July 20, 2002
Miscellaneous Subjects #149: U.S. Inc. Wrecking The World
This should make for a VERY interesting read...
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Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
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"If these corporations can wreck the United States, destroy our economy, take over the government, and bankrupt it in their interest, what are they going to do in Bolivia, Chad or Niger where there are not so many constitutional rights?"
- Taken from #5 below.
1. Bush administration approves Navy sonar criticized for potential harm to whales
2. Should We All Be Vegetarians?
3. Simple Actions for a More Peaceful, Compassionate, and Just World
4. Turning the Trolls to Stone: Strategy for the Global Justice Movement
5. Multinational Firms Corrupt Practices Continue in Developing World
Summer Of Mistrust (Jul. 14, 2002)
Scamming CEOs have accomplished what Osama bin Laden could not denting our spirit. Can anything restore our faith in the markets?
(...) The corporate criminals among us, the swindlers and profiteers, are now described in language once saved for bin Laden's legions. Business professors are staggered by the suicidal audacity of top executives did they really think they would not be caught? and marvel at the damage done. "It's as if we have given the CEOs weapons of mass destruction at least economically," says accounting professor Brian Shapiro at the University of Minnesota. "The companies they run are bigger than ever. When something happens, thousands can lose their jobs and more people than ever are invested in them. So a few can do a lot of damage." And that damage may be lasting. A new TIME/CNN poll finds that fewer than one-third of Americans expect the economy to improve in the next year. It is not just that we have confronted in WorldCom the worst case of fraud in U.S. corporate history; today the bluest of chips, from Merck to General Electric, are being challenged about their bookkeeping. The perception of deception is so widespread, the stakes so high and the costs so great that investors are choosing to forfeit a game they now think is rigged. The markets skidded last week straight past their 9/11 lows into the most bearish forests in a generation. The dollar sank ever lower, and the Dow dropped through 9,000 toward a 7.4% loss for one week alone. Financial planners say many people won't open their 401(k) statements; they just can't look. CLIP
The Rap on Bush and Cheney (Jul. 14, 2002)
Can the White House lead a cleanup crusade when it has had dubious deals of its own? You be the judge. (...) Bush's business dealings were legal but on the wrong side of the new corporate morality he is now preaching. How could the President chastise executives for doing the same kinds of things he did as a director, without apology? Bush received subsidized loans from Harken to buy company stocka practice he now wants to ban. In 1989 Harken concealed losses by selling most of a subsidiary to an off-the-books entity controlled by company insiders. Bush was on the audit committee, which, at least in theory, approved the deal. It's the same tactic used by Enronon a massive, more pernicious scalebefore it imploded. CLIP
Harken Papers Offer Details on Bush Knowledge
Steps to Wealth (16 July)
How Bush got rich through Harken
NY Times: Halliburton Profits From Terror War
Bush Administration May Cause Failure of Environmental Summit
US Planning to Recruit One in 24 Americans as Citizen Spies
Postal Service Won't Join TIPS Program
Why Bush Is in No Hurry on Iraq (Jul. 09, 2002)
Bush says he wants to remove Saddam eventually. But key allies at home and abroad remain unconvinced over the need for a war. (...) Despite September 11, the Afghan campaign and the "axis of evil" speech, it's not hard to see why there's no rush to war with Iraq. While no significant constituency at home or abroad is comfortable accepting Saddam Hussein's continued brutal reign, there are few takers for launching a war in order to oust him. That's not only because victory may be neither cheap nor easy, but also because some of the stakeholders fear that victory itself may create a situation that's even less tolerable and stable than the present one. CLIP
More of the U.S. War plan in Iraq at http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/05/international/middleeast/05IRAQ.html
Suggested by Nicolas Rousseau <email@example.com>
Here is a link which I think is very useful for people of the Earth Rainbow Network list, since, in our quest for truth, we are often presented with conspiracy theories. The Political Research Associate organization works at exposing lies, myths and illogical thinking. More precisely, the Political Research Associate organization's mission is to look for accurate information and to analyze the strategies and claims (like scapegoating, conspiracism, etc.) used by some in ways that perpetuate oppression. Political Research Associate wants to denounce such claims to quickfix solutions that are detrimental to a deeper analysis of the structural problems and that harmful to the research of fair solutions. Check it out at http://www.publiceye.org/
Sent by Da Vid <Lightparty@aol.com>
Bush administration approves Navy sonar criticized for potential harm to whales (Jul 15)
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration cleared the way for Navy use of a powerful low-frequency sonar to identify enemy submarines, a move environmentalists say will lead to increased strandings and deaths of whales. The Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service on Monday granted the Navy, which has spent $300 million developing the system, a five-year exemption from the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The exemption allows "harassment" of marine mammals by the Navy with its intense low-frequency sonar, called the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System, or Surtass LFA.
