in Stories Reviewed in Prior Years
Senator Feinstein’s Iraq Conflict
In the November 2006 election voters demanded congressional ethics reform. Consequently the newly appointed chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is now duly in charge of regulating the ethical behavior of her colleagues. But for many years, Feinstein has been beset by her own monumental ethical conflict of interest. As a member of the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee, Sen. Feinstein voted for appropriations worth billions to her husband’s firms. As chair of Senate Rules, Feinstein will set her own limits on reform and opposes the creation of an independent congressional ethics watchdog. Peter Byrne exposes a frightening magnitude of corruption in Feinstein’s profitable position of public trust as she promotes and exploits the never-ending “global war on terror.”
“Senator Feinstein’s Iraq Conflict” Peter Byrne, Bohemian, 1/24/2007
UN Accused of Second Massacre in Haiti
Eyewitness testimony confirms killings executed by UN forces in Haiti’s Cite Soleil community on December 22. 2006, reportedly as collective punishment against the community for a massive demonstration of Lavalas supporters that began in Cite Soleil days earlier. About ten thousand people demonstrated for the return of president Aristide in clear condemnation the foreign military occupation of their country. According to residents, UN forces attacked their neighborhood days later in the early morning and killed more than 30 people including women and children. Footage taken by Haiti Information Project videographers shows unarmed civilians dying as they tell of indiscriminate gunfire from UN forces.
“UN in Haiti: Accused of Second Massacre” HaitiAction.net, 1/21/2007
KIA: The US Neoliberal Invasion of India
Farmers’ cooperatives in India are defending the nation’s food security and the future of Indian farmers against the neoliberal invasion of genetically modified (GM) seed. As many as 28,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide over the last decade as a result of debt incurred from failed GM crops and competition with subsidized US crops, Yet when India’s Prime Minister met with President Bush last year to finalize nuclear agreements, they also signed the Indo-U.S. Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA), backed by Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), and Wal-Mart. The KIA allows for the grab of India’s seed sector by Monsanto, of its trade sector by giant agribusiness ADM and Cargill, and its retail sector by Wal-Mart. (Wal-Mart recently announced plans to open 500 stores in India, starting in August 2007.) This is not about “free trade,” Vandana Shiva responds, “Today’s trade system, especially in agriculture, is dishonest, and dishonesty has become a war against farmers. It’s become a genocide.” Farmers are organizing to protect themselves against this economic invasion by maintaining traditional seed-banks and setting up exemplary systems of communal agrarian support. One farmer says, “We do not buy seeds from the market because we suspect they may be contaminated with genetically engineered or terminator seeds.”
“Vandana Shiva on Farmer Suicides, the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, Wal-Mart in India” Vandana Shiva, Democracy Now! 12/13/2006 http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/12/13/1451229
“ Genetically Modified Seeds: Women in India take on Monsanto” Arun Shrivastava, Global Research, October 9, 2006
US Seeks WTO Impunity for Illegal Agricultural Subsidies
Canada has launched a dispute at the World Trade Organization over the use of “trade-distorting” agricultural subsidies by the US. The dispute singles out payments to American corn farmers but also challenges the total level of US agricultural subsidies. The case filed in Geneva on January 8th is the most significant legal challenge to the structure of US agricultural subsidies since a landmark WTO ruling in 2005 condemned ”trade-distorting” aid to American cotton farmers. Oxfam International analysis shows that at least 38 developing countries are suffering severely as a result of trade distorting subsidies by the EU and US. Meanwhile, the US is maneuvering to insert a special “peace clause” into trade negotiations that would make its illegal use of farm subsidies immune from prosecution, preventing WTO member countries from challenging destructive farm subsidies through the WTO dispute settlement process.
“US seeks “get-out clause” for illegal farm payments” Oxfam, 6/29/06
Behind Blackwater Inc.
As Defense Secretary under George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney commissioned Halliburton to study means of privatizing the US military bureaucracy. As Vice President he has ushered in the resulting groundwork for the post-9/11 corporate war profiteer bonanza. The company that most embodies this privatization of the military industrial complex (a primary part of the Project for a New American Century and the neoconservative revolution) is, not Halliburton, but the private security firm Blackwater. Blackwater is the most powerful mercenary firm in the world, with 20,000 soldiers, the world’s largest private military base, and a fleet of twenty aircraft, including helicopter gunships. It is headed by a very rightwing Christian-supremacy activist, ex-Navy Seal named Erik Prince, whose family has had deep neo-conservative connections since the 1990s. Bush’s latest call for voluntary military corps to accommodate the “surge” will add to over half a billion dollars in federal contracts to Blackwater, allowing Prince to create a private army to defend Christendom around the world against Muslims and others.
“Our Mercenaries in Iraq: Blackwater Inc and Bush’s Undeclared Surge” Jeremy Scahill,
Democracy Now! 1/26/07
Media Exagerates Threats from Iran
The quote attributed to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, “Israel must be wiped off the map” has been met by worldwide condemnation and alarm. Ahmadinejad’s actual statements, however, were significantly less threatening. In October 2005 Ahmadinejad expressed the belief that the West oppresses Muslims through an imposed Zionist regime. He quoted the late Ayatollah Khomeini, “The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time. This statement is very wise.” Clearly Ahmadinejad’s actual words call for regime change, not war. A similar statement by Ahmadinejad in December 2006, “As the Soviet Union disappeared, the Zionist regime will also vanish and humanity will be liberated,” was once more altered by AP and Reuter to sound more threatening and sent around the world. Author Arash Norouzi calls this “media manipulation and propaganda in action.” 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. That letter was not picked up by the US news wires.
