"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." - Charles Mackay
Friday, October 19, 2007
Helicopter Girl -Angel City

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posted by R J Noriega at 5:28 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Thinking Miles Ahead: The Art of Reid Miles
By Monica Racic

For a long time music and the visual arts were married. But the last ten years have been rocky, especially when music split for a rather extended rendezvous with the Internet (having flings with mp3s and other digital files). And while music moved on to new types of media, it left design with the kids: vinyl, cassette, and CD.

Album art just doesn’t have the same place in our culture as it used to have. Even as recent as the early 90s, album art had a decent amount of living space on the square CD cover. Although, the 5-inches offered up by the CD cover shrinks in comparison to the 12-inches of the vinyl LP sleeve that gave designers a much larger canvas on which to experiment and showcase their talents.


Leading the forefront of that indelible connection between sight and sound packaging was Reid Miles, a graphic designer for Blue Note Records. Miles was born in Chicago in 1927, making him only twelve years old when Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff founded Blue Note Records. A music label that would focus on the American institution of Jazz, Blue Note Records took its name from the blue notes commonly used in jazz music to emphasize emotion (achieved by shifting a note to a lower pitch—making it sound ‘blue’). Predominately featuring Jazz artists of the Bebop, Hard Bop, and Avant Garde type, Blue Note Records represented some of the biggest names in Jazz including Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Fats Navarro, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

Twenty-nine years after its founding, Reid Miles joined the Blue Note team. In the time Miles spent working for Blue Note records, starting in 1956 and leaving in the late sixties, he created almost 500 pieces of album art. His work demonstrated graphic design’s ability to articulate a visual companion to the abstract. As a result of the visual potency of Miles’ work, Blue Note Records became known for especially unique cover art.

Much like the personal styles that blare out from the records of each jazz musician that Miles’ art represents, Miles’ own visual style resonates on the page. Working within the modernist format, Miles employed geometric designs while still keeping the arrangements fresh and distinctive for each jazz artist. Francis Wolff, one of the founders of Blue Note Records and coincidentally a professional photographer, would provide many of the photographs that Miles used in his designs. Formally, Miles’ work is often made up of tinted black and white photos, as in his cover design for Hank Mobley’s album “Soul Station.” Many of his designs follow this limited color palette (black, white, and a third color—usually blue or red). Also, evident in this piece is the balance Miles creates between type and image. His arrangement of type, which was almost always sans serif, is reminiscent of the Swiss principles of design that were prominent at the time in artists such as Josef Muller-Brockmann. On some covers, the type even becomes the image, as with the album “Trompeta Toccata.” Miles frequently found a creative way to display type, as in the album cover for Lee Morgan’s “The Rumproller” (1965), which is a smeared rendering of the title.

Miles often used blocks of color, as on the album cover for Tina Brooks’ “True Blue” and on Sonny Clark’s album “Trio” (in which the rectangles of color seem to illustrate overlapping piano keys). Similarly, black rectangles seem to illustrate a piano on the cover of Freddie Hubbard’s album “Hub-tones” (1962). Although formally simple, Miles’ pieces such as “Trio” and “Hub-Tones” are an effective representation of the layered rhythms found in jazz and the concoction of musical styles that naturally occurs when artists collaborate in a ‘freestyle’ nature.

Knowing how to make the photography work for his designs, Miles would often crop each photographs in an interesting way to visually encapsulate the flair of the jazz sound. Particularly engaging is the album cover for Sonny Clark’s “Cool Struttin’.” The scene is activated when Miles crops the legs of a woman in mid-step, giving the impression that this woman has some ‘panache’ in her walk and that the music you’re about to listen to has an equally energized soul in its rhythm.

Miles understood the dynamic between the music realm and the visual world—knowing when to let the image speak for itself and when and how to use text to enhance it. Each cover gives a sense of the soulful and cool essence of jazz. For conveying such accurate visuals to accompany the abstractedness of the music, it is ironic that Miles, it has been said, did not particularly like jazz. Regardless of his musical tastes, Miles foresaw the impact and evolutionary importance the album cover would have on not only the music industry, but also on the overall experience of listening to music.

Although album art today is no longer tangible, music design is still prominent. Like any good divorcée design has re-invented itself to go back out on the market, this time having a delicious affair with the Adobe creative suite. And perhaps there will be some sort of reconciliation.

As seen in the work Reid Miles did for Blue Note records, for a long time music and album art had an impenetrable relationship. It makes one wonder whether that sensory bond is withering away in the digital age. I hope not.

Written by d/visible contributor Monica Racic

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posted by R J Noriega at 2:56 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Monday, October 15, 2007
American Lawbreaking
From: Tim Wu

At the federal prosecutor's office in the Southern District of New York, the staff, over beer and pretzels, used to play a darkly humorous game. Junior and senior prosecutors would sit around, and someone would name a random celebrity—say, Mother Theresa or John Lennon.

It would then be up to the junior prosecutors to figure out a plausible crime for which to indict him or her. The crimes were not usually rape, murder, or other crimes you'd see on Law & Order but rather the incredibly broad yet obscure crimes that populate the U.S. Code like a kind of jurisprudential minefield: Crimes like "false statements" (a felony, up to five years), "obstructing the mails" (five years), or "false pretenses on the high seas" (also five years). The trick and the skill lay in finding the more obscure offenses that fit the character of the celebrity and carried the toughest sentences. The, result, however, was inevitable: "prison time."

As this story suggests, American law is underenforced—and we like it that way. Full enforcement of every last law on the books would put all of us in prison for crimes such as "injuring a mail bag." No enforcement of our laws, on the other hand, would mean anarchy. Somehow, officials must choose what laws really matter.

This series explores the black spots in American law: areas in which our laws are routinely and regularly broken and where the law enforcement response is … nothing. These are the areas where, for one reason or another, we've decided to tolerate lawbreaking and let a law—duly enacted and still on the books—lay fallow or near dead.

Why are there dead zones in U.S. law? The answer goes beyond the simple expense of enforcement but betrays a deeper, underlying logic. Tolerated lawbreaking is almost always a response to a political failure—the inability of our political institutions to adapt to social change or reach a rational compromise that reflects the interests of the nation and all concerned parties. That's why the American statutes are full of laws that no one wants to see fully enforced—or even enforced at all.

This political failure can happen for many reasons. Sometimes a law was passed by another generation with different ideas of right and wrong, but the political will necessary to repeal the law does not exist. Sometimes, as we'll see with polygamy or obscenity, the issue is too sensitive to discuss in rational terms. And sometimes the law as written is a symbol of some behavior to which we may aspire, which nevertheless remains wholly out of touch with reality. Whatever the reason, when politics fails, institutional tolerance of lawbreaking takes over.

There will, of course, always be some lawbreaking that goes unpunished simply because law enforcement is expensive—not every shoplifter is caught, and it's not worth expending the resources to catch every kleptomaniac. But the areas we will look at here are different: What's going on here is that the parties all know the law is being broken, accept it, and—while almost never overtly saying so—both the "criminals" and law enforcement concede that everyone likes it better that way. The law in question thus continues to have a formal existence, and, as we shall see, it may become a kind of zoning ordinance, enforced only against very public or flagrant behavior. But few, except sometimes a vocal minority, actually think we'd be better off if the law were fully enforced.

The importance of understanding why and when we will tolerate lawbreaking cannot be overstated. Lawyers and journalists spend most of their time watching the president, Congress, and the courts as they make law. But tolerance of lawbreaking constitutes one of the nation's other major—yet most poorly understood—ways of creating social and legal policy. Almost as much as the laws that we enact, the lawbreaking to which we shut our eyes reflects how tolerant U.S. society really is to individual or group difference. It forms a major part of our understanding of how the nation deals with what was once called "vice." While messy, strange, hypocritical, and in a sense dishonest, widespread tolerance of lawbreaking forms a critical part of the U.S. legal system as it functions.

The motto of the Web site Erowid Experience Vaults is "You Cannot Deny the Experiences of Others." Erowid is the Web's best known site for recording drug experiences. Thousands of contributors describe in vivid detail their experiences with this or that pharmaceutical, creating something like a Zagat Guide for the discriminating drug user.

Erowid makes for an engaging read, if you've ever wondered what taking PCP is like ("began to feel weird. … my head detached and wriggled itself backward through some plants"). There are some surprises, such as the commonly noted observation that heroin is "overrated." But what's particularly interesting about the Experience Vaults is how many of the drugs reviewed there aren't actually classic "illegal drugs," like heroin or cocaine, but rather pharmaceuticals, like Clonazepam.

That's because over the last two decades, the pharmaceutical industry has developed a full set of substitutes for just about every illegal narcotic we have. Avoiding the highly charged politics of "illegal" drugs, the pharmaceutical industry, doctors, and citizens have thus quietly created the means for Americans to get at substitutes for almost all the drugs banned in the 20th century. Through the magic of tolerated use, it's actually the other drug legalization movement, and it has been much more successful than the one you read about in the papers.

Since 1970 and the beginning of Nixon's war on drugs, the Justice Department has regulated drugs likely to be abused under the Controlled Substances Act, which categorizes such drugs into five "Schedules." Those in Schedule I—the most tightly controlled—are supposed to have a "high potential for abuse," and "no currently accepted medical use in treatment." These drugs cannot be prescribed by a doctor. Those in Schedules II through V can be prescribed, and that is what makes all the difference.

Since the beginning of the war on drugs, the "formal" drug decriminalization movement has focused on trying to change the status of marijuana, often through state referendums. While in the late 1970s and late 1990s advocates were quite hopeful, the extent of real legal change they've achieved must be described as relatively minor. Certainly, several states have passed medical marijuana laws, which provide doctors and patients with an immunity when the drug is used for medical purposes. And some cities, like Seattle, do not arrest people for possessing small amounts. But there's been no significant change in federal drug laws, or in the political conversation surrounding them, in decades. A leading presidential candidate from either party endorsing a "free weed" movement seems unimaginable. And beyond marijuana, the drug legalization movement barely even makes an effort.

