind, "Failure will be sanctioned." The effect of Bush's testing plan will be nothing less than a total reconstruction of curriculum and instruction across the country. Perversely, schools with already limited resources, serving poor and minority communities, will be those under the greatest pressure to boost scores or face loss of funding.

Additionally, standardized testing funnels public dollars directly to non-public schools, including religious schools, through taxpayer-supported vouchers. School vouchers, proposed by Bush in his education plan to increase federal education spending, will reward schools that do well on annual standardized tests. Vouchers shunt kids out of the public schools system and into private for-profit institutions. Since only public school students take the standardized tests, kids whose parents can afford private schools don't have to agonize year after year about potential failure.

Standardized testing hits immigrant students especially hard. Bush wants to freeze funding in 2002, despite surging enrollment of students speaking limited English. Angelo Amador, a national policy analyst for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, says, "With the pulling of bilingual education funding, states with high-stakes testing are pushing low-performing Latino students into special education classes or out of school altogether in an effort to keep their test scores high."

Read update Critics charge that standardization's real goal is not to improve public education but to disparage it while building support for privatized, union-free alternatives. Proponents of corporate-run education claim that, by cutting the "fat" out of the system, they can improve student achievement with the same amount of money, and still turn a profit (Ignoring the fact that the U.S. is ranked ninth globally in terms of money spent on education). The reality is that, though most EMO's have yet to show investors a profit, they generally cut teacher salaries, eliminate remedial, special, and bilingual education programs (mandated for public schools), and consistently perform at or below the level of surrounding schools in test scores.

Privatization opponents say that public education should serve and be run by the public, especially teachers and parents, as opposed to shareholders who run the for-profit companies.


# 8
NAFTA Destroys Farming Communities in U.S. and Abroad
SOURCES

Source: Fellowship of Reconciliation Date: Dec. 2000/Jan. 2001 Title: NAFTA's devastating effects are clear in Mexico, Haiti Author: Anita Martin

The Hightower Lowdown September 2001 Title: NAFTA gives the shafta to North America's farmers Author: Jim Hightower

The American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are responsible for the impoverishment of and loss of many small farms in Mexico and Haiti. NAFTA is also causing the economic destruction of rural farming communities in the United States and Canada. The resulting loss of rural employment has created a landslide of socio-economic and environmental consequences that are worsening with the continued dismantling and deregulation of trade barriers.

When NAFTA came before Congress in 1993, U.S. farmers were told that the agreement would open the borders of Mexico and Canada, enabling them to sell their superior products and achieve previously unknown prosperity. Corporations who operate throughout the Americas, such as Tyson and Cargill, have since used the farming surplus to drive down costs, pitting farmers against each other and prohibiting countries from taking protective actions. These same corporations have entered into massive farming ventures outside the U.S. and use NAFTA to import cheaper agricultural products back into this country, further undermining the small farmers in the U.S. Since the enactment of NAFTA, 80% of foodstuffs coming into the U.S. are products that displace crops raised here at home. NAFTA has allowed multinational mega-corporations to increase production in Mexico, where they can profit from much cheaper labor, as well as freely use chemicals and pesticides banned in the U.S.

In both Mexico and Haiti, NAFTA policies have caused an exodus from rural areas forcing people to live in urban slums and accept low paid sweatshop labor. Farmers in Mexico, unable to compete with the large-scale importation and chemical-intensive mass production of U.S. agricultural corporations, are swimming in a corn surplus that has swelled approximately 450% since NAFTA's implementation. Haiti's deregulation of trade with the U.S. has destroyed the island's rice industry in a similar manner. Urban slums, engorged with rural economic refugees, are contributing to the breakdown of cultural traditions and public authority, making the growing masses increasingly ungovernable.

Read update The Mexican government clashes violently with any organized protest of NAFTA. Dissent in Chiapas and in Central Mexico has lead to the reported arrests, injuries, and deaths of dozens of activists. Community leaders like Minister Lucius Walker, executive of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, state that, "The biggest challenge facing all of us in this new millennium is to build a citizens' movement to counter the corporate captivity of the Americas."

The1993 NAFTA agreement desolated small farming communities in the U.S. and in Mexico and Haiti. With the scheduled 2009 lift on tariffs and import restrictions, as well as Bush's proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) adding 31 more countries to the NAFTA agreement, many additional farming communities are in danger.


