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2000 Top Stories Chosen by Project Censored

Forward by Project Censored Director
book cover Media consolidation is creating a new form of censorship in the United States and undermining democracy in the process.

Since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a gold rush of media mergers and takeovers has been occurring in the U.S. More than half of all radio stations have been sold in the past four years, and the merger upon merger that resulted in AOL-Time-Warner-CNN has created the largest media organization in the world. Less then ten major media corporations now dominate the U.S. news and information systems. Giant companies, such as Clear Channel, own more than 800 radio stations. Ninety-eight percent of all cities have only one daily newspaper, and these are increasingly controlled by huge chains like Gannett and Knight Ridder.

Censorship in the United States today is seldom deliberate. Instead it comes stealthily under the heading Missed Opportunities. Mega-merged corporate media are predominantly interested in the entertainment value of news and the maintenance of high audience viewing/reading levels that lead to profitable advertising sales. Non-sexy or complex stories tend to receive little attention within these corporate media systems.

A recent Pew Research Center poll showed more than 77 percent of all journalists admitted that news stories that were perceived as important but dull are sometimes ignored. More than a third polled stated that news stories that would hurt the financial interests of their news organization often or sometimes go unreported.

This structural arrangement is what censorship looks like in America today: not usually a deliberate killing of stories by official censors, but rather a subtle system of information suppression in the name of corporate profit and self interest. Corporate media censorship is an attack on democracy itself. It undermines the very fabric of our society by creating a highly entertained but poorly informed electorate.

Given that corporate media systemically censor important news stories, it is not hard to understand why more than 50 million eligible voters do not bother to vote. Without essential knowledge of important political issues, voter apathy is rampant, and political parties may tend to appear different, but act alike.

Recent efforts at national media reform through micro-power community radio and campaign finance changes that would mandate access for all candidates on national media have been strongly resisted by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). NAB, considered one of the most powerful corporate lobby groups in Washington, works hard to protect more than $200 billion dollars of annual advertising and the several hundred million dollars political candidates spend in each election cycle.

We now recognize that corporate media's political power, and its failure to meet its First Amendment obligation to keep us informed, leaves a huge task before us. We must mobilize our resources to redevelop news and information systems from the bottom up. We can expand our distribution of news via small independent newspapers, local magazines, independent radio, and cable access TV. Using the Internet we can interconnect with like-minded grassroots news organizations to share important stories globally.

This work has already started. Independent media centers have sprung up in more than thirty cities in the past year, and direct news from the front lines of the anti-globalization corporate power resistance movement is freely available. Thousands of alternative news organizations already exist. We just need to connect and put this news on the breakfast tables of millions of working people. We have the power to write, broadcast, and recreate news distribution in the U.S. and the world. By working together, we can bridge the Internet gap and refill the news wasteland so that every working person in the country knows the issues, recognizes the choices, and can make informed decisions about the future of our society.

The top 25 most censored stories for 2000 are the news that the corporate media refused to cover. If our 25-year average is correct, about one third of these stories will appear in the corporate press sometime in the next few years. While Project Censored is seldom acknowledged by the corporate media, we do shame them into covering these stories as if they discovered them themselves. Thousands of journalists working in the corporate media are dedicated believers in the First Amendment and the public's right to know. They are faced with the "daily grind" -- as a close journalist friend of mine says -- "of filling holes in the voids of newsland." Increasingly these "hole fillers" must have entertainment value or they will not be used.

The following stories may not be the most entertaining stories of the year, but they sure are important. Please give them the close attention they deserve and send encouragement to the authors and publications. Also write or call your local corporate media outlets to ask them why they didn't cover these real news stories in 2000. It is going to take a whole generation of persistence by grassroots media activists to turn this situation around. Together we can make it happen.

-- Peter Phillips

World Bank and Multinational Corporations Seek to Privatize Water
 + The Global Water Crisis
 + Monsanto's Billion-Dollar Water Monopoly Plans
 + The Earth Wrecker
 + The Politics of Water
1 Global consumption of water is doubling every 20 years, more than twice the rate of human population growth. According to the United Nations, more than one billion people already lack access to fresh drinking water. If current trends persist, by 2025 the demand for fresh water is expected to rise by 56 percent more than the amount of water that is currently available.

Multinational corporations recognize these trends and are trying to monopolize water supplies around the world. Monsanto, Bechtel, and other global multinationals are seeking control of world water systems and supplies.

The World Bank recently adopted a policy of water privatization and full-cost water pricing. This policy is causing great distress in many Third World countries, which fear that their citizens will not be able to afford for-profit water. Grassroots resistance to the privatization of water emerges as companies expand profit taking. San Francisco's Bechtel Enterprises was contracted to manage the water system in Cochabamba, Bolivia, after the World Bank required Bolivia to privatize. When Bechtel pushed up the price of water, the entire city went on a general strike. The military killed a seventeen-year-old boy and arrested the water rights leaders. But after four months of unrest the Bolivian government forced Bechtel out of Cochambamba.

Bechtel Group Inc., a corporation with a long history of environmental abuses, now contracts with the city of San Francisco to upgrade the city's water system. Bechtel employees are working side by side with government workers in a privatization move that activists fear will lead to an eventual take-over of San Francisco's water system.

Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, Canada's largest public advocacy group, states, "Governments around the world must act now to declare water a fundamental human right and prevent efforts to privatize, export, and sell for profit a substance essential to all life." Research has shown that selling water on the open market only delivers it to wealthy cities and individuals.

Governments are signing away their control over domestic water supplies by participating in trade treaties such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and in institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). These agreements give transnational corporations the unprecedented right to the water of signatory companies.

Water-related conflicts are springing up around the globe. Malaysia, for example, owns half of Singapore's water and, in 1997, threatened to cut off its water supply after Singapore criticized Malaysia's government policies.

Monsanto plans to earn revenues of $420 million and a net income of $63 million by 2008 from its water business in India and Mexico. Monsanto estimates that water will become a multibillion-dollar market in the coming decades.


OSHA Fails to Protect U.S. Workers
 + Losing Life and Limb on the Job
2 United States labor laws are poorly enforced and fail to meet the basic human rights of U.S. workers. Each year, about 6,000 workers die on the job from accidents and another 50,000 to 70,000 workers die annually from "occupationally acquired diseases." The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is not capable of effectively overseeing U.S. workplaces.

The entire federal and state worker health and safety apparatus involves just 2,300 inspectors, who must cover America's 102 million workers in 6.7 million workplaces. That comes to one inspector for every 44,348 workers. Theoretically, it would take OSHA 110 years to inspect each workplace under its jurisdiction just once.

Needed by labor and despised by business, OSHA may be workers' best friend in government, but critics say OSHA has never been weaker or less worker-friendly. Recent studies show that United States labor laws have loopholes, are poorly enforced, and fail to meet human rights standards that our nation requires of other countries.

Titan International, an Illinois-based company, has been under fire lately at its plant and at other subsidiary locations. Despite a lengthy recent record of safety violations and injuries -- including two deaths -- Titan's Des Moines plant has stymied five attempts by Iowa OSHA to inspect some twenty-three complaints lodged by workers. Titan Tire refused entry to OSHA even with an inspection warrant -- a violation of law and a direct assault on the integrity of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Titan was held responsible by the Polk County District Court in Des Moines and was fined Iowa's maximum civil-contempt penalty -- just $500 -- which Titan is appealing.

Titan workers are being maimed across the country. Workers say it is usually the result of decrepit machines, minimal training and punishing hours. Since May 1999, the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) has been challenging Titan with a slew of unfair labor practice charges. These include, but are not limited to, illegally moving jobs and equipment to avoid a union contract, refusing to bargain in good faith, discriminating against union members, and trying to permanently replace striking workers. Union officials say that fines are too low and that companies, even in worker death cases, are only getting slapped on the wrist.

In Titan's Des Moines plant on March 20, 1997, Don Baysinger, a tire builder with 27 years of experience, was pinned between two tire-tread machines for more than twenty minutes. Baysinger died two days later of asphyxia-related symptoms. Titan paid only a $10,000 OSHA fine for failure to have emergency stops on the equipment and for being inadequately guarded.

Another death occurred at the Des Moines plant in November 1999. Nearly 2,000 gallons of highly flammable heptane poured unnoticed onto the ground and headed into the street. A passing car ignited the chemicals and set off a massive fire, killing Bulkamatic Transport Company's driver Donald Oswald.