That's why drug legalization is happening in a wholly different way. Over the last two decades, the FDA has become increasingly open to drugs designed for the treatment of depression, pain, and anxiety—drugs that are, by their nature, likely to mimic the banned Schedule I narcotics. Part of this is the product of a well-documented relaxation of FDA practice that began under Clinton and has increased under Bush. But another part is the widespread public acceptance of the idea that the effects drug users have always been seeking in their illicit drugs—calmness, lack of pain, and bliss—are now "treatments" as opposed to recreation. We have reached a point at which it's commonly understood that when people snort cocaine because they're depressed or want to function better at work, that's drug trafficking; but taking antidepressants for similar purposes is practicing medicine.

This other drug legalization movement is an example of what theorists call legal avoision. As described by theorist Leon Katz, the idea is to reach "a forbidden outcome … as a by-product of a permitted act." In a classic tax shelter, for instance, you do something perfectly legal (like investing in a business guaranteed to lose money) in order to reach a result that would otherwise be illegal (evading taxes). In the drug context, asking Congress to legalize cocaine or repeal the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 is a fool's errand. But it's far easier to invent a new drug, X, with similar effects to cocaine, and ask the FDA to approve it as a new antidepressant or anxiety treatment. That's avoision in practice.

Are the new pharmaceuticals really substitutes for narcotics? The question, of course, is what counts as a substitute, which can depend not just on chemistry but on how the drug in question is being used. But as a chemical matter the question seems simple: In general, pharmaceuticals do the same things to the brain that the illegal drugs do, though sometimes they do so more gently.

As many have pointed out, drugs like Ritalin and cocaine act in nearly the exact same manner: Both are dopamine enhancers that block the ability of neurons to reabsorb dopamine. As a 2001 paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded, Ritalin "acts much like cocaine." It may go further than that: Another drug with similar effects is nicotine, leading Malcolm Gladwell to speculate in The New Yorker that both Ritalin and cocaine use are our substitutes for smoking cigarettes. "Among adults," wrote Gladwell, "Ritalin is a drug that may fill the void left by nicotine." Anecdotally, when used recreationally, users report that Ritalin makes users alert, focused, and happy with themselves. Or as one satisfied user reports on Erowid, "this is the closest pharmaceutical *high* to street cocaine that I have experienced." In the words of another, "I felt very happy, and very energetic, and I had this feeling like everything was right with the world."

The Ritalin/cocaine intersection is but one example. Other substitutes are opoid-based drugs available in somewhat legalized versions, with names like Vicodin and OxyContin.* Clonazepam and valium may not be exact substitutes for marijuana, but they all seem to attract users seeking the same mellowing effects and loss of some forms of anxiety. In short, the differences between pharmaceuticals and illegal drugs may ultimately be much more social than chemical.

So, as the FDA has licensed chemical substitutes for what were once thought to be dangerous drugs, does that mean roughly the same thing as the legalization of cocaine, marijuana, and heroin? Not exactly. Drugs prescribed are usually taken differently than recreational drugs, of course, even if at some level the chemical hit is the same. More broadly, the current program of drug legalization in the United States is closely and explicitly tied to the strange economics of the U.S. health-care industry. The consequence is that how people get their dopamine or other brain chemicals is ever more explicitly, like the rest of medicine, tied to questions of class.

Antidepressants and anxiety treatments aren't cheap: A fancy drug like Wellbutrin can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,400 a year. These drugs also require access to a sympathetic doctor who will issue a prescription. That's why, generally speaking, the new legalization program is for better-off Americans. As the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reports, rich people tend to abuse prescription drugs, while poorer Americans tend to self-medicate with old-fashioned illegal drugs or just get drunk.

The big picture reveals a nation that, let's face it, likes drugs: Expert Joseph Califano estimates that the United States, representing just 4 percent of the world's population, consumes nearly two-thirds of the world's recreational drugs. In pursuit of that habit, the country has, in slow motion, found ways for the better-off parts of society to use drugs without getting near the scary drug laws it promulgated in the 20th century. Our parents and grandparents banned drugs, but the current generation is re-legalizing them. That's why Rush Limbaugh, as a drug user, is in a sense a symbol of our times. He, like many celebrities, is a recovering addict. But with Limbaugh being somewhat outside of the 1960s drug culture, the medical marijuana movement was not for him. Instead, Limbaugh, the addicted culture warrior, has become the true poster child of the new drug legalization program.

Correction, Oct. 15, 2007: The original article suggested these drugs were opium-based. And a punctuation error initially listed Clonazepam and valium as opium-based drugs rather than marijuana substitutes. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

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posted by R J Noriega at 2:08 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Donald gunn's 12 Types of Advertisement
Gunn's first format is the "demo." This is a visual demonstration of a product's capabilities. You've seen hundreds of demo ads on late-night TV, for things like kitchen knives (watch it slice through that tin can!) and stain removers (it can't possibly erase that red wine blotch—and yet!). Some of the ads introducing Apple's iPhone are just straight-up demos, pointing out the product's features as the viewer looks on.

The second format is "show the need or problem." First, you make it clear that something's not up to snuff in the consumer's life. Then, you introduce the remedy—which is, of course, the product you're selling.

The third format is a variation on showing the problem. This time, you employ a "symbol, analogy, or exaggerated graphic" to represent the problem. In this Theraflu ad, for example, the problem is that a man's flu symptoms make him feel like an ogre. Thus, the ad portrays him as a literal ogre. When the man takes Theraflu, he returns to human form.

The fourth format is "comparison." Here, the spotlight's on the claim that your product is superior to those of your competitors. In this Charles Schwab ad, a man complains that he hates his current stockbroker's hefty commissions. At the end of the spot, Schwab promises a better deal.

The fifth format is the "exemplary story." These ads weave a narrative that helps illustrate the product's benefits. In Gunn's words, the key is to create "a situation where you'd use [the product] and be very glad for it."

The sixth format is "benefit causes story." You conceive the ad back-to-front, by imagining a trail of events that might be caused by the product's benefit. In the example Gunn uses, a man on a safari screams when a lion charges him. It's then revealed, to the amusement of the man's friends (and also the viewer), that he's been looking through the powerful zoom lens of his Olympus camera. The lion is, in fact, hundreds of yards away. (this is the least productive type of Ad because it require's deductive reasoning)

The seventh format is "tell it"—also known as "presenter," "testimonial," or "A-tells-B." This can take the form of a kindly neighbor or best-friend spot ("Oh, I used to get arthritis when I gardened, too—here, try my Ouch-Be-Gone pills"). It can be a "real person" testimonial ("I've never slept so well before—thanks, Adjust-o-Foam mattress!"). Or it might be a classic talking-head ad (often the talking head will wear a white lab coat—which assures us beyond doubt that he's a trustworthy expert).

The eighth format is "ongoing characters and celebrities." One big challenge when making an ad is to ensure that your brand "gets credit" for the spot. The viewer may remember the ad just fine and yet forget which brand it was for. The use of a recurring character, or celebrity, can help cement a brand's identity into the viewer's brain.

The ninth format is the "symbol, analogy, or exaggerated graphic" demonstrating a benefit of the product. (Recall that earlier we saw this technique used to demonstrate a problem that the product solves.)

The 10th format is "associated user imagery": The advertiser showcases the type of people it hopes you'll associate with the product. Often these will be hip, funny, or good-looking people. But sometimes the associated users are goofy or geeky—it depends on the target market.

The 11th format is "unique personality property." These spots highlight something indigenous to the product that will make it stand out. It could be the country of origin (a sports car boasting about its German engineering). It could be the product's unusual moniker ("With a name like Smucker's, it has to be good").

The 12th and final format is the "parody or borrowed format." This is a popular approach these days, perhaps because pop-culture references have become our common language. Recent ads have parodied movies, TV shows—and even other ads.

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posted by R J Noriega at 4:09 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
# 25 Who Will Profit from Native Energy?
LiP Magazine, June 5, 2006
Title: “Native Energy Futures”
Author: Brian Awehali
http://www.lipmagazine.org/articles/featawehali_nativefutures.htm

Student Researchers: Ioana Lupu and Mayra Madrigal
Faculty Evaluator: Dolly Freidel, Ph.D.

Energy on Native American land is becoming big business. According to the Indigenous Environmental Network, 35 percent of the fossil fuel resources in the US are within Indian country. The Department of the Interior estimates that Indian lands hold undiscovered reserves of almost 54 billion tons of coal, 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 5.4 billion barrels of oil. Tribal lands also contain enormous amounts of alternative energy. “Wind blowing through Indian reservations in just four northern Great Plains states could support almost 200,000 megawatts of wind power,” Winona LaDuke told Indian Country Today in March 2005, “Tribal landholdings in the southwestern US…could generate enough power to eradicate all fossil fuel burning power plants in the US.”

The questions to be answered now are: what sort of energy will Indian lands produce, who will make that decision, and who will end up benefiting from the production?
According to Theresa Rosier, Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, “increased energy development in Indian and Alaska Native communities could help the Nation have more reliable homegrown energy supplies.” This, she says, is “consistent with the President’s National Energy Policy to secure America’s energy future.”

Rosier’s statement conveys quite a lot about how the government and the energy sector intend to market the growing shift away from dependence on foreign energy. The idea that “America’s energy future” should be linked to having “more reliable homegrown energy supplies” can be found in native energy-specific legislation that has already passed into law. What this line of thinking fails to take into account is that Native America is not the same as US America. The domestic “supplies” in question belong to sovereign nations, not to the United States or its energy sector.
So far, government plans to deregulate and step up the development of domestic (native) energy resources is being spun as a way to produce clean, efficient energy while helping Native Americans gain greater economic and tribal sovereignty. Critics charge, however, that large energy companies are simply looking to establish lucrative partnerships with tribal corporations, which are largely free of regulation and federal oversight.

For example, in 2003, the Rosebud Sioux of South Dakota, in partnership with NativeEnergy, LLC, completed the first large-scale native-owned wind turbine in history. The project was billed as a way to bring renewable energy–related jobs and training opportunities to the citizens of this sovereign nation, who are among the poorest in all of North America.

NativeEnergy’s President and CEO Tom Boucher, an energy industry vet, financed the Rosebud Sioux project by selling “flexible emissions standards” created by the Kyoto Protocol. These are the tax-deductible pollution credits from ecologically responsible companies (or in this case, Native American tribes), which can then be sold to polluters wishing to “offset” their carbon dioxide generation without actually reducing their emissions.