The National Marine Fisheries Service said in a statement that, with proper monitoring and safeguards, "Marine mammals are unlikely to be injured by the sonar activities and ... the sonar will have no more than a negligible impact on marine mammal species and stocks."
The exemption is due to be reviewed on an annual basis. The Navy plans to use the new sonar on two warships capable of sweeping 80 percent of the world's oceans. The original plan had called for four ships, but that was scaled back due to budget constraints.
The Navy says the sonar is important to national security because other nations, such as Russia, Germany and China, are developing super-quiet submarines to avoid traditional detection.
Whales are particularly susceptible to sonar interference because they rely on sound for communication, breeding, mating and migration. According to the Navy, each of the sonar's 18 speakers transmits signals as loud as 215 decibels, equivalent underwater to standing next to a twin-engine F-15 fighter jet at takeoff.
Environmentalists say, however, that with the convergence of sound waves from each of the speakers, the intense effects of the system would reach farther, as if the signals were 235 decibels.
"The Bush administration has issued a blank check for the global use of this system," said Michael Jasny, a senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Today's decision is far too broad to provide any meaningful protection for whales, dolphins and other marine life."
Fisheries officials outlined protective measures calling for Navy personnel to visually scan for marine mammals and sea turtles and to shut down the sonar whenever they are detected. Detection is expected to be almost 100 percent effective from a distance of 1.1 nautical miles (2 kilometers) away. The Navy says it will restrict the sonar's routine use to at least 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) away from coastline and outside biologically important areas. The intense low-frequency sonar can travel several hundred miles and the transmissions are on the same frequency used for communication by many large whales, including humpbacks. Some biologists believe whales are irritated by sounds louder than 110 decibels and that a whale's eardrums could explode at 180 decibels. Environmentalists' fears are partly based on the Navy's deployment of a powerful mid-range sonar in March 2000 during a submarine detection exercise in the deep water canyons of the Bahamas.
At least 16 whales and two dolphins beached themselves on the islands of Abaco, Grand Bahama and North Eleuthera within hours. Eight whales died. Scientists found hemorrhaging around the brain and ear bones, injuries consistent with exposure to loud sounds. Twelve Cuvier beaked whales beached themselves in Greece during NATO exercises in 1996 using the low-frequency sonar, but the whales decomposed before scientists could investigate.
Navy exempted from sonar limits: Military permit overrides marine protection act (July 16)
Environmentalists who have been fighting the sonar project for years said Monday that they were not convinced. They claim the sonar will not only hurt whales, but seals, sea lions, sea turtles, dolphins and fish, explaining that hearing is central to the animals' survival. (...) "Basically, this is a device on the level of standing next to the Space Shuttle (during) take off."