Titan often develops close relationships with job-starved cities. In 1997 Brownsville Texas gave Titan $6.5 million in free land, site improvements, and utility and wage subsidies. The state of Texas added $448,000 for job training for 168 workers. Titan received similar subsidies from the state of Virginia to the tune of $500,000.

In these times, it is hard to get the attention of an OSHA inspector as there are so few of them. Instead of addressing or attempting to alleviate an issue or complaints early on, inspectors seem to respond, "only when there is a death or serious injury," union official Tim Johnson. Regardless of who is to blame, OSHA is woefully ill-equipped to monitor the workplaces of America.


U.S. Army's Psychological Operations Personnel Worked at CNN
 + U.S. Army 'Psyops' Specialists worked for CNN
3 From June 1999 to March 2000, CNN employed military specialists in 'psychological operations' (Psyops) in their Southeast TV bureau and CNN radio division.

"Psyops personnel, soldiers, and officers, have been working in CNN's headquarters in Atlanta through our program 'Training With Industry,'" Major Thomas Collins of the U.S. Army Information Service said in a telephone interview on February 18, 2000. Collins asserted, "They worked as regular employees of CNN. Conceivably, they would have worked on stories during the Kosovo war. They helped in the production of news."

CNN had hosted a total of five interns from U.S. Army Psyops, two in television, two in radio, and one in satellite operations. The military/CNN personnel belonged to the airmobile Fourth Psychological Operations Group stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. One of the main tasks of this group of almost 1,200 soldiers and officers is to spread "selected information." The propaganda group was involved in the Gulf War, the war in Bosnia, and the crisis in Kosovo.

The military personnel stayed with CNN for at least two weeks "to get to know the company and to broaden their horizons." Collins maintains that "they didn't work under the control of the army." The temporary outplacement of U.S. Army Psyops personnel in various sectors of society began a couple of years ago. Contract periods vary from weeks to one year.

Colonel Christopher St. John is commander of the Fourth Psychological Operations Group. In a military symposium on special operations that was held behind closed doors in Arlington, Virginia, in early February, Col. St. John said the cooperation with CNN was a textbook example of the kind of ties the American army wants to have with the media. Still, the Psyops people in Arlington were not entirely satisfied with news handling during the war on Serbia. In their opinion, too much information about the results of the bombings came to the surface.

CNN and other media coverage of the war in Kosovo and of other media, has attracted criticism for having been one sided, overly emotional, over simplified and relying too heavily on NATO officials. On the other hand, journalists have complained about the lack of the reliable information from NATO; for almost all of them it was impossible to be on the battlefield and file first-hand reports. The question remains: Did the military learn from TV people how to hold viewers' attention? Or did the Psyops people teach CNN how to help the U.S. government garner political support?

TV Guide reported in April that Psyops also had team members working at National Public Radio (NPR). This prompted two NPR stories on the program "All Things Considered." Jeffrey Dvorkin, NPR's vice president for news, stated, "We recruited from the army and got three interns, and that was a mistake. And when we discovered that they were from Psyops branch, we finished the arrangement, and it won't happen again."

Did the U.S. Deliberately Bomb the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade?
 + Mission Implausible
 + NY Times on Chinese Embassy Bombing: Nothing to Report
 + "Unintentional" Bombing Repeats a Familiar Pattern
4 Elements within the CIA may have deliberately targeted the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, without NATO approval, because it was serving as a rebroadcast station for the Yugoslavian army.

The London Observer and Copenhagen's Politiken reported that, according to senior U.S. and European military sources, NATO knew very well where the Chinese embassy was located and listed it as a "strictly prohibited target" at the beginning of the war. The Observer stated that the CIA and its British equivalent, M16, had been listening to communications from the Chinese embassy routinely since it moved to its new site in 1996. The Chinese embassy was taken off the prohibited target list after NATO detected it sending Yugoslavian army signals to forces in the field. "Nearly everyone involved in NATO air operations (radio) signals command knows that the bombing was deliberate," said Jens Holsoe of Politiken, lead investigative reporter on the news team reporting on the story.

President Clinton called the bombing a "tragic mistake" and said it was the result of a mix-up. NATO claimed that they were using old maps and got the address wrong. However, Observer reporters quoted a Naples-based flight controller who said the NATO maps that were used during the campaign had correctly identified the Chinese embassy.

A French Ministry of Defense report stated that the flight that targeted the Chinese embassy was not under NATO command, but rather an independent U.S. bombing raid. In July 1999, CIA director George Tenet testified before Congress that of the 900 sites struck by NATO during the bombing campaign, the only one targeted by the CIA was the Chinese embassy.

In response to the claims by the New York Times and the Washington Post of having investigated this story and having found no substantiation, Seth Ackerman states that within the CIA there are strong anti-China elements. The Counter-Proliferation Division within the CIA is known for its opposition to Clinton's China policy. The CIA's regular targeting office -- the Central Targeting Support Staff -- was not consulted about the mission. Instead the Counter-Proliferation Division forwarded the target information to U.S. forces.

The CIA was outraged not only because the Chinese were helping the Serbs by serving as a rebroadcast station, but also because they believed that Yugoslavia had sold the wreckage of the downed U.S. F-117 stealth fighter to the Chinese, thereby improving China's ability to develop a stealth-proof radar system.

According to the New York Times April 17, 2000 edition, the CIA still claims that the bombing was an accident, but cannot explain "why so many mistakes occurred."

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Porter Goss, said he was confident that the strike was not deliberate, but added, "unless some people are lying to me."

The bombing of the Chinese embassy was described by Chinese Ambassador Li Zhaozing as "a horrifying atrocity, something rarely seen in the entire history of the worst of diplomacy."


U.S. Taxpayers Underwrite Global Nuclear Power Plant Sales
5 The U.S. tax-supported Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) is solidly backing major U.S. nuclear contractors such as Westinghouse, Bechtel, and General Electric in their efforts to seek foreign markets for nuclear reactors. Between 1959 and 1993 Ex-Im spent $7.7 billion to help sell American-made reactors abroad.

Most countries do not have the capital to buy nuclear power, so contractors, in order to be competitive, provide 100 percent of the financing. Ex-Im offers terms too good for Third World countries and Eastern European buyers to pass up. If the host country defaults on its loan, the Ex-Im steps in with American taxpayer dollars.

Westinghouse built the Bataan nuclear power facility in the Philippines in 1985 at a cost of $1.2 billion, 150 percent above their projections. However, the Bataan plant was never brought on line due to the fact it was near an active volcano. Despite the fact that the plant never generated a single kilowatt of energy, the Philippines still pays about $300,000 a day in interest on the Ex-Im loan that funded the project. Should the Philippines default, U.S. taxpayers will pickup the tab.

In Turkey, the Ex-Im has approved a preliminary loan in support of a Westinghouse-led consortium's $3.2 billion bid to build the Akkuyu plant on the Mediterranean coast. The Akkuyu plant site is near an active fault line in a region that has experienced a number of strong earthquakes over the last 100 years. Despite safety and environmental concerns, Vice President Gore wrote to Turkish officials on behalf of Westinghouse. National security specialists believe that Turkey's nuclear energy program contains a military element. Several members of the U.S. Congress have accused Turkey of supplying Pakistan with uranium enrichment technology.

The Clinton administration has also allowed American contractors to sell reactors to China, claiming the nuclear energy market of China is vital to the U.S. nuclear supply industry. Ex-Im has guaranteed a $322 million loan for two Westinghouse nuclear deals in China. This approval comes despite Beijing's refusal to abide by nonproliferation rules established by the International Atomic Energy Act. The decision to allow the sales was reportedly made over the objections of national security advisor Sandy Berger, who cited Chinese exports of "dual-use" technology to Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan.

Estimates are that some 70 nuclear power plants will be built in Asia in the next 25 years. China will be one of the principal buyers. In 1997, President Clinton's Export council (headed at the time by the CEO of Westinghouse) declared, "The nuclear energy market of China is critical to the survival of the U.S. nuclear power supply industry."

"American contractors are selling a product that most people don't want," Dave Martin of the Toronto-based Nuclear Awareness campaign says. U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing this industry. Without Ex-Im, which offers terms just too good for Third World countries to pass up, American firms would not succeed in selling nuclear power plants worldwide.