Since the Rosebud test case proved successful, NativeEnergy moved forward with plans to develop a larger “distributed wind project,” located on eight different reservations. NativeEnergy also became a majority Indian-owned company in August 2005, when the pro-development Intertribal Council on Utility Policy (COUP) purchased a majority stake in the company on behalf of its member tribes.
The COUP-NativeEnergy purchase just happened to coincide with the passage of the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The act contains a number of native energy–specific provisions in its Title V, many of which set alarming precedents.
Most outrageously, it gave the US government the power to grant rights of way through Indian lands without permission from the tribes—if deemed to be in the strategic interests of an energy-related project. Under the guise of “promoting tribal sovereignty,” the act also released the federal government from liability with regard to resource development, shifting responsibility for environmental review and regulation from the federal to tribal governments. Also, according to the Indigenous Environmental Network, the act “rolls back the protections of…critical pieces of legislation that grassroots indigenous peoples utilize to protect our sacred sites.” Some critics have derided the 2005 act as a fire sale on Indian energy, characterizing various incentives as a broad collection of subsidies (federal handouts) for US energy companies.

America’s native peoples may attain a modicum of energy independence and tribal sovereignty through the development of wind, solar, and other renewable energy infrastructure on their lands. But, according to Brian Awehali, it won’t come from getting into bed with, and becoming indebted to, the very industry currently driving the planet to its doom.

UPDATE BY Brian Awehali
I believe the topic of this article was important and urgent because sometimes all that glitters really is gold, even if the marketing copy says it’s green. The long and utterly predictable history where indigenous peoples and US government and corporate interests are both concerned shouldn’t be forgotten as we enter the brave new green era. Marketing for-profit energy schemes on Indian lands as a means of promoting tribal sovereignty is both ludicrous and offensive, as are “green” development plans intrinsically tied to the extraction of fossil fuels in the deregulated Wild West of Indian Country. Energy companies are only interested in native sovereignty because it means operations on Indian lands are not subject to federal regulation or oversight. This is why I included a discussion in my article about the instructive example of the Alaska tribal corporations and the ways they’ve mutated into multi-billion dollar loophole exploiters. (My brief examination of Alaska tribal corporations drew heavily from an excellent Mother Jones article, “Little Big Companies,” by Michael Scherer). It’s also my belief that the probably well-intentioned idea of “green tags,” carbon offset credits, and market-enabled “carbon neutrality” should be examined very closely: Why are we introducing systems for transferring (or trading) the carbon emissions of “First World” polluters to those who contributed least to global warming? I would argue that this is merely a nice-sounding way for the overdeveloped world to purchase the right to continue its pathologically unsustainable mode of existence, while doing little to address the very grave ecological realities we now face.

It’s very hard to know what the impact of this story was, or to gauge mainstream response to it. In my experience, the so-called mainstream has a difficult time absorbing and understanding Native American issues, not least because this mainstream tends to think of indigenous peoples in North America in historical, rather than contemporary, terms. I am, however, encouraged by the number of journalists and writers who are beginning to ask critical questions about greenwashing, and I see my story as adding to that collective body of work.
For more information about energy policy and its impact on indigenous communities of North America, I recommend visiting the Indigenous Environmental Network (www.ienearth.org), and checking out their Native Energy Campaign.

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posted by R J Noriega at 3:46 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
# 24 Media Misquotes Threat From Iran’s President
Global Research, January 20, 2007
Title: “Wiped Off The Map—The Rumor of the Century”
Author: Arash Norouzi
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=NOR20070120&articleId=4527

Information Clearing House, May 9, 2006
Title: “Full Text: The President of Iran’s Letter To President Bush”
Translated by Le Monde
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article12984.htm

Student Researchers: Becky Bazell
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Ph.D.

Across the world a media story has spread that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad has threatened to destroy Israel, by saying that, “Israel must be wiped off the map.” Contrary to general belief, this statement was actually a misinterpretation. However, it was the Islamic Republic News Service in Iran that first mistranslated the quote. Iran’s Foreign Minister attempted to clarify the statement, but the quote ended up having a life of its own in the corporate media.
Amid heated wrangling over Iran’s nuclear program and the threat of preemptive strikes by the US, the quote has been continually used to reinforce the idea that Iran is being run by extremists seeking the total destruction of Israel.
So what did Ahmadinejad actually say? To quote his exact words in Farsi:
“Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad.”
Rezhim-e is the word “regime,” pronounced just like the English word with an extra “eh” sound at the end. Ahmadinejad did not refer to Israel the country or Israel the landmass, but the Israeli regime. This is a vastly significant distinction, as one cannot wipe a regime off the map. Ahmadinejad did not even refer to Israel by name, he instead used the specific phrase “rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods” (regime occupying Jerusalem).
A similar statement by Ahmadinejad in December 2006, “As the Soviet Union disappeared, the Zionist regime will also vanish and humanity will be liberated,” has also been misinterpreted.

In May of 2006 President Ahmadinejad published an open letter to President Bush clearly asking for peace and the mutual respect of human rights. He warns that Western media, through contrived and deceptive information, has intensified the climate of fear that leads to attacks on innocent peoples. The letter was not reported in the US news media. Ahmadinejad began the letter writing, “Mr. George Bush, For some time now I have been thinking, how one can justify the undeniable contradictions that exist in the international arena. Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the great Messenger of God, Feel obliged to respect human rights, Present liberalism as a civilization model, Announce one’s opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and WMDs, Make “War on Terror” his slogan, And finally, Work towards the establishment of a unified international community—a community which Christ and the virtuous of the Earth will one day govern, But at the same time, have countries attacked; The lives, reputations and possessions of people destroyed and on the slight chance of the … of a … criminals in a village city, or convoy for example the entire village, city or convey set ablaze.”

Evaluator Comment
Ahmadinejad declared that Zionism is the West’s apparatus of political oppression against Muslims. He says the “Zionist regime” was imposed on the Islamic world as a strategic bridgehead to ensure domination of the region and its assets. This position is viewed as threatening to many in the West. While threats and counter-threats escalates tensions in the Persian Gulf, I believe it is important for the media to publish both sides of issues and be as accurate as possible by seeking to build understanding rather than fear and anger.
—Peter Phillips

UPDATE BY Arash Norouzi
In May 2007, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution calling on the U.N. Security Council to charge Ahmadinejad with the crime of inciting genocide “because of his calls for the destruction of the State of Israel”—a violation of the U.N.’s 1948 Genocide Convention—specifically citing the false “wiped off the map” quote from October 2005. It also called for the U.N. to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, with the “potential means to the end of carrying out President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threats against Israel.”
This misquote has become a key component of the push for war with Iran, a war that would make Iraq look like the cakewalk it was predicted to be. Attacking Iran would result in massive death and destruction, affect world oil supplies, provoke terrorism, could initiate the next World War, and might even include the use of nuclear weapons for the first time since WWII. In this heated atmosphere, an accurate narrative is essential in averting the next cataclysmic Mideast intervention. When President Bush emphasizes the importance of taking the words of America’s enemies seriously, that process begins with first determining just what exactly those words are.

Yet my article is about more than just clarifying a mistranslated statement. It’s about the media, propaganda, plagiarism, language, false assumptions ...Functioning much like a puzzle, it engages readers by allowing them to deconstruct the quote and its meaning themselves. This self-verification process adds a compelling aspect in which credibility becomes largely obsolete. The article’s ’punchline’ demonstrates undeniably that members of the mainstream media knowingly spread this rumor, and readers are challenged to check for themselves by comparing linked sources proving this claim.

The idea is not merely to contest a single misquote, but to also promote skepticism about all pre-war intelligence. If this quote is false, then it’s logical to assume that other accusations against Iran could be wrong too—just as they were with Iraq.
The overwhelming ubiquity of this misquote has deterred others from correcting what they probably view as a lost cause. Yet my article alone has been viewed by millions, translated into at least half a dozen languages, garnered radio interviews, inspired videos on YouTube, and become the subject of an entire article in The Bangkok Post. It got the attention of people at the BBC, Washington Post, IAEA, State Department, United Nations, and the Islamic Republic itself. It’s been quoted by numerous journalists, authors and academics, in published letters to the editor, and on call-in TV shows such as on C-SPAN. The Associated Press has now begun citing the “vanish from the page of time” phrase, adding that “independent analysts” have refuted the “map” quote; and Dennis Kucinich was prepared to correct the rumor when asked about the subject on TV recently.
These are hopeful signals that underscore the importance of alternative voices in the media, and their potential effectiveness in influencing the discourse. If the first casualty of war is the truth, then it’s up to the truth tellers—whomever they may be—to enlighten us.

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posted by R J Noriega at 3:45 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
# 23 Feinstein’s Conflict of Interest in Iraq
North Bay Bohemian, January 24, 2007
Title: “Senator Feinstein’s Iraq Conflict”
Author: Peter Byrne
http://www.bohemian.com/metro/01.24.07/dianne-feinstein-0704.html

Student Researcher: David Abbott, Amanda Spigut, and Ann Marie O’Toole
Faculty Evaluator: David McCuan, Ph.D.

Dianne Feinstein—the ninth wealthiest member of congress—has been beset by monumental ethical conflicts of interest. As a member of the Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee (MILCON) from 2001 to the end of 2005, Senator Feinstein voted for appropriations worth billions of dollars to her husband’s firms.
From 1997 through the end of 2005, Feinstein’s husband Richard C. Blum was a majority shareholder in both URS Corp. and Perini Corp. She lobbied Pentagon officials in public hearings to support defense projects that she favored, some of which already were, or subsequently became, URS or Perini contracts. From 2001 to 2005, URS earned $792 million from military construction and environmental cleanup projects approved by MILCON; Perini earned $759 million from such projects.
In 2000, Perini earned a mere $7 million from federal contracts. After 9/11, Perini was transformed into a major defense contractor. In 2004, the company earned $444 million for military construction work in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as for improving airfields for the US Air Force in Europe and building base infrastructures for the US Navy around the globe. In a remarkable financial recovery, Perini shot from near penury in 1997 to logging gross revenues of $1.7 billion in 2005.
It is estimated that Perini now holds at least $2.5 billion worth of contracts tied to the worldwide expansion of the US military. Its largest Department of Defense contracts are “indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity” or “bundled” contracts carrying guaranteed profit margins. As of May 2006, Perini held a series of bundled contracts awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers for work in the Middle East worth $1.725 billion. Perini has also been awarded an open-ended contract by the US Air Force for military construction and cleaning the environment at closed military bases.
In 2003 hearings, MILCON approved various construction projects at sites where Perini and/or URS are contracted to perform engineering and military construction work. URS’s military construction work in 2000 earned it a mere $24 million. The next year, when Feinstein took over as MILCON chair, military construction earned URS $185 million. On top of that, the company’s architectural and engineering revenue from military construction projects grew from $108,726 in 2000 to $142 million in 2001, more than a thousand-fold increase in a single year.