#9 U.S. Faces National Housing Crisis
SOURCES

In These Times November 2000 Title: "There's No Place Like Home" Author: Randy Shaw

Corporate media coverage:

U.S. Newswire, 1/18/02

IN THE MONITOR

 + HUD Program Benefits Developers, Not Poor

 + Loophole Lets Corporations Tap Public Housing Fund

The national housing crisis affects nearly 6 million American families and is growing worse. Over 1.5 million low-cost housing units have recently been lost, and millions of children are growing up in housing that is substandard, unaffordable and dangerous.

A new crisis in affordable housing is spreading across America. What was once a problem relegated to low income families along the east and west coasts, is now affecting the middle-class all across the country. Middle-class working Americans are having just as much trouble finding affordable housing as low-income families did ten years ago.

In San Francisco, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) subsidizing housing for public school teachers. California business groups complain that the State's housing shortage hinders their ability to attract skilled workers, and chambers of commerce link lack of affordable housing to a resultant slowdown in economic growth.

Julie Daniels earns $28,000 a year working full time as a certified nursing assistant for Stamford, Connecticut. A member of local 1199, Daniels and her three children have been unable to obtain affordable housing within traveling distance of her job. The family's only available housing option has been a homeless shelter, and the prospects that Daniels will obtain safe and affordable housing are unlikely.

Still, politicians refuse to add federal funded housing to the U.S. budget. Low-cost housing programs are slowly being drained of funding. More than 100,000 federally subsidized units have been converted to market-rate housing in the past three years. While the $5 billion Federal Housing Administration surplus is tied up in Washington, neither major political party seems responsive to the current housing crisis. Neither party is addressing issues of living wage, adequate health care, or affordable housing.

Homelessness has become the result for many families across the nation. The economic slowdown, the welfare reform of 1996, and the events of September 11 are pushing hard working Americans into the street. In New York alone it is estimated that 30,000 people are living in shelters, and many thousands more live on the street.

In Chicago, over 20,000 units of public housing units have been removed from service and some 50,000 people now reside in the streets.

In an era when there is only one apartment for every six potential renters in this country, Congress has taken no action to address this problem. Corporate media has only covered this issue locally and few corporate media reports have recognized this as a national crisis.


#10
CIA Double Deals In Macedonia
SOURCES

www.globalresearch.ca June 14, 2001 Title: "America at War in Macedonia" Author: Michel Chossudovsky
IN THE MONITOR

 + Kosovo "Freedom Fighters" Financed by Drug Money, CIA (Chossudovsky)

 + KLA Complains That UN Isn't "Cooperating" (1999)

 + NATO's "Humanitarian" Reasons for War

The CIA destabilized the political balance in Macedonia to allow easier access for a U.S.-British owned oil pipeline, and to prevent Macedonia from entering the European Union (EU), thereby strengthening the U.S. dollar in a German deutschmark dominated region.

Without Macedonia in the EU, British and U.S. oil companies have an advantage over European counterparts in building oil pipelines. Actions toward destabilization intend to impose economic control over national currencies, and protect British-U.S. oil companies such as BP-Amoco-ARCO, Chevron, and Texaco against Europe's Total-Fina-Elf. The British-U.S. consortium controls the AMBO Trans-Balkin pipeline project linking the Bulgarian port of Burgas to Vlore on the Albanian Adriatic coastline. The power game is designed to increase British-U.S. domination in the region by distancing Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Albania from the influence of EU countries such as Germany, Italy, France and Belgium. It's an effort supported by Wall Street's financial establishment, to destabilize and discredit the deutschmark and the Euro, with hopes of imposing the U.S. dollar as the sole currency for the region.

The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the National Liberation Army (NLA) were trained in Macedonia by British Special Forces and equipped by the CIA. British military sources confirm that Gezim Ostremi, NLA Commander, was sponsored by the UN and trained by British Special Forces to head the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC). When Ostremi left his job as a United Nations Officer to join the NLA, the commander remained on the UN payroll. Attacks within Macedonia by the NLA/KLA last year, coincided chronologically with the process of EU enlargement and the signing of the historic Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between the EU and Macedonia. These attacks paved the way for further U.S. military and political presence in the region.