Stop LFAS Worldwide! Insist that people be told the truth about LFAS and other high intensity sonars. For additional updates go to http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/stoplfas
Natural Resources Defense Council:
Should We All Be Vegetarians? (July 15, 2002)
Would we be healthier? Would the planet? The risks and benefits of a meat-free life
(...) Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, sees most of the meat and dairy lobby's arguments as desperate, disingenuous scare stories. "It unmasks the industry's self-interest," he says, "when it voices concern about B12 while hundreds of thousands of people are dying prematurely because of too much saturated fat from meat and dairy products." Indeed, according to David Pimentel, a Cornell ecologist, the average American consumes 112 grams of protein a day, twice the amount recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. "This has implications for cancer risks and stress on the urinary system," says Pimentel. "And with this protein comes a lot of fat. Fully 40% of our caloriesand heavy cardiovascular riskscome from fat."
Pimentel argues that vegetarianism is much more environment-friendly than diets revolving around meat. "In terms of caloric content, the grain consumed by American livestock could feed 800 million peopleand, if exported, would boost the U.S. trade balance by $80 billion a year." Grain-fed livestock consume 100,000 liters of water for every kilogram of food they produce, compared with 2,000 liters for soybeans. Animal protein also demands tremendous expenditures of fossil-fuel energyeight times as much as for a comparable amount of plant protein. Put another way, says Pimentel, the average omnivore diet burns the equivalent of a gallon of gas per daytwice what it takes to produce a vegan diet. And the U.S. livestock populationcattle, chickens, turkeys, lambs, pigs and the restconsumes five times as much grain as the U.S. human population. But then there are 7 billion of them; they outnumber us 25 to 1. CLIP
PEACE ACTION NETWORK
Simple Actions for a More Peaceful, Compassionate, and Just World
Theosophical Order of Service Peace Department
Mrs. Deni Gross, Director
2668 Plow Road, Birdsboro, PA 19508-8247 U.S.A.
You may have chuckled over the antics of Dustin Hoffman and Robert de Niro as a top Hollywood producer and notorious White House public relations man in the fictional comedy Wag the Dog. In the movie, these two men were hired by a White House administration to bolster the Presidents deteriorating image, and direct attention away from his involvement in a scandal. They accomplished their goal by creating on American television screens a war which, unknown to the viewing public, really did not exist. The President handled the war situation brilliantly, thanks to flawless staging and detailed coaching by Hoffman and de Niro; and in an outpouring of patriotism and solidarity, the public bought the entire scam, sending the Presidents ratings through the roof! The plot may have seemed a bit far-fetched at the time, but if the American television network ABC has its way this summer, art may once again mimick reality -- just a bit too closely.
ABC plans to air a 13-part, weekly prime time reality show called Profiles From the Front Line, which will focus on the stories of U.S. military men and women on the front lines of wars around the world. The Defense Department claims that it is giving this project unparalleled support and cooperation. In fact, the Pentagon will have pre-screening rights over the show, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has already signed off on the project.
The shows producers include Jerry Bruckheimer, who did such pro-military movies as Black Hawk Down and Top Gun. Bruckheimer claims that the show is not a propaganda vehicle for the military; but critics feel otherwise, saying the show will (according to Lorraine Demi of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft) further blur the line between entertainment and news and serve as a military info-mercial.
Critics question the motivation of government involvement in this project, particularly since those same officials are limiting news journalists access to the war in Afghanistan. According to Lorraine Demi, media executives from movie studios and TV networks have been meeting with White House officials since the September 11th tragedy to form a special panel in charge of crafting a new global image for the U.S. and helping format its message about the current war on terrorism via the media. Does this sound surprisingly similar to the scenario of the movie Wag the Dog? Is it just a bit unnerving to wonder how much of what we see in the media might be fabricated to suit one persons or groups agenda?
If you are concerned about these developments, you may want to express your feelings to ABC and/or the other networks. All the major networks have websites where you can send e-mail comments. Note that CBS has already aired American Fighter Pilots, a similar type of show, pre-screened by the Air Force; and the VH1 music channel plans to show a Summer series of video diaries from military personnel, pre-screened by the Pentagon.