Beginning in 1997, Michael R. Klein, a top legal adviser to Feinstein and a long-time business partner of Blum’s, routinely informed Feinstein about specific federal projects coming before her in which Perini had a stake. The insider information, Klein said, “was intended to help the senator avoid conflicts of interest.” Although Klein’s admission was intended to defuse the issue, it had the effect of exacerbating it, because in theory, Feinstein would not know the identity of any of the companies that stood to contractually benefit from her approval of specific items in the military construction budget—until Klein told her.

Feinstein’s husband has profited in other ways by his powerful political connections. In March 2002, then-Governor Gray Davis appointed Blum to a twelve-year term as a regent of the University of California, where he used his position as Regent to award millions of dollars in construction contracts to URS and Perini. At the time, he was the principal owner of URS and had substantial interests in Perini. In 2005, Blum divested himself of Perini stock for a considerable profit. He then resigned from the URS board of directors and divested his investment firm of about $220 million in URS stock.1
Citation
1. Peter Byrne, “Blum’s Plums” North Bay Bohemian, February 21, 2007.

UPDATE BY PETER BYRNE
Shortly before my expose of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s conflict of interest was published in January 2007, Feinstein, who had declined to substantively comment upon serious allegations of ethical misconduct as reported in the story, resigned from the Military Construction Subcommittee. I then wrote three follow-ups, including a news column on her resignation, an expose of her husband Richard Blum’s conflict of interest as a regent of the University of California, and an expose of Blum’s business partner, Michael R. Klein. With Blum’s financial backing, Klein, a war contractor, operates a non-profit called The Sunlight Foundation that awards millions of dollars to reporters and government watchdog groups to research government ethics.
In March, right-wing bloggers by the thousands started linking to and commenting upon these stories—agitating for a Congressional investigation of Feinstein. In just two days, the stories got 50,000 online hits. Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh did radio segments on my findings. I declined to appear on their shows, because I do not associate with racist, misogynist, homophobic demagogues. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly invited me to be on his national TV show, but quickly uninvited me after I promised that the first sentence out of my mouth would frame Feinstein as a neoconservative warmonger just like O’Reilly.

As the storm of conservative outrage intensified, Joe Conason, from The Nation Institute, which had commissioned the Feinstein investigation, asked to have the tag thanking the Nation Institute for funding removed from my stories because, he said, Katrina vanden Heuval, The Nation’s editor and publisher, did not want the magazine or its non-profit institute to be positively associated with Limbaugh. I told Conason that not only was I required to credit The Nation Institute under the terms of our contract, but that The Nation’s editors should be proud of the investigation and gratified by the public reaction.

The back story to that encounter is that, in October, vanden Heuvel had abruptly killed the Feinstein story, which had been scheduled to run as a cover feature before the November 2006 election in which Feinstein was up for reelection. The Nation’s investigative editor, Bob Moser, who worked closely with me on the project from start to finish, wrote that I had done a “solid job,” but that the magazine liked to have a political “impact,” and since Feinstein was “not facing a strong challenge for reelection,” they were not going to print the story. Moser added that there was no “smoking gun,” which amazed me, since Klein’s admission that he was funneling defense contracting wish lists developed by Feinstein’s husband’s company directly to the senator, who was in a position to make those wishes come true, was a hot and smoking fact pointing toward corrupt practices. Subsequently, vanden Heuval wrote an editorial praising women leaders of the newly-empowered Democratic Party, including Feinstein: go figure.

I then sold the story to Salon.com, who abruptly killed it right before publication, too. This time the editor’s explanation was that “someone talked to the Sunlight Foundation” and that Salon no longer saw the matter as a serious conflict of interest. So, I pitched the story to Slate, The NewRepublic, Harper’s, the Los Angeles Times and, by way of experiment, to the neoconservative American Spectator and Weekly Standard. Most of the editors praised the reporting, but turned down the story. I cannot help but believe that, considering the precarious balance of power in the post-election Senate, some of these editors were not eager to critique the ethics of a Democrat. As for rejection by the neoconservatives, I theorize that they secretly adore Feinstein, who has consistently supported Bush’s war and homeland security agenda and the illiberal Patriot Act.

So I sold the tale to the North Bay Bohemian, which, along with its sister papers in San Jose and Santa Cruz ran it on the cover—complete with follow-ups. After it appeared, the editors and I received a series of invective-filled emails from war contractor Klein (who is also an attorney) but, since he could show no errors of fact in the story, he did not get the retraction that he apparently wanted. In March, the story crested a Google tidal wave generated by left- and right-wing bloggers wondering why the mainstream media was ignoring the Feinstein scandal. After two dozen newspapers ran a McClatchy wire service article in April observing that no one had found any factual faults in my reporting, the lefty group Media Matters attacked me on its Web site as a right-wing pawn, without even calling me for comment, nor finding any errors in my reporting. I parried their fact-free insults with facts and they were compelled to correct the inaccurate rant.

On April 30, The Hill newspaper in Washington D.C. ran a highly-visible op-ed by a conservative pundit quoting from my story and comparing Feinstein (unfairly) to convicted felon and former Congressman, Duke Cunningham. As the Feinstein investigation gained national traction, mostly outside the realm of the mainstream media, one of Klein’s employees at the Sunlight Foundation posted a “critique” of my story, which was loaded with personal insults, but contained no factual substance. Not coincidentally, Feinstein’s press office distributes, upon request, a similarly-worded “rebuttal,” which insults my personal integrity, finds no factual errors, and does not address the damning fact, reported in the story, that four non-partisan ethics experts based in Washington D.C. found the senator had a conflict of interest after reviewing the results of my investigation.

Also, in April, CodePink and The Raging Grannies held a demonstration in front of the Feinstein-Blum mansion in San Francisco demanding that she return her war profits to the Iraqi people. That was my proudest moment.
Five months after the story was printed, opinion-floggers across the political spectrum continue to loudly ask why the mainstream media has not reported on Feinstein’s ethical problem. Some say that the hurricane of opinion raised by the investigation has killed Feinstein’s chance for a spot on the Democratic Party’s presidential ticket in 2008. Klein has continued to send me e-mails full of verbal abuse, misspellings, and implied threat of lawsuit.
Blissfully, I delete them.

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posted by R J Noriega at 3:44 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
# 22 North Invades Mexico
TomDispatch.com, September 19, 2006
Author: Mike Davis
Title: “Border Invaders: The Perfect Swarm Heads South”
http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=122537

Student Researcher: Rachel Icaza and Erica Haikara
Faculty Evaluator: Francisco Vazquez, Ph.D.

The visitor crossing the Mexican border from Tijuana to San Diego these days is immediately confronted by a huge sign, “Stop the Border Invasion!” Sponsored by allies of the anti-immigrant vigilante group, the Minutemen, the same signs insult Mexican citizens at other border crossings in Arizona and Texas. The ultimate irony is that a crisis invasion is indeed occurring, but the signs, it seems, may be pointed the wrong direction.
Author Mike Davis points out that, in a “reality stood on its head,” few people—at least outside Mexico—have bothered to notice that while all the nannies, cooks, maids, and gardeners have been heading north to tend the luxury lifestyles of irate republicans, the Gringo masses have been rushing south to enjoy glorious budget retirements and affordable second homes in Mexico.

The number of North Americans living in Mexico has soared from 200,000 to 1 million (one-quarter of all US expatriates) in the past decade. With more than 70 million American baby-boomers expected to retire in the next two decades, experts predict “a tidal wave” of migration to warmer—and cheaper—climates. Baby-boomers are not simply feathering nests for eventual retirement, but also increasingly speculating in Mexican resort property and gated communities, complete with Hooters, Burger King, and Starbucks. The land rush is sending up property values to the detriment of locals whose children are consequently driven into slums or forced to emigrate north, only to face increasing “invasion” charges.

The Gringo footprint is largest (and brings the most significant geopolitical consequences) in Baja California, an epochal process that, if unchecked, will produce intolerable social marginalization and ecological devastation.
Indeed, the first two stages of informal annexation have already occurred. Under the banner of NAFTA, Southern California has exported hundreds of its sweatshops and toxic industries to the maquiladora zones of Tijuana and Mexicali. The Pacific Maritime Association, representing the West Coast’s major shipping companies, has joined forces with Korean and Japanese corporations to explore the construction of a vast new container port at Punta Colonel, 150 miles south of Tijuana, which would undercut the power of Longshore unionism in San Pedro and San Francisco.

Secondly, tens of thousands of US retirees and winter-residents are now clustered at both ends of the peninsula. Along the northwest coast from Tijuana to Ensenada, a recent advertisement for a real estate conference at UCLA boasts that “there are presently over fifty-seven real estate developments with over 11,000 homes/condos with an inventory value of over $3 billion all of them geared for the US market.”
Meanwhile, at the tropical end of Baja, a US expatriot enclave has emerged in the twenty-mile strip between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose de Cabo. Los Cabos has become an archipelago of real-estate hot spots where continuous double-digit increases in property values pull in speculative capital. Judging from the registration of private planes at the local airport, Cabos has essentially become a resort suburb of Orange County—the home of the most vehement Minutemen chapters.
Davis points out that many wealthy Southern Californians evidently see no contradiction between fuming over the “alien invasion” with one’s conservative friends at the Newport Marina one day, and flying down to enjoy their Cabos investment properties the next.

One of several multi-billion dollar real estate projects being developed for the US market is the Villages of Loreto: another 6,000 homes for expatriates in colonial-Mexico motif on the Sea of Cortez. The $3 billion Loreto project boasts that it will be the last word in green design, exploiting solar power and restricting automobile usage. It will, coincidently, balloon Loreto’s population from its current 15,000 to more than 100,000 in a decade, with the social and environmental consequences of a sort that can already be seen in the slum peripheries of Cancun and other mega-resorts.

