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Table of Contents

Butterfly Triumphs

by Nicholas Wilson After living two years and eight days on a small tarp-covered platform nestled in the upper boughs of an ancient redwood named Luna, Julia "Butterfly" Hill's bare feet touched the ground December 18 as she triumphantly ended her world record protest

Butterfly's Landing

by Alexander Cockburn The deal reaffirms the hostage-taking mentality of corporate raiders like Hurwitz, forcing enviros to buy endangered species habitat from corporations to keep it from being destroyed. This is a doomed strategy that will pad the pockets of corporations but do almost nothing to aid the environment. At $50,000 per tree, it will take something like $3 trillion to buy back the rest of the threatened big trees

At the Turn of a Century, Better Options Remain

by Norman Solomon Faced with a nonstop swirl of media coverage, it's tempting to succumb to chronic cynicism. But journalists -- and the rest of us -- are better off if we can develop an attitude of idealistic skepticism. In 2000 and beyond, giving voice to candor will be a minimum prerequisite to create conditions for realistic hope

"Forgotten Wars" Have Dragged on for Decades

by Mithre J. Sandrasagra Wars in Sri Lanka, Angola, and Colombia that have dragged on for decades, as well as new conflicts in Africa, are among major world stories that failed to receive widespread media attention this year, according to the relief agency, Medecins Sans Frontieres, or "Doctors Without Borders"

The Ten Worst Corporations of 1999

by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman Why do rich societies permit their corporations to engage, directly or indirectly, through contractors and subcontractors, in brutally exploitative practices in developing countries -- practices that have long been outlawed in the rich countries?

The Real Y2K Problem -- Two Million Prisoners in 2000

by Vincent Schiraldi and Jason Ziedenberg The 1990s could be dubbed "the punishing decade," as the 800,000 jail and prison inmates we added dwarf all previous decades when our incarceration rates rose and fell with changes in our economy and population. America's imprisonment binge has been so massive and so sudden that it is difficult for many people to comprehend, but a few startling facts spell out the scale of what we are doing with our prisons and jails

Media Obsession With End-of-Year Lists

by Walter M. Brasch Most have little reliability or validity. The people make up the lists not for the "public's right to know," but for their own perverse sense of narcissistic values, believing they have the ability and power to try to tell the masses what's important -- and in which order

Buchanan's Hopes Scuttled by WTO Protesters

by Paul de Armond The upshot of the WTO protests is that the issue is now before the nation and some open debate is taking place. Buchanan's "America First" isolationism is an economic policy which won't stand up to scrutiny, however much heat and smoke it generates among the talking heads. Once the tear gas started flying, he became just another flabby politician praising the protestors' success and deploring the violence

Bush Shows Disagreeable Side With Smirking

by David Corn Even if the latest polls hadn't shown him falling farther behind John McCain in New Hampshire, it still would have been a bad week for Bush fils. Voters, once exposed to him, have so little fondness for the man that, if elected, he'll probably be the first president to enter office with a negative approval rating. But Republican bigwigs are also beginning to feel like they've been left holding the bag

McCain, the Anti-Veep

by David Corn What if McCain were residing not in the Oval Office but in the one-heartbeat-away cubicle? Say a Republican Congress sends President George W. Bush a goodies-loaded appropriations bill: Will Vice President McCain name names of those GOP legislators who swipe taxpayer dollars for their favorite projects? Would Vice President McCain decry all those corporate lobbyists who poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into George W. Bush, Inc.? On the campaign trail, would McCain -- as the vice-presidential nominee -- still rail against big-money politics?

Apology and Braggadocio

by Christopher Caldwell The Clinton apology is just empty fluff. But what makes it dangerous, especially alongside the moral pretensions of his Kosovo adventurism, is that he thinks one president, by choosing the right few words, can absolve a country of its own history -- at zero cost. Under this understanding, Clinton can conduct a foreign policy wholly unencumbered by the reality of the choices his predecessors have made

Home Alone

by David Corn Both Al Gore and Hillary Rodham Clinton, on their not-so-excellent (and competing) adventures, will do much to shape the legacy of the man they are each trying to escape, for how they fare in their respective campaigns will partly determine how Clinton is viewed in the years to come

Dr. Laura -- Darling of the Religious Right

by Bill Berkowitz Dr. Laura has injected herself into several of the Christian Right's ongoing political campaigns. She relied heavily on the Capitol Resource Institute, for material opposing California state Assemblywoman Sheila James Kuehl's "Dignity for All Students" bill (AB 222), which failed to win passage in June. After its defeat (the bill was rewritten as AB 537 and in late summer was passed by both state houses and signed into law by Gov. Gray Davis), Schlessinger said that the bill "'would have resulted in schools being forced to hire openly homosexual schoolteachers and school personnel and having openly'-and I'm reading again from the United States Justice Foundation paper here-'having openly homosexual, bisexual and cross-dressing teachers could have a substantially negative impact on impressionable elementary and/or junior high school children'"

