In a startling affront to American freedoms of expression, privacy, and association, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act passed the House on Oct. 23 by a vote of 404-6. With problematically vague definitions, the act will establish a national commission to study and propose legislation to address the threat of possible “radicalization” of Americans. Author of the bill Jane Harman (D-Calif) explains, “We’re studying the phenomenon of people with radical beliefs who turn into people who would use violence.” The act’s purpose goes beyond academic inquiry, however. In a press release Harman stated: “the National Commission [will] propose to both Congress and [Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael] Chertoff initiatives to intercede before radicalized individuals turn violent.” This preemptive measure of policing thought, specifically identifies the Internet as a tool of radicalization: “The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.” The commission will have broad authority to collect evidence and hold hearings in localities across the nation.
Text of Bill: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-1955
“Bringing the War on Terrorism Home” Jessica Lee, Independent.org, 11/16/2007
“Examining the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act” Lindsay Beyerstein, In These Times, 11/2007
“The Violent Radicalization Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007” Matt Renner, Truthout, 11/29/2007http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/112907J.shtml
#050 Seizing Lebanon Protesters’ Assets
Researched by Eliana Chandler
On August 1, 2007 Bush issued an executive order entitled “Blocking Property of Persons Undermining the Sovereignty of Lebanon or Its Democratic Processes and Institutions,” just two weeks after issuing the executive order entitled “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq.” While both orders give the Secretary of the Treasury authority to seize properties of those persons posing a risk of violence in opposing US agenda, the order regarding protest of agenda in Lebanon is more severe. The August 1st order states that any person who engages in any act—violent or nonviolent—against the government of Lebanon can now have his or her property frozen. The act further authorizes freezing the assets of “a spouse or dependent child” of any person whose property is frozen. The order regarding Lebanon also prohibits anyone from in any way coming to the aid of those whose assets have been seized—including “dependent children.”
“Bush’s Executive Order on Lebanon Even Worse than the One on Iraq” Matthew Rothschild, the Progressive, 8/3/2007 http://www.progressive.org/mag_wx080307
“Executive Order: Blocking Property of Persons Undermining the Sovereignty of Lebanon or Its Democratic Processes and Institutions” White House Website, 8/2/2007
#057 New World Bank President, Robert Zoellick
Robert Zoellick, longtime neocon supporter and signer of the Plan for a New American Century, was appointed the World Bank president on May 30, 2007. Bush was able to crown another pro-globalization loyalist due to the increasingly contested US privilege of selecting the Bank leader. Zoellick was a lead player in the NAFTA negotiations during the elder Bush’s administration, calling for an aggressive trade policy led by “fast track” or trade promotion authority for the executive branch. As US Trade Representative under George W., Zoellick insisted on subsidy-laden farm bills and protectionist tariffs that repeatedly broke down WTO negotiations. After talks broke down in Cancun, Zoellick blamed the failure on the “won’t do” countries that obstructed the will of the “can do” countries, and warned, “We’re going to keep opening markets one way or another.” In his outline of a new Republican foreign policy, aimed at a US dominated world economy, Zoellick contends that social and environmental issues have no place in trade agreements— an ideology antithetical to the founding mission of the World Bank.
“World Bank Gets Another U.S. Crusader” Tom Barry, Center for International Policy, 7/6/2007
#103 Annual Survey on Trade Union Rights
Researched by Elizabeth Allen
The first annual edition of the Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights to be published by year-old International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) documents enormous challenges to workers rights around the world. The 2007 edition of the Survey, covering 138 countries, shows an alarming rise in the number of people killed as a result of their trade union activities, from 115 in 2005 to 144 in 2006. Colombia is still the deadliest country in the world for trade unionists, where in 2006, 78 trade unionist were assassinated (eight more than in 2005). Many more trade unionists around the world were abducted or “disappeared.” Thousand were arrested during the year for their part in strike action and protests, while thousands of others were fired in retaliation for organizing. Growing numbers of trade union activists in countries in Africa, the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific are facing police brutality and murder as unions are viewed as opponents of corporatist governments.
“2007 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights” The International Trade Union Rights 9/2007http://survey07.ituc-csi.org/getcontinent.php?IDContinent=0&IDLang=EN
#102 Pentagon Sued Over Mandatory Christianity
Researched by Sarah Maddox and Bill Gibbons
A lawsuit was filed in federal court against the Pentagon, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and a US Army Major, by a military watchdog organization, on behalf of an Army soldier stationed in Iraq. The nonprofit Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed the complaint September 18th, 2007, charging the Pentagon with widespread constitutional violations by allegedly trying to force the soldier to embrace evangelical Christianity and then retaliating against him when he refused. Jeremy Hall, an active duty Army specialist in Iraq, claims his First Amendment rights were violated because of his atheist beliefs, for which he was threatened with the charge of violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the blocking of his reenlistment in the Army.