One of the irresistible attractions of Baja is that it has preserved a primordial wildness that has disappeared elsewhere in the West. Local residents, including a very eloquent indigenous environmental movement, cherish this incomparable landscape, as they do the survival of an egalitarian ethos in the peninsula’s small towns and fishing villages.
However, thanks to the silent invasion of the baby-boomers from the north, much of the natural history and frontier culture of Baja could be swept away in the next generation. The problem is, as Tom Engelhardt of Tomdispatch points out, “Fences don’t work if you’ve got your own plane.”

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posted by R J Noriega at 3:43 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
# 21 US Seeks WTO Immunity for Illegal Farm Payments
Oxfam International, June 29, 2006
Title: “US Seeks ‘Get-Out Clause’ for Illegal Farm Payments”
http://www.oxfam.org/en/news/pressreleases2006/pr060629_wto_geneva

Financial Times UK, January 9 2007
Title: “Canada Launches WTO Case on US Subsidies”
Author: Eoin Callan
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/5debac74-9f9b-11db-9e2e-0000779e2340.html

Student Researcher: Cedric Therene
International Business Evaluator: Tim Ogburn

On July 24, 2006, after nearly five years of global trade negotiations, talks at the meetings of the World Trade Organization collapsed—perhaps permanently, say some economic analysts. In January of 2007, trade ministers from the United States, the European Union, Brazil, India, Japan, and Australia said they remained hopelessly stalemated, mostly on the contentious issue of farm trade. US negotiators blamed the breakdown on E.U., India, and Japan for balking at the unrestricted opening of markets to agricultural products.1

What went uncovered in mainstream news sources was any analysis of the content of the negotiations—what exactly the countries involved were offering, and what they expected in return.
Of utmost importance to the Bush Administration was that the US receive immunity from lawsuits by poor countries before Bush’s special “fast track” trade negotiating powers expired at the end of June, 2007.
In a last-minute proposal, one not included on the original agenda, the US suddenly insisted that all trade agreements include a special clause called a “Peace Clause” that would make its use of illegal farm subsidies immune from prosecution by the countries affected. Between 1994 and 2003, such a Peace Clause had denied developing nations any legal recourse in the face of the “dumping” of cheap foreign products that had devastated their agricultural communities.

According to international NGOs such as Oxfam International, the Peace Clause gives rich countries like the US and the European Union free rein to provide huge subsidies to their farmers. Such practices benefit the economies of already-wealthy nations, while damaging the agricultural communities of poorer nations. According to a 2003 Oxfam report, thirty-eight developing countries have suffered from unfair competition as a result of illegal subsidies in the US and EU.
Events following expiration of these legal protections make it clear why the US was so eager to reintroduce a new version of the Peace Clause (and why it was done so slyly). Following its expiration in 2003, Brazil took the US to the WTO court charging that US cotton subsidies had depressed world prices, hurting cotton producers in Brazil and around the world—and Brazil won! In 2005, the WTO agreed with Brazil’s charge, ordering that the US immediately discontinue its distribution of illegal agricultural subsidies. Fearing that other developing nations would follow suit, US negotiators were driven to reintroduce the proposal for protections they had enjoyed under the Peace Clause.

More recently, following the July 2006 collapse of the Doha trade talks, Canada has asked the WTO to review charges that the US is continuing to use illegal and “trade-distorting” agricultural subsidies. The charges focus on payments made to American corn farmers, but also challenge the total level of US agricultural subsidies. This is the most significant challenge to the structure of US agricultural subsidies since the landmark WTO ruling in favor of Brazil in 2005.
In June of 2007, The Canadian government asked the WTO to establish a dispute settlement panel to investigate the allegation.2 Under WTO rules, the United States can provide up to $19.1 billion annually in subsidies that are considered trade-distorting. Canada says the United States broke the rules every year from 1999 to 2005 except for 2003.

Gretchen Hamel, a spokeswoman for the US trade representatives, parroted the position taken previously by US officials addressing the Brazil dispute. She said, “Negotiation, not litigation, is the path to removing trade distortions in agriculture and improving opportunities for farmers and producers all around the world.”2 The US says that it needs the Peace Clause renewed in order to protect itself from litigation while it “is in the process of reducing its trade-distorting subsidies.” But Oxfam notes that, proposals included in the new Peace Clause would actually allow the US to increase its farm support from under $20 billion to almost $23 billion. The EU proposal would allow an increase in farm subsidies from $23 billion to $33 billion. Poor countries, with no surplus to supplement their farmers’ income shortfalls, would have nothing to respond with—no global support, no economic power, and no legal appeals.

Citations
1. Paul Blustein, “Trade Talks Fail After Stalemate Over Farm Issues; Collapse Comes With Finger-Pointing,” Washington Post, July 25, 2006.
2. Phillip Brasher, “Canada attacks US subsidies at WTO,” Des Moines Register, June 8, 2007.

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posted by R J Noriega at 3:42 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
# 20 Terror Act Against Animal Activists
Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, March 9, 2007
Title: “The AETA is Invidiously Detrimental to the Animal Rights Movement (and Unconstitutional as Well)”
Authors: David Hoch and Odette Wilkens
http://www.vjel.org/editorials/2007S/Hoch.Wilkens.Editorial.htm

Green is the New Red, November 14, 2006
Title: “US House Passes Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act With Little Discussion or Dissent”
Author: Will Potter
http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/2006/11/13/aeta-passes-house-recap/

Earth First! Journal, November, 2006
Title: “22 Years for Free-Speech Advocates”
Author: Budgerigar

Student Researcher: Sverre Tysl
Faculty Evaluator: Scott Suneson, MA

The term “terrorism” has been dangerously expanded to include acts that interfere, or promote interference, with the operations of animal enterprises. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), signed into law on November 27, 2006, broadens punishment present under the Animal Enterprises Protection Act (AEPA) of 1992. One hundred and sixty groups, including the National Lawyers’ Guild, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the League of Humane Voters, Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, and the New York City Bar Association, oppose this Act on grounds that its terminology is dangerously vague and poses a major conflict to the US Constitution.
The broad definition of an “animal enterprise,” for example, may encompass most US businesses: “any enterprise that uses or sells animals or animal products.” The phrase “loss of any real or personal property,” is elastic enough to include loss of projected profit. Concerns deepen as protections against “interference” extend to any “person or entity having a connection to, relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise.”
A letter from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to Congress dated March 6, 2006, “on behalf of hundreds of thousands of activists and members and fifty-three affiliates nationwide,” explains their opposition to AETA based on the concern that First Amendment activities such as demonstrations, leafleting, undercover investigations, and boycotts may be punishable as acts of terror under the overly vague and open-ended law.
The ACLU letter maintains, “Lawful and peaceful protests that, for example, urge a consumer boycott of a company that does not use humane procedures, could be the target of this provision because they ‘disrupt’ the company’s business. This overbroad provision might also apply to a whistleblower whose intentions are to stop harmful or illegal activities by the animal enterprise. The bill will effectively chill and deter Americans from exercising their First Amendment rights to advocate for reforms in the treatment of animals.”
Author Will Potter argues that the harsher amendments that AETA brings to its predecessor, AEPA, are hardly necessary, as AEPA was successfully used to disproportionately prosecute the SHAC 7—six animal rights activists organized to expose the illegal and inhumane operations of Huntingdon Life Sciences—for “animal enterprise terrorism.” Budgerigar of Earth First! recounts that three of the defendants were charged under AEPA in September of 2006 with interstate stalking and conspiracy to commit interstate stalking for organizing demonstrations and running a website that published names and addresses of those involved in the vivisection industry. The group was collectively sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. “The supreme irony of this case,” notes Budgerigar, “rests in the fact that these activists were convicted of conspiracy to damage the profits of an animal enterprise, but not of actually damaging it. Even so, the ever-so-honorable judge ordered the defendants to pay a total of $1,000,001 in restitution fees.”
Yet Congress deemed that AEPA was not a serious enough tool for going after animal rights “extremists.” David Hoch and Odette Wilkens of Equal Justice Alliance ask, “How did this bill [AETA] pass the House?”
Hoch and Wilkens explain that in spite of the fact that one hundred and sixty groups opposed its passage, the House Judiciary Committee placed AETA on the suspension calendar, under which process bills that are non-controversial can be passed by voice vote. The vote on the bill was then held hours earlier than scheduled, with what appears to have been only six (out of 435) Congresspersons present. Five voted for the bill, and Dennis Kucinich, who said that “[t]his bill will have a real and chilling effect on people’s constitutionally protected rights,” voted against it. Kucinich went on to say, “My concern about this bill is that it does nothing to address the real issue of animal protection but, instead targets those advocating animal rights.”
Budgerigar concludes, “The message could not be more clear: run an effective activist campaign, and you will be vilified, criminalized, and imprisoned.”

