U.S. ousted from U.N. Human Rights Commission
May 3, 2001 Web posted at: 2:50 PM EDT (1850 GMT)
UNITED NATIONS -- In what amounts to a stinging rebuke, the United States
has been voted off the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva.
This marks the first time the United States will not be represented on the
commission since its inception in 1947. The commission investigates
human-rights abuses around the world.
"It's a stunning development," one council ambassador said.
France, Austria and Sweden were chosen for the three seats allocated to
Western countries that were up for election, Reuters reported. The vote was
conducted among 53 nations in the Economic and Social Council, the umbrella
group for the commission, U.N. officials said.
One diplomat speculated that U.S. policies on the Middle East might have
swung some countries to reject its candidacy.
But according to Reuters, some diplomats said they believed the Bush
administration's opposition to the Kyoto climate change treaty as well as
its insistence on a missile defense contributed to the loss.
Joanna Weschler, the U.N. representative of the New York-based Human Rights
Watch, said both Western and developing countries bore grudges against the
"Washington should have seen it coming because there has been a growing
resentment towards the United States and ... votes on key human-rights
standards, including opposition to a treaty to abolish land mines and to the
International Criminal Court and making AIDS drugs available to everyone,"
she said in a Reuters report.
Other nations the United States has held up to the spotlight in the Geneva
commission, such as China or Cuba, resented U.S. actions on the committee
and "made their feelings well known in their speeches, " Escher said in the
Weschler also said the 53-member commission was turning into an "abuser
solidarity" group with more and more countries with questionable
human-rights records gaining election and then voting as a bloc not to
single out individual nations for human rights abuses.
In the Reuters report, she cited Libya, Syria and Sudan among those given
seats in the commission during the past two years.
James Cunningham, the acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called
the move "very disappointing." He said the decision "won't affect our
commitment to human rights."
The Human Rights Commission includes 53 countries. Every year, one-third of
the members come up for re-election.
The commission just completed on April 27 its annual six-week session in
Geneva to prove human rights violations around the world. It was established
in 1947 and the United States, Russia and India had served on the rights
body ever since.
Jen Corlew Media Associate Amnesty International USA 202-544-0200 x247
Black U.S. Farmers Urge Cuban Links
AP International News
May 4, 2001
By ANITA SNOW, Associated Press Writer
HAVANA (AP) - After touring Cuban farms where the soil is plowed with oxen and crops grow pesticide-free, black
American farmers urged closer links with their Cuban counterparts amid U.S. efforts to sell crops to the island.
The farmers also said Cuban farmers could teach them much about the advantages of producing food the simple way
their grandfathers did.
"We would like to bring some our farmers here so they can really get the feel of a typical farm family," said Ben
Burkett, who still runs the family farm in Petal, Miss., that his great-grandfather founded 116 years ago.
As the delegation from the Federation of Southern Cooperatives prepared to wrap up its visit to Cuba this week,
Burkett said the group would also like to bring Cuban farmers to the United States to see how their American
counterparts live and work.
The U.S. federation represents 75 cooperatives of small farmers and credit unions and more than 10,000 mostly black
families in 11 southern states.
Connections with the Cuban agricultural industry will be invaluable when U.S. trade sanctions are eliminated and
American farmers are able to sell their rice, poultry and other products to Cuba, said Shirley Sherrod, the federation's
"The United States trades with China," said Mike Espy, a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture who joined the trip. "The
United States trades with Vietnam. To isolate Cuba and not trade with it is illogical."
The U.S. Congress last year passed a law allowing the direct sale of American goods to Cuba for the first time in four
decades but barred the American government and banks from financing such sales.
Havana has said that it would not buy a single grain of American rice under the existing legislation.
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An Open Letter To The Seattle, Washington D.C. and Quebec Protesters
Re: Your Worldview and Strategy
We were and are sympathetic to your objective of ending the exploitation,
oppression and poverty experienced by many in the economically developing world
and we respect your efforts, through your protests of the World Trade Organization
(WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Free Trade Agreement of the
Americas (FTAA), respectively, to bring attention to the real and potential evils of
these international and multilateral institutions. But having become familiar with your
movement over the past two years, while admitting to the sincerity of heart in many
of you, we also recognize several flaws in the case that you are making. In order to
win the debate with the " free-trade globalists", you will have to strengthen your
arguments on three issues: capital, currencies and patents/intellectual property.
Capital. Because so many of you have only dabbled with a study of Karl Marx and
have been influenced by socialist academics and activists you have a knee-jerk
reaction to capitalism. In many respects that is good but in some others it causes you
to see demons where there are none and even worse, to misinterpret economic
principles as exploitative tools in the hands of multinational corporations. Far from
the opinion of many in your enthusiastic ranks, every human being has "capital". We
are all born with talents, skills and interests. Or as Nation Of Islam leader The
Honorable Elijah Muhammad one day told his Minister Jabril Muhammad, of
Phoenix, Az., in response to a question, " Allah has given us all many talents, but
each a talent that we can perform perfectly." Look deep into the word talent and
you will see that it has, throughout history, been inextricably linked to trade and
exchange. It is the commercialization of talent that is the base of every economy.
Every human being has intellectual and physical capital. And it is this intellectual and
physical capital, in the form of talents, skills and the ability to perform work that
gives human beings value in the marketplace. Far too often, we hear the protesters
speak of capital only in terms of finance and machinery owned by wealthy elites,
and used to replace manual laborers. This is true and Karl Marx foresaw this and
wrote about it. Sure, paper money and machinery are forms of capital but they are
forms that grow out of the minds of human beings exercising their divine capital.
What has made for poverty in the developing countries, in part, is the lack of
education, the underdevelopment of markets and government created barriers and
burdens in many instances. It is education, of course, which draws out of the human
being what talent(s) lies within the human being. It is education that effectively
nurtures the human being according to their talents, skills and interests, and which
seeks to help the individual "perfect" their talent. Commerce in a fair and developed
marketplace where human beings are allowed to commercialize their talents or
novelties, and where government regulations and taxes on production are not
excessive is absolutely necessary for human beings to create wealth. Ironically, it is
in the economically developing nations that you are seeking to help, where education
is not what it should be and where the most barriers to starting businesses and
bringing talents to market take place. Economist Steve Hanke recently wrote about
this in his Forbes column. It is unfortunate that the greatest government costs and
barriers to entrepreneurial development and marketplace entry exist in countries that
have the least economic development and growth. This scenario is not caused by the
globalization and multinational corporations that you are protesting against. Your
efforts have to be more supportive of the implementation of sound economic
principles in side of developing nations. You have to recognize that these developing
countries have capital sources of their own, in abundance. In a sense, you are
unintentional imperialists with your emphasis on the West's stranglehold on "capital".
You give them too much power with that view.
Currencies. It has always struck and even amazed us how woefully unaware
many of the protesters are of the impact of monetary policy on trade. In our
discussions with various members of your movement - people who attended all three
protests - we were surprised to hear virtually no recognition of how Federal Reserve
monetary policy and currency devaluations are responsible for poverty throughout
the world. This is even more ironic considering the amount of time and thought that
Karl Marx spent on commodities and currencies in his epic work, " Das Kapital".