In a strange twist the CIA, NATO, and British Special Forces provided weapons and training to the NLA/KLA terrorists, while at the same time, Germany provided Macedonia's security forces with all-terrain vehicles, advanced weapons, and equipment to protect themselves from NLA/KLA attacks. U.S. military advisers, on assignment to the KLA/NLA through private mercenary companies, remained in contact with NATO and U.S. military and intelligence planners. It was Washington and London who decided on the broad direction of KLA-NLA military operations in Macedonia.

Read update Following the August, 2001 Framework Peace Agreement, 3,500 armed NATO troops entered Macedonia with the intent of disarming Albanian rebels. Washington's humanitarian efforts for the NLA/KLA suggested its intent to protect the terrorists rather then disarm them. Vice President Dick Cheney's former firm, Halliburton Energy, is directly linked to the AMBO's Trans-Balkans Oil Pipeline.

Last year's conflict in Macedonia is a small part of a growing rift between the Anglo-American and European interests in the Balkans. In the wake of the war in Yugoslavia, Britain has allied itself with the U.S. and severed many of its ties with Germany, France, and Italy. Washington's design is to ensure the dominance of the U.S. military-industrial complex, in alliance with Britain's major defense contractors, and British-U.S. oil. These developments establish significant control over strategic pipelines, transportation, and communication corridors in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union.


#11
Bush Appoints Former Criminals to Key Government Roles
SOURCES

The Nation May 7th 2001 Title: "Bush's Contra Buddies" Author: Peter Kornbluh

In These Times 06 August 2001 Title: "Public Serpent; Iran-Contra Villain Elliott Abrams is Back in Action" Author: Terry Allen

Extra September/October 2001 Title: "Scandal? What Scandal?" Author: Terry Allen

The Guardian 08 February 2002 Title: "Friends of Terrorism" Duncan Campbell

18 February 2002 "No More Mr. Scrupulous Guy" Author: John Sutherland

Washingtonian April 2002 Title: "True or False: Iran-Contra's John Poindexter is Back at the Pentagon" Author: Michael Zuckerman

IN THE MONITOR

 + Elliot Abrams: Bush Hires One Of Dad's Worst Scoundrels

 + Negroponte: Outrage At Bush Nominee For UN Ambassador

 + Otto Reich: Bush Gives Top Latin Post To Notorious Right-Winger

 + Bush Sneaks In Appointment of Controversial Hard-liner

Since becoming President, George Bush has brought back into government service men who were discredited by criminal involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, lying to Congress, and other felonies while working for his father George Bush senior and Ronald Reagan.

In February 2001, John Poindexter was appointed to head the new Information Awareness Office (IAO), an offshoot of the Pentagon based Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). After serving as Reagan's National Security Advisor, John Poindexter was charged and found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and the destruction of evidence as he played a central role in the Iran-Contra affair. Costa Rica has officially declared Poindexter to be a drug trafficker, and has barred him from entering the country.

Poindexter's new job at IAO will supply federal agents with "instant" analysis of private e-mail and telephone conversations. As the vice president of Syntek Technologies, Poindexter helped develop the Orwellian "Project Genoa" for the IAO. Genoa will gather information about electronic conversations, financial transactions, passport tracking, airline ticket sales, phone records and satellite surveillance into a matrix from which "useful information" will be made available to federal authorities.

Elliot Abrams was recently appointed to the National Security Council (NSC) as director of its Office for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Relations. In 1991, Abrams plead guilty to withholding evidence from Congress regarding his role in the Iran-Contra affair. As Reagan's Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs he used to oversee U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, and was active in covering up some of the worst atrocities committed by the U.S.-sponsored Contras. According to congressional records, under Abram's watch, the Contras "raped, tortured, and killed unarmed civilians, including children," and that "groups of civilians, including women and children, were burned, dismembered, blinded and beheaded." George Bush senior subsequently pardoned him.

John Negroponte, the new ambassador to the UN, served under Reagan as ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985. He is known for his role in the cover up of human rights abuses by CIA trained paramilitaries throughout the region. Coincidentally, Honduran exiles associated with the paramilitary forces that had been living in the U.S, were exported to Canada prior to Negroponte's Senate confirmation hearing, thus rendering their testimony unavailable.

