in Stories Reviewed in Prior Years
Border Invaders: The Perfect Swarm Heads South
Researched by Erica Haikara
The number of 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. Shrewd 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 “invasion” charges.
“Border Invaders: The Perfect Swarm Heads South” Mike Davis, TomDispatch.com 9/19/2006
US Exceeds Water Pollution Limits
Researched by Adrienne Magee
More than 62 percent of industrial and municipal facilities across the country discharged more pollution into US waterways than their Clear Water Act permits allowed between July 2003 and December 2004. The states that allowed more than 100 violations of at least 500 percent are Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Tennessee, Texas, and Massachusetts. The average facility discharged pollution in excess of its permit limits by more than 275 percent, or almost four times the legal limit. The Bush Administration has repeatedly shortchanged the EPA’s budget and is undermining essential clean water programs. Today, more than 40 percent of U.S. waterways are unsafe for swimming and fishing activities.
“Factories, Cities Across USA Exceed Water Pollution Limits” Environment News Service 3/24/2006
US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement
Researched by Heather Moffett
In April, as the US and Colombia moved toward a militarized free trade agreement (FTA), the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) opened session in Colombia. The PPT accuses three US and Swiss multinational corporations, Chiquita, Coca-Cola and Nestle, of profiteering from civil war and extreme human rights violations, including murder waged against labor organizers by paramilitaries hired by invested corporations. US aid to Colombia between 2000 and 2004 totaled over $3 billion, 80 percent of which was for support of military and police with strong links to paramilitary groups responsible for killing thousands of trade unionists. Though vastly unpopular in Colombia, the FTA was ratified by Bush in August with provisions for increased militarization to “secure the environment for investment.”
“US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement” Trade Matters May 2006
“ Coca-Cola, Nestle, Chiquita on Trial in Colombia” Constanza Vieira, IPS (AGR) 4/4/2006 http://www.agrnews.org/print.php?news_id=561
Community Watchdogs Gain Court Victory Against Germ Warfare Proliferation
Researched by Heather Leidner
Policy analysts point out that the profusion of biodefense labs being built at breakneck speed across the country since 9/11 may endanger rather than protect the public. A recent court victory for the Livermore Lab and Los Alamos Lab watchdog groups, Trivalley CAREs and Nuclear Watch of New Mexico, may, however, help turn the tide. As the Bush administration has allocated more than $36 billion to germ warfare research, production and deployment exercises, the Livermore and Los Alamos labs were to be the first such facilities to operate inside nuclear weapons labs. The new legal ruling approves demands for stringent environmental review of bio-warfare research facilities before operation can begin. The halting of Livermore and Los Alamos germ warfare research sets precedent for facilities across the nation.
“… Court Grants Demand For Environmental Review Before Bio-Warfare Agent Research Facility Opens At Livermore Lab” Citizen’s Watch 11/16/2006
“ Three new Bio-Warfare Research Facilities at Livermore Lab” Citizen’s Watch 9/2006 http://www.trivalleycares.org/newsletters/cwsep06.asp
Bolivia Rejects IMF and FTA
Is the US Free Trade Model Losing Steam?
Researched by Dylan Otero
Bolivia’s President Evo Morales confirmed his refusal to sign agreements with the International Monetary Fund or a free trade treaty with the US. In April Morales released the Bolivian Peoples Trade Agreement (PTA), an alternative to the neo-liberal free trade model being pushed by the IMF and World Bank. The PTA fosters an indigenous vision of development, emphasizing solidarity, national sovereignty, and well being of the whole population. Along with negotiating to recover state stock control of private enterprises, these actions reverse a situation in which foreign corporations defined policies and strategies of resource ownership, control,
and trade. This model is the fruit of a strengthening movement against corporate globalization, not only throughout Latin America, but across the globe.
“Is the US Free Trade Model Losing Steam?” American Friends Service Committee, Trade Matters May 3, 2006
Super-Wealthy Campaign to Kill the Estate Tax
Researched by Adrienne Magee
Eighteen families worth a total of $185.5 billion have financed and coordinated a 10-year effort to repeal the estate tax, a move that would collectively net them a windfall of $71.6 billion. A report released in April by Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy details the vast money, influence and deceptive marketing techniques behind the rhetoric in the campaign to repeal the tax. If the families’ repeal bid succeeds, it will cost the US Treasury a trillion dollars in the first decade – roughly what it would cost to provide health insurance for every uninsured person in the US.
“Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy Expose Stealth Campaign of Super-Wealthy to Repeal Federal Estate Tax” Citizen.org, April 25, 2006
Oil in Darfur Stops US Charges of Genocide
Researched by Charlene Topliff
Discovery of huge oil reserves in North Darfur “coincides” with President Bush’s about-face in charges of genocide. The same industry that bankrolled Bush’s presidential campaigns and crafted his petroleum-driven energy policy is now pressuring his administration to normalize relations with Sudan. Though the US has stated it has no “vital interests” in Sudan, dealings of US firms show otherwise. Serving as a place-holder for large US firms until inconvenient sanctions against Sudan can be lifted, Foreign investors like Friedhelm Eronat, are at the heart of a deal to secure Darfur’s oil. As a result of the new Darfur discoveries, a contract Eronat signed with Sudan for drilling rights is now worth billions of dollars.
“ Appeasement Driven by Oil” David Morse, TomDispatch.com, 9/25/2006 http://tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=124232
Government Economists Declare Tax Cuts are Not Paying for Themselves
Researched by Heather Moffett
While Bush, Cheney, and key Congressional leaders have asserted that the increase in revenues in 2005 and 2006 prove that tax cuts “pay for themselves,” studies by the Congressional Budget Office, the Joint Committee on Taxation, and the Administration’s current and former chief economists show that tax cuts do not come anywhere close to paying for themselves over the long term. Furthermore, a Treasury Department analysis finds the Bush tax cuts will pay for less than 10 percent of their actual cost. According to CBO’s official cost estimate, the Administration’s proposal to make tax cuts enacted since 2001 permanent would cost 1.4 percent of GDP annually, as it continues to concentrate wealth at the top.
“ Claim That Tax Cuts ‘Pay for Themselves’ is Too Good To Be True” Richard Kogan and Aviva Aron-Dine, The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 27, 2006
Earth’s Rivers Are Running Dry
Researched by Lauren Abruzzo
The world’s great rivers are drying up at an alarming rate, due not only to global warming, but to the significant interference of dams. More than half the world’s 500 mightiest rivers have been seriously depleted. Some have been reduced to a trickle in what the United Nations warns in its triennial World Water Development Report is a “disaster in the making.” Some 45,000 big dams now block the world’s rivers, trapping 15 percent of all water that used to flow from the land to the sea. Reservoirs now cover almost 1 percent of the land surface. The report recommends that while demand for dams “will continue to increase” the world’s remaining “free-flowing” rivers should remain undammed.
“The Death of the World’s Rivers,” “Rivers: a Drying shame” Geoffrey Lean, the Independent UK, March 12,2006
Lancet Study on Human Rights Abuses in Haiti
Researched by Erik Jilburg
A study published in the British medical journal The Lancet has found widespread and systematic human rights abuses in Haiti following the ouster of democraticaly-elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide in February 2004. New figures reveal that during the 22-month period of the US-backed Interim Government, 8,000 people were murdered in the greater Port-au Prince area alone. Thirty-five women and girls were raped or sexually assaulted, more than half of whom were children. Kidnappings, extrajudicial detentions, physical assaults, death threats, and threats of sexual violence were also common. Those responsible for the human rights abuses include “criminals,” the police, United Nations peacekeepers and anti-Lavalas gangs.
“Lancet Journal of Medicine on Haiti Human Rights Abuses” Dennis Bernstein interviews Athena Kolbe, Flashpoints, 8/30/2006
“ Shocking Lancet Study…” Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! 8/31/2006
Native Energy Futures
Reviewed by: Mayra Madrigal
The US government and energy industry intend to market the growing shift away from dependence on foreign energy by deregulating and stepping up their exploitation (“development”) of energy resources located on Native American reservations. To help sell the idea, public relations professionals will spin it as a way to produce clean energy while helping Native Americans gain greater economic and tribal sovereignty. The 2005 Energy Policy Act provides real incentives for energy companies to partner with Indian tribes in developing tribal resources. Largely free of regulation, oversight, and responsibility, tribal corporations have become a way for large corporations with no Native American ownership to obtain no-bid contracts, and a device for speeding up privatization.
“Native Energy Futures” Brian Awehali, Lip Magazine, June 5, 2006