We have spent considerable energy and time reviewing Volume 1 of "Capital", and
were impressed by his attention and understanding of how important it was for a
society to have a clearly defined unit of account by which a community could fairly
measure its labor, regardless to the profession. Marx recognized that the commodity
gold was best suited for this purpose. While many of you have gobbled up the
Communist Manifesto few of you have even attempted to pour through "Capital"
and because of that, you are missing possibly the most brilliant of all of Marx's
insights - that a gold "standard' was the means by which laborers of various stations
could become equal. To Marx, a currency was not just "money" in a superficial
sense, it was a measurement by which all forms of labor could be evaluated and
exchanged in the marketplace. There can be no fair trade policy if there is no stable
unit of account or medium of exchange. Inflation and deflation, which only occur
when the monetary standard is allowed to fluctuate, are the premier sources of
inequality in economic trade today. It is always interesting to hear protesters rail
against NAFTA and yet remain silent on the Mexican peso devaluation of 1994. It
also is interesting to see that the majority of IMF protesters are more concerned
about getting the multilateral institution to recognize labor and environment standards
than they are in getting the IMF to stop encouraging currency devaluations around
the world, like they most recently did in the African nation of Zimbabwe. Lastly,
your movement against "free-trade" has to include a critique and understanding of
the impact that Federal Reserve monetary policy has on international trade. I
recently told a group of socialists that it was not NAFTA or the WTO who were
most responsible for the recent drop in commodity prices worldwide. It was the
Federal Reserve, which allowed the price of gold to fall from over $400 an ounce in
1996 to below $260 an ounce in a year. A drop in the gold price signals a coming
commodity deflation which drags down the prices of farm commodities and metals
which the developing world depends upon and trades in the international
marketplace. Trade agreements are lightweights compared to the damage the
Federal Reserve can do. We have for years, been perplexed by how much attention
your movement gives to trade policy and multinational corporations and how little
you give monetary policy and central banks.
Patents/Intellectual Property. It is in this area, next to monetary policy, that your
movement is operating the most behind the curve. This is most visibly evident in your
effort to get the multinational pharmaceutical companies to lower the price of AIDS
drugs throughout the world but especially in Africa. While you think that you are
doing the right thing and that you even are "winning" in your efforts, it becomes
more obvious, with each passing day, that your lack of knowledge regarding the war
for intellectual property rights and patent protection is being used against you. Many
of those in your movement are totally unaware that the Western countries and the
multi-nationals are not really that concerned about profits from HIV drugs in Africa
or in other parts of the developing world. They are mostly concerned with gaining
intellectual property right concessions in Africa and the developing world and with
the imposing of Western patent laws onto Africa and the developing world before
those countries begin to provide patents to local companies and innovators. The
West knows that the developing world is not properly rewarding and protecting
innovation in their countries. Western governments and the multinationals also do not
want the growth of productive industrial capacity to take place in the economically
developing world. So, while you think that you have won by getting these drug
companies to slash the prices of their HIV drug cocktails, you really have only
helped these corporations grow in strength. How? Because you have ensured that it
will be their cheap drugs that are purchased by African governments and not the
drugs of generic companies in Brazil or India or Cuba. Some of you are even
pushing for a plan developed by Harvard Professor Jeffrey Sachs which would have
western governments set aside as much as $5 billion for the purchase of AIDS
drugs worldwide. But guess from whom the drugs will be purchased? The same
multinational corporations that you claim to be at war against. They will be the
beneficiaries of the billions of dollars of Western "aid" that your lobbying efforts will
help to generate. Your efforts to make HIV/AIDS drugs cheaper will not only wipe
out the generic drug companies in the developing world and the industrial productive
capacity that they represent, but they also ensure billions in profits to drug
companies that prior to your efforts, had no business in Africa. Furthermore, the
lower prices that you are demanding on behalf of Africa are still too high for
Africans to afford, so you will be helping multinationals gain profits for products that
may not even be delivered. And the gains are not just monetary in nature. By not
fighting for the interests of generic companies and compulsory licensing you
strengthen the effort of the developing world to have its patent regimes become the
law of land in the economically developing world. And by the way, you also help to
kill the herbal and alternative medicine industry/community that produces medicines
that do things that the HIV/AIDS cocktails can't and that are found on land
controlled by the indigenous populations in the developing world. In the Amazon and
in Africa there are medicinal herbs and plants that don't grow elsewhere. The West
wants to find them and get patent rights on them and their byproducts. Your
sincerity and ignorance is being used against you. There is an intellectual property
world war going on surrounding the WTO's TRIPS provisions and almost all of you
seem unaware of how your actions actually have you on the side of the multinational
There is no doubt that you all possess the necessary enthusiasm, sincerity and
organization to not only stop the deleterious aspects of globalism and not so "free
trade, but also to place elected officials in office at the local, state and federal level.
But you must match those attributes with an analysis that allows you to discern
economic principles from the tools of the oppressor; Karl Marx's critique from the
rhetoric of uninformed communists and socialists; and finally, you need an
understanding that allows you to parse the details and nuances of good-sounding
plans that in reality, are fronts for the expansion of corporate power.
If you were to do that, we believe your movement would sweep across this country.
Remember, organized wickedness is much more powerful than disorganized
April 25, 2001
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jocco Baccus
May 2, 2001 (404) 377-6900
80 Failures in 100 Shrub Daze
Washington, D.C.- Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney responded to President
Bush's first 100 days in office.
"President Bush introduced America to the idea of compassionate conservatism,
and indeed Bush has demonstrated a high level of compassion. Unfortunately,
his compassion has been reserved for the moneyed interests who filled his
political coffers and helped to secure his theft of the Presidency.
Afterall, special interest groups contributed an unprecedented amount of
campaign contributions, and now the chickens have come home to roost,"
Ms. McKinney compiled a list of 80 failures that the Bush Administration has
produced in his first 100 days.
"Bush calls himself a â ˜Reformer with resultsâe™. But he only seems bent on
reforming laws that were intended to protect America's families, America's
workers, and America's environment. The results have been a boon for
corporate interests, and devastating for the American people," McKinney
1. Bush campaigned on a pledge to provide a $1.6 trillion tax cut to
Americaâl™s wealthiest families.
2. Bush named the wealthiest cabinet in the history of the United States.
3. Bushât™s Cabinet stumped for the Presidentât™s tax cut proposal.
4. Bushâe™s number one priority in his first 100 days has been promoting a tax
plan that will cost $2. 6 trillion over the next ten years. 45% of his cut
will benefit the wealthiest one- percent of taxpayers, people with an average
income of $915,000.
5. The Bush tax plan against women and lower income earners gives no tax
relief at all to those families too poor to pay income taxes (12 million
families with 24 million children), no tax deductions for 53% of Black and
Hispanic families; and no tax cuts made for single persons earning between
$6,001 to $27,050 nor for married persons earning $12,001 to $45,200.
6. The administration's proposal also fails to make adjustments that would
make tax rates truly progressive. Completely untouched is the regressive
payroll tax that places the heaviest burden on low to middle income workers,
predominately female, while leaving in place a substantial break for high
income earners who make no payroll tax contributions above the $80,400 level
(most of whom are men, of course).
7. Bush' tax cut would wipe out the rest of any funds available, leaving
nothing for future contingencies, including shoring up Social Security.
8. The richest cabinet in history will get a kickback of over $100 million
through Bush's efforts to push the Estate Tax legislation through Congress.