Read update Otto Reich has been appointed as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (which includes Latin America). The Bush administration used a "recess appointment" during January 2002 to side step the Senate confirmation hearing otherwise required of the appointment. Democrat opposition to Reich's nomination had been predicted.

In the '80s, Reich was head of the office for Public Diplomacy, which was censured by Congress for "prohibited covert propaganda activities" after influencing the media to favorably cover the Reagan administration's position. That office is now defunct. He also helped terrorist Orlando Bosch gain entry into the U.S. after being imprisoned in Venezuela for bombing a Cuban airliner, killing its 73 passengers. Bosch spent time in a U.S. prison for attacking a Polish merchant vessel bound for Cuba. Thirty countries have refused Bosch asylum because of his criminality.


#12
NAFTA's Chapter 11 Overrides Public Protection Laws of Countries
SOURCES

The Nation "The Right and US Trade Law: Invalidating the 20th Century" October 15, 2001 Title: The Right and US Trade Law: Invalidating the 20th Century" Author: William Greider,

Terrain Fall 2001 Title: Seven Years of NAFTA Author: David Huffman

Mainstream coverage; Bill Moyers, PBS Documentary; Trading Democracy, 2/5/02
Washington Times, 2/4/02

IN THE MONITOR

 + Media Doesn't See Downside Of Globalization

 + U.S. Corporation Wins Right to Build Toxic Plant in Mexico

 + The Broken Promises of NAFTA (1995 Project Censored)

 + NAFTA Flaw Leaves Workers Without Rights

 + Corporations Secretly Using NAFTA to Sue Canada, Mexico

Certain investor protections in NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) are giving business investors new power over sovereign nations and providing an expansive new definition of property rights.

Chapter 11 of NAFTA, which allows a corporation to sue a government, contains a particularly disturbing "regulatory takings" clause. Under this "takings" clause, intangible property, such as a corporation's potential future profits, is considered private property. Any law or regulation that is imposed to protect the public interest is considered "taking" that company's potential to make a profit. Therefore, the government should be required to compensate the owners for lost property/profit. This expanded definition of private property goes beyond established terms in U.S. jurisprudence and supercedes domestic law. NAFTA's investor protections and the "regulatory takings" idea mimic a radical revision of constitutional law that the right wing has been pushing for years.

Richard Epstein galvanized the idea of "regulatory takings" in the 1980s with his book Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain. Regulations, Epstein argues, should be properly understood as "takings" under the Fifth Amendment. This would require governments to pay corporations whose property, tangible or intangible, is in some way diminished by public actions. Since any regulation will have some economic impact on private assets, the "takings" doctrine is therefore a vehicle for shrinking the reach of government and crippling its regulatory procedures. This has the potential to undermine long-established social welfare and environmental regulatory protections. "Takings" protections will also have a chilling effect on a government's future laws and regulatory procedures as they realize that any new legislation may leave them vulnerable to corporate lawsuits. A government may be confronted with enormous financial penalties simply for enacting or upholding regulations that protect the basic health and human rights of its citizens.

The Methanex v. United States case illustrates the type of lawsuit made possible by Chapter 11. Methanex is a Canadian company that manufactures the gasoline additive MTBE. Although MTBE was intended to mitigate the air pollution caused by gasoline use, in the mid-nineties it was identified as a hazard to California's water supplies. Even small amounts of MTBE leaking from pipelines or storage tanks caused water to become unfit to drink. After testing the chemical was also found to be carcinogenic.

In 1999, California Governor Gray Davis issued an executive order to begin the phase out of MTBE. Four months later, Methanex Co. filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, asserting that California's new regulations damaged their future profits, and requested $970 million in compensation. But Methanex did not pursue its case in U.S. federal court, where the legitimacy of "potential profits" might have been publicly questioned. NAFTA provides for a three-judge arbitration tribunal, an offshore venue where suits can be resolved in secrecy. Although matters vital to public welfare are being decided in the unelected tribunals, the public is given no notice of the proceedings unless both parties agree to disclose the case.

The Methanex vs. United States case is pending, but other companies have already triumphed in their quest to acquire financial compensation for the loss of potential profits. In 2000, the Metaclad Corporation won a suit against the Mexican government. The outcome of the case means that $16.7 million of Mexican taxpayers' money will go to Metaclad in compensation for profits lost because the government stopped it from building a toxic waste dump.