The most important action is that you send a regular postal message to ABC, concerning their Summer show, Profiles From the Front Line, pointing out that Pentagon pre-screening of shows and airing biased, edited versions of real war situations sounds dangerously close to government censorship of the media.
For this action, you may send messages from any country of the world, for international viewpoints on this issue could be quite helpful. In fact, if similar types of entertainment are being offered in your country outside the U.S., you may want to contact your own media. As always, we would appreciate receiving copies of any replies you receive from letters you send on this or any other actions.
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Burbank, CA 91521-4551 USA
Please feel free to contact us any time with questions or comments about this alert or with suggestions for future actions.
MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH -- MAY PEACE PREVAIL IN OUR HEARTS
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Sent by "Paul Prior" <firstname.lastname@example.org> on 13 Jul 2002
Turning the Trolls to Stone: Strategy for the Global Justice Movement
By Starhawk <email@example.com>
In Tolkien's book The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins and his friends the dwarves are caught by trolls and about to be stewed for dinner. They are saved by the wizard Gandalf, who keeps the trolls busy talking and squabbling until daylight. Sunlight turns trolls to stone.
That fantasy story could be a good model for a direct action strategy for the global justice movement. Essentially, we're all in the stew pot, with the trolls of corporate power feasting on the resources and labor of the world. But global corporate capitalism depends on hiding its true nature and functioning in the shadows. It cloaks itself in the rhetoric and semblance of democracy. Exposed to light, it cannot continue to function.
What is corporate globalization? It's an ideology that elevates corporate profit to the highest value and determining factor for all human activity, individual and collective. It says that corporations must be unfettered in their pursuit of profit, that all natural and human resources should be open to exploitation, that services and infrastructures once collectively provided by governments should become arenas of profit making, and that while some people will gain more than others under this regime, following this program will make everyone richer and benefit all.
Corporate globalization is implemented by certain institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that impose its constraints on the heavily indebted countries of the third world in return for participation in the global economy. It is enacted through trade agreements such as NAFTA (The North American Free Trade Agreement), the proposed FTAA (Free Trade Agreement of the Americas - the extension of NAFTA throughout the hemisphere), and many others, including the global GATT, (Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), enforced by the World Trade Organization. These agreements and institutions override democratically made laws of countries, allowing them to be struck down in decisions by a tribunal of the WTO which can rule, for example, that a law restricting imports of goods made with child labor is "restraint of trade", and not allowed. Many of them allow corporations to sue governments for loss of projected profits if laws restrict them: a Canadian corporation has won a judgment of hundreds of millions of dollars from the State of California for banning an additive in gasoline that pollutes groundwater. A US corporation has sued Canada for banning an additive that causes brain cancer in children.
This program is backed by the vast military and police power of the state - primarily the U.S. but aided by our friends. The "war on terror" is the perfect excuse for extending that power until it becomes a true global hegemony.
This program is problematic on a number of different levels: it is blatantly unjust, it runs counter to every human impulse toward compassion, generosity, and mutuality, it contradicts the teachings of every religion or system of social ethics, it is destroying the basic life support systems of the planet, and it doesn't work. It allows corporations free movement across borders to seek the lowest common denominator of wages and regulations, and lowers the global standard of living for workers everywhere. It appropriates the resources that should belong to all and concentrates wealth and power in fewer and fewer hands. In fact, it creates misery, poverty and despair for billions.
Trying to counter that system may seem an overwhelming and hopeless task. How do we confront a system that can commandeer such vast economic resources, control the major media, and mobilize all the military, police and judicial power of the state in its defense?
As powerful as the system seems, it rests on the compliance and tacit consent of the very people it exploits. The vast, vast numbers of us who don't truly benefit from the system support it through our participation. Without our labor, without our obedience, without our willingness to police ourselves, the system cannot function.
The public complies with this system in part because the system hides its true workings under fancy rhetoric, obscure economic theory, and the trappings of democracy. Trolls breed in the dark.