9. The Republican party is so devoid of talent that Bush named a record
number of George Herbert Walker retreads to his Administration. There's no
question about one assignment that's going to get a big, fat "Incomplete"
--installing the 487 top officials who will run the executive branch the next
four years. 90% of assigned positions are unfilled.
10. Our new Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham, recently campaigned on
eliminating the Department of Energy, the very program he now runs, while
also leading efforts to prevent increased fuel efficiency in vehicles.
11. Our Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, has led efforts to rollback
endangered species protection and allowed mining company polluters to escape
clean up requirements and liability.
12. Bush appoints Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior because she believes
that corporations have a constitutional right to pollute.
13. Gale Norton's first concrete attempt at a regulatory rollback was a
proposal to gut updated environmental mining regulations that went into
effect at the end of the Clinton administration. Independent reports
estimate that taxpayers could be on the hook for about $1 billion in
environmental cleanup costs from today's mines.
14. President Bush's choice for the No. 3 spot at the Department of Energy is
Robert G. Card, who until recently was CEO and president of a nuclear cleanup
contractor that has been fined or penalized more than $725,000 for numerous
worker safety, procurement and other violations since 1996.
15. The New Attorney General has a history of blocking enforcement of
environmental laws; and throughout his career, Ashcroft has worked tirelessly
to restrict a woman's right to choose.
16. The new head of the EPA, Christine Whitman, who doubts that global
warming is a serious problem, defended global warming and got kicked by Bush.
In a memo from Whitman to Bush, the EPA Administrator stressed the need for
Bush to "appear" to be engaged in addressing global warming, as if the
environment responds to appearances.
17. Tommy Thompson, the new Secretary of the Department Of Health And Human
Services was one of the country's most anti-choice governors and now heads up
the department that wields the greatest influence over policies affecting
women's reproductive health.
18. Bush named Don Eberly, a right wing activist who was an official with the
National Fatherhood Institute, to head up a White House office for
faith-based programs. Some women's rights advocates are concerned that Eberly
will utilize the office to help funnel even more federal monies to misogynist
groups who promote so-called fatherhood initiatives.
19. John Negroponte, Bush's Bushât™s appointee for UN Ambassador has a track record of
disrespecting human rights. During his tour as ambassador to Honduras,
Negroponte earned his reputation for being soft on human rights abuses. Under
the helm of General Gustavo Alvarez MartÃnez, Honduras's military government
was both a close ally of the Reagan administration and was disappearing
dozens of political opponents in classic death squad fashion. Negroponte
turned a blind eye to human rights abuses and even helped to cover up
20. Bushâg™s appointee for Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and
International Security, John Bolton, does not belong in the arms control job
because, as the director of the Carnegie Non-Proliferation Project, Joseph
Cirincione, says: "Bolton is philosophically opposed to most of the
international treaties that comprise the nonproliferation regime."
21. The nomination of Cuban-born Otto J. Reich as the State Department's top
Latin America official is drawing Democratic criticism based on his role in
the 1980s Central American wars. The Democrats' concerns over Reich focus on
his leadership of the State Department's one-time Office of Public Diplomacy
for Latin America and the Caribbean. The office - which Reich led from its
inception in June 1983 until January 1986 - was accused of running an
illegal, covert domestic propaganda effort against Nicaragua's leftist
Sandinista government and in favor of the Contra rebels.
22. Bush named Linda Fisher, an executive with Monsanto Co., a leading
developer of the world's most dangerous chemicals and biotech foods, for the
second-ranking job at the Environmental Protection Agency, the White House
23. Energy interests gave $2.9 million to Bush for his political campaign,
and then kicked in an additional $2.2 million for his inauguration fund.
24. Bush plans to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and
to sell out our public lands to private interests
25. He did a big favor for major electricity wholesalers by keeping the
federal government largely out of the California energy crisis, which has
produced major profits for energy companies including Dynegy Inc., Enron Corp.
and Reliant Energy Inc., all of which are based in Bush's home state of
26. Bush showed his loyalty to the coal mining and electricity industries
when he reversed a campaign pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which
may have saved an estimated 30,000 lives a year of those who die due to
27. Bush endangered the world's future and damaged our credibility in the
International community when he announced the United Statesâd™ withdrawal from
the Kyoto Protocol; an international treaty aimed at combating global
warming. Seems that he's more interested in changing the global climate than
the political climate.
28. Dick Cheney formulated crucial energy policy decisions behind closed
29. Cheney's task force focused heavily on incentives for production; easing
regulatory barriers for energy development; and opening more public lands to
drilling including national monuments and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
30. Americans, by a remarkable 7-to-1 margin, think that Bush is less
concerned about protecting the environment than about protecting the
interests of the energy industry.
31. Despite objections from his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, he plans
on auctioning offshore oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Seems that
natural gas is thicker then blood.
32. The Bush administration announced that it will block a rule from
Clinton's administration requiring more energy efficient air conditioners.
33. Republican representative Sherwood Boehlert said that the Bush first 100
days deserve the grade of "incomplete in dealing with the environment."
34. Bush's budget proposes slashing more than $200 million from federal
renewable energy and efficiency research programs, even as his administration
declares the United States needs to find ways to cope with an "energy
35. The snows of Mount Kilimanjaro melt away as global temperatures and ocean
levels rise, Bush plans nothing to address it.
36. The Environmental Protection Agency announced it would withdraw the
pending decrease in allowable arsenic for drinking water, prepared during the
final days of the Clinton administration.
37. Bush asked Congress to remove from the Endangered Species Act a provision
that allows environmental groups and others to sue the Interior Department to
get rare plants and animals listed as endangered.
38. The Bush Administration plans to suspend rules that require federal
contractors to comply with environmental, civil rights and labor laws.
39. In Quebec, Bush announced his intention to promote a trade plan for the
Americas based on the failed NAFTA model. This will lead to further erosion
of labor rights, human rights, and environmental protections throughout the
40. And Bush is looking to kill the roadless policy rule that will protect
millions of acres of public land from taxpayer subsidized logging.
41. A Bush White House aide confirms that Bush is taking a look at
recommending easing clean air regulations without Congressional actions, thus
saving utilities and coal-mining companies billions of dollars of violations
of clean air regulations and at the same time mooting legal action against
42. Bush was the top recipient of contributions from tobacco companies.
Through carefully orchestrated budget cuts, Bush has managed to kill the
lawsuit that the Justice Department has against big tobacco for deliberately
deceiving the American people on public health issues. This move could
potentially save big tobacco billions.
43. Speaking of Bankrupt public policy. Legislation championed for years by
the financial industry that would make it harder for consumers to wipe away
their debts was passed by an overwhelming margin in both chambers of
Congress. Though a similar measure had been approved last year, President
Clinton vetoed it. Bush, however, has signaled he will sign the bill, a move
that could generate an estimated tens of millions of dollars in additional
revenue for major credit card companies.
44. Where did Bush's enthusiasm come from? Charles Cawley, President of MBNA
America personally raised at least $100,000 for the Bush campaign, qualifying
him for admission into the Pioneers, the campaign's roster of top supporters.
Last January, Cawley broke out his checkbook again, writing a $100,000 check
to the Bush-Cheney Inaugural Fund.
45. The US Chamber of Commerce contributed more than $514, 000 to candidates
and parties, 94% of that money went to Republicans, and the National
Association of Manufacturers spent $12.8 million lobbying Members of Congress
from 1997 to 1999.