Report Blames U.S. and Others for Genocide in Rwanda
 + Clinton Allowed Genocide, New Report Says
6 Bill Clinton and his administration allowed the genocide of 500,000 to 800,000 people in Rwanda in 1994. In a clear effort to avoid responsibility and embarrassment, the Clinton administration has refused to acknowledge its role in failing to prevent the genocide in Rwanda. This allegation comes from the recent report released in July by a panel affiliated with the Organization for African Unity (OAU).

OAU set up a panel comprised of two African heads of state, chairwomen of the Swedish Committee for UNICEF, a former chief justice to the Indian Supreme Court, and a former Canadian ambassador to the UN. The panel was asked to review the 1994 genocide, the actions preceding the massacre, and the world's response to the killings.

The panel concluded that the nations and international bodies that should have attempted to stop the killing chose not to do so. The report, which received modest but insufficient media coverage, convincingly condemns the United Nations, Belgium (a former colonial occupier), France (which maintained close relations with Rwanda), and the United States. The report found that after the genocide began, the Clinton administration chose not to acknowledge that it was taking place. Under the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, once genocide is recognized, the nations of the world are obligated to prevent the killings and to punish the murderers. But the Clinton administration did not want to become involved with Rwanda after 18 Americans were killed in Somalia six months before. The report says, "the Clinton administration held that there was no useful role for any peacekeeping operation under the prevailing circumstances."

According to the report, the killings could have been stopped before they began. The report refers to the well known fax that Canadian Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire, commander of the UN peacekeeping troops in Rwanda, sent to the UN three months before the genocide began. In the fax, Dallaire warned that an extermination campaign was coming. In fact, three days before the genocide started, a Hutu leader told several high-ranking UN officials that "the only plausible solution for Rwanda would be the elimination of the Tutsi." While the report states that, "there were a thousand early warnings that something appalling was about to occur in Rwanda," the Clinton administration took every step possible to avoid acknowledging that genocide was taking place.

Dallaire asked for an additional three thousand UN troops, which would have brought the total to 5,000, a number likely to have been able to prevent the genocide. However, Madeleine Albright played a key role in the Security Council of the UN in blocking the troop expansion. In fact Albright is cited by the report as "tossing up roadblocks at every stage."

Perhaps even more disturbing are reports linking U.S. Special Forces to the training of Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) troops. The Special Forces Command Team known as "Joint Combined Exchange Training" (JCET) is a special foreign arm forces training unit. Since 1994, under the leadership of Paul Kagame, Green Berets were training the RPA. They have been trained in landmine detection and small unit movement. This training continues even though there is mounting evidence that the U.S.-trained Rwandan soldiers have been in the thick of the atrocities inflicted upon the Hutu refugees from before the genocide began, up until the present.

Independent Study Points to Dangers of Genetically Altered Foods
 + Don't Ask, Don't Know
 + Revolving Doors: Monsanto and the Regulators
7 In 1998, Arpad Pusztai, a researcher at Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, preformed the first independent non-industry sponsored study analyzing genetically engineered food and its effects on mammals. The study had been undertaken to determine whether or not the spliced genes themselves could be damaging to the mammal ingesting them. However, preliminary data from the study suggests something even more startling. The actual process of genetic alteration itself may cause damage to the mammalian digestive and immune systems.

Pusztai's study found that rats fed transgenic potatoes (artificially bioengineered to include a gene from another species) showed evidence of organ damage, thickening of the small intestine, and poor brain development. The transgenic potatoes used in the study had been genetically engineered to contain lectin, a sugar binding protein, to make the plants pest-resistant. The adverse reactions only occurred in the group that was fed the transgenic potatoes. The control group, fed plain potatoes mixed with lectin from the same source, were normal.

These results indicated that the adverse reactions were not caused by the added lectin, but by the process of genetic engineering itself. "All the presently used genetically modified material has been created using essentially the same technology," Pusztai told the Sunday Herald "If there really is a problem, it won't just apply to the potatoes, but probably to all other transgenics."

In August 1998 Pusztai appeared on the British television program The World in Action to report the findings of his study. In an attempt to quell the resulting public furor, Rowett Institute director Philip James (who had approved Pusztai's TV appearance) said the research didn't exist. He fired Pusztai, broke up his research team, seized the data, and halted six other similar projects. It came out later that Monsanto, a leading U.S. biotech firm, had given the Rowett Institute a $224,000 grant prior to Pusztai's interview and subsequent firing.

Evidence emerged to support the legitimacy of Pusztai's research. The research that James claimed did not exist showed up during an internal audit. Later, Lancet, the prestigious British medical journal, published a peer-reviewed paper Pusztai had co-authored supporting the research. Prince Charles began to question the safety of genetically engineered foods on his website and became allies with Pusztai. Charles wrote an article in the Daily Mail expressing concerns over the lack of prerelease safety research on genetically engineered foods.

Back in 1992 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had determined that genetically engineered foods were in most cases "the same as or substantially similar to substances commonly found in food" and thus are not required to undergo specific safety tests prior to entering the market. The FDA's policy was a dramatic shift away from the long- standing requirement that companies prove their products are safe. Says Rebecca Goldburg of the Environmental Defense Fund. "FDA's policy strongly favors food manufacturers at the expense of consumer protection."

According to author Ben Lilliston, no independent or government-sponsored research into the effects of genetically engineered foods on mammals is now being carried out in either the United Kingdom or the United States. Pusztai wrote in Lancet, "[These] experiments need to be repeated. We would be happy to oblige. It was not we who stopped the work."


Drug Companies Influence Doctors and Health Organizations to Push Meds
 + NAMI: The Story Behind the Story
 + Better Learning Through Chemistry
8 More than 130 million prescriptions were written in 1999 for depression and mental health related symptoms at a cost of $8.58 billion. Physicians know that antidepressants are only part of the answer for mental health, but marketing by drug companies has created the mythology of pills as cure-alls. A 1999 federal research study found that the newer antidepressants were effective in only half of the cases and only outperformed placebos by 18 percent

Drug companies spend $5 billion annually to send sales representatives to doctors' offices. Sales reps keep FBI-style dossiers on physicians that include information such as the names of family members, golf handicaps, and clothing preferences. Hard sales tactics and small gifts are part of the pitch. In addition, pharmaceutical companies provide perks (such as tickets to sporting events) and outright compensation to doctors for their participation in the prescribing of particular drugs to their mental health patients.

On another front, pharmaceutical companies are reaping big profits by promoting forced drug use through programs at the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). With drug company funding, NAMI promotes a program of in-home forced drug treatment, called the Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT). The money is funneled through a suborganization of NAMI called the NAMI Campaign to End Discrimination. While PACT has some features that clients like, it also puts an emphasis on "medication compliance." For instance, PACT at times includes daily psychiatric drug deliveries to people's doorsteps and living rooms, backed up by court orders. PACT enforces medication compliance by visiting clients' homes daily to stand and watch as clients take their medicine -- involuntarily -- in their own living rooms. There is a clear conflict of interest here since the pharmaceutical companies are reaping profits from the drugs the patients are forced to take.

The psychiatric drug industry is pouring millions into a NAMI-controlled slush fund, which is the monetary force behind one of NAMI's central goals: to get PACT into every state by 2002. NAMI leaders claim their hands are clean of drug money.

They bill NAMI as "a grassroots organization for individuals with brain disorders, and their family members." However, Janet Foner, a co-coordinator of Support Coalition International, an activist organization of "psychiatric survivors," says NAMI does a good job in some areas, but argues that the group's corporate sponsors help shape its agenda. "They appear to be a completely independent organization, but they parrot the line of the drug companies in saying that drugs are essential [in treating mental health disorders]."

NAMI has a policy of never disclosing its drug company funding. Mother Jones researchers used internal documents to prove that NAMI received $11.72 million from the psychiatric drug industry in just two-and-a-half years. NAMI's leading donor is Eli Lilly and Company, which is the maker of Prozac.


EPA Plans to Disburse Toxic/Radioactive Wastes into Denver's Sewage System
9 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to pump toxic waste water into Denver's sewer system in order to clean up a Superfund site at the Lowry landfill.

Between 1950 and 1980, at the Lowry landfill near Denver, millions of gallons of hazardous industrial wastes were dumped into shallow unlined pits. The EPA declared the 480-acre site a Superfund site in 1984. Now the EPA wants to treat the contaminated groundwater at the landfill and discharge it into the Denver metro sewage system. The sewage system would then use the sludge from the treated water to fertilize Colorado farmlands.

Citizen groups say that the landfill is widely contaminated with highly radioactive plutonium and other deadly wastes. Adrienne Anderson, a lawyer and instructor at the University of Boulder, stated that EPA's plan is a way to "legally pump plutonium into the sewer line." Plutonium is widely considered one of the most deadly substances on the planet.