The Real Secrets of Area 51

by Jason Vest Whether or not Area 51 is a haven for extraterrestrial mechanics and cross-planetary conspiracies isn't likely to be quickly settled to anyone's satisfaction. What seems beyond dispute is that, at the very least, the base is a testing site for aircraft systems funded and developed under spooky "black budget" programs. But as ongoing lawsuits filed on behalf of some of the site's employees have shown, this work is considered to be so clandestine that workers adversely affected by toxic materials used and destroyed there cannot even be told what it was to which they were exposed

"Protected" Forests Go Unprotected

by Jim Lobe Only about one percent of protected areas in 10 key developing countries received adequate management and were secure against any foreseeable threat

Judi Bari Bomb Case Heard in Court

by Nicholas Wilson With the addition of Tony Serra and other all-star attorneys to their legal team and fresh from an appeals court victory over the Oakland Police, Darryl Cherney and the late Judi Bari's estate pressed forward December 10 toward a jury trial of their federal civil rights suit against the FBI and Oakland Police

Cell Phones Caused Memory Loss, Research Finds

by Rob Harrill Rats exposed to cell phone microwaves suffer long-term memory loss, according to new study by University of Washington researcher

Rainforest Logging in Africa May Doom Half of Bird, Primate Species

Fragmented rainforests can keep losing biodiversity for a century, and 30 percent of African primates should be considered 'living dead' because they are doomed

Echelon Satelitte Surveillance Raises Fears of Big Brother

by Bob Fitrakis Echelon is an attempt to capture all satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic communications worldwide, including communications to and from the United States. U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) computers then use sophisticated filtering technology to sort through e-mails, faxes and phone conversations in search of certain keywords or other "flags." Other intelligence agencies apparently ask the NSA to flag specific words, phrases, organizations or people for surveillance purposes

AIDS Fight Stymied by Conservative Religion

by Marwaan Macan-Markar The situation in the South-Asian state of Bangladesh is a case in point. There, orthodox imams have come out strongly against the move in an environment health workers describe as having "all the elements for a wildfire epidemic." Less than 20 percent of Bangladesh`s sexually active people use condoms and there is a 60 percent of active commercial sex workers suffer from sexually transmitted diseases

Indonesian Generals, Investigators Face Off in Probe of Timor Atrocities

by Marianne Kearney Threats from a senior military commander who says Indonesian soldiers would be so humiliated they might run amok if their generals were called to give evidence in a public trial

Russia Proposes to be World's Nuclear Dump

by Sergei Blagov Russia's Nuclear Power Ministry, or Minatom, is planning to earn billions of dollars by reprocessing and storing other countries' nuclear waste, promising to use two percent of the proceeds to clean up the resulting environmental mess

S American Plant Labelled the "Perfect Food"

by Zoradia Portillo Bread might be the time-honored "staff of life" but quinua, a starchy plant similar to corn that's been around the Andes for centuries, has been named by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as the "perfect food" to stamp out hunger in the next millennium

Violence Unchecked in Kosovo, Report Finds

Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo suffered systematic "humiliation and discrimination" from Serbia for 10 years, but ethnic cleansing occurred only after NATO began bombing Yugoslavia in March, which in turn caused a "climate of vindictiveness" among ethnic Albanians, which led to the current "unchecked violence" in the province

New HIV Case Every Minute in Nigeria

by Remi Oyo 1999 survey presents a grim statistic that places the national average of HIV infection at 5.4 percent up from a 1990 average of 1.8 percent. Only Cameroon, Nigeria's neighbor to the east, has a slightly higher figure

Oklahoma Textbook Committee Slams Evolution

by Bill Johnson A small state committee that hardly anyone ever heard of has kicked up a mammoth furor over evolution that rumbles from border to border in Oklahoma, and into other states as well

Petrodollars Behind Chechen War

by Sergei Blagov Larg quantities of oil are expected to flow early this century from the Caspian basin, considered to be one of the world's most important new sources of fossil fuels, through a $2.5 billion pipeline

Groups Demand Ken Saro-Wiwa Retrial

by Toye Olori Rights groups in Nigeria have demanded the retrial of the late Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists hanged in November 1995 for their alleged involvement in the murder of four prominent Ogoni leaders

Error 404: News Not Found in Your Daily Paper

The Martin Luther King assassination conspiracy trial; FBI undergoes biggest makeover in almost four decades; end game in the Timber Wars; telling half of the story