46. In a private meeting in late February, Bush and Republican congressional
leaders decided to kill the ergonomics rule put forth by the Clinton
Administration, which would protect workers from workplace related injuries.
47. Following his pledge to leave no [rich] child behind, President Bush's budget reduces resources for the Child Care and Development Block Grant
projects by $ 200 million. That means that many low-income children will no
longer be eligible for childcare, making it more difficult for their parents
48. Bush plans to eliminate all funding for the Early Learning Opportunities
program, which would have supported parent education and family support
49. Bush's budget will shortchange vital education programs; including
efforts to reduce class sizes, improve teacher training, repair crumbling
schools, promote after-school programs, and increase the number of Pell
Grants available to low income freshmen.
50. Bush plans to cut in half grants that help states investigate and prevent
child abuse and neglect.
51. President Bush has proposed a regime of annual testing for all students
between grades three and eight. Schools that demonstrated an improvement in
performance would be granted increased federal funding. Students at schools
designated as low-performing would, after three years, be able to use their
share of federal funds to attend other public or private schools. The school
would then be privatized with the assistance of the federal government.
52. Bush's budget does not even provide funds to keep up with inflation for
the WIC program, which provides vital nutrition assistance to low-income
women, infants, and children.
53. On the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, President Bush ordered the
reinstatement of the global "gag" rule on international family planning
programs, programs that strive to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce
abortion, and avert hundreds of thousands of infant and maternal deaths
worldwide each year.
54. Bush is prepared to unilaterally abrogate the Anti-Ballistic Missile
55. Bush strongly advocates the National Missile Defense System or "Star
Wars". This program has cost taxpayers over $40 billion to date, and yet it
has failed repeatedly in carefully orchestrated tests. The program is
destabilizing and China has already indicated that it would initiate an arms
race if the US pursues the program.
56. The Bush administration has put its European allies on notice that it
intends to move quickly to develop a missile defense and plans to abandon or
fundamentally alter the treaty that has been the keystone of arms control for
nearly 30 years.
57. Bush said he would suspend negotiations with North Korea, this strict
stance on Korea has soured once-improving relations with North Korea.
58. The US bombs 10 miles outside of Baghdad- -a major metropolitan area-
-saying that the area was "unpopulated."
59. Plans by US President George W Bush to sell weapons including eight
diesel-powered submarines to Taiwan have received an embarrassing setback at
the hands of European governments. Neither the Germans nor the Dutch, who
have sown up the market in diesel submarines, are willing to allow the sale
of the subs to Taiwan.
60. Under Bush, there has been a growing Anti-US feeling in the EU and around
61. Bush's decision to proceed with arms sales to Taiwanâ慥”China has said that
offensive weapons such as subs will only lead to greater tensions in Asia.
62. Bush's commitment to the Balkans. While trying to build peace he is
reducing US commitment to peace building. Same with the Middle East where
tensions are growing and he is seeking to be less involved.
63. Bush has continued use of drug certification and the nomination of
another hard liner to lead th
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USA: US Patent Office revokes majority of RiceTec's
claims to basmati rice patent
02 May 2001
Source: just-food.com editorial team
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More than three years after the US patent on basmati rice prompted an international furore, the US Patent
Office has granted action groups a considerable victory by revoking thirteen of the twenty grounds originally
cited by a Texan rice producer in a bid to claim intellectual property rights over the rice variety.
A relatively small fish in the world of rice production, RiceTec filed the patent in September 1997, arguing
that its basmati (Kasmati) was entirely developed and bred from US rice varieties, and that the patent was
necessary to protect the company’s rights from US competitors.
According to World Trade Organisation rules however, a patent obtained in one member country can be
enforced in all WTO nations through the courts, and onlookers swiftly perceived a battle in which the firm's
(albeit limited) corporate clout was pitted against the centuries' worth of basmati production by developing
world farmers. Action groups argue that such farmers could potentially suffer through lack of export potential
to the US, and saw the patent as a blatant bio-pirating of India's natural resources.
In the face of increasing pressure, RiceTec withdrew four of the patent claims in November 2000. In
reference to the latest twist, the company insisted to the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) that it has
the right to respond to the US patent office’s objections and that in order for the majority of its disputed
claims to meet regulations, it need only change the wording of its patent.
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Battling to Honor Malcolm X
By Amadi Ajamu
New York NY
As real estate developers and mega businesses enter Harlem, grassroots
community organizations see themselves being pushed out. In a move some
as calculated, The New York City Police Dept has denied a permit for the
12th Annual Malcolm X Birthday March down Harlem's 125th Street corridor
May 19th. The annual march has become a tradition with Harlem community
with small business owners who have closed their doors every year out of
respect for Malcolm X's legacy and the people of Harlem.
The annual march draws participants from all over the region. Buses loads
are expected from New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Baltimore,
joining New Yorkers from every borough to Honor the legacy of Malcolm X on
this 76th anniversary of his birth. March organizers said "The streets of
Harlem gave birth to Malcolm X's political life" and vow to sue the city
the permit in court.
Omowale Clay, a spokesman for Malcolm X New Millennium Committee, the
coalition of community organizations stated, "Malcolm is only preceded by
Marcus Garvey in terms of being a voice for the urban masses." He further
stated that "Celebrating Malcolm is an international issue, and for
people it speaks directly to the ability of us to control our lives."
The New York City Police Department stated that another group, the Harlem
Business Improvement District (BID) was given a permit for an activity on
125th Street on the same day this year. BID, which is administering
development efforts, consistently represents multi-national corporations.
The question is why is BID suddenly so interested in Malcolm X? The fact
the matter is, BID is merely a surrogate for the new mega businesses like
Old Navy, Walt Disney, and Rite Aid who are leery of the annual store
closing tradition and seek to undermine the event. Community activists see
these developments as just another attack against
Black people and small shop owners in Harlem who are systematically being
priced out of Harlem. "BID is trying to bring downtown uptown and is
out our community and our culture in the process" said Dave Daniels, a
Harlem resident and March organizer.
The March organizers emphasize the fact that they have held the march for
the past 12 years with no problems, "It is as traditional as the Saint
Patrick's Day Parade down 5th Avenue every year. The NYPD would not think
granting another group a permit for that same day." "This is reminiscent
the controversial Million Youth March held in Harlem in=A0 1998," stated
Attorney Roger S. Wareham. Wareham was the attorney for the
MYM, and will be representing the Malcolm X Marchers. "Mayor Giuliani has
politicized the NYPD. There is no basis to deny this permit, they are
to disrupt a 12 year precedent and we will see them in court".
Omowale Clay said "The tradition of celebrating Malcolm and what he stood
for plays itself out in the real life battle for the direction of Harlem."
Back to Main News Page
UK: A GM tomato a day keeps the doctor away?
01 May 2001
Source: just-food.com editorial team
A genetically modified tomato has been developed in a bid to keep people healthy. British and Dutch scientists used GE
technology to increase the levels of flavonols in the peel of the tomato by up to 78 times. Flavonols are a group of
chemical substances that can prevent heart disease and cancer.
At the Unilever Research centre in Bedfordshire, scientists discovered that the chalcone isomerase enzyme governs
the creation of flavonol. This enzyme is in turn stimulated by a gene from the Petunia plant and by implanting this gene, the
flavonol level in tomatoes is increased.