Anderson and her students have accrued some 200,000 files on the Lowry landfill. One document entitled "Preliminary Evaluation of Potential Department of Energy Radioactive Wastes" dated December 13, 1991, found that the levels of plutonium and radioactive americium detected at the Lowry landfill were 10 to 10,000 times greater than the average levels reported for a nuclear weapons plant in that area. The document had been released by the Lowry Coalition, a group of corporations and government agencies dumped materials at the site. The polluters included Adolph Coors (who once produced nuclear fuel), Lockheed Martin, Rockwell (then operator of the U.S. Department of Energy's Rocky Flat's nuclear bomb plant), Hewlett Packard, IBM, Waste Management, and the Denver Post. The EPA itself also dumped pesticides and other lab wastes at the site.

In 1961 Colorado State Trooper Bill Wilson stopped a milk truck that was spraying liquid on the ground at Lowry. According to Wilson, the truck's operator told him he was dumping radioactive wastewater from the Rocky Flats plant and had the government's permission to do it. Wilson realized that he couldn't do anything about it, but he filed reports on identical activities he witnessed for several more years with the state's transportation regulator.

Gwen Hooten, at EPA's region 8 office in Denver, is in charge of the Lowry cleanup. She and other EPA officials deny that the site is poisoned by plutonium or any other nuclear wastes. Hooten dismisses the 1991 document as "invalidated data."

Critics are not buying it. Any plutonium, heavy metal, or other toxic wastes pumped through the sewage system will likely settle there for years. The problem will only become more widespread.

In 1993 the EPA classified municipal sludge as a fertilizer for farmers. Denver municipal sludge is already being spread on farmland as biosolids. Wheat grown on this land is sold for human consumption.


Silicon Valley Uses Immigrant Engineers to Keep Salaries Low
10 High-skilled immigrant workers in Silicon Valley are being exploited by employers. Existing immigration law sets a cap on the number the H1-B visas the industry can use to hire immigrant engineers, so this year Silicon Valley electronics giants have been pushing for more H1-B workers. While H1-B status laborers boost corporate bottom lines, there is a devastating effect on the workers themselves.

AFL-CIO vice president Linda Chavez-Thompson accuses the industry of using the H1-B visa program to keep their workers in a position of dependence. She points out that these workers are often hired under individual contracts, which by U.S. law means they don't have the right to organize. For the high-tech industry this protection against strikes and unions is a key attraction of the H1-B program, especially in the aftermath of the Boeing Corp. engineers who mounted one of the most successful strikes in recent history.

Like other contract labor programs for lower wage and factory laborers, the H1-B program gives employers the power not only to hire and fire workers, but to grant legal immigration status as well. If an employer does not like something a worker does, like defending themselves by filing discrimination complaints, the employer has the power to deport the worker.

One contract worker from India, Kim Singh, says that an employer withheld 25 percent of his earnings, none of which was returned when his contract was up. Another employer had him working seven days a week with no overtime compensation.

High-tech companies claim that a domestic labor shortage justifies the use of immigrant contractors with H1-B visas. Labor advocates counter that the problem is not a labor shortage, but instead the industry's unwillingness to pay the salaries that American high-tech workers demand. Moreover, use of immigrant labor protects high-tech companies from strikes and union demands. Civil rights groups add that if Silicon Valley companies were interested in increasing the domestic high-tech labor market, they could train American workers -- an approach that could also increase minority representation in the high-tech sector. The industry's resistance to such alternatives indicates that its reliance on immigrant workers is not about a domestic labor shortage but about a desire for dependent employees and higher profits.

Both the Republicans and Democrats want the industry's substantial campaign contributions to continue. So while the two parties quarrel over the details, both support revamping of U.S. immigration law in order to supply more immigrant labor to U.S. industry. Yet if Silicon Valley would take the millions they are pouring into political contributions and raise salaries instead, they would find all the workers they need.

African-American and Latino engineers protest the increase in H1-B visas because they believe it will eliminate jobs for engineers of color in an industry where local minority representation is already very low.

The practice of recruiting highly skilled workers from developing countries, such as India and the Philippines, perpetuates the loss of skilled workers in those countries, a situation called "brain drain." Such workers end up subsidizing U.S. industry instead of contributing to industry in the native countries that paid to educate them.

Last February the AFL-CIO proposed a reform that would benefit workers instead of making them more vulnerable. The proposal includes a general amnesty for undocumented families already here. The proposal would also bring an end to employer sanctions and allow workers the right to organize to protest unfair and exploitative treatment.


UN Corporate Partnerships -- A Human Rights Peril
 + Perilous Partnerships
 + UN Allies Itself with Big Business
11 In a move to make the United Nations more corporate-friendly, officials are calling for UN-corporate partnerships. The UN's new partners include multinational giants like McDonald's, Disney, Dow, and Unocal.

A business-friendly ideology at the UN is based on a desire to gain favor with the United States, the UN's largest funder, and to raise money through private sources. The practice of the U.S. withholding dues from the UN for political purposes has jeopardized its operations. Now facing a funding crisis, the UN is turning to direct corporate aid on an unprecedented scale. UN officials are keenly aware that support from the United States is predicated upon a friendly stance toward business. U.S. business pressure led to the closure of the UN's Center on Transnational Corporations in the early 1990s.

UN agencies have entered into an array of partnerships with giant corporations, including many that citizen movements have denounced for violations of human and labor rights. Human rights groups around the world are increasingly challenging the new partnership arrangements for fear that these new relationships will undermine the UN's ability to serve as a counterbalance to global corporate power. Human rights groups fear that corporations will get a public boost by wrapping themselves in the UN flag while making no commitments to adjust their behavior to reflect the institution's principles. They are calling on the UN to pull back from the partnerships and set clear guidelines for any cooperative ventures with business enterprises. At stake are the core values of the UN itself as the partnerships undermine the primacy of human rights, health, labor rights and environmental protection to favor markets and profits.

Executive director of UNICEF Carol Bellamy warned in April 1999, "It is dangerous to assume that goals of the private sector are somehow synonymous with those of the United Nations." Ward Moorehouse of the Center for International and Public Affairs in New York stated that, "the UN's job must be to monitor and hold corporations accountable, not to give out special favors."

General Kofi Anan set the stage for the partnership initiative by calling on CEOs to join a "Global Compact" with the UN. He also challenged business leaders to enact the nine principles derived from UN agreements on labor standards, human rights, and environmental protection.

One of the controversial partnerships is the Global Sustainable Development Facility (GSDF) set up to fund sustainable development projects worldwide. The GSDF is now headed by a steering committee that includes Dow Chemical, the world's largest producer of chlorine and pesticides, and Asea Brown and Bovari, one of the main suppliers for the controversial Three Gorges Dam in China.

The UN High Commissioner on Refugees, Sadako Ogata, is now co-chair of the Business Humanitarian Forum with Unocal President John Imle. Unocal is a business partner with Burma's murderous military regime. Unocal's gas pipeline project in Burma has generated thousands of refugees seeking to escape the militarized pipeline area.

UNESCO, the UN's educational arm, is teaming up with Disney and McDonald's to present "Millennium Dreamer" youth awards to two thousand kids. It "should have crossed UNESCO officials minds that young people have more than enough exposure to these two brands already." said Beth Handman, a curriculum specialist in New York city schools.


Cuba Leads the World in Organic Farming
 + Feeding Everyone Without Using Pesticides
 + A Cow and Garden in Every Yard
12 Cuba has developed one of the most efficient organic agriculture systems in the world, and organic farmers from other countries are visiting the island to learn the methods.

Due to the U.S. embargo, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba was unable to import chemicals or modern farming machines to uphold a high-tech corporate farming culture. Cuba needed to find another way to feed its people. The lost buying power for agricultural imports led to a general diversification within farming on the island. Organic agriculture has become key to feeding the nation's growing urban populations.

Cuba's new revolution is founded upon the development of an organic agricultural system. Peter Rosset of the Institute for Food and Development Policy states that this is "the largest conversion from conventional agriculture to organic or semi-organic farming that the world has ever known." Not only has organic farming been prosperous, but the migration of small farms and gardens into densely populated urban areas has also played a crucial role in feeding citizens. State food rations were not enough for Cuban families, so farms began to spring up all over the country. Havana, home to nearly 20 percent of Cuba's population, is now also home to more than 8,000 officially recognized gardens, which are in turn cultivated by more than 30,000 people and cover nearly 30 percent of the available land. The growing number of gardens might seem to bring up the problem of space and price of land. However, "the local governments allocate land, which is handed over at no cost as long as it is used for cultivation," says S. Chaplowe in the Newsletter of the World Sustainable Agriculture Association.