"Regulatory takings" laws have not yet been adopted into U.S. domestic law. The Supreme Court has so far declined to accept this redefinition of the Constitution. However, NAFTA's precedent has opened the door for the "takings" premise to become a standard facet of international law, and corporations are working to realize that goal.

Read update In April of 2001, a collection of 29 major U.S. multinational corporations and industry organizations (including GE, Ford, GM, International Paper, Motorola, Dow, DuPont, Chevron, Procter & Gamble and 3M) wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, urging him to push for a Chapter 11-type provision in upcoming FTAA negotiations. The letter applauded NAFTA's regulatory takings clause, saying it provides "protection from regulations that diminish the value of investors' assets." Although FTAA negotiations are not yet complete, at present the draft of the agreement includes a provision nearly identical to Chapter 11 that allows for "investor-to-state" lawsuits.

If the potential profit laws succeed to the degree that some companies hope they will, such basic government regulations as minimum wage and OSHA standards may become null and void in favor of corporate profit. As Epstein writes in his Takings book, "It will be said that my position invalidates much of the 20th century legislation, and so it does."


# 13
Kissinger and Ford Lied to Public about East Timor
SOURCES

Asheville Global Report 12/13/2001 Title: Documents Show US Sanctioned Invasion of East Timor Author: Jim Lobe, (IPS)

Corporate media coverage:
San Diego Union, A-29, 12/12/01

IN THE MONITOR

 + U.S. Approved of 1975 E Timor Invasion, Documents Show

 + E Timor: The Elephant and the Fleas

The release of previously classified documents makes it clear that former President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, in a face-to-face meeting in Jakarta, gave then President Suharto a green light for the 1975 invasion of East Timor.

According to documents released by the National Security Archive (NSA), in December of 2001(the 26th anniversary of Indonesia's invasion of East Timor) Suharto told Ford during their talks on December 6, 1975 that, "We want your understanding if it was deemed necessary to take rapid or drastic action [in East Timor]." In a previously secret memorandum, Ford replied, "We will understand and not press you on the issue. We understand the problem and the intentions you have." Kissinger similarly agreed, with reservations about the use of U.S. made arms in the invasion. Kissinger went on to say regarding the use of U.S. arms, " It depends on how we construe it, whether it is self-defense or is a foreign operation," suggesting the invasion might be framed in a way acceptable to U.S. law. Kissinger added, "It is important that whatever you do succeed quickly…the U.S. administration would be able to influence the reaction in America if whatever happens after we return [to the U.S.]. If you have made plans, we will do our best to keep everyone quiet until the President returns home."

For years Henry Kissinger has denied that any discussion of East Timor took place in Jakarta. The newly released dialogue between the three adds significantly to what is known about the role the US played in condoning the Indonesian invasion. The dialogue was part of a batch of documents on U.S. policy effecting East Timor obtained through the National Security Archive

Indonesia invaded East Timor the day after Ford and Kissinger left. As many as 230,000 East Timorese died as a result of Indonesia's invasion and the 23-year occupation of the country. As much as one third of the population died as a result of starvation, disease, caused by counter-insurgency operations carried out by the Indonesian army from 1976 to 1999. According to Amnesty International, East Timor represents one of the worst cases of genocides in the 20th century.

Under international pressure Indonesia allowed a plebiscite in 1999, in which East Timorese overwhelmingly voted for independence. After the vote Jakarta-backed militias rampaged the territory, burning and looting the country. The UN Security Council authorized an Australian-led international force to restore order. East Timor is now an independent country.


# 14
New Laws Restrict Access to Abortions in US
SOURCES

Mother Jones September/ October 2001 Title: "The Quiet War on Abortion" Author: Barry Yeoman
IN THE MONITOR

 + The Right-Wing Map to Outlawing Abortion

A quiet war against abortion rights is being conducted by many local governments in the United States. Cities and counties are placing repressive legal restrictions on abortion providers under the guise of women's health laws. These restrictions can include: width of hallways, jet and angle type of drinking fountains, the heights of ceilings, and how long one must wait between initially seeing the doctor and when the procedure can be performed.