The scientists, led by Martine Verhoeyen, are confident that the discovery could lead to an expanded range of functional
food products containing tomato. The taste of the fruit was not affected and when the GM tomatoes were processed into
paste, 65% of the flavonols were retained.
The research has been published in the Nature Biotechnology journal.
Back to Main News Page
PROPOSAL FOR AN AFRICAN AMERICAN NATIONAL PREPARATION MEETING
> THE UNITED NATIONS WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM (WCAR)
> August 31 - September 7, 2001
> Durban, South Africa
> SPONSORS: DECEMBER 12th MOVEMENT INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT
> NATIONAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
> (confirmation pending approval)
> SELECTED MEMBERS OF THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS:
> (confirmation pending)
> BLACK AMERICAN LAW STUDENTS ASSOCIATION,
> Georgia State University Chapter
> (confirmation pending)
> CONFERENCE COORDINATOR: Jewel L. Crawford, MD
> (404) 639-0726 day
> (404) 286-1054 evening
> DATE OF MEETING: Saturday May 5, 2001
> LOCATION: Atlanta, Georgia
> Georgia State University
> Student Center
> (confirmation pending)
> BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
> The history and legacy of slavery for displaced Africans in America has
> been characterized by persistent human rights abuses and violations since
> the inception of the slave trade.
> The suffering experienced by Africans in the Americas as a result of these
> abuses and violations, has persisted to this very day, and is in direct
> violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights issued by the
> General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) on December 10, 1948. Despite
> the glaring and harsh reality of racism that African Americans deal with
> on a daily basis, this issue has never been fully addressed by the world
> body; the General Assembly of the United Nations.
> On August 31, 2001 in Durban, South Africa, African Americans and others
> impacted by racism worldwide will have an opportunity to have these issues
> In 1997, the UN General Assembly agreed to hold a World Conference Against
> Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. The
> following are the primary objectives of the Conference:
> 1) To review progress made in the fight against racism and reappraise the
> obstacles to further progress in the field and ways to overcome them;
> 2) To increase the level of awareness about the scourges of racism and
> racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance;
> 3) To review the political, historical, economic, social, cultural and
> other factors leading to racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia;
> 4) To formulate concrete recommendations to further action oriented
> national, regional and international measures to combat all forms of
> PURPOSE OF THE MAY 5 MEETING:
> On May 5, 2001 an unprecedented, historic gathering of African Americans
> will convene in Atlanta, Georgia. The purpose of this meeting is:
> 1) to inform ALL AFRICAN AMERICANS and associated organizations about the
> 2) to provide an opportunity for African American non-government
> organizations (NGOs) to learn how they can become accredited to attend
> official UN meetings and have input on matters pertinent to the African
> American community;
> 3) to review and respond to the Declaration of the African NGO Forum
> produced at the recent African Regional Preparatory Conference of NGOs in
> Dakar, Senegal;
> 4) to include African Americans in the preparatory process that will begin
> to redress our present and historical grievances in an assembly of the
> nations of the world;
> 5) to discuss and document the impact of racism in all aspects of our
> 6) to make concrete, action-oriented recommendations to the UN for
> provisions to be enacted and enforced to combat all forms of racism; and
> 7) to affirm the right of the descendants of the victims of the African
> slave trade to just and fair compensatory measures for the suffering they
> and their ancestors have endured.
> KEY ISSUES FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS:
> * Declaration of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery as a Crime
> against Humanity
> *The Economic Roots of Slavery: How European and white American society
> have benefitted financially from the slave trade and racial discrimination
> * Reparations for the descendants of the victims of the African Slave
> PREPARATION FOR THE WCAR:
> Preparation for the WCAR has been ongoing since last year when the first
> of a series of planning meetings, both regional and worldwide, began. An
> Inter-agency Taskforce was created by the Clinton Administration to
> oversee and coordinate US Government efforts related to participation. A
> series of closed (by invitation only) meetings have been hosted by the US
> Government Inter-agency Taskforce, which have not allowed for any public
> discussion, input or review into the government preparation process for
> the WCAR. This closed process is in stark contrast to the open meetings,
> publicity, and widespread government and non-government support in
> preparing for the last UN Conference on Women held in Beijing, China in
> NGOs however, in the US and worldwide have been conducting open, public
> planning meetings of their own. While a number of prominent African
> Americans have been diligently working to prepare for the conference,
> information about the conference has not been widely disseminated in the
> African American community. Of note, is the fact that longstanding African
> American organizations that have advocated for the African American
> community in various arenas over the years, have not received notification
> about the WCAR; nor have many of them been advised as to how they can
> participate on an organizational basis. The second and final worldwide
> preparatory meeting for the WCAR will take place in Geneva, Switzerland,
> starting on May 31, 2001. This is the last opportunity that African
> Americans will have to get these pressing issues and concerns on the
> agenda for global discussion and review.
> This national preparation meeting for African Americans will take place
> on May 18 -19. May 19 is the birthday of Malcolm X, the foremost proponent
> of African Americans taking their case to the United Nations. Again, this
> will be the last opportunity for African Americans who plan to attend the
> Geneva Preparatory Conference starting May 31, 2001, to present a series
> of resolutions and recommendations from a wide cross section of African
> American organizations to this world Conference.
> THE ROLE OF NGOs at the WCAR:
> The United Nations distinguishes between governmental organizations and
> non-governmental organizations. The UN consist of member countries. Each
> country appoints its UN representative to represent its ruling government.
> Non-governmental organizations are local, regional, national and
> international groups that are not appointed by the government but which
> play a key role at UN World Conferences. While not members of the UN, it
> is recognized that NGOs offer valuable experience and knowledge to the UN.
> Therefore provisions have been made to accommodate their participation.
> The lobbying and participation by NGOs at the WCAR can assure the passage
> of resolutions and plans of action to accomplish set goals.
> PARTIAL LIST OF ORGANIZATIONS TO BE INVITED TO THE MAY 19 MEETING:
> (All African American organizations are welcome to send representatives to
> participate in this public meeting)
> 1. Black American Law Students Association
> 2. Congressional Black Caucus
> 3. National Medical Association
> 4. Student National Medical Association
> 5. National Black Nurses Association
> 6. National Dental Association
> 5. National Bar Association
> 6. National Association of Black Journalist
> 7. National Society of Black Engineers
> 8. The Student organizations of all Historically Black Colleges and
> Universities (HBCUs)
> 9. The Church of God in Christ
> 10. The Congress of National Black Churches
> 11. The Nation of Islam
> 12. All Black Fraternities and Sororities
> 13. The Interim National Black Environmental and Economic Justice
> Coordinating Committee
> 14. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
> 15. The Republic of New Africa
> 16. The Urban League
> 17. The Coalition of Black Trade Unionist
> 18. The National Association of Black Psychologist
> 19. Black Farmers and Agriculturalist Association
> 20. The Order of the Eastern Star
> 21. The Prince Hall Masons
> 22. The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America
> 23. The National Black United Front
> 24. The National Black United Fund
> 25. Alumni Associations of HBCUs
> 26. National Association of Black Educators
> 27. Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association
> 28. Black Promoters Association of America
> 29. International Association of African American Musicians
> The names of additional organizations will be added to the list as they
> are brought to the attention of the planners of this event.