The removal of the "chemical crutch" has been the most important factor to come out of the Soviet collapse, trade embargo, and subsequent organic revolution. Though Cuba is organic by default because it has no means of acquiring pesticides and herbicides, the quality and quantity of crop yields have increased. This increase is occurring at a lower cost and with fewer health and environmental side effects than ever. There are 173 established 'vermicompost' centers across Cuba, which produce 93,000 tons of natural compost a year. The agricultural abundance that Cuba is beginning to experience is disproving the myth that organic farming on a grand scale is inefficient or impractical.

So far Cuba has been successful with its "transformation from conventional, high input, mono-crop intensive agriculture" to a more diverse and localized farming system that continues to grow. The country is rapidly moving away from a monoculture of tobacco and sugar. It now needs much more diversity of food crops as well as regular crop rotation and soil conservation efforts to continue to properly nourish millions of Cuban citizens.

In June 2000, a group of Iowa farmers, professors, and students traveled to Cuba to view that country's approach to sustainable agriculture. Rather than relying on chemical fertilizers, Cuba relies on organic farming, using compost and worms to fertilize soil. There are many differences between farming in the United States and Cuba, but "in many ways they're ahead of us," say Richard Wrage, of Boone County Iowa Extension Office. Lorna Michael Butler, Chair of Iowa State University's sustainable agriculture department said, "more students should study Cuba's growing system." (AP 6/5/00)


The World Trade Organization is an Illegal Institution
13 Something not mentioned by the corporate press or most of the 1,200 groups from 85 countries that opposed the World Trade Organization (WTO) policies during and after the Seattle demonstrations in 1999, is the fact that the WTO is actually an illegal institution.

The WTO was put in place following the signing, in 1994 in Morocco, of a "technical document" negotiated behind closed doors. Even the heads of the delegations involved in the agreement were not completely informed of the statutes it contained. The instatement of the WTO as a world body was done without the consultation of the citizens (or even their representatives) of the various nations. Following the Morocco meeting, the agreement was either rubber-stamped or never formally ratified by national governments, yet membership in the WTO requires acceptance of its precepts without exception.

The 1994 agreement has been casually embodied in international law, bypassing the democratic process in most all of the member countries. It blatantly overrides national laws and constitutions while providing extensive powers to global banks and multinational corporations. This totalitarian intergovernmental body has been empowered, under international law, to "police" country-level economic and social policies, suppressing the rights of national governments. Also, the WTO neutralizes the authority of UN agencies, such as the International Labor Organization, designed to oversee international trade conduct. It furthermore contradicts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The deregulation of the U.S. banking system was approved by the U.S. Senate barely six weeks before the WTO convention in Seattle. With the stroke of a pen, most all international restraints on Wall Street's powerful banking conglomerates were revoked. In the months since the Seattle protests, multinational banks and corporations have begun taking over whole countries, causing the collapse of national economies and looting the resources of the indigenous peoples.

The clauses of the defunct Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) (Censored Story #1 of 1999), which was to provide "national treatment to foreign banks and MNCs, are also in the process of becoming a fait accompli through the WTO. U.S. bank deregulation has allowed speculative capital investments globally. U.S. and E.U. financial giants are moving toward global control of monetary policy and financial markets.

Europe Holds Companies Environmentally Responsible, Despite U.S. Opposition
14 In the near future, the European Union will hold any company that enters the European market responsible for the environmental impacts of its products. Known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), the new regulations will make manufacturers change product design, the kinds of materials used in manufacturing, and the methods by which products are disposed to insure environmental integrity. American corporations have enlisted the aid of the Clinton administration to derail these proposals.

EPR regulations were hugely successful in Germany in the 1990s, requiring all manufacturers, both domestic and foreign, to recycle all product materials, shifting the costs of managing packaging waste from taxpayers to the waste producers. By 2006, vehicles sold in Europe must contain no heavy metals, such as lead, mercury or cadmium, and must be manufactured from recyclable materials. The E.U. plans to implement EPR regulations for all products that contain electrical circuits, phasing out the use of toxic metals in the production of consumer items like refrigerators and computers.

Joel Bleifuss writes, "the beauty of EPR is that by putting the financial burden on the companies for the environmentally responsible impacts of products throughout their life cycle, industry has a natural economic incentive to act in an environmentally responsible manner." Writing in Beverage Industry magazine, E. Gifford Stack of the National Soft Drink Association describes EPR as a "big stick approach." "Because the stick delivers a pretty good financial whack," he notes, "producers also have a financial incentive to design their products to make less waste."

The Clinton administration has done everything it can to block EPR. The President's Council on Sustainable Development, established in 1993 to examine ways to encourage environmentally sustainable growth, held heated discussions about EPR, but in its proposed program the council's industry-dominated task force concluded that users and disposers share equal responsibility with manufactures and suppliers for environmental effects -- a position that puts the blame back on the consumer instead of the manufacturer.

Of course, U.S. corporations could take such responsibility, they just don't want to bear the cost. And the EPA and other branches of government are doing what they can to make sure that they won't have to. "We are not going to simply follow in the footsteps of Europe," stated Elizabeth Cotsworth, acting director of EPA's Office of Solid Waste.

Despite the best negative efforts of the Clinton administration, the concept of EPR is spreading. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED), an association of the world's most developed countries, is promoting ERP as a promising new public policy tool. Ignoring protests from the U.S. the OCED is drawing up guidelines on the best ways to implement the EPR program in other countries.


Gerber Uses the WTO to Suppress Laws that Promote Breastfeeding
 + Corporate Rights vs. Human Need
 + Ten Worst Corporations of 1996
15 Gerber Baby Foods Corporation has used the World Trade Organization (WTO) to suppress a Guatemalan law that encouraged mothers to breast-feed their children.

For many years, the potential market for baby food corporations has deteriorated because of low birth rates in developing countries. In order to create demand for their products, Gerber Baby Foods has aggressively sought to expand their market in Third World countries, particularly Guatemala.

Under WTO rules, corporate intellectual property rights have higher priority than human health. Small, poor countries can be intimidated by transnational corporations into opening their markets to foreign corporations, and their governments cannot invoke their own domestic laws as a precondition of doing business. In effect, the WTO has given corporations a powerful new way to challenge the laws of any federal, state, or municipal government.

In 1983, the government of Guatemala passed a law and regulations with the goal to inspire new mothers to breastfeed their infants, and to fully understand the harm that could be done to their baby if they used breast-milk substitutes. The Guatemalan law prohibited the use of labels that associated infant formula with a healthy, chubby baby similar to those found on all Gerber packages. Manufacturers were prohibited from sending out free samples of their products because this encouraged mothers to stop breastfeeding, and to become customers. The law required packaging labels to carry a statement that breastfeeding is nutritionally superior. The law also restricted baby food manufacturers from targeting young mothers in the hospital. All of these regulations went into effect in 1988, and all other domestic and foreign manufacturers of baby foods, with one exception, Gerber, came into compliance. Gerber, the U.S baby food manufacturer objected to Guatemala's law. Gerber refused to remove its trademark picture of a smiling chubby baby from its product labels. Gerber also refused to add a phrase to the labels saying that breast milk is superior. Although the Guatemalan Ministry of Health made numerous attempts to negotiate with Gerber, the company reportedly continued to market its infant formulas and to give free samples to women and children.

In November 1993 Gerber lost its appeal but opened up a new line of attack on Guatemala stating that the law was a "expropriation of Gerber's trademark." In 1995, when the World Trade Organization came into being, Gerber dropped its claim regarding expropriation and began to challenge Guatemala before a WTO tribunal. Guatemala realized they were in battle with an immense power. The government changed its law to concede to Gerber's marketing practices.

Heavy marketing by the baby food industry has contributed to a drop in breastfeeding rates in both the United States and Third World nations. Advertisers intend to convince women that breastfeeding their babies isn't modern, and that bottle-feeding is healthier. The premise of such advertising is medically false. Breastfeeding provides infants with significant immunity to disease, as well as creating an emotional bond between mother and child.

