in Stories Reviewed in Prior Years
No Habeas Corpus for “Any Person”
Researched by Julie Bickel
With the approval of Congress and no outcry from corporate media, the Military Commissions Act (MCA), signed by Bush on October 17, 2006, ushers in military tribunal law for US citizens and non-citizens alike. While media have given false comfort that we, as American citizens, will not be the victims of the draconian measures legalized by this Act — such as military roundups, torture, life-long detention without court trial— articles below disclose verbiage in the MCA that allows for the institution of a military alternative to the constitutional justice system for “any person” regardless of American citizenship. The MCA did away with habeas corpus rights for “any person” arbitrarily deemed to be an “enemy of the state.” The judgment on whom is deemed an “enemy combatant” is solely at the discretion of President Bush. “And once that happens,” says Thom Hartmann, “you no longer have the right to challenge your detention. You don’t have the right to a lawyer, or to a trial, or to a jury. You don’t have the right to talk to anybody; you have no rights whatsoever. That’s what no habeas corpus means. They can put you in prison and torture you for the rest of your life.”
“Who Is ‘Any Person’ in Tribunal Law?” Robert Parry, Consortium, 10/19/2006
“ Still No Habeas Rights for You” Robert Parry, Consortium, 2/3/2007
“ Repeal the Military Commissions Act and Restore the Most American Human Right” Thom Hartmann, Commondreams, 2/12/2007
“The Facts About the Military Commission Act” Bob Avakian, Revolution, 10/8/2006
Bush’s Move Toward Martial Law
Researched by Julie Bickel
The Defense Authorization Act of 2007,” which was quietly signed by Bush on October 17th, 2006, the same day that he signed the Military Commissions Act, allows the president to station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to “suppress public disorder.” By revising the two-century-old Insurrection Act, the law in effect repeals the Posse Comitatus Act and gives Bush the legal authority to order the military onto the streets of America, directing military operations against the American people under the cover of ‘law enforcement.’ The law facilitates militarized police round-ups and detention, transferring from the Pentagon to local militarized police units, the latest technology and weaponry designed to suppress dissent. Frank Morales asserts that “with the president’s polls at an historic low… and Democrats taking back the Congress… it is particularly worrisome that President Bush has seen fit, at this juncture to, in effect, declare himself dictator.”
“Bush Moves Toward Martial Law” Frank Morales, Uruknet, 10/ 26/2006
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=27769 or http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/10/28/18324231.php
Human Trafficking Builds US Embassy in Iraq
Researched by Angela Purcaro
The enduring monument to US liberation and democracy in Iraq will be the most expensive and heavily fortified embassy in the world. Scheduled to open in 2007, the 104-acre complex equal in size to Vatican City, is being built by forced labor trafficked from Asia. With a highly secretive contract awarded by the US State Department, First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting has joined the ranks of Haliburton/KBR in Iraq by using bait-and-switch recruiting practices. Thousands of citizens from countries that have banned travel or work in Iraq are being tricked, smuggled into brutal and inhumane labor camps, and subjected to months of forced servitude—all in the middle of the US-controlled Green Zone, “right under the nose of the US State Department.” The Pentagon has yet to announce any penalty for violation of US labor trafficking laws or contract requirements.
“A U.S. Fortress Rises in Baghdad: Asian Workers Trafficked to Build World’s Largest Embassy” David Phinney, CorpWatch, 10/17/2006
Air America on Ad Blacklist
Researched by Jen Huss
An internal memo from ABC Radio Networks to its affiliates reveals scores of powerful sponsors have a standing order that their commercials never be placed on the liberal syndicated Air America programming that airs on ABC affiliates. The list, totaling 90 advertisers, includes some of largest and most well-known corporations in the U.S.: Wal-Mart, GE, Exxon Mobil, Microsoft, Bank of America, Fed-Ex, Visa, Allstate, McDonald’s, Sony and Johnson & Johnson. The U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Navy are also listed as advertisers who don’t want their commercials to air on Air America.