“Pentagon Sued Over Mandatory Christianity” Jason Leopold, Truthout, 11/18/2007
#149 Pelosi Knew About NSA Spying
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has admitted knowing for several years about the Bush administration’s eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant. She was briefed on it when she was ranking Democrat the House Intelligence Committee when Bush and Cheney took office. Pelosi, with a uniquely long tenure on the Intelligence Committee, acknowledged that she was one of the privileged handful of lawmakers who were briefed. Her explanation demonstrates a remarkably-and unconstitutionally-subservient attitude toward the Executive Branch:
“But when the administration notifies Congress in this manner, it is not seeking approval. There is a clear expectation that the information will be shared by no one, including other members of the intelligence committees. As a result, only a few members of Congress were aware of the president’s surveillance program, and they were constrained from discussing it more widely.”
“What Did Pelosi Know About NSA, and When Did She Know It?” Ray McGovern, CommonDreams.org, October 16, 2007
#067 Padilla Sues US Officials
Researched by Christina Long and Bill Gibbons
Jose Padilla, a US citizen, arrested on US soil and convicted (under extraordinary circumstances) of being an Al Qadeda operative, is seeking to hold former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and 59 other US officials responsible for physical and psychological abuse and unconstitutional tactics while being held as an ‘enemy combatant’ in military custody for 43 months. Early in 2007 a civil lawsuit was filed on behalf of Padilla in federal court in South Carolina over abuse he suffered from 2002 to 2006 in the US Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston Station South Carolina. Serious violations included sleep deprivation, stress positions, prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation and other extreme interrogation techniques calculated to profoundly disrupt his senses and personality and destroy his ordinary emotional and cognitive functioning. The government held Padilla for two years without any outside contact, including that of his lawyers. When that policy changed, government officials warned Padilla not to reveal any conditions of his confinement to his lawyers, the suit says. Padilla is left severely psychologically damaged.
“Padilla Sues US Officials Over Confinement” Warren Richey, The Christian Science Monitor 8/24/2007
#079 Livestock Extinction
Researched by Andrew Kochevar and Erica Haikara
A study, “The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources,” conducted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), affirmed that an over-reliance on select breeds of livestock imported from the United States and Europe is causing the loss of at least one indigenous livestock breed a month. Since research for the report began in 1999, two thousand local breeds have been identified as at risk. In response to these findings, the first International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources met in Interlaken-Wilderswil Switzerland, September 3-7, 2007, to adapt a plan for the rapid development of gene banks and other technological fixes. Meeting in a parallel conference, representatives of 30 organizations of pastoralists, indigenous peoples, smallholder farmers and NGOs convened to discuss opposition to globalized industrial livestock production, which they identified as the fundamental cause of the current crises. They adopted a declaration of determination to reject the dominant industrial model of patented genetic technologies, land grabs, and structural adjustment, which they insist is destroying the health of both humans and livestock.
“Conference Agrees Steps to Safeguard Farm Animal Diversity” The International Centre fro Trade and Sustainable Development, Trade BioRes, 09/21/2007
“Wilderswil Declaration on Livestock Diversity” La Via Campesina, 9/11/2007
#058 NGOs Reject World Bank Water Privatization
Researched by Erica Haikara
More than 138 civil society groups and trade unions from 48 countries are urging donor governments to withdraw their support for an agency of the World Bank determined to privatize the supply and delivery of water. The Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) has funded projects in many poor countries where international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund attach demands for water privatization to loans, debt relief and aid. PPIAF’s current donors include the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the European Commission, and the governments of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
“NGOs Ask Donors to Drop World Bank Water Privatization” Environment News Service, 5/21/2007
#120 DHSs Secure Flight Plan
Researched by Bill Gibbons
The Transportation Safety Administration is planning on holding public hearings on their “Secure Flight Plan” according to the September 5th issue of the Federal Register. This presents American Citizens with a nightmare world where they will have to obtain written permission from the government before they can travel by air within the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection will implement their “Advanced Passenger Information System” beginning in February 2008. Travelers will need permission to travel via air or sea vessel that goes to, from or through the U.S. This applies to all passengers. How you get your permission to travel from the government is secret. The ‘Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act’ requires that the Department of Homeland Security to conduct pre-flight comparisons of airline passenger information with Federal Government watch lists. Passengers will not be allowed to verify if the person demanding their papers is actually authorized to do so. In addition airlines or their contractors (or even sub contractors) have the right to do anything they like with a passenger’s personal information.
“The Nightmare of DHS’s Secure Flight” Blue Patriot Woman, Daily Kos 9/17/2007