These legal ordinances are known as TRAP laws. TRAP stands for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. These laws attempt to restrict all aspects of the physical environment related to an abortion. While called women's health laws, they are seldom applied to any medical facility other than abortion clinics. The goal of TRAP laws is to discourage and make extremely difficult a woman's legal right to choose abortion. In the words of one right-to-life leader, the idea is to create an environment "where abortion may indeed be perfectly legal, but no one can get one."

TRAP laws have been passed in several states including Utah, Connecticut, Louisiana, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Alabama, Colorado, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Illinois, Nebraska, and Texas. Complying with TRAP laws can be very expensive. Remodeling modifications such as hallway width, angle and jet types for drinking fountains, ceiling height, doorway width, counseling room dimensions, air-circulation rates, outdoor weed-control practices, and separate changing rooms for men have resulted in the closing of cash-poor abortion clinics. Sometimes the clinics are closed only temporarily, but often the repairs are simply too expensive and the clinic is forced to cease operating altogether.

In 1992, when the Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling established continued support for the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, a new stealthier strategy was shaped by pro-life campaigners. Right-to-life advocates began thinking about other ways to attack abortion rights that were not so overtly challenging to the Roe v. Wade decision. By claiming that abortions take place in dirty facilities and cause such illnesses as depression and breast cancer, right-to-lifers have subtly moved away from the moral and legal debate and into a nebulous realm of "women's health."

Dorinda Bordlee, a right-to-life advocate and staff counsel for Americans United for Life, says, "What's good for the child is good for the mother. So now we're advocating legislation that is good for women." With this reasoning, anti-abortionist make laws sound plausible and even necessary. However, the dimensions of a counseling room will clearly not guarantee a safe and correct abortion. Counseling room size does not protect a woman's health, but it does restrict the availability of abortions.

Louisiana's newest anti-abortion law, known as the civil-liability law, would allow any woman who has had the procedure to sue the doctor for up to 10 years -- not just for her own injuries, but also for "damages occasioned by the unborn child." While still being challenged in court, this civil-liability law threatens the viability of clinics in the entire state of Louisiana.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly supported a woman's right to abortion, but these laws are quietly taking that right away. If these laws remain unchallenged it may mean the end of legal abortions in the United States.


#15
Bush's Energy Plan Threatens Environment and Public Health
SOURCES

TomPaine.com February 15,2002 Title: The Loyal Opposition: Bush's Global-warming Smog Author: David Corn

Environment News Service July, 2001 Title: Bush Energy Plan Could Increase Pollution Author: Cat Lazaroff

The Progressive Populist March 15, 2002 Title: Smog Screen Author: David Corn

IN THE MONITOR

 + David Corn: Bush's Global-Warming Smoke Screen

 + Bush Dismantles Environment Rules Using Terrorism Claims

 + Bush Trying To Gut Clean Air Act

The Bush administration's energy plan will actually increase air pollution in the United States. The plan calls for increased fossil fuel consumption, and for decreased funding for research into renewable, clean energy development. The plan also lowers upgrade requirements on 30- to 60-year-old power plants that often emit four to ten times as much sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, and mercury as newer power plants. The administration stands behind this plan despite higher smog levels, increased respiratory related hospital visits, and record high asthma cases on the East Coast last year,

Although Bush conceded earlier in his presidency that global warming is underway and that steps must be taken to reduce emissions, the U.S. is still responsible for 25 percent of the world's emissions.

The Bush plan puts into jeopardy the New Source Review (NSR) provision, which is a vital part of the Clean Air Act. The NSR requires facilities to offset pollution increases with reductions elsewhere in the facility or demonstrate that the facility is using the best available pollution control. Major power, coal, and oil companies who own power plants that were built between 1940 and 1970, have sought to ease the restrictions of the NSR claiming that the law hurts their business due to high costs to upgrade to the best available pollution control technology. The EPA and several states have successfully sued a number of large utilities for violation of this NSR provision. These legal victories have led to millions of dollars in penalties.

Power plant air pollutants in some regions are known to cause as much damage to human lungs as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. According to Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, "President Bush's invitation to weaken these pollution controls is an invitation to increase asthma and other health problems triggered by power plant smog."