Baby formula leads to 1.5 million infant deaths each year in Third World countries, as mothers often unwittingly prepare the formula with contaminated water, causing fatal diarrhea. According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICF) only 44 percent of women in Third World countries currently breast-feed.


Human Genome Project Opens the Door to Ethnically Specific Bioweapons
 + A New Low For Rupert Murdoch
16 The Human Genome Project may now open the door to the development and use of genetic weapons targeted at specific ethnic groups. This project is currently being conducted under the auspices of the U.S. Energy Department, which also oversees America's nuclear weapon arsenal.

In October 1997, Dr. Wayne Nathanson, chief of the Science and Ethics Department of the Medical Society of the United Kingdom, warned the annual meeting of the Society that "gene therapy" might possibly be turned into "gene weapons" which could potentially be used to target particular genes possessed by certain groups of people. These weapons, Nathanson warned, could be delivered not only in the forms already seen in warfare such as gas and aerosol, but could also be added to water supplies, causing not only death but sterility and birth defects in targeted groups.

Current estimates of the cost of developing a "gene weapon" have been placed at around $50 million, still quite a stretch for an isolated band of neo-Nazis, but well within the capabilities of covert government programs.

On November 15, 1998, the London Times reported that Israel claimed to have successfully developed a genetically specific "ethnic bullet" that targets Arabs. When an Israeli government spokesman was asked to confirm the existence of ethnic weapons, he did not deny that they had them, but rather said, "we have a basket full of serious surprises that we will not hesitate to use if we feel that the state of Israel is under serious threat."

Some scientists worry that the modified genes that corporations have spliced into fish, fowl, fruit and vegetables have permanently altered the world's food supply. Some may be intended to reduce populations.

The U.S. has a long history of interest in such genetic research. The current home of the Human Genome Project is the Cold Springs Harbor laboratory on Long Island, NY -- the exact site of the notorious Eugenics Research Office that was started in 1910 by the Harriman family. The project's 1910 agenda included governmental imposition of sanctions on such human rights as reproduction, and on U.S. immigration, based on the alleged inferiority of particular ethnic groups. The Eugenics Research Project established medical and psychological conditions that would qualify one for sterilization or euthanasia. Prominent advocates of the program such as the Rockefeller family, Henry Ford, and Margaret Sanger helped smooth the way for the passage of forcible sterilization laws in 25 states. These laws allowed the forcible sterilization of tens of thousands of people, mostly of minority status, during the first half of the 20th century.

The November 1970 issue of the Military Review published an article entitled "Ethnic Weapons" for command-level military personnel. The author of the article was Dr. Carl Larson, head of the Department of Human Genetics at the Institute of Genetics in Lund, Sweden. Dr Larson wrote of how genetic variations in races are concurrent with differences in tolerances for various substances. For instance, large segments of Southeast Asian populations display a lactose intolerance due to the absence of the enzyme lactase in the digestive system. A biological weapon could conceivably take advantage of this genetic variance and incapacitate or kill an entire population.

IMF and World Bank Staff Tightly Connected to New Yugoslav Government
 + Colony Kosovo
17 The G-17 is a Yugoslav economist group that supported presidential candidate Vojislav Kostunica and wrote the policy statements for the post-election economic reform of Yugoslavia.

The impression the G-17 likes to give is that it is an independent and Yugoslav-oriented group. The reality is vastly different. It is actually funded through the Washington-based "Center for International Private Enterprise" (CIPE), a group set up through the National Endowment for Democracy, in return a CIA-related group created in 1983.

The G-17 group calls for Yugoslavia to work more closely with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) toward the development of a market economy. Former Eastern bloc neighboring countries that have followed this tact have had massive wage deflation and increased poverty for the bulk of their citizens.

One of the key participants in the G-17 group is Veselin Vukotic. It was Vukotic who in 1989-90 orchestrated the breakup of more than 50 percent of Yugoslavia's industry, some 1,100 firms, resulting in the layoff of more than 614,000 workers.

Three of the G-17 members, Dusan Vujovic, Zeliko Bogetic, and Branko Milanovic are Washington-based staff members of the IMF and World Bank. Dusan Vujovic, a senior economist at the World Bank is the key link between the G-17 and Western institutions. From 1994-96, Vujovic played a key role in forcing structural adjustments programs in Bulgaria. Social services, including price controls, subsidized food, housing, and medical care, were stripped away. The World Bank now admits that more than 90 percent of Bulgarians live below extreme poverty level.

On its website the G-17 states that its aim is to establish, "a network of experts in all Serbian towns able to create and practically implement necessary changes in all fields of social life. With Kostunica in power in Yugoslavia, the G-17 will try to implement market reforms. They are not simply a group of economists, but rather a network supported by the IMF and the World Bank.

Other former Socialist/communist countries have followed IMF and World Bank recommendations. Their first activity is to do away with social service protections. Second, they use economic manipulation and new laws to force business -- public and private -- into bankruptcy. These businesses are then purchased at rock bottom prices by multinational corporations. In Hungary, market reforms led to the closing of the only light bulb manufacturing firm, forcing everyone in Hungary to now buy light bulbs manufactured by General Electric.

The Ukraine signed an agreement with the IMF in 1994. They received a $360 million loan in exchange for "economic shock treatment" policies for their citizens. The price of bread shot up 300 percent, electricity 600 percent, and public transportation 900 percent, and the Ukraine currency collapsed. People were forced to buy necessities at "dollarized" prices when they were earning, on average, $10 a month. The U.S. dumped grain surpluses on the Ukraine market, destroying the domestic agriculture market. Misery and poverty skyrocketed in the Ukraine after IMF policies were implemented.

According to writer and IMF researcher Professor Chossudovsky, the G-17 paradigm economic program for Yugoslavia contains the same measures the IMF forced on Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Peru, and many other nations. The results have been social and economic devastation. The same thing will happen in Yugoslavia if the G-17 is allowed to implement their policy recommendations.


Native People Challenge Private Ownership and Patenting of Life
 + Europe Joins Biopiracy Race With U.S.
 + Ag Corporations Rushing to Patent Sterile Seeds
 + Battle Over U.S. Corporations Patenting Amazon Plants
 + Native Groups Win Major Victory in Biopiracy War
18 "We, indigenous peoples from around the world, believe that nobody can own what exists in nature except nature herself. " This is the first line from the indigenous people's statement on intellectual property rights. There is a portion of the WTO agreement, called the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), that will allow multinational corporations to apply for patents on living creatures and life processes. Indigenous peoples from around the world, however, believe that private ownership of life forms is unnatural and inappropriate.

On July 25, 1999, a gathering of indigenous peoples signed a document that called for an amendment to the TRIPS agreement that would be put as a priority item on the agenda at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle. The document eloquently states that all life forms and the life-creating processes are sacred and should not be subject to proprietary ownership. Specifically targeted was article 27.3b of TRIPS, which will denigrate and undermine rights to culture and intellectual heritage; destroy plant, animal and genetic resources; and even discriminate against indigenous ways of thinking and behaving. Indigenous knowledge and cultural heritage collectively evolve through generations. This means that no single person can claim to have invented or discovered medicinal plants, seeds, or other living things.

The TRIPS agreement as it stands substantially weakens Native people's access to and control over genetic and biological resources, and contributes to the deterioration of their quality of life. The people are very specific about what should be amended to article 27.3b. Amendments should clearly prohibit the patenting of plants and animals. They aim to ensure that a system is created that will protect knowledge, innovations, and practices in farming, agriculture, health, and medical care, and conserve the biodiversity of indigenous peoples and farmers. Agreements are needed to prevent the piracy of seeds, medicinal plants, and the knowledge about their use; and prevent the destruction and conversion of indigenous people's land.

In Chiapas, Mexico, 11 Native people's organizations, known as the Council of Indigenous Traditional Midwives and Healers Chiapas, are demanding that a $2.5 million, U.S. government-funded bioprospecting program suspend its search for indigenous medicine in Chiapas, Mexico. The project is cited as robbery of traditional Native knowledge and resources, for the sole purpose of producing pharmaceuticals that will not benefit the communities that have managed and nurtured these resources for thousands of years. The companies involved include Glaxo-Wellcome, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Dow Elanco Agrosciences. The project claims that royalties will be sent back to the Native people, but the reality is that long-term benefits may never materialize, and many people reject both intellectual property and the process established for benefit sharing. The critical issue now is that the project is apparently proceeding not only without proper consultation with the affected communities but also against the express wishes of a very significant sector of the Chiapas community.