“Air America on Ad Blacklist. ABC document: Sponsors shun liberal network” FAIR, 10/31/06 http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2983
The Scam of “Reconstruction” in Afghanistan
Researched by Julie Bickel
Reports reveal that much of the US tax money earmarked to rebuild Afghanistan actually ends up going no further than the pockets of wealthy US corporations. “Phantom aid” that never shows up in the recipient country is a scam in which paychecks for overpriced American “experts” under contract to USAID go directly from the Agency to American bank accounts. Additionally, 70 percent of the aid that does make it to a recipient country requires that the recipient use the donated money to buy US products and services. A former head of USAID cited foreign aid as “a key foreign policy instrument” designed to help countries “become better markets for US exports.” To guarantee that mission, the State Department recently took over the aid agency. USAID’s website boasts of its only infrastructure accomplishment in Afghanistan—a narrow and crumbling highway costing Afghanis $1 million a mile, projected to charge $20 per-month toll to lessen the US aid “burden.”
“Why It’s Not Working in Afghanistan” Ann Jones, Tomdispatch.com, 8/27/06
“ Afghanistan Inc: a CorpWatch Investigative Report” Fariba Nawa, CorpWatch, 10/6/06
Drugging Our Waters
Researched by Toni Faye Catelani
Pharmaceutical drugs are making their way into the US water supply through human waste. A wide range of pharmaceuticals and other human-caused waste compounds remain despite wastewater treatment and are discharged to receiving waters across North America. Many of these compounds are still bioactive and can enter the bioprocesses of aquatic organisms. Researchers have found abnormalities in fish and suspect that exposure to pharmaceutical hormones is the cause. While the effects of chronic low-level exposure to pharmaceuticals are unclear, it is certain is that the presence of these compounds will continue to increase as Americans age.
“ Drugging Our Waters: How An Aging Population and Our Growing Addiction to Pharmaceuticals May be Poisoning Our Rivers” Elizabeth Royte, Natural Resource
Defense Council’s ONEARTH, Fall 2006
MEFTA: Wal-mart and Target Profit of Jordanian Slaves
Researched by Morgan Ulery and Mayra Madrigal
Major U.S. companies, including Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl’s, Victoria’s Secret and L.L. Bean, are buying apparel from sweatshops in Jordan under a three-way trade deal that binds the Arab nation to Israel and the United States. A report by the New York-based National Labour Committee says that the U.S-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has descended into human trafficking and “involuntary servitude.” Part of the FTA, the Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs) programme, launched by Washington in 1998 as an economic dividend for Jordan’s peace agreement with Israel, gives products from the zones duty-free and quota-free access to the U.S. market as long as the Arab nation sources at least eight percent of their content from an Israeli manufacturer. Both the United States and Israel are seeking to replicate this model in numerous trade deals with other countries in the Arab world, under Pres. George W. Bush’s plan for a Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA), which would tie all 22 Arab states with the U.S. and Israel in a trade deal by 2013.
“U.S., Israel, Jordan Pact Created Havens for Servitude” Emad Mekay, Inter Press Service 5/ 3/06
Earth’s Loss of Biodiversity
Researched by Alex Rubin
The fabric of life on earth is facing a major crisis as thousands of species face imminent extinction. Nineteen of the world’s most eminent biodiversity specialists are calling on governments to establish a political framework to bridge the gap between science and policy by creating an international body of biodiversity experts. Due to human activity, the rate of extinction is now between 100 and 1,000 times higher than the normal “background” extinction rate. Research confirms that every group of animals and plants is experiencing an unprecedented loss of diversity. Scientists estimate that 12 percent of all birds, 23 percent of mammals, 25 percent of conifers, 33 percent of amphibians and more than half of all palm trees are currently threatened with extinction.
“Earth Faces ‘Catastrophic Loss of Species’” Steve Connor, The independent UK, 7/20/06 http://www.truthout.org/issues_06/072006EB.shtml
World Bank Study Reveals Its Failure to Reduce Poverty
Researched by Adrienne Magee
A study by the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) concludes that the World Bank’s strategies on trade does not deliver on increasing economic growth, exports, or employment, nor on the reduction of poverty. The IEG called the Bank “overly optimistic about the immediate and universal benefits of more open trade.”
“ These findings confirm our daily experience. Policies to open markets have benefited the world’s largest corporations, but have a devastating impact on millions of the world’s poorest people,” says Alberto Villarreal of Friends of the Earth Uruguay.
The 270-page report analyzes the World Bank’s trade work from 1987 through 2004, including lending and technical assistance. It concludes: “trade-related projects did not adequately attend to the poverty and distributional outcomes.”