> A conference call will be scheduled for the week of March 12th with the
> potential sponsoring organizations. You will be contacted regarding the
> time and date.
Back to Main News Page
Apr 29, 2001
Nathan M. Gant <email@example.com> sent in this 'Born in Slavery' site at the Library of Congress:
New site with over 2000 narratives by former slaves, originally assembled in the mid-1930's by the Works Progress Administration.
Back to Main News Page
Monday, April 30, 2001
MORE GIRLS GO TO JAIL, STUDY SAYS
By Karen Gullo
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Girls are being arrested and jailed
in record numbers, according to an American Bar
Association study released Monday that says the juvenile
justice system isn't equipped to handle the special needs of
While juvenile crime has dropped overall and the problems
of young male offenders tend to get more attention, girls
under the age of 18 have become the fastest growing
segment of the juvenile justice population, said the ABA
report, which is an amalgamation of many studies on girls
Arrest, detention and custody data show an increase in both
the number and percentage of girls in the juvenile
justice system – a trend that runs counter to that of boys,
the report said.
Law enforcement agencies reported 670,800 arrests of girls
under age 18 in 1999, which accounted for 27 percent of the total juvenile arrests made that year, the report said.
Deliquency cases involving girls jumped 83 percent
between 1988 and 1997 - with cases involving white girls
rising 74 percent and those involving blacks up 106
Between 1990 and 1999, arrests of girls increased more than male arrests for curfew and loitering, drug abuse and assault.
The report suggested that the surge in young female
delinquents isn't necessarily the result of more violent and
aggressive behavior among girls.
Rather, the report blamed the problem on a re-labeling of
family conflicts as violent offenses, changes in police
practice regarding domestic violence, gender bias in the
processing of minor offenses, get-tough policies for curfew
violators and a lack of services aimed at helping troubled
Girls are too often placed in settings and institutions that
are neither designed for, nor proven effective in, their
treatment and rehabilitation,'' said Martha Barnett, ABA
The report said:
- Girls are more likely to be arrested for running away than
boys. The report attributed the disparity to bias on the part
of police, prosecutors, judges and public agencies that
handle runaway cases.
- Girls are detained for less serious offenses than boys and
are more likely to be detained for minor offenses, such as
public disorder, probation violations and traffic offenses.
- Girls are more likely to be sent back to detention after
The ABA recommended that communities develop
alternatives to detention and incarceration for girls and
revamp policies that send girls into juvenile justice
facilities for minor offenses.
ON THE NET: ABA report: <<http://www.abanet.org/crimjust/juvjus>>
Copyright 2001 Associated Press.
Back to Main News Page
April 26, 2001
Israeli Defense Force Facing a Reserve Crisis
Israel's military reserve corps, the backbone of the Israel Defense Force
throughout the country's war-torn 52-year history, is facing a crisis. A
growing number of reservists are protesting and failing to show up for duty in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. An outgrowth of a societal shift, trouble in the part-time ranks will cause Israel to rethink its military structure and raise questions about public support for Tel Aviv's recent military foray into Palestinian territory.
Israeli soldiers outside the Kfar Darom Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip April 17.
Israel, more than any other nation, relies more heavily on reserve soldiers, who make up a majority of its 500,000-strong standing army. In addition to three years of mandatory active service for men and two years for women, part-time service in the military commonly lasts well into middle age with reservists serving one month a year, often in front-line units.
But trouble is in the ranks. A series of groups representing Israel's
military reservists have called on the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to take steps to improve widespread disaffection among the nation's part-time soldiers, who are critical of Israel's defense strategy and the IDF's methods of recruitment. The Israeli government, in response, has pledged to take several immediate steps to address their concerns.
Still, the disillusionment among Israel's military reservists, particularly the younger generation, is likely to continue as Israeli society evolves. As a result, Israel will have to reassess the IDF's long-term ability to provide an adequate defense and take steps to guarantee it. Such a major shift will not be easy and Israel has a long road ahead. The first obstacle could be finding enough soldiers to mount continued operations, with fresh troops, in the Palestinian territories.
As Israeli society has matured, its increasingly Westernized citizens have
begun to view military service as a burden, and those who do their duty are commonly referred to as suckers. According to the IDF's Behavioral Sciences Division, 67 percent of reservists believe Israeli society encourages them to dodge reserve service.
Since the uprising in Palestinian territories, an estimated 600 reservists
that refused to show up for duty in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been
jailed anywhere from two weeks to a month.
Meanwhile, an estimated 2,500 have gone absent without leave and thousands of others have probably fabricated medical or personal reasons to avoid duty, according to the IDF. Still more are repeat no-shows, and the IDF has given up trying to force them to do their duty as a result.
The reservists' concerns are numerous and widespread. Some are disillusioned by the rising number of religious Jews who are exempt from mandatory military service, placing greater responsibility on the largely secular part-time soldiers.
Still others maintain that Israel's ongoing battle against the Palestinians is unjust and more dangerous than the home front is willing to tolerate. Many of them do not see ongoing operations achieving anything of value, nor do they fear, at least not yet, that the Palestinian uprising threatens Israel's future.
But the reserve crisis in Israel will force Israel to reassess the IDF's
long-term ability to defend the country. Without a large reserve force to
pacify the territories and in the event of another regional war, Israel will have to adjust its armed forces and defense strategy accordingly, including taking steps to support a larger active-duty force.
Military leaders are also likely to rely more heavily on the reserves they
have if there are fewer of them and on attracting immigrants as a way to bulk up the part-time force. Such steps, for the first time, will draw the Israeli public and the military, which have effectively been the same, further apart.
This does not mean that Israel's military deterrent in the region will
degrade. Faced with another Arab-Israeli war, the Israeli public at large,
including reservists, would rally on behalf of the country.
But military leaders have begun to see what's on the horizon. "So far the reservists are mature and responsible," Brigadier General Avinaom Lowfer told Israel Radio in early April. "But eventually they won't show up. Everyone predicts that. It is the most realistic assumption."
Apart from prompting a long-term re-evaluation of its military structure,
Israel's reserve crisis could in the near term adversely affect ongoing
military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, increasingly in need of reserve re-enforcements.
If the street battles continue indefinitely, as many security experts
predict, Israel could find itself in a bind as more and more reservists
refuse to show up for duty, particularly those called up for their second or third stint since the violence erupted last year. The result will be an
overworked Israeli military that plays into the Palestinians' favor.
Back to Main News Page
Environmental Justice Appeal to President Bush on Climate
This letter, signed by leaders of the environmental
justice movement in the U.S. and around the world, marks a
significant broadening of the constituency involved in the
climate change issue. We circulated it as part of the
CorpWatch Climate Justice Initiative.
April 19, 2001
George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We are writing you today to express our profound concern
with your new climate change policies with respect to
their impacts on poor people and people of color in the
United States and around the world.
It is our firmly held belief that climate change is not
only an ecological, economic or political question, but it
is a moral issue with profound ramifications for all of
the inhabitants of this planet Earth. It is a question of
environmental justice and human rights. It is also an
issue of equity between nations.
Particularly hard hit will be low-lying countries like
Bangladesh and small island states whose very existence is
threatened. The poor here in the United States --
especially poor people of color -- will also bear the
brunt of climate change. Your policies will only intensify
Given its potentially profound ramifications, climate
change must be tackled with serious and vigorous
leadership and international cooperation rather than a
misguided isolationist approach that protects a handful of
powerful fossil fuel corporations.