U.S. Using Dangerous Fungus to Eradicate Coca Plants in Colombia
 + U.S. Pushing Widspread Use Of Experimental "Drug Fungus" To Kill Pot Plants
 + Anti-Coca Fungus Threatens Amazon
 + Colombia Anti-Drug Spraying Causing Problems in Ecuador
19 The United States plans to deploy, or may have already deployed, new biological weapons for the war on drugs that seriously threaten both humans and the environment. The bio-weapon is Fusarium EN-4, a plant fungus used in many chemical weapons developed by the United States in 1950s and 60s. Fusarium is being redesigned to attack coca, cannabis, and opium crops in producer countries in the Third World.

This work is proceeding despite evidence that the fusarium, if deployed, will have profound and disastrous impacts on the humans and ecologies of the countries in which they are used.

Pathogens developed long ago at Fort Detrick, Maryland, the center for the U.S. bio-war program, were frozen but not destroyed when the facility was closed by President Nixon in 1969. Veterans of the Soviet biological warfare effort are now working on this research with UN funding in order to shield the United States from charges of violating the internationally negotiated biological weapons convention.

Peru has already banned the testing and/or deployment of the fungi fusarium. Colombia, however, was forced to accept spraying as part of a $1.8 billion aid package that was approved in Congress in July 2000.

Mycotoxicologist Jeremy Bigwood, working with a fellowship grant to carry out research into fusarium derivatives used in biological warfare, states that the threat fusarium presents can not be fully defined because "it mutates into another organism capable of attacking many other plants." Bigwood also states that fusarium can mutate and lethally affect humans with immune deficiencies.

Eduardo Posada, president of the Colombian Center for International Physics, found fusarium to be "highly toxic." His data found that the mortality rate among hospital patients who were immune-deficient and infected by the fungus was 76 percent. "The mutated fungi can cause disease in a large number of crops, including tomatoes, peppers, flowers, corn and vines," he said. He added that the mutated genus could stay in the ground for 40 years. According to Bigwood, U.S. government researchers initially insisted that the EN-4 strain was "species specific." But, he says, there are 200 other plant species within the genus that don't contain coca that could be affected.

Kintto Lucas reports that the Colombian military is using U.S.-supplied planes to fumigate huge areas near the Ecuador border. Border residents reported that last summer and autumn planes could be heard over Colombia, and that several people in the area have died from extensive fumigation. A Monsanto herbicide, glycophosphate, is reportedly being used, but there are fears that fusarium is, or will be used in the regional spraying as well.

Disabled Most Likely to be Victims of Serious Crime
 + The Invisible Victims
20 Research consistently finds that people with substantial disabilities suffer from violent and other major crime at rates four to ten times higher than that of the general population. Estimates are that around 5 million disabled people are victims of serious crime annually in the United States.

People with substantial disabilities represent at least 10 percent of the population of our country (including, among others, 1.8 percent with developmental disabilities, 5 percent with adult onset brain impairment, and 2.8 percent with severe major mental disorders). An estimated 40 percent of all American families have loved ones or close friends with substantial disabilities. Being disabled is not just being a person with a physical handicap. It also includes people with developmental disabilities (such as mental retardation, epilepsy, etc.), traumatic brain injury, severe major mental disorders, degenerate brain diseases (such as Alzheimer, Parkinson, and Huntington), permanent damage from a stroke, organic brain damage, and other substantial disabilities.

Disabilities often make people easy targets for crime and abuse. Dan Sorensen estimated that in California only 4.5 percent of these crimes are actually reported to authorities, compared to an average 44 percent report rate for the general population. Several studies suggest that 80 to 85 percent of criminal abuse of residents in institutions is never reported to authorities. Evidence also shows that when these crimes are reported, there are lower rates of police follow-up, prosecution, and convictions. Reasons include the difficulty in investigating cases, the lack of special skills and special training required for these cases among law enforcement, the isolation of and communication difficulties for some victims, and the negative stereotypes and prejudices that continue to contribute to discrimination against these victims.

Sexual abuse rates of disabled men and women are also significantly higher than in the general population. Research shows, through structured interviews of 27 women and men with mild mental retardation in four San Francisco Bay Area counties, that just under 80 percent of the women and 54 percent of the men had been sexually abused at least one time. These rates compare to 13 percent of women in the general population who have been victims of at least one rape in their lifetimes.

A more recent study of 40,000 children in Omaha schools from 1995 to 1996 found that children with disabilities suffered a rate of abuse 3.44 times greater than children without disabilities, and children with behavior disorders suffered a relative rate of physical abuse 7.3 times that of non-disabled children. The relative rates for sexual assault was 5.5 times greater, for neglect 6.7 times higher, and for emotional abuse 7 times higher. These findings are consistent with other studies that uncover that children and adults with psychiatric disabilities suffer some of the highest rates of crime and criminal abuse among people with disabilities.

High crime rate against the disabled is significant when compared to the 8,000 hate crimes, one million elder abuse victims, and one million spousal assault victims each year. This means that crimes against the disabled make them proportionately one of the highest victim populations in the country.


U.S. Bombing Range in South Korea: "Hell On Earth!"
21 Every weekday for the past 50 years, from eight o'clock in the morning to eleven o'clock at night, U.S. fighter planes in Korea have dropped 400 to 700 bombs on the Koon-ni range less than one mile from local villages. The targets for the bombs are islands in the beautiful Aia bay where the people derive their livelihoods by fishing. As the A10 and F-16 U.S. fighter aircrafts swoop over the countryside, they drop depleted uranium (DU) shells. The DU shells add radioactive contamination to the other toxic wastes and oil that have been accumulating near these villages for the last half century.

In July 2000, author Karen Talbot visited Maehyang-ri, a village eight miles from the bombing range, where low altitude planes fly directly overhead. She describes meeting an elderly woman who allowed them to visit her garage to see a hole in the roof and an unexploded bomb inside. Many bombs are found in the villages and there are thousands on the hillsides surrounding the area.

The constant bombardment, with its unbearable noise and pollution, has taken a great toll on the health of the villagers. Throughout the years, at least 12 people have been killed and numerous others have been wounded. The number of cancer cases is disproportionately large and growing, and women are increasingly experiencing miscarriages and birth defects. While U.S. military personnel are given earplugs, members of the South Korean police and military who stand guard inside the fences are not, nor are the villagers. Noise levels have been measured off the decibel scale. Mental health is a serious issue, with constant tension from noise and danger of accidents.

Lockheed-Martin now owns the Koon-ni range. This kind of privatization of the military comes as no surprise because 50 years of dropping bombs and spraying bullets has been very lucrative for arms manufacturers.

For the good part of 50 years most Koreans knew nothing about this, but protests are growing. Hundreds of thousands of students, farmers and workers are joining the protest. The popular demand "U.S. military out of Korea" has gained momentum in the wake of the recent highly successful summit between the leaders of North and South Korea. On December 12, 1998, more than 1,500 villagers occupied the bombing range, but were eventually pushed off by Korean police. In June 2000, a huge demonstration took place in Maehyand-ri with thousands of people from all over Korea, including a large contingent of autoworkers for the Kia Motor company. Five hundred people again stormed the fences and occupied the range.

Powerful protests against the U.S. bombing range in Vieques, Puerto Rico, have been widely covered in the world press, but the similar situation in Korea is not yet as well known.

U.S. Government Repressed Marijuana-Tumor Research
 + Pot Shrinks Tumors; Government Knew in '74
22 A Spanish medical team's study released in Madrid in February 2000 has shown that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in marijuana, destroys tumors in lab rats. These findings, however, are not news to the U.S. government. A study in Virginia in 1974 yielded similar results but was suppressed by the DEA, and in 1983 the Reagan/Bush administration tried to persuade U.S. universities and researchers to destroy all cannabis research work done between 1966 and 1976, including compendiums in libraries.

The research was conducted by a medical team led by Dr. Manuel Guzman of Complutence University in Madrid. In the study, brains of 45 lab rats were injected with a cancer cell, which produced tumors. On the twelfth day of the experiment, 15 of the rats were injected with THC and 15 with Win-55, 212-2, a synthetic compound similar to THC. The untreated rats died 12-18 days after the development of the tumors. THC treated rats lived significantly longer than the control group. Although three were unaffected by the THC, nine lived 19-35 days, while tumors were completely eradicated in three others. The rats treated with Win-55,212-2 showed similar results.