So a strategy for global justice involves exposing the trolls to light: telling the truth about the system, showing how it affects people on an everyday basis, pointing out clearly where it doesn't work. Ultimately, our goal is to undermine the legitimacy of the system and erode the tacit consent that supports it.
There are many, many groups, from organizations such as Public Citizen or the Council of Canadians to independent media, working on shining that light. But in a world overloaded with information, how do we get people overburdened with messages of fear and urgency to pay attention?
Educators speak of the concept of the "teachable moment", that instant when a bored and apathetic student suddenly becomes eager and able to learn. People become teachable when they realize that they have a need for information.
That is one of the key purposes of protest: to create so much excitement, so much urgency and drama around an issue that people who have previously tuned it out suddenly feel a need to pay attention.
But people are also controlled by fear. We might hate the system, but we also depend upon it. What will happen to us if we act against it? How can we trust those urging us to take action, or believe that what they propose will be better?
People comply with the system because they don't see an alternative or believe that they don't have any choice. Systems of control always work by limiting our perceptions of our options.
Our challenge as a movement is to delegitimize the current system, pose a wider range of choices, empower people to risk opposing the current system and to embrace an alternative vision.
We've been relatively good at shining a spotlight, creating drama, and delegitimizing the current system. In the two and half years since Seattle, we've awakened public awareness of many of the institutions of corporate globalization, shifted the terms of debate, and undercut the unquestioning acceptance of their policies.
We've been less successful at posing a clear, alternative vision, and building public trust.
Trust is built over time, of course. The global justice movement is not centered on charismatic leaders or ongoing institutions that give a face to trust. It's an amorphous, ever evolving, self organizing mass. But if people involved in the movement devote time, attention, and their skills as organizers to their home issues and support local community based organizations as well as large summit actions, trust can grow.
But trust has to grow from a vision. And I believe we do actually have a clear alternative to the ideology of global corporate capitalism:
We stand for democracy, community, and true abundance.
Democracy means that people have a voice in the decisions that affect them, including economic decisions. Democracy requires time and public space and quality education and freedom of information. And democracy means that no group can be excluded from power because of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, or any other "ism".
We stand for the right of communities to control their own destinies and resources, whether that is indigenous community preserving its land and culture or a neighborhood deciding to keep its local hospital open. Enterprises and businesses must be rooted in communities and accountable to them.
We say that real abundance means protecting the life support systems of the planet, that there are things too precious to be bought and sold for profit, from ancient rain forests to the water that sustains all life. Abundance does not come from the extraction and concentration of wealth, but from its widest possible distribution. True abundance means security, and that can only come from an understanding that we have a common responsibility for each other, to see each other through hard times and support each other through misfortune.
We also say that democracy, community, and true abundance are the real antidote to the despair that breeds terrorism, and the best means of assuring our global security.
When we think about actions and tactics, we need to consider how they fit with our overall strategy. We need to create enough of a ruckus to arouse people's attention, while making sure it's the system that gets delegitimized, not us. Different tactics and actions serve different needs: Protests that are safe, permitted and legal serve an important purpose: they mobilize people who might otherwise be afraid to take action. They give people a way to overcome fear, feel a sense of unity, and speak out, and can embody our vision and build trust. Direct action, actions that directly confront oppressive power, actively withdraw our consent from the system, create drama and confrontation and urgency, and often make the violence inherent in the system visible. My own generally preferred set of tactics involve nonviolent direct action, because they allow us to both create urgency and trust. Nonviolent actions can be openly organized, letting us mobilize more people and encourage people to move beyond fear and take higher risks.
The most powerful actions are those in which we create confrontations that also embody our vision. When we live the alternatives, in our organizing, in our coalition building, in our daily lives, in our courage to act, we become the sunlight that can freeze the trolls in their tracks.
NOTE FROM JEAN: Should you want to receive other such incisive views from Starhawk, you may subscribe by going at http://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/starhawk
Sent by "Mark Graffis" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Published on Friday, July 12, 2002 by Inter Press Service
Multinational Firms Corrupt Practices Continue in Developing World
by Emad Mekay
WASHINGTON - The multinational firms recently fingered for corrupt practices in the United States may be practicing similar operations on a larger scale in developing countries, say long-time corporate watchdogs.