UPDATE BY DAVID HOCH AND ODETTE WILKENS
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), whose recent passage received virtually no media coverage, will chill the first amendment rights of animal advocates and serve as a template for future limitations on the free speech of all activists. The Act subjects anyone who (1) uses interstate commerce, (2) with the intent to damage or interfere with an “animal enterprise” or with any person or entity associated with an animal enterprise, and (3) causes any economic damage or corporate profit loss or bodily injury or fear of bodily injury, or (4) conspires or attempts to do any of the foregoing, to prosecution for “animal enterprise terrorism.”
AETA expands the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA), under which six animal activists were convicted and imprisoned for publicly advocating animal protection activities. The new law requires less serious conduct than the “physical disruption to...an animal enterprise” called for in AEPA, provides stiffer penalties for economic damage and subjects violators who cause no economic damage, bodily harm or fear of serious bodily harm, to as much as one year in prison, while also serving as a predicate for wiretapping.
AETA serves animal enterprises wishing to brand animal activists as criminals and treating dissent as terrorism, and indicates a trend toward treating dissent as terrorism, as evidenced by the Justice Department’s current attempt to increase sentences up to twenty years through the application of a concept called “terrorism enhancement.”
AETA violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments by proscribing formerly protected modes of expression and invidiously discriminating against animal activists through the imposition of harsher sanctions than those applied to similar or even more serious crimes under the 2005 federal sentencing guidelines. The Act is also unconstitutionally vague, due to the indecipherable ambiguity of statutory terms such as “interfere with” or “profit loss.” That vagueness extends to declared exemptions for lawful boycotts and peaceful protests, which could involve the same conduct that would subject one to prosecution under AETA. A lawful boycott is, by definition, the intent to interfere with and cause economic damage to some enterprise.
Furthermore, an animal enterprise need not be acting lawfully to be protected under the Act. Illegal animal enterprise is not an affirmative defense for activities such as whistle-blowing or undercover investigations into animal cruelty, labor conditions, or environmental violations.
To pass AETA, the House invoked a technicality that allows non-controversial bills to be approved by a voice vote, and then voted when only six members were present, although the bill was highly controversial, with approximately one hundred sixty organizations opposing its passage. The Act is unjust, oppressive, and unconstitutional and the honorable thing would be for Congress to repeal it, but without public knowledge and pressure that is unlikely. Therefore, a more prudent strategy would be to increase public awareness until a critical mass convinces Congress to rescind the Act.
To learn more about AETA or become involved in the effort to repeal it, visit the Equal Justice Alliance website at http://noaeta.org/index.htm.
UPDATE BY WILL POTTER
Shortly after passage of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, the Fur Commission USA distributed an announcement to supporters proclaiming “Mission Accomplished!” Corporations have been eager to appropriate much of the “War on Terrorism” rhetoric against activists, but this was an interesting PR choice. Bush stood on the USS Abraham Lincoln in front of a banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished” in 2003, only to be dogged by that hubris months, and now years, later.
It looks like corporations may be haunted by similar ghosts in this domestic front of the “War on Terrorism.” Not only has the legislation not deterred illegal activity by underground activists, it may have actually added fuel to their fire. On January 5, 2007, the Animal Liberation Front—considered by the FBI to be the “number one domestic terrorist threat”—distributed an anonymous communiqué related to vandalism at the home of a University of Utah animal researcher. It concluded: “PS. To all the vivisectors we have yet to visit: don’t bask in your recent legislative victory for too long. This new animal enterprise law means NOTHING. —ALF”
It wasn’t an isolated incident. Just two days after the president signed the law, another communiqué claimed credit for vandalizing the windows of a pharmaceutical company, and underground activists signed it: “Dedicated to the SHAC 7!” (The SHAC 7 are a group of activists convicted under the original legislation. They were never accused of anything like breaking windows: they “conspired” to violate the law by running a website and vocally supporting both legal and illegal tactics against companies doing business with a controversial lab).
If the purpose of AETA is to go after underground activists, that mission is far from accomplished. And if the purpose of AETA is to go after “the above ground,” activists are organizing to challenge that mission as well. Just a few weeks after the legislation passed, student activists protested outside the offices of US Rep. James P. McGovern in Massachusetts, naming and shaming him for not being present for a vote. McGovern’s staff quickly stated publicly that he does not support the law, he would have voted against it if he had known about a vote, and he would advocate for repeal.
And then there were dozens of community events around the world to raise awareness about labeling activists as “ecoterrorists,” from South Africa to Greece to Minneapolis, MN.
“Mission Accomplished”? Ahem.
To be clear, in some ways the mission of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act has been accomplished: it has instilled a level of fear in mainstream, above-ground, legal activists that they may one day be hit with the T-word in this ever-expanding “War on Terrorism.”
But through my reporting I’ve found that an interesting thing happens when people learn about this “Green Scare” and the corporate and political interests behind it: that fear easily turns to rage. More than 140 comments have been posted on the article I wrote about the legislation passing the House. Some of them express fear and a bit of hopelessness. Many share the tenor of “Jersey” who wrote: “do they really think everyone is going to crawl into the woodwork and stand for this?”
Since the law passed, I have been speaking regularly in public forums like the New York City Bar Association, Yale Law School, activist conferences, and with both mainstream and alternative press, and I’ve been able to see that phenomenon over and over again: questioning and investigating the legislation, and the money behind it, demystifies the law. It declaws it.
That knowledge is what ultimately worked against Senator Joseph McCarthy, succeeding where the “loyalty oaths” and the “naming names” failed. It can work now, too. If reporters do their jobs, and expose these issues to the general public, people can stop being afraid and start being pissed.
For more information, please visit www.GreenIsTheNewRed.com.

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posted by R J Noriega at 3:41 PM | Permalink | 3 comments
# 19 People’s Movement Challenges Neoliberal Agenda
Trade Matters, American Friends Service Committee, May 3, 2006
Title: “Is the US Free Trade Model Losing Steam?”
Author: Jessica Walker Beaumont
http://www.afsc.org/trade-matters/trade-agreements/LosingSteam.htm

International Herald Tribune, December 28, 2006
Title: “Economic Policy Changes With New Latin American Leaders”
Author: Mark Weisbrot
http://www.cepr.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=773&Itemid=45

International Affairs Forum, March 31, 2007
Title: “Is Hugo Chavez a Threat to Stability? No.”
Author: Mark Weisbrot
http://www.cepr.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1102&Itemid=45

Student Evaluator: Toni Catelani
Faculty Evaluator: Phil Beard, Ph.D.

The US Free Trade model is meeting increasingly successful resistance as people’s movements around the world build powerful alternatives to neoliberal exploitation.
This is particularly evident in Latin America, where massive opposition to US economic domination has demanded that populist leaders and parties take control of national governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua, and Uruguay.

Latin American presidents are delivering on promises to fix the mistake of twenty-five years of neoliberal reforms that resulted in the region’s worst economic collapse in more than one hundred years. In the two decades preceding World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies, 1960-1980, the region’s income per person grew by 82 percent. By comparison it grew just 9 percent 1980–2000, and only 4 percent 2000–2005.
Strong ties between Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, along with cooperative relationships with major economies including Argentina and Brazil, are creating the real potential for autonomous alternatives to US-dictated economic policy in the Western Hemisphere.

In the past year alone several leaders have announced plans to cut ties with the World Bank and IMF. After a sweeping reelection in December 2006, Chavez announced April 30, 2007 that, having paid off debts to the World Bank and the IMF, Venezuela would cut ties with both institutions.1 Chavez has been able to put his nation on a path of solid growth by fulfilling his 1998 campaign promise to renationalize Venezuela’s oil industry (PDVSA). Though fierce US opposition to his move to end foreign privatization led to a failed US-backed military coup in 2002, nationalized oil is now the source of nearly half the Venezuela government’s revenues and 80 percent of the country’s export earnings. Venezuela’s economy has grown 38 percent in the last three years.
Chavez plans to set up a new lending institution run by Latin American nations and has pledged to support it with Venezuela’s booming oil revenues.1 Venezuela’s $50 billion in foreign exchange reserves is providing financial support to countries in the region without the exploitive policy conditions attached to WTO and World Bank lending. Leaders are thus able to deliver on promises to their people, contributing not only to stability but to the strengthening of Democracy in the region.

In April 2006, Evo Morales announced his rejection of the IMF and any future FTA with the US. He instead launched the Bolivian Peoples Trade Agreement (PTA), a socialist alternative to the neoliberal free trade model. The PTA emphasizes support of indigenous culture, reciprocity, solidarity, and national sovereignty. Above all the PTA emphasizes improved living conditions for the whole population as a result of international trade and investment. Bolivia’s 2005 passage of a Hydrocarbons Law raised the royalties paid by foreign gas companies to the government of Bolivia. While infuriating US corporations, the resulting tens of millions of dollars in revenue have enabled Bolivia to pay off its IMF debt and begin to build social programs and national reserves.

In December 2006, Rafael Correa, who recently won the presidential election in Ecuador on an anti-privatization, anti-US military base platform, announced plans to restructure Ecuador’s foreign debt in order to increase spending on crucial social programs. Ecuador has since paid its debt to the IMF and announced plans to sever ties to the institution. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has also announced negotiations toward an IMF exit.

Argentina was one of the IMF’s most publicized “successes” turned-crushing-failure at the end of the last century. From 1991 to 1998 the country adopted a host of IMF-recommended reforms including large-scale privatizations. The economy grew substantially during this period but went into a terrible downward slide beginning in mid-1998. At the end of 2001 the whole experiment fell apart, with the country defaulting on more than $100 billion of debt. The currency collapsed soon thereafter, and the majority of people fell below the poverty line in a country that had previously been one of the richest in Latin America.2

When Argentina’s President Nestor Kirchner finally refused the IMF’s debilitating repayment mandates, Argentina’s economy began to rebound—and it hasn’t stopped growing. In a remarkable expansion, which was never supposed to have happened according to IMF predictions, Argentina’s economy has grown by 47 percent in the past few years, making it the fastest growing economy in the Western Hemisphere, and pulling more than nine million people (in a country of 36 million) out of poverty.2 Argentina decided to make its break with the IMF in January 2006 by paying off its remaining $9.9 billion debt.

As of December 2005, Brazil is also free to make its own decisions, free from IMF interference, after paying off its debt two years ahead of schedule. “We repaid the money to show the world that this country has a government and it is the owner of its own nose,” Lula said at the time, adding, “Brazil has been able to decide that it does not want another IMF deal.”3

While it is an expanding reality that many strong and growing people’s movements have not been so fortunate as to have representative governments—the people of India (see story #8), Mexico (see story #18), and Niger (see story #3) are but a few examples—more and more elected leaders in Latin America are providing models of true democratic leadership that is of, for, and by the people.

Citations
1. Jorge Rueda, “Venezuela Pulling Out of IMF, World Bank,” Associated Press, May 1 2007.
2. Mark Weisbrot, “IMF’s Fall From Power,” Washington Post.com, April 13, 2007.
3. Xinhua, “Early Debt Payment Enables Brazil to Make Own Budget Decisions,” Peoples Daily Online, December 16, 2005.

UPDATE BY Jessica Walker Beaumont
Written a year ago, the American Friends Service Committee article “Is the US Free Trade Model Losing Steam?” accurately predicted a growing resistance among Latin American and African leaders to the current “one-size-fits-all” US trade policy model.

Proponents of the current US free trade model seem willing to do whatever it takes to keep the free trade train moving down the track. However their time is literally running out, in part due to the looming July 1 expiration of “fast track” authority that gives the Bush administration the power to negotiate free trade agreements on behalf of Congress.

Although Bolivia, Ecuador and Southern Africa stand firm against US Free Trade Agreements (FTA), there remains a “coalition of the willing” lining up to get their trade agreements. Pending trade pacts for Congressional consideration include those with Colombia, Peru, Panama and Korea. Greasing the wheels to pass these FTAs is a new “breakthrough trade deal” with the Bush administration announced by Democratic leadership on May 10, 2007.