Read update While East Coast record smog levels have resulted in 6 million asthma attacks and 212,000 hospital visits due to respiratory problems last summer, George Bush claims his energy plan will be good for the environment and the economy. After rejecting the 1997 Kyoto accord (which was supported by every other industrialized nation in the world), Bush declared that, "Our immediate goal is to reduce America's greenhouse gas emissions relative to the size of our economy." While this sounds like a positive statement, it should be known that what the Bush energy plan actually means is that the rate of emission production must stay below the rate of economic growth but will result in increasing pollution by 14% over the coming decade. So the plan calls for no immediate reduction, only slower increases. Emission producing businesses would only have to monitor and report their emissions to receive pollution credits, which can then be sold to other companies to increase their emissions.

Additionally, the Bush plan calls for a slashing of funding in research for renewable, clean forms of energy such as wind and solar power, which can provide very effective amounts of energy for U.S. consumption. The slashing of funding for research into clean renewable energy and increased dependence on fossil fuels will speed up the effects of global warming and have a detrimental effect on our health and environment.


# 16
CIA Kidnaps Suspects for Overseas Torture and Execution
SOURCES

Weekend Australian February, 23, 2003, p. 1 Title: Love Letter Tracks Terrorist's Footsteps Author: Don Greenlees

World Socialist Website March 20, 2002 Title: U.S. Oversees Abduction, Torture, Execution of Alleged Terrorists Author: Barry Grey

Original U.S. Source:

The Washington Post March 11, 2002, pg. A01 Title; U.S. Behind Secret Transfer of Terror Suspects" Authors: Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Peter Finn, W.P. Foreign Service,

U.S. agents are involved in abducting people they suspect of terrorist activities and sending them to countries where torture during interrogation is legal, according to U.S. diplomatic sources. Suspects are shipped to allied countries where they are denied legal assistance and imprisoned without any specific charges made against them. The prisoners have been taken to countries such as Egypt and Jordan (whose intelligence agencies have close ties to the CIA) where they can be subjected to interrogation tactics, including torture and threats to family, which are illegal in the United States.

One of the abductees, Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni was believed by the CIA to be an al-Qaeda member with possible links to Richard Reid, the American Airlines shoe bomber. In January, 2002 the CIA provided Indonesian intelligence officials with information that lead to Iqbal's arrest. A few days later, the Egyptian government requested that Iqbal -- who had carried a passport for Egypt as well as Pakistan -- be extradited in connection with terrorism, although they did not specify the crime. Indonesian agents quickly took him into custody, and two days later, without legal hearing or access to a lawyer, Iqbal was put on board an unmarked, U.S.-registered Gulfstream V jet, arranged by the CIA, and flown from Jakarta to Egypt.

Indonesian government officials told local media that Iqbal had been sent to Egypt because of visa violations. However, a senior Indonesian government official told reporters that revealing the U.S. role in Iqbal's case would have prompted criticism from Muslim-oriented political parties in the region. "We can't be seen as cooperating too closely with the United States," he said. Nevertheless, the official confirmed that, "This was a U.S. deal all along. Egypt just provided the formalities."

According to one U.S. diplomat, "After September 11th, these sorts of movements have been occurring. It allows us to get information from terrorists in a way we can't do on U.S. soil."

Although such "movements" have intensified since 9/11, the U.S. has long been involved in this practice of kidnapping. These abductions, known to those in the business as "rendition," violate local and international extradition laws as well as internationally recognized human rights standards. According to the Post's sources, from 1993 to 1999, suspects were rendered to the U.S. from a variety of countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and the Philippines. U.S. officials have acknowledged some of these operations, but the Washington Post's sources say that dozens of other covert renditions occurred, the details of which remain cloaked in secrecy.

Some documented cases include reports of suspects being interrogated, tortured, and even executed. In 1998, U.S. agents apprehended Talaat Fouad Qassem, the reputed leader of an Egyptian extremist organization, in Croatia. Qassem had been traveling to Denmark, where he had been promised political asylum. Egyptian lawyers say that the U.S. agents removed Quassem to a U.S. ship stationed off the Croatian coast. On board, he was questioned by the agents before being taken to Cairo, where a military tribunal had already sentenced him to death in absentia.

Read update Also in 1998, five members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad were taken into custody by Albanian police working in tandem with CIA agents. The five suspects were interrogated for three days before being shipped to Egypt on a CIA-chartered plane. The U.S. alleged that this group of people had been planning to bomb the U.S. embassy in Albania's capital. Two of the five people were put to death.