“World Bank Trade Strategy Has Not Adequately Helped the Poor” Friends of the Earth International, Common Dreams, 3/23/06
“ World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group Issues Report Assessing Two Decades of Global Trade Programs” World Bank, 3/22/06
Cable TV’s $100m Political Contributions
Researched by Morgan Ulery
A report by Common Cause follows cable’s $100 million investment in campaign contributions and lobbying. The return has been a 90 percent increase in cable rates since 1995, and industry friendly regulations that boost profits, coupled with even more consolidation among cable companies. Big cable has spent more than $92 million lobbying in Washington since 1998. The industry’s political spending increased dramatically in the past two years as it marshaled its forces to block congressional and regulatory interference with mega mergers, to halt any effort to curb cable rates, and to quash any attempts to permit families to pay for only the cable stations they watch. Common Cause President Chellie Pingree says, “American families are paying the price for public policies that favor the wealthy and powerful.”
“Why Are Cable Television Prices So High?” Mary Boyle, Common Cause, 10/11/06
US Relation to Death Squads in Iraq
Researched by Lauren Abruzzo
Death squads from the Ministry of the Interior posing as Iraqi police are killing more people than ever—1,536 bodies were brought to the Baghdad morgue in September. Dahr Jamail discusses the root of death squads in Iraq. “U.S. mainstream media is conveniently decontextualizing the situation. We’ll talk about what’s happening after, we’ll talk about death, ethnic cleansing, sectarian violence and the millions of refugees and then blame it on the Iraqis…but we won’t talk about who instituted the entire process and who’s behind it and that is the U.S. occupation.” Working under US ambassador to Iraq, June 2004-April 2005, John Negroponte—James Steel was in charge of the Iraq Security Forces, at precisely the time Pentagon chiefs were considering the “Salvador option,” the proposal to organize death squads from within the US-recruited Iraqi Security Forces to target Sunni resistance. Negroponte and Steele helped set up and facilitate the right wing death squads in Central America in the 1980s and did the same thing in Baghdad.
“ Govt. Death Squads Ravaging Baghdad” Ali Al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service, 10/19/06 http://www.dahrjamailiraq.com/hard_news/archives/iraq/000477.php
“ The Oil Factor in the Iraq Study Group: US Relation with Death Squads is Explored” Dori Smith Interviews Dahr Jamail on Talk Nation Radio, 12/13/06 http://www.radio4all.net/proginfo.php?id=20872
Attack Dogs Used in State Prisons
Researched by Mayra Madrigal
Five state prison systems in the United States permit the use of aggressive, unmuzzled dogs to terrify and attack prisoners in efforts to remove them from their cells. A Human Rights Watch report reveals that while the entire world has seen the photo of an Abu Ghraib detainee crouched in terror before a snarling dog, the use of attack dogs against prisoners here in the U.S. has been a well-kept secret. Jamie Fellner, author of the 20-page report, “Cruel and Degrading: The Use of Dogs for Cell Extractions in U.S. Prisons,” which exposes Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, South Dakota and Utah correctional systems, says, “We know of no other country in the world where officers use attack dogs to remove prisoners from their cells.”
“U.S.: Attack Dogs Used Against Prisoners” Jamie Fellner, Human Rights Watch, 10/11/06 http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/10/06/usdom14362.htm
Toxic Chemicals Damaging DNA
Researched by Michael Januleski
New evidence suggests that many industrial chemicals are more ominously dangerous than previously understood. Scientists have discovered that a “second genetic code,” which influences the way genes operate and can be passed on to successive generations, is vulnerable to exposure to toxic chemicals. Effects of toxic exposure can be passed on through generations. “This introduces the concept of responsibility into genetics and inheritance,” said Dr. Moshe Szyf, a researcher at McGill University in Montreal, “You aren’t eating and exercising just for yourself, but for your lineage.”
On average, 1800 new chemicals are registered with the federal government each year and about 750 of these find their way into products, all with hardly any testing for health or environmental effects. The European Union has responded to this situation by trying to enact a new law called REACH, which requires that chemicals be tested before they can be sold. The US chemical industry and the White House have, however, been working overtime to subvert the European effort to enact REACH.
“Some Chemicals are More Harmful Than Anyone Ever Suspected” Peter Montague, Rachel’s Democracy & Health News #876, 10/12/06