“‘Wiped Off The Map’ – The Rumor of the Century” Arash Norouzi, Global Research, 1/20/2007
“ Full Text: The President of Iran’s Letter To President Bush” Translated by Le Monde, Information Clearing House, 05/09/06
Vulture Funds: Devouring the Desperate
Vulture funds are companies that buy up the debt of poor nations cheaply when they are about to be written off and then sue for the full value of the debt plus interest – which might be ten times what they paid for it. In 1979 the Romanian government lent Zambia money to buy Romanian tractors. Zambia was unable to keep up the payments and in 1999 Romania and Zambia negotiated to liquidate the debt for $3m. Before the deal could be finalized a vulture fund stepped in and bought the debt from Romania for less than $4m. They are now suing the Zambian government for the original debt plus interest, which they calculate at over $40m and they expect to win. In 1996 the same company paid $11m for a discounted Peruvian debt and threatened to bankrupt the country unless they paid $58m. They got their $58m. Now they’re suing Congo Brazzaville for $400m for a debt they bought for $10m. Vulture funds have teams of lawyers combing the world for assets that can be seized. They raise most of their money through legal actions in US courts, where lobbying and political contributions hold influence.
“Vulture Fund Threat to Third World” Greg Palast, 02/14/2007
Foreign Privatization of America’s Infrastructure
We will soon be paying Wall Street investors, Australian bankers, and Spanish contractors for the privilege of driving on American roads as more than 20 states have enacted legislation allowing public-private partnerships to build and run highways. Investment firms including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and the Carlyle Group are approaching state politicians with advise to sell off extraordinarily valuable transportation infrastructure. When advising state officials on the future of this vital public asset, these investment firms fail to mention that their sole purpose is to pick up infrastructure at the lowest price possible in order to maximize returns for investors. Investors, more often than not foreign companies, are charging tolls and often insist on “noncompete” clauses that limit governments from expanding or improving nearby roads. Quiet plans are underway for the mega-project, NAFTA Super Highway, which would run a huge, privatized expressway from the Mexican border to the Canadian border to begin construction in 2007.
“The Highwaymen” Daniel Schulman with James Ridgeway. Mother Jones, 2/2007
“ Bush Administration Quietly Plans NAFTA Super Highway” Jerome R. Corsi, Human Events, 6/12/2006 http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=15497
House of Death
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), part of the Department of Homeland Security, paid an informant more than $220,000 to work as a spy inside a Juarez drug cartel. In August 2003, that informant, known as Lalo, participated in the murder of Mexican lawyer Fernando Reyes while working on the ICE operation. On the day of Reyes’s murder Lalo told his ICE employers what had happened. They knew that if they were to continue using him as an informant, they would need high-level authorization, which they received from the Department of Justice. Reyes murder was just one of a dozen murders — some of those killed were victims of mistaken identity — uncovered at the Juarez ‘House of Death.’ Murders were allowed to continue as ICE and DoJ were assembling their case against drug trafficking. A web of cover-up stretches from top officials in Texas, including Johnny Sutton, US Attorney for Western Texas and ex-adviser to Bush, to top Washington officials, including John Ashcroft. Sandalio Gonzalez, Special Agent in charge of the DEA in El Paso, was forced to resign after placing formal complaints regarding the official handling of the House of Death case.
“The House of Death” David Rose, The Observer UK, 12/3/2006
“ DEA’s national security claim in House of Death murders exposed as bogus”
Bill Conroy, Narconews.com, 1/6/2007
Article series: http://www.narconews.com/houseofdeath
Bush Regulates Regulation
President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy. In an executive order issued January 18, Bush announced that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities. Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Congressman Henry Waxman, remarked, “The executive order allows the political staff at the White House to dictate decisions on health and safety issues, even if the government’s own impartial experts disagree. This is a terrible way to govern, but great news for special interests.”
“Executive Order Expands Presidential Power Over Agencies” Michelle Chen, New Standard, Jan. 24, 2007
“ Bush Directive Increases Sway on Regulation” Robert Pear, New York Times, 1/29/2007
Detonations in Puget Sound
The U.S. Navy sets off between 180 and 300 underwater explosive charges each year in some of the most sensitive waters of Puget Sound, a designated Essential Fish Habitat under the Sustainable Fisheries Act. Since 2002, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the two civilian agencies charged with enforcing the Endangered Species Act, have urged the Navy to undertake alternative training practices to minimize damage to marine life or to conduct these detonations in less sensitive waters. Measures to comply have yet to materialize. “Why are taxpayers spending millions to preserve Puget Sound when another government agency is busy blowing it up?” asked Washington PEER Director Sue Gunn, noting that the Navy is resisting her document requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act for the Navy’s own studies. “National security does not demand that the Navy inflict maximum environmental damage in the waters it is supposed to defend.”
“Navy Continues up to 300 Detonations Per Year in Puget Sound” PEER, 7/3/2007