The United States, whose four percent of the world's
population generates one-quarter of all man made carbon
dioxide -- the leading global warming gas -- must take the
lead in reversing its role as the main contributor to this
looming global crisis.
Certainly, your predecessor's climate change policies came
up well short of the measures we believe are necessary to
address the problem. But your administration's response so
far-your failure to follow through on campaign promises to
reduce carbon dioxide emissions and your abandonment of
the Kyoto Protocol-borders on nothing short of gross
Your negation of the increasingly irrefutable scientific
evidence on climate change is distressing. It is no longer
a question of whether climate change will occur, but
rather of how bad it will be. It is no longer a question
of whether sea levels will rise, but rather of how many
coastlines, people, communities, and entire island nations
will be submerged.
Global warming is starting to make itself felt. The 1990s
was the warmest decade and 1998 was the warmest year on
record. The icecap atop Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa is
melting away and will completely disappear in less than 15
years. It is an abuse of power to turn your back on this,
the most serious environmental issue ever to confront
If it is not halted, climate change will probably result
in increased frequency and severity of storms, floods and
drought. And it will cause the spread of diseases, such as
malaria. It will increase hunger and bring about
displacement and mass migrations of people with ensuing
Mr. President, you claim that you don't want to harm the
American consumer, yet you're setting us all up to pay a
huge price in the future. This is especially true for the
poor. Earlier this year, the United Nations
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded
that the impacts of global warming "are expected to fall
disproportionately on the poor."
People who are highly dependent on farming, fishing or
forestry, especially indigenous people, are most likely to
see their livelihoods destroyed by climate change.
Meanwhile, the urban poor-mostly people of color in the
U.S. -- will be most vulnerable to climate-change related
heat waves, diseases and respiratory ailments.
Many of us come from or work with communities that are
already directly affected by the oil industry. These are
communities and workers that are suffering the social and
environmental effects of oil exploration, production,
transportation, refining, distribution and combustion.
These communities are also some of those who will be
hardest hit by climate change -- whether they are in
Nigeria's Niger Delta, in Arctic Village Alaska, or in
Louisiana's "cancer alley." These communities face a
"double whammy" -- suffering oil's acute toxic impacts
first and then its long-term effects in the form of the
harsh hand of global warming.
Rather than cater to the socially and ecologically
destructive oil industry Mr. President, you should
severely curb U.S. carbon emissions and support the Kyoto
Protocol. At home you should also support a just
transition for fossil fuel industry workers and fenceline
communities while investing the United States' resources
in energy efficiency and renewable energy resources, such
as solar, wind and biomass.
Mr. President, we urge you to reconsider your position on
climate change before the United States becomes
universally known as an environmental rogue state, and you
go down in history as G.W. Bush, the Global Warming
Nnimmo Bassey, Oilwatch Africa
Chee Yoke Ling, Third World Network, Malaysia
Oronto Douglas, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the
Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, U.S.
Sarah James, Gwich'in Steering Committee, U.S.
Esperanza Martinez, Oilwatch International, Ecuador
Richard Moore, Southwest Network for Environmental and
Economic Justice, U.S.
Ricardo Navarro, CESTA/Friends of the Earth, El Salvador
S. Bobby Peek, groundWork, South Africa
Amit Srivastava/Joshua Karliner, CorpWatch, U.S.
Connie Tucker, Southern Organizing Committee for Economic
and Social Justice, U.S.
Dr. Owens Wiwa, African Environmental and Human
Development Agency, Nigeria
Ricardo Carrere, World Rainforest Movement, Uruguay
Cc: Christie Todd Whitman, Administrator, U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency
If you would like to add your organization to the list of
endorsers, please send the name of your group, contact
person, city and country where the organization is located
to firstname.lastname@example.org. At this time we are asking,
organizations only, not individuals, to sign on. Thank you
for your support.
Back to Main News Page
An Unwinnable War on Drugs
by Ethan Nadelmann
April 26, 2001
New York Times
What has the war on drugs done for Darryl Strawberry and
Robert Downey Jr.? Are they better off or worse off? Are
they the targets or the victims? Should they be thankful
The war on drugs is really a war on people — on anyone who
uses or grows or makes or sells a forbidden drug. It
essentially consists of two elements: the predominant role
of criminalization of all things having to do with
marijuana, cocaine, heroin, Ecstasy and other prohibited
drugs and the presumption that abstinence — coerced if
necessary — is the only permissible relationship with
these drugs. It's that combination that ultimately makes
this war unwinnable.
The previous drug czar, Barry McCaffrey, wanted to do away
with the rhetoric of the war on drugs while retaining its
two core elements. Now the new attorney general, John
Ashcroft, wants to intensify the drug war efforts. The
implications are ominous.
The success or failure of drug policies is usually
measured by those annual surveys that tell us how many
Americans, particularly teenagers, confessed to a pollster
that they had used one drug or another. Drug warriors
often point to the 1980's as a time when the drug war
really worked because the number of illicit drug users
reportedly fell more than 50 percent in the decade.
But consider that in 1980 no one had ever heard of the
cheap, smokable form of cocaine called crack or of drug-
related H.I.V. infection. By the 1990's, both had reached
epidemic proportions in American cities. Is this success?
Or consider that in 1980, the federal budget for drug
control was about $1 billion, and state and local budgets
perhaps two or three times that. Now the federal drug
control budget has ballooned to roughly $20 billion, two-
thirds of it for law enforcement, and state and local
governments spend even more. On any day in 1980,
approximately 50,000 people were behind bars for violating
drug laws. Now the number is approaching 500,000. Is this
What's needed is a new way of evaluating drug policies by
looking at how they reduce crime and suffering. Arresting
and punishing citizens who smoke marijuana — the vast
majority of illicit drug users — should be one of our
lowest priorities. We should focus instead on reducing
overdose deaths, curbing new H.I.V. infections through
needle-exchange programs, cutting the numbers of
nonviolent drug offenders behind bars, and wasting less
taxpayer money on ineffective criminal policies.
Darryl Strawberry and Robert Downey Jr. qualify as both
targets and victims of the war on drugs — targeted for
consuming a forbidden drug, victimized by policies that
must "treat" not just addiction but criminality. Millions
more are victimized when their loved ones are put behind
bars on drug charges or when they lose family members to
drug-related AIDS, overdoses or prohibition-related
violence. We should base our drug policies on scientific
evidence and public health precepts. That's the most
sensible and compassionate way to reduce drug abuse.
Ethan A. Nadelmann is executive director of the Lindesmith
Center-Drug Policy Foundation.
Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company
Back to Main News Page
PRESS RELEASE - GAG ORDER LIFTED FROM IMC
Date: 4/27/01 3:28:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time
GAG ORDER LIFTED; INDEPENDENT MEDIA CENTER N FREE SPEECH BATTLE IN WAKE OF
FBI /SECRET SERVICE VISIT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEATTLE INDEPENDENT MEDIA CENTER
27 APRIL 2001
CONTACT: Seattle Independent Media Center 206.262.0721
On the evening of Saturday, April 21, a day during which tens of thousands
demonstrated against the FTAA in the streets of Quebec City, the Independent
Media Center in Seattle was served with a sealed court order by two FBI
agents and an agent of the US Secret Service. The terms of the sealed order
prevented IMC volunteers from publicizing its terms; volunteers immediately
began discussions with legal counsel to amend the order. This morning, April
27, Magistrate Judge Monica Benton issued an amended order, freeing us to
discuss the situation without the threat of being held in contempt.