It is said that the deal would improve new free trade agreements by requiring that they include labor and environmental standards, and by insuring better access to essential medicines. Sounds good right? Well, the deal was negotiated in secret with only a handful of Congressional members, the legal text is still not released, and high-powered big business groups are supporters. The official outline of the deal reveals all that is excluded, ignoring a cry for substantial rethinking of US trade policy.

Meanwhile Bolivia continues to advance its People’s Trade Agreement. In April, 2007 Bolivia (along with Venezuela and Nicaragua) decided to withdraw from the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) housed at the World Bank. This came out of the social movement started in 2001 against the US multinational Bechtel that sued Bolivia under the ICSID for $25 million after it was thrown out during the Cochabamba Water War. Dropping out of the ICSID sends a clear message that protecting private investment at the expense of the rights of the people will not be tolerated.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, elected into power on an anti-FTA and anti-US military base agenda, is considering doing the same. In April Correa expelled the World Bank’s representative in Quito, accusing him of withdrawing funds in protest over the government’s oil sector reforms.

Costa Rica offers a new beacon of hope as they have yet to ratify the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Huge resistance to CAFTA grew as people learned it would require the dismantling of Costa Rica’s public telecommunications sector that is funding education. On April 12, 2007 the Supreme Electoral Court approved a measure calling for a binding referendum on CAFTA, likely to take place in August or September. The CAFTA referendum will be Costa Rica’s first public referendum since it gained independence from Spain in 1821 (Inside US Trade, May 4, 2007).

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posted by R J Noriega at 3:40 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
# 18 Mexico’s Stolen Election
AlterNet, August 2, 2006
Title: “Evidence of Election Fraud Grows in México”
Author: Chuck Collins and Joshua Holland
http://www.alternet.org/story/39763

Revolution, September 10, 2006
Title: “Mexico: The Political Volcano Rumbles”
Authors: Revolution Newspaper Collective
http://revcom.us/a/060/mexico-volcano-en.html

Researchers: Bill Gibbons and Erica Haikara
Faculty Evaluator: Ron Lopez, Ph.D.

Overwhelming evidence reveals massive fraud in the 2006 Mexican presidential election between “president-elect” Felipe Calderón of the conservative PAN party and Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the more liberal PRD. In an election riddled with “arithmetic mistakes,” a partial recount uncovered evidence of abundant stuffing and stealing of ballots that favored the PAN victory.

Meanwhile, US interests were significantly invested in the outcome of Mexico’s election. Though neither candidate had any choice but to cooperate with the US agenda, important differences existed around energy policy, specifically with regard to foreign privatization of Mexican oil and gas reserves.

Though the energy sector of Mexico is already deeply penetrated by US capital, as it stands, the Mexican government owns and controls the oil industry, with very tight restrictions on any foreign investment. Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the fifth largest oil company in the world, exports 80 percent of its oil to the US. Sixty percent of its revenue ($30 billion per year) currently goes to the Mexican government, accounting for more than 40 percent of the Mexican government’s annual revenues.

Calderón promises a more thorough and streamlined exploitation of Mexico’s oil, demanding that Mexico remove barriers to private/foreign investment (which are currently written into the Mexican Constitution). Obrador, on the other hand, insisted on maintaining national ownership and control of the energy sector in order to build economic and social stability in Mexico.

In June 2005, Mexico signed an accord called Alliance for the Security and Prosperity of North America (ASPAN) with Canada and the US. The point was made that this accord would be binding on whoever became president of Mexico in the upcoming elections. Included in ASPAN is a guarantee to fill the energy needs of the US market, as well as agreements to forge “a common theory of security,” allowing US Homeland Security measures to be implemented in Mexico.

Five months later, in November 2005, an “audition” was held with Mexican presidential candidates before members of the US Chamber of Commerce in Mexico City. All candidates were asked whether they would open the energy sector in Mexico, especially the nationalized oil company, Pemex, to US exploitation.

Felipe Calderón received resounding applause when he answered that he is in favor of private investment in Pemex, and of weakening the labor unions. He also received applause when he stated that he supported George Bush’s guest worker program and that he agreed the border needed to be secured or militarized. Obrador said that he would not allow risk capital investment in Pemex—but hastened to add that other sectors would be opened to investment.

Calderón won the audition, Obrador was granted the role of understudy. Former US Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow told Obrador, “If you win the election, we will support you.” But when Obrador appeared to be the front-runner in the election, PAN allied with forces in the US to launch a feverish campaign against him.

Though US laws prevent US influence in other countries’ elections, anti-Obrador ads airing on Mexican TV were designed by US firms and illegally financed by business councils that included such transnationals as Wal-Mart and Halliburton. US election advisers Rob Allyn and Dick Morris were contracted to develop a media campaign that would foment fear that Obrador, with ties to Chavez and Castro, posed a dangerous Socialist threat to Mexico.

Outgoing president Vicente Fox violated campaign law by making dozens of anti-Obrador speeches during the campaign, as the PAN party illegally saturated airwaves with swift-boat style attack ads against Obrador. Under Mexican law, ruling party interference is a serious crime and grounds for annulling an election.

While Obrador’s campaign and hundreds of independent election observers documented several hundred cases of election fraud in making their case for a recount, most Mexican TV stations failed to report the irregularities that surfaced. Days after the election The New York Times irresponsibly declared Calderón the winner, and Bush called to personally congratulate Calderón on his “win,” even though no victor had been declared under Mexican law. Illegal media campaigns combined with grand-scale fraud had had their effect.

Dominant forces in the US thus had a strong presence behind the scenes of the 2006 Mexican election. As a consequence, Washington looks forward to working with Calderón, who promises tighter (repressive) control and cooperation on all matters of interest to the US, in an accelerated plan to put Mexico more directly under US domination.

Mexico has thus been denied the democratic election of a president who might have joined Latin America in standing up to aggressive US neoliberal policies.

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posted by R J Noriega at 3:30 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
# 17 Drinking Water Contaminated by Military and Corporations
Environment News Service, March 24, 2006
Title: “Factories, Cities Across USA Exceed Water Pollution Limits”
Author: Sunny Lewis
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2006/2006-03-24-05.asp
AlterNet, August 4, 2006
Title: “Military Waste in Our Drinking Water”
Authors: Sunaura Taylor and Astor Taylor
http://www.alternet.org/envirohealth/39723/

Student Researchers: Jonathan Stoumen, Adrienne Magee, and Julie Bickel
Faculty Evaluator: Sasha Von Meier, Ph.D. and Steve Norwick, Ph.D.

Water is essential to life, contributing to blood circulation, digestion, metabolism, brain activity, and muscle movements. Yet reliably pure water is growing scarce, even in the United States. Despite the federal government’s avowed commitment “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters,”1 corporations, municipalities, and the US military pollute our waters—often with little or no accountability.

“Polluters are using America’s waters as their dumping ground,” said US PIRG’s Clean Water Advocate Christy Leavitt. (US PIRG is the national lobby office for the state Public Interest Research Groups, nonprofit public interest advocacy organizations.) “Troubled Waters: An Analysis of Clean Water Act Compliance,” released by US PIRG in March 2006 shows that, between July 2003 and December 2004, over 62 percent of industrial and municipal facilities across the country discharged pollution into US waterways at rates above limits established by the Clear Water Act (CWA).

Using the Freedom of Information Act, US PIRG investigated major facilities’ compliance—or lack of it—with established federal limits on pollution discharges. The average facility discharged pollutants in excess of its permitted limit by over 275 percent, nearly four times the legal limit. Nationally, 436 major facilities exceeded their limits at least half of the time during the study’s timeframe. Thirty-five facilities exceeded their permits during every reporting period. Seven states allowed more than one hundred violations of at least 500 percent (Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Tennessee, Texas, and Massachusetts). The study could not analyze facilities in California, Oregon, or Washington due to unreliable data.

Corn farming—think ethanol—is the crop most likely to leach chemical contaminants into waterways.2 Atrazine, which several European nations have banned, is an herbicide widely used in agribusiness, especially on major crops such as corn. The EPA identifies atrazine as the second-most common herbicide in drinking wells. Maximum safe levels of atrazine in drinking water are three parts per billion, but scientists have found up to 224 parts per billion in Midwestern streams, and 2,300 parts per billion in Corn Belt irrigation reservoirs.

Today more than 40 percent of US waterways are unsafe for swimming and fishing, and, as shown by the PIRG study, industrial pollution of the nation’s waters persists—despite the goals of the 1972 Clean Water Act to make all US waters safe for fishing, swimming, and other uses by 1983, and to eliminate the discharge of pollutants into waterways by 1985.

One reason for these ongoing failures is the Bush administration’s consistent efforts to shortchange the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget and to gut the Clean Water Act. In 2003, the Bush administration significantly weakened protections for small streams, wetlands, and other waters, despite Bush having declared 2002-2003 the Year of Clean Water.

However, opposition to environmental protection for clean waterways stems from not only the Bush administration but also the US military, whose pollution poisons the very citizens it is supposed to protect in the name of national security. Weapons production, by the US military and its private contractors, generates more hazardous waste annually than the five largest international chemical companies combined, accounting for one-third of the nation’s toxic waste. Furthermore, the US military is among the most frequent violators of environmental laws.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has sought and received exemptions from a number of crucial public health and environmental laws. Dramatic increases in the amounts of trichloroethylene (TCE) in public aquifers have been one fatal consequence of these exemptions. TCE, a known carcinogen, is used commercially as a solvent. It is the most widespread industrial contaminant in US drinking water. Since the Korean War, military contractors, such as Hughes Missiles Systems (purchased by Raytheon in 1997), have used TCE to degrease airplane parts, and to clean fuel lines at missile sites.

Consequently, TCE contamination is especially common around military facilities. The Pentagon is responsible for the TCE contamination of over 1,400 properties. In 2001, the EPA sought to force the government to require more thorough cleanups at military sites, by lowering the acceptable limits on TCE from five parts per billion to one part per billion. In response, the DoD joined the Department of Energy and NASA in blocking the EPA’s proposed action. The Bush administration charged the EPA with inflating TCE’s risks, and called on the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate the EPA’s claims. The Academy’s 2003 report confirmed the EPA’s assessment, linking TCE to kidney cancer, impaired neurological function, reproductive and developmental damage, autoimmune disease, and other human ailments. The Bush administration and the DoD have ignored these inconvenient findings. As a result, citizens, who pay for the military budget with their tax dollars, are also paying with their health and sometimes their lives.