Unexpected Crop Failure of GM Soybeans

by Andy Coghlan It seems barely a week goes by without another piece of bad news for the agribiotech giant Monsanto. Now researchers in the U.S. have found that hot climates don't agree with Monsanto's herbicide-resistant soya beans, causing stems to split open and crop losses of up to 40 percent

Koreans Shocked That Popular Food Has GM Soybean

by Ahn Mi-Young Consumers were disturbed to learn that the soybeans used in the bean paste -- or "tubu" -- are likely made from genetically modified seeds. The nation's major state-funded consumer group collected dozens of the "tubu" brands, tested them and found that 82 percent were made from genetically-modified beans and the next day, "tubu" sales plummeted by 40 to 80 percent

Toxic Waste Part of Many Garden Fertilizers

Farmers are spreading fertilizers containing toxic waste on farm fields and home gardens, California state and independent tests have found

Poll Shows Strong Florida Anti-Immigrant Mood

by Patrick Smikle Florida findings are reflective of the national sentiment and that the numbers of persons expressing anti-immigrant views would probably be higher had the survey been conducted in less favorable economic times

Haitian Children Sent to U.S. as Indentured Servants

by Patrick Smikle Desperately poor Haitian families (usually from the rural areas) unable to provide for all their minor children, give one or two away -- usually girls -- to better off families -- usually in the urban areas. The Haitian-American community activists have now turned their attention to determining how widespread is the practice is in the U.S. and to taking steps to eliminate it

Presidio for Sale

by Diana Scott 14-part hypertext series on the Presidio of San Francisco, where most of this park will soon belong to the highest acceptable bidder -- with the blessing of Congress and President Clinton. The big winner so far is filmmaker George Lucas, who was named "master tenant" -- the preferred developer of the mammoth Letterman/LAIR military hospital and research complex in the park

WTO Postpones Evaluation of Seattle Fiasco

by Gustavo Capdevila At the end of December, numerous temporary norms expired that regulate different aspects of international trade, but the multilateral system has yet to find formulas to replace them

Anti-WTO Alliance Ponders Next Step

by Rene Ciria-Cruz It took opponents of globalization only three tumultuous days of civil protest in Seattle to make the otherwise innocuous sounding World Trade Organization (WTO) a less-than-savory household name. Now they are eager to stack more victories on top of their political triumph

How the WTO Summit Failed

by Monte Paulsen Working from plush hotel suites nestled high above the clouds of tear gas, WTO Director General Mike Moore and U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky were less troubled by the sea of protestors handing out "practice safe trade" condoms than the trickle of outraged delegates who, angered over how the U.S. and European Union were monopolizing the agenda, were threatening to pack their bags

WTO Problems Underscores Need for U.S. Labor Party

by Steven Hill No matter which political party has been at the helm, Democrats or Republicans, the U.S. government and corporations have been the world's primary boosters for globalization and the World Trade Organization

Jesse Jackson Right to Play Role in Student Conflict

by Salim Muwakkil Jackson has been excoriated in the local and national media for interfering in local concerns and for acting out of a sense of racial allegiance. In one typical mainstream editorial, the Chicago Sun-Times fumed that Jackson's demonstration had "none of the honor of the civil rights movement and all of the shame of a fight." But, as usual, Jackson is on to something

Legal Rights of Cuban Boy Survivor Ignored

by Scott Harris Six-year-old Elian Gonzalez survived the capsizing of a small boat that left Cuba for Florida during Thanksgiving week by hanging onto an inner tube for two days. Before being rescued, the boy's mother and ten others were drowned. Since being brought to Florida, the child has become a political football with distant relatives in Miami resisting the demands of his father and the Cuban government that the boy be immediately returned to his home in Havana

Kicking the Russian Bear

by Steve Chapman Relations between Washington and Moscow have been plagued in recent years by contagious deafness: The United States has ignored Russian complaints about our crusading around the world, and Russia has stopped listening to anything we say. But President Yeltsin has found one way to get our attention

War on Drugs vs. the Constitution

by Molly Ivins The War on Drugs is ripping up the Constitution, endangering American liberty and encouraging law enforcement officers to act like bandits. The unpleasant ramifications of the War on Drugs are too numerous for one column, but the area of asset forfeiture deserves special consideration

Impoverishing the Middle Class

by Molly Ivins Federal and state consumer protections have been badly eroded in recent years, and our ever-alert entrepreneurs have jumped right in to take advantage of the poor. "Throughout the country, these unsuspecting consumers are losing homes, money and property to aggressive home-mortgage lenders, car financiers, rent-to-own companies and others -- a whole system of 'fringe banking,'" says Consumer Reports

Showing Presents of Mind

by Molly Ivins I've been putting it off, but here's the Procrastinators' Book List -- one-stop shopping for all your friends and family