In an e-mail interview for this story, the Madrid researcher said he had heard of the Virginia study, but had never been able to locate literature on it. "I am aware of the existence of that research. In fact I have attempted many times to obtain the journal article on the original investigation by theses people, but it has proven impossible," Guzman said. His response wasn't surprising, considering that in 1983 the Reagan/Bush administration tried to persuade American universities and researchers to destroy all 1966/76 cannabis research work, including compendiums in libraries, reports Jack Herer. "We know that large amounts of information have since disappeared," he says.

Guzman provided the title of the work -- "Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids," an article in a 1975 Journal of the National Cancer Institute -- and author Raymond Cushing obtained a copy at the UC Medical School Library in Davis, California, and faxed it to Madrid. The 1975 article does not mention breast cancer tumors, which were featured in the only newspaper story ever to appear about the 1974 study in the local section of the Washington Post on August 18, 1974. The headline read, "Cancer Curb Is Studied," and was followed in part by, "The active chemical agent in marijuana curbs the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice and may also suppress the immunity reaction that causes rejection of organ transplants, a Medical College of Virginia team has discovered. The researchers found that THC slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers, and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent."

Drug Enforcement Agency officials shut down the Virginia study and all further cannabis research, according to Jack Herer, who reports on these events in his book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes. In 1976, President Gerald Ford put an end to all public cannabis research and granted exclusive research rights to major pharmaceutical companies. These companies set out -- unsuccessfully -- to develop synthetic forms of THC that would deliver all the medical benefits without the "high."

Very Small Levels of Chemical Exposures Can be Dangerous
 + What's In Your Green Tea?
23 For years the public has been told that a low level of chemical exposure holds no significant risk to humans. The results of recent studies, however, show that even small amounts of chemicals (in drinking water, in foods) may in fact be very damaging.

One of the most important areas of research is the field of endocrine disrupters. New research in this area has shown that chemicals like dioxin, PCBs, and DDT act at very low levels to interfere with normal hormone functions of the body. Very low levels of these chemicals have been linked to a wide variety of health problems such as neurological and developmental problems, immune system disruption, learning disabilities, birth defects, and other reproductive anomalies.

The truth is that scientists know very little about how the body responds to small amounts of numerous chemicals. In the recent endocrine studies, health effects are being reported at levels of exposure not anticipated by our current understanding of how chemicals operate in the human body. The implication is that the standard methods for assessing chemical risks may not work for many low-level chemical exposures.

One proponent of the new thinking about how chemicals impact the human body is Dr. Pete Myers, one of the co-authors of Our Stolen Future. This book explores the threat contamination poses to fetal development, and the potentially wide-ranging impacts of chemicals on human potential. According to Myers, chemical attacks against fetal development work because some chemicals act as imposters, insinuating themselves in the body's natural hormone system that normally directs fetal development. These natural hormone signals work at very low concentrations. When traditional methods for measuring toxic effects and assessing risks are relied on solely, the impacts of low levels of chemicals that disrupt hormone signals will not be understood. As a result, risk factors for these low-level chemical exposures will be underestimated and established improperly.

Frances Cerra Whittelsey reports that seven out of ten green tea samples tested from New York store shelves showed DDT or Dursban contamination. Both are cancer-causing chemicals banned by the EPA in food products for the United States. Dangerous pesticides are still being used in countries all over the world and U.S. consumers have no assurance that green tea is free of pesticide contamination.

What is becoming apparent is that important low-level effects, such as disruption of a hormone signaling system, may be hidden by higher levels of chemical exposure, which cause more obvious impacts that are easier to measure. The full impact of low-level exposure may not be visible for years, perhaps decades, until the infant has grown into an adult. This time lag means that evidence linking cause and effect may no longer be available when the effect becomes apparent. In fact, the timing of the exposure may be

more important than the amount. Exposure at a certain step of fetal development may have a dramatic effect, while the same exposure perhaps only a day or two later may have no effect or very little effect.

Lastly, hormone disrupters occur in complex mixtures in the human body. Each of us has several hundred synthetic chemicals in our blood. Every baby born throughout the world has been exposed in the womb to complex mixtures. Exactly how these chemicals will act together to interfere with normal biological functions over time is the question we have yet to answer.


Pentagon Seeks Mega-Mergers Between International Arms Corporations
 + Arms Company of the Future
24 A United States government task force has released its final report to the public recommending globalization of the U.S. defense industry, even if it results in proliferation of conventional weapons.

The Defense Science Board's (DSB) Task Force on Globalization and Security is a 27-member appointed board, composed mostly of Department of Defense (DoD) and private industry representatives. The DSB encourages the Pentagon to facilitate transnational mergers of defense corporations in order to avoid eventual conflicts with European countries over global arms market shares. Overall, the DSB task force advocates reducing DoD's role in controlling arms exports, and holds little or no confidence in multilateral arms control agreements. The DSB recommends that the Pentagon automatically allow the export of military equipment, except when the United States is the sole possessor of the technology. However, since current U.S. practice allows arms exporters to outsource high-tech weaponry abroad before it enters the U.S. arsenal, such Pentagon exceptions would probably be rare. The task force recommends that the U.S. government stop worrying about protecting American military technologies since, in their judgment, most military technology will inevitably become available elsewhere in the future.

The DoD, State Department, and Congress lack consensus on these controversial issues. The Pentagon has conducted a variety of studies on globalization and related export control issues, and the State Department, anxious not to let its authority over arms export controls be usurped, has reportedly also done its own evaluations.

The DSB does acknowledge that its steps to maximize U.S. military capability may create tensions with other U.S. foreign policy objectives, particularly those achieved by limiting foreign access to U.S. defense technology, products and services. Yet the DSB feels that "military dominance," rather than the promotion of U.S. foreign policy objectives and security, is the DoD's "core responsibility." The DSB considers U.S. State Department efforts to prevent or control conventional weapons proliferation as naive at best. The DSB report describes international efforts to control conventional weapons proliferation, such as the Wassenaar Arrangement, as only "marginally successful."

A few large companies already dominate the American arms industry, and Europe's defense firms are rapidly consolidating as well. Germany's Daimler-Chrysler and France's Aerospatiale announced a planned merger to form the European Aeronautics, Defense and Space Co. (EADS), and BAE Systems now monopolizes the U.K. defense industry. Increased partnership between U.S. and EU defense corporations is needed, DSB warns, to avoid a protectionist "Fortress America" from going to war with a hostile "Fortress Europe" over market share.

The Federation of American Scientists is concerned that transnational arms mergers would create very powerful defense companies, further shifting control away from governments and toward private industry. Transnational companies will be eager to market their arms to many different countries, and will adapt the lowest common standards for exporting arms to others nations. With fewer controls and diffused production capabilities, conventional weapons will likely proliferate, posing long-term security risks around the world. Globalizing production of weapons is easy; globalizing responsibility for arms is a real challenge.


Residents defeat McDonalds after mammoth 552-day occupation
25 On Sunday, December 13, 1998, local residents of Hinchley Wood, England, occupied the parking lot of their local pub to prevent McDonald's from building on the site. Their 24-hours-a-day sit-in campaign lasted 18 months, received national publicity, and galvanized community support against McDonald's. The community organized to become Residents Against McDonald's (RAM). RAM held numerous large public meetings in protest, set up marches, and delivered newsletters door to door throughout the community. Their campaign forced McDonald's onto the defensive, stopping all work on the site.

RAM exposed how local planning laws allow companies to steamroll over the wishes of communities, ignoring expressed concerns over the quality of local lives and environment. Profiteering business chains have used planning law loopholes to continue to invade neighborhoods, often replacing green spaces and local facilities with their standardized, mediocre products.

Faced with widespread community-based opposition to the building of new restaurants throughout England, McDonald's tactics seem to favor the purchase of pubs precisely because of the national A-3 planning guidelines, which enable it to avoid the usual local planning applications and citizen objections. When McDonald's leases or purchases neighborhood pubs to avoid the usual local planning applications and guidelines, local residents become outraged and feel compelled to resist.

This time the residents were successful. After RAM's incredible 552-day continuous occupation, McDonald's threw in the towel and handed back the lease on the pub to the original owners. RAM celebrated a historic victory. Hinchley Wood residents can now join the growing list of places in which local communities have successfully defended themselves against huge controlling corporations.

RAM is now conducting a national survey of local planning departments throughout England about the issue of fast food units replacing local pubs. The United Kingdom Government Department of Transport and Regions has announced a review of the A-3 laws.

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