Citations
1. Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 USC. 1251 et seq), Section 101(a).
2. Sasha Lilley, “Green Fuel’s Dirty Secret,” CorpWatch, June 1, 2006.

UPDATE BY SUNNY LEWIS
Compliance with the Clean Water Act on the part of industrial and municipal water facilities and land developers is of utmost importance to the quality of America’s waters—from wetlands, ponds, and small streams to mighty rivers and the Great Lakes.

The US Public Interest Research Group, US PIRG, which discovered the failure of 62 percent of facilities to comply with the law based on documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, intends to do more work on this subject later this year.

Christy Leavitt of US PIRG, quoted by ENS in the original article, says the group will issue another report based on updated figures obtained in May from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

As ENS reported, US PIRG recommended that all US waters be protected by withdrawal of what the group called “the Bush administration’s 2003 No Protection” policy which excludes many small streams and wetlands from protection under the Clean Water Act.

Since the ENS report was published, the US Supreme Court handed down a ruling on the scope of the Clean Water Act that many water and environmental experts as well as Members of Congress believe has muddied the legal waters and made new legislation necessary.

In June 2006, the high court ruled in the case Rapanos et ux., et at. v. United States that there are limits to the federal government’s authority to regulate wetlands under the Clean Water Act, but failed to agree on the confines of that power.

The consolidated case involved conflicts between developers who wanted to build condos and stores on wetlands and federal regulators, who refused to allow the developments under the authority of the Clean Water Act. The waters at issue were wetlands adjacent to ditches and drains that connected to “navigable waters” of the United States.

For a full discussion of the ruling, please see the ENS report, “US Supreme Court Decision Fails to Clarify Clean Water Act,” at http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jun2006/2006-06-19-10.asp.

In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled in another case, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. Corps of Engineers, SWANCC, that non-navigable, isolated, intrastate waters do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

On May 25, 2007, a bi-partisan bill was introduced in the House of Representatives that attempts to clarify the original intent of Congress in the 1972 Clean Water Act in the wake of these two decisions.

To achieve clarification, the new measure, the Clean Water Restoration Act, replaces the term “navigable waters of the United States” with the term “waters of the United States.”

The Clean Water Restoration Act has 158 original cosponsors, and the endorsement of more than three hundred organizations representing the conservation community, family farmers, fishers, surfers, boaters, faith communities, environmental justice advocates, labor unions, and civic associations.

It replaces a bill mentioned in the original ENS report, the Clean Water Authority Restoration Act, that was not approved during the 109th Congress.

As ENS reported in March 2006, US PIRG recommended that the Clean Water State Revolving Fund be fully funded to help communities upgrade their sewer systems.

The Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund guarantees loans for cities and towns so they can borrow for sewer projects at a lower interest rate, saving local taxpayers billions of dollars nationwide.

On March 8, 2007, ENS reported that the Bush administration’s budget proposal to cut some $400 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund budget came under fire by members of both parties in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

On March 9, 2007, ENS reported that the US House of Representatives passed the Water Quality Financing Act of 2007. For the first time in twenty years, the measure H.R. 720, would reauthorize the Clean Water State Revolving Funds. At press time, this measure had not come before the US Senate.

For its part, the US EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, OECA, says its actions to enforce Clean Water Act requirements in FY 2006 resulted in more than 283 million pounds of pollutants reduced.

Most of these reductions are the result of the EPA’s “national priority efforts” to control overflows from combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows and contamination caused by surface runoff from stormwater and concentrated animal feeding operations, the agency said.

Working in partnership with states, OECA says it concluded major legal settlements with dozens of cities to bring critical sewer systems back into compliance.

The settlements require comprehensive plans to improve the maintenance and operation of systems to reduce overflows, and long-term capital construction projects to expand treatment capacity to ensure that sewage is properly treated before being discharged, the OECA said in the “EPA Fiscal Year 2006 Accomplishments Report.”

The settlements concluded in FY 2006 will reduce overflows of untreated or inadequately treated sewage by 26 million pounds, with an estimated investment of $930 million in sewer system upgrades and improvements.
To find out more about the scope of the Clean Water Act and compliance with this law, visit:

US Public Interest Research Group: http://www.uspirg.org/

US EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/

US EPA Clean Water Act Compliance Assistance:
http://www.epa.gov/compliance/assistance/bystatute/cwa/index.html

Clean Water Act State Revolving Fund:
http://www.epa.gov/owm/cwfinance/cwsrf/index.htm

Stormwater Authority: http://www.stormwaterauthority.org

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posted by R J Noriega at 3:27 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
#16 No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11
The Muckraker Report, June 6, 2006, and Ithaca Journal, June 29, 2006
Title: “FBI says, ‘No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11’”
Author: Ed Haas
http://www.teamliberty.net/id267.html

Student Researcher: Bianca May and Morgan Ulery
Faculty Evaluator: Ben Frymer, Ph.D.

Osama bin Laden’s role in the events of September 11, 2001 is not mentioned on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” poster.

On June 5, 2006, author Ed Haas contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters to ask why, while claiming that bin Laden is wanted in connection with the August 1998 bombings of US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, the poster does not indicate that he is wanted in connection with the events of 9/11.

Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI responded, “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.” Tomb continued, “Bin Laden has not been formally charged in connection to 9/11.” Asked to explain the process, Tomb responded, “The FBI gathers evidence. Once evidence is gathered, it is turned over to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice then decides whether it has enough evidence to present to a federal grand jury. In the case of the 1998 United States Embassies being bombed, bin Laden has been formally indicted and charged by a grand jury. He has not been formally indicted and charged in connection with 9/11 because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.”

Haas pauses to ask the question, “If the US government does not have enough hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11, how is it possible that it had enough evidence to invade Afghanistan to ‘smoke him out of his cave?’” Through corporate media, the Bush administration told the American people that bin Laden was “Public Enemy Number One,” responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. The federal government claims to have invaded Afghanistan to “root out” bin Laden and the Taliban, yet nearly six years later, the FBI said that it had no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.

Though the world was to have been convinced by the December 2001 release of a bin Laden “confession video,” the Department of Defense issued a press release to accompany this video in which Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, “There was no doubt of bin Laden’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks even before the tape was discovered.”

In a CNN article regarding the bin Laden tape, then New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said that “the tape removes any doubt that the US military campaign targeting bin Laden and his associates is more than justified.” Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said, “The tape’s release is central to informing people in the outside world who don’t believe bin Laden was involved in the September 11 attacks.” Shelby went on to say “I don’t know how they can be in denial after they see this tape.”

Haas attempted to secure a reference to US government authentication of the bin Laden “confession video,” to no avail. However, it is conclusive that the Bush Administration and US Congress, along with corporate media, presented the video as authentic. So why doesn’t the FBI view the “confession video” as hard evidence? After all, notes Haas, if the FBI is investigating a crime such as drug trafficking, and it discovers a video of members of a drug cartel openly talking about a successful distribution operation in the United States, that video would be presented to a federal grand jury. The participants identified in the video would be indicted. The video alone would serve as sufficient evidence to net a conviction in a federal court. So why, asks Haas, is the bin Laden “confession video” not carrying the same weight with the FBI?

Haas strongly suggests that we begin asking questions, “The fact that the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Osama bin Laden to 9/11 should be headline news around the world. The challenge to the reader is to find out why it is not. Why has the US media blindly read the government-provided 9/11 scripts, rather than investigate without passion, prejudice, or bias, the events of September 11, 2001? Why has the US media blacklisted any guest that might speak of a government-sponsored 9/11 cover-up, rather than seeking out those people who have something to say about 9/11 that is contrary to the government’s account?” Haas continues. “Who is controlling the media message, and how is it that the FBI has no ‘hard evidence’ connecting Osama bin Laden to the events of September 11, 2001, while the US media has played the bin Laden-9/11 connection story for [six] years now as if it has conclusive evidence that bin Laden is responsible for the collapse of the twin towers, the Pentagon attack, and the demise of United Flight 93?”
UPDATE BY ED HAAS

On June 6, 2006 the Muckraker Report ran a piece by Ed Haas titled “FBI says, ‘No hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.’” Haas is the editor and a writer for the Muckraker Report. At the center of this article remains the authenticity and truthfulness of the videotape released by the federal government on December 13, 2001 in which it is reported that Osama bin Laden “confesses” to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The corporate media—television, radio, and newspapers—across the United States and the world repeated, virtually non-stop for a week after the videotape’s release, the government account of OBL “confessing.”

However, not one document has been released that demonstrates the authenticity of the videotape or that it even went through an authentication process. The Muckraker Report has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to the FBI, CIA, Department of Defense, and CENTCOM requesting documentation that would demonstrate the authenticity of the videotape and the dates/circumstances in which the videotape was discovered. CENTCOM has yet to reply to the FOIA request. After losing an appeal, the FBI responded that no documents could be found responsive to the request. The Department of Defense referred the Muckraker Report to CENTCOM while also indicating that it had no documents responsive to the FOIA request either.

The CIA however claims that it can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to the request. According to the CIA the fact of the existence or nonexistence of requested records is properly classified and is intelligence sources and methods information that is protected from disclosure by section 6 of the CIA Act of 1949, as amended. Therefore, the Agency has denied your request pursuant to FOIA exemptions (b)(1) and (b)(3).

Many people believe that if the videotape is authentic, it should be sufficient hard evidence for the FBI to connect bin Laden to 9/11. The Muckraker Report agrees. However, for the Department of Justice to indict bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks, something the government has yet to do, the videotape would have to be entered into evidence and subjected to additional scrutiny. This appears to be something the government wishes to avoid.

Some believe that the video is a fake. They refer to it as the “fat bin Laden”video. The Muckraker Report believes that while the videotape is indeed authentic, it was the result of an elaborate CIA sting operation. The Muckraker Report also believes that the reason why there is no documentation that demonstrates that the videotape went through an authenticity process is because the CIA knew it was authentic, they arranged the taping.
It is highly probable that the videotape was taped on September 26, 2001—before the US invaded Afghanistan.

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posted by R J Noriega at 3:26 PM | Permalink | 0 comments

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