Dragging Jesus Into Politics

by Molly Ivins I have been amused by a couple of Republican candidates who seem to think that the way to our electoral affection is to tell us all what moral lepers we are

The Sensitive Business of Chemical Sensitivity

by Molly Ivins Something called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) afflicts somewhere between 15 percent and 30 percent of all Americans, according to different surveys. That's between 37 million and 75 million people who report that they are unusually sensitive or allergic to certain common substances, such as detergents, perfumes, solvents, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and foods

Floundering Front Runners

by Molly Ivins The Republicans, it seems to me, have a peculiar political party (as opposed to the Democrats, who have yet to organize one). The R's tend to be quite hierarchical, much given to obeying the commands of the party elders and the deep pockets. Their Powers anointed Bush the Chosen Candidate and now expect obedient Republicans to ratify that decision. But they're ignoring a far stronger candidate

Wise as a Treeful of Owls

by Molly Ivins Judge William Wayne Justice, the man who brought the U.S. Constitution to Texas for 30 years, recently retired. That'll make a lot of stupid clods happy, including most in the Legislature, since they have never forgiven Justice for desegregating the schools. But the rest of us lose a towering public figure, a man whose record on the bench is so magnificent and whose personal conduct is so irreproachable that he is, verily, a secular saint

The Colorful Past of Gilbert Serna

by Molly Ivins Some people have the nerve to claim that colorful politics in Texas are a thing of the past. Pish. Piffle. Poppycock. Consider, just for fun, the case of state Rep. Gilbert Serna

Shallow Media Coverage of WTO Protests

by Molly Ivins After the WTO talks collapsed, the news media informed us that this was A Big Defeat for Clinton: Clinton, Big Loser. Clinton isn't the big loser -- we are. Huge multinational companies have so far been the chief beneficiaries of free trade. May I point out that many of these huge multinationals are in the media business?

Comrade Trump's Idea of Tax Justice

by Molly Ivins Being new to Marxist thought, the Donald has not fully grasped the finer points and wants to eliminate the estate tax himself. The bottom line for Comrade Trump is that his one-shot 14 percent wealth tax on those with more than $10 mil would cost him personally somewhere in the neighborhood of $350 million, but abolishing the estate tax would save him twice that. He may be a tyro leftie, but he's not stupid

Dehumanizing the Poor

by Molly Ivins Given the peculiar way our government defines poverty, the current poverty rate of 13 percent is still higher than it was 30 years ago. We're having yet another debate about how to define poverty with the usual result: If we make the standard more realistic, we'll have to list millions more Americans as poor

Media Hype for Another "American Century"

by Norman Solomon When prospects for the next century seem murky, the media fixations usually revolve around whether the United States can overpower the world -- not whether it should

The P.U.-litzer Prizes for 1999

by Norman Solomon When Larry King hosted a segment about potential senatorial candidate Hillary Clinton on June 1, the discussion took political analysis to new depths. One panelist commented: "She has a bad figure. She's bottom heavy and her legs are short." Another expert added: "I don't know one good thing about her. She's got fat -- her legs are too short, her arms are too long.... If your legs are too short, how do you evolve?" The panelists did not find time to discuss the anatomy of Clinton's likely GOP opponent, Rudolph Giuliani

Media in Grief After WTO Summit

by Norman Solomon When the World Trade Organization summit collapsed in Seattle, major American news outlets seemed to go into shock. The failure to launch a new round of global trade talks stunned many journalists who were accustomed to covering the WTO with great reverence. In the wake of the crucial meeting, the mainstream media plunged into stages of grief

Nazi Connections of U.S. Banks

by Alexander Cockburn There's scarcely an issue in international affairs this year more likely to induce a feeling of moral superiority in Americans than that of the dormant Jewish accounts in Swiss banks. The general impression here -- I would venture to say it's one held by a very high percentage of the public -- is that Swiss bankers ruthlessly filched the deposits of Jews, even as the latter were being transported to concentration camps and murdered by the Nazis

China Becomes Next Order of Business

by Alexander Cockburn There's nothing new about "globalization," just refinement of the process. To ensure that these poor countries continue to depend on exports for survival, the Western powers have made sure that all possibility of robust internal markets is undercut. Austerity programs imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have laid waste the domestic sectors of these economies, creating small elites servile to the imperial powers, amid vast oceans of poverty and desperation

Why do Liberals Like Bradley?

by Alexander Cockburn Bradley's signals to Wall Street that he's their man are, even in these lax times, shameless well beyond the point of indelicacy

The Friends of John McCain

by Alexander Cockburn The pundits love McCain because he handles them well and has assiduously cultivated a rep for himself as the lone just man in the Sodom of Capitol Hill, railing against soft money's baneful role in politics. His colleagues in the Senate take a harsher view, regarding him as a mere grandstander

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