*The details of this covert and illegal abduction campaign were brought to light in the U.S. by a Washington Post article printed on March 11, 2002, entitled, "U.S. Behind Secret Transfer of Terror Suspects." The article cites various U.S. and Indonesian officials (sources unidentified by name) recounting and commenting upon these violations. Although the article appeared on the Post's front page, the story was picked up by only one other corporate media source in the U.S., and the Post itself -- as of this writing -- has not followed up its own story with any new information.


Summaries of other top 25 stories
  1. Corporate Media Ignores Key Issues of the Anti-Globalization Protests   The U.S. press failed to inform the public of the core underlying issues of the major anti-globalization protests of recent years. Dramatic images such as protesters enshrouded in tear gas, facing down a line of police officers dressed in riot gear have come to dominate the media coverage and overshadow the actual reasons that thousands of people are taking to the streets.
  2. World's Coral Reefs Dying   One-quarter of all coral reefs have been destroyed by pollution, sedimentation, over-fishing, and rapid global climate change. Coral reefs have survived enormous changes in our planet's past, but today they are experiencing challenges from a multitude of new fronts. Remaining reefs are in such peril that governments are preparing for the contingency that millions of island residents will need to be relocated.

  3. American Companies Exploit the Congo   Western multinational corporations' attempts to cash in on the wealth of Congo's resources have resulted in what many have called "Africa's first world war," claiming the lives of over 3 million people. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been labeled "the richest patch of earth on the planet." The valuable abundance of minerals and resources in the DRC has made it the target of attacks from U.S.-supported neighboring African countries Uganda and Rwanda.

  4. Novartis' Gene Research Endangers Global Plant Life   Scientists working for Swiss food giant Novartis have developed and patented a method for 'switching off' the immune systems of plants, to the outrage of environmentalists and Third World charities who believe the new technology to be the most dangerous use so far of gene modification.

  5. Large U.S. Temp Company Undermines Union Jobs and Mistreats Workers   Labor Ready Inc. is a national temporary employment agency that employed over 700,000 people in 2000. Labor Ready has 839 offices in 49 states and in Canada, and stands ready to place temporary workers as strikebreakers in union labor disputes. During the recent Northwest steal strike, it was Labor Ready who provided hundreds of strike breakers to Kaiser Aluminum in Spokane Washington.

  6. Fish Farms Threaten Health of Consumers and Aquatic Habitats   Farmed fish provide one-third of the seafood consumed by people worldwide. In the U.S. aquaculture supplies almost all of the catfish and trout as well as half of the shrimp and salmon. In the early 1990s, the fledgling aquaculture industry was hailed as a remedy to the problem of marine over-fishing and the subsequent decline in jobs for fishermen. Unfortunately, aquaculture's harm to people and surrounding environments may be greater than its highly anticipated benefits.

  7. Horses Face Lives of Unnecessary Abuse for Drug Company Profits   Premarin, the top selling hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal women, is made from pregnant mares' urine (PMU). Estrogen is extracted from the urine and is sold in many different forms to help with the symptoms of menopause. Approximately 9 million women are currently taking some form of Premarin and that number is expected to rise due to aging baby boomers. Premarin, made by Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, a subsidiary of American Home Products, is the only human estrogen replacement drug that is derived from animal products, most others are derived from soy and vegetables. The patent on Premarin, owned by Wyeth-Ayerst, is about to expire. This may well result in the manufacture of an array of generic substitutes, and is likely to increase the number of horses used in this industry.

  8. Wal-Mart Takes Union Busting to the State Level   Wal-Mart has been pouring a considerable amount of money into a political campaign supporting a law that will reduce the wages and benefits for workers in Oklahoma. Oklahomans voted on the "right to work" law in September of 2001. The law bans labor contracts that require workers to pay union dues or representation fees. The law also makes it difficult for unions to negotiate solid contracts. Wal-Mart hopes to use Oklahoma as a model for a renewed campaign to reduce the wages and benefits for workers nation wide.

  9. Federal Government Bails Out Failing Private Prisons   For close to a decade the private prison industry was booming because state legislators thought they could be both tough on crime and fiscally conservative by contracting with private prisons. However, private prisons have been rife with more abuse and lawsuits than state run prisons, leading to a decline in state level support. By last year not a single state solicited private contracts and many contracts were rolled back or even rescinded as a result of inefficiency and abuses.



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