Investors, shareholders, the U.S. administration, and economists world-wide are still reeling from the string of corporate frauds that includes U.S. energy giant Enron and WorldCom, the international telecommunications company. Allegations of misconduct have surfaced against several company executives, including U.S. President George W. Bush from his days as a director of an oil company.
While the United States and its northern neighbors have focused on the impact of such scandals on investor trust in wealthy nations, the anti-globalization movement cautions that the corruption scourge could be several times more harmful to the economies of developing countries.
They argue that many global companies operate freely in poor nations, protected by conditions dictated by international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, and the political might of Northern governments.
"Enron and WorldCom are just symptoms of the way companies are able to do business without too much accountability," said Nadia Martinez, research associate at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies.
"It is even worse in the developing world," she added. "It happens here and everyone goes up in arms. But in reality this has been happening in the developing world for decades with the support of Northern governments in many instances and with the support of our taxpayers' money by way of international institutions like the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank."
Multinational watchdog Corpwatch says that these firms violate international law on many counts, including social and environmental violations and with flagrant corruption.
"Corruption is one of the many levels in which these companies very arrogantly come into a country and act like they own it and they do whatever they want," said Julie Light, managing editor of Corpwatch.org. "They can buy off the politicians and they can hire private security forces or pay the local police."
Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported on corruption in the 550 million dollar Bujagali power project on the Nile River in Uganda. One of the contractors, the U.S. power producer AES, bribed a Ugandan official to hasten the dam's approval, said the report.
Martinez says that the shamed Enron, a now bankrupt firm with dubious off-balance sheet transactions, continues to operate internationally and is still seeking public funding for its non-scrutinized global projects.
Enron holds 25 percent of Transredes, a company seeking a 125 million-dollar loan from the International Development Bank (IDB) to expand a Bolivian gas pipeline. The Bank is expected to decide on the loan in September.
In research for the Institute for Policy Studies, Martinez says Enron's assets in Latin America alone include concerns in a pipeline in Colombia, gas and electricity companies in Venezuela and Brazil, and other operations in Panama, Guatemala, and Puerto Rico.
Public institutions, including the World Bank and the European Investment Bank have provided Enron with financing of about seven billion dollars, she adds.
WorldCom, a firm accused of cooking its books so it could overstate profits by 3.8 billion dollars, also has a presence in many developing countries. The company often boasted that its business interests span from everyday phone calls to advanced Internet-based networks in Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Africa.
Although activists like Martinez and Light have been calling attention to the practices of corporations in the South for years, they now say developing countries are more vulnerable than ever, because of diminishing monitoring. The IMF has been urging deregulation in the South for the past two decades.
"What the IMF, the WTO (World Trade Organization) and the World Bank have been saying to the third world is 'trust the market, deregulate, get the government out of the way, take the teeth out of the regulatory agencies, let corporate officials run government agencies, let them privatize'," said Danaher. "It's been a whole-package."
Poor nations stand defenseless before the mammoth-like corporations, some whose budgets are bigger than the spending of many poor nations combined, they add.
"If these corporations can wreck the United States, destroy our economy, take over the government, and bankrupt it in their interest, what are they going to do in Bolivia, Chad or Niger where there are not so many constitutional rights?" asked Danaher.
The activists say the cozy relationship between politics and business is partly to blame. Several officials of the Bush administration are former company executives, including the president himself and Vice President Dick Cheney.
"We need to close the revolving door of corporate leaders going into government, building up their Rolodex, finding out where the money is and then going back into the corporate world sucking public money out of government," said Danaher. "We need to build a firewall between money and policy making."
"It's time civil society groups started policing the corporations and holding them accountable on high-standards of international law, human rights law and local law," added Light.