The original order, also issued by Judge Benton, directed the IMC to supply
the FBI with "all user connection logs" for April 20 and 21st from a web
server occupying an IP address which the Secret Service believed belonged to
the IMC. The order stated that this was part of an "ongoing criminal
investigation" into acts that could constitute violations of Canadian law,
specifically theft and mischief. IMC legal counsel David Sobel, of the
Electronic Privacy Information Center, comments: "As the U.S. Supreme Court
has recognized, the First Amendment protects the right to communicate
anonymously with the press and for political purposes. An order compelling
the disclosure of information identifying an indiscriminately large number
of users of a website devoted to political discourse raises very serious
constitutional issues. To provide the same protection to the press and
anonymous sources in the Internet world as with more traditional media, the
Government must be severely limited in its ability to demand their Internet
identity--their "Internet Protocol addresses." A federal statute already
requires that such efforts against the press be approved by the Attorney
General, and only where essential and after alternatives have been
exhausted. There is no suggestion that these standards were met here.
The sealed court order also directed the IMC not to disclose "the existence
of this Application or Order, or the existence of this investigation, unless
or until ordered by this court." Such a prior restraint on a media
organization goes to the heart of the First Amendment. Ironically, the
Seattle Post-Intelligencer learned about the existence of the order from
"federal sources," suggesting that the purpose of the gag order was simply
to allow the government to spin the issue its way.
The order did not specify what acts were being investigated, and the Secret
Service agent acknowledged that the IMC itself was not suspected of criminal
activity. No violation of US law was alleged. It is not clear whether
federal law allows the Attorney General ever to approve such an
investigation of US press entities to facilitate a foreign investigation.
According to IMC counsel Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation,
"This kind of fishing expedition is another in a long line of overbroad and
onerous attempts to chill political speech and activism. Back in 1956,
Alabama tried to force the NAACP to give up its membership lists -- but the
Supreme Court stopped them. This order to IMC, even without the 'gag,' is a
threat to free speech, free association, and privacy."
Responding to questions from IMC volunteers, the agents claimed that their
investigation concerned the source of either one or two postings which, they
said, had been posted to an IMC newswire early Saturday morning. These
posts, according to the agents, contained documents stolen from a Canadian
government agency, including classified information related to the travel
itinerary of George W. Bush (who was at that time in Quebec City,
participating in Summit of the Americas meetings). Agents claimed that the
Secret Service was notified of the existence of such posts by a tip from an
(unnamed) major commercial news network.
The agents were unable to provide URL addresses or titles for the postings
they described. Additionally, the court order contained a non-working IP
address, rather than an address assigned to any of the IMC sites. IMC
volunteers nevertheless were able to identify two articles posted to the
Montreal IMC which partially matched the agents' incomplete description.
These articles, posted first in French and then in English translations
(http://montreal.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=505, 514 and 515),
contain sections of documents purportedly stolen from a Quebec City police
car during Friday night anti-FTAA demonstrations; the documents detail
police strategies for hindering protesters' mass action. It does not appear
that any materials were posted to any IMC site containing Bush¹s travel
Although the agents were concerned with only two posts, the court order
demands "all user connections logs" for a 48-hour period, which would
include individual IP addresses for every person who posted materials to or
visited the IMC site during the FTAA protests. IMC legal counsel Nancy
Chang, of the Center for Constitutional Rights, comments that "the overbroad
sweep of the information demanded by the FBI raises the disturbing question
of whether the order is calculated to discourage association with the IMC."
The agents arrived at the IMC around 7pm. Seattle IMC volunteers had been
busy all afternoon gathering regional IMC coverage of FTAA protests underway
in Seattle and in Blaine, Washington, and coordinating coverage with other
sites on the IMC network. Several visitors were also in the IMC at the time,
using public computers.. While agents were speaking with one staff
volunteer, another began making telephone calls in an effort to contact
legal counsel. After the agents left, volunteers discussed the court order's
gag provision, and began recontacting the handful of people who had already
been called, in order to make sure that the terms of the court order would
not be violated before legal counsel had time to appraise the situation.
Initial attempts were made to contain news of the FBI/Secret Service visit;
however, a few details of the story were soon leaked via a partially
accurate report broadcast on the Vermont IMC internet radio stream. Soon the
Seattle IMC was flooded with phone calls requesting information about what
quickly began to be described as an "FBI raid," and speculations began to
spread rapidly across the open-publishing newswires of various IMCs.
For about three hours, a network of IMC technology volunteers attempted to
comply with the court order by removing such posts from the Seattle IMC and
other major IMC sites as they appeared. This had the unfortunate effect of
seemingly confirming the worst suspicions of independent journalists who
posted brief articles announcing or speculating about mysterious and
terrible things going on at the Seattle IMC, then finding their posts
removed from view minutes later. Volunteers called off this clumsy attempt
at rumor control around midnight, when it became clear that removing of
posts was only serving to fan the flames of rumor, and that in any case the
story had already spread beyond the confines of the IMC network. In acting
to remove these posts, IMC volunteers were motivated by fear of violating
the court order's gag provision even before legal counsel had had a chance
to review the document. We regret the feelings of confusion and
disempowerment which many users of the IMC sites experienced due to Saturday
night's blackout of postings on this topic, and the general frustration
caused by the gag order.
Since the incident occurred, several persistent, yet false, rumors have
taken shape; some of these found their way into coverage published in
Monday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer and other commercial media. We can now
dispel some of the more common of these: No search warrant was served on IMC
in connection with the court order, and nobody connected to the Seattle IMC
has been arrested. No equipment or logs have been seized; the agents' visit
was not a "raid."
Now, free from restrictive court orders, the Seattle IMC will be able to
cover this important story as it continues to unfold.
The Seattle Independent Media Center was launched in Fall 1999 to provide
immediate, authentic, grassroots coverage of protests against the WTO. Just
a year and a half later, the IMC network has reached around the world, with
dozens of sites scattered across six continents. IMCs are autonomously
organized and administered, but share collective organizational principles
and certain technological resources. Each IMC's news coverage centers upon
its open-publishing newswire, an innovative and democratizing system
allowing anyone with access to an Internet connection to become a
journalist, reporting on events from his or her own perspective rather than
being forced to rely on the narrow range of views presented by
corporate-owned mainstream media sources.
During last weekend's widespread protests against a proposed Free Trade Area
of the Americas, many IMC sites collaborated to produce comprehensive
coverage of demonstrations taking place in Quebec City and Sao Paulo, as
well as solidarity protests in cities across the U.S. and along the Mexican
and Canadian borders. The breadth and depth of coverage produced by the
IMC's global network eclipsed that of many corporate media outlets.
The Seattle IMC remains committed to its mission: "The Independent Media
Center is a grassroots organization committed to using media production and
distribution as a tool for promoting social and economic justice. It is our
goal to further the self-determination of people under-represented in media
production and content, and to illuminate and analyze local and global
issues that impact ecosystems, communities and individuals. We seek to
generate alternatives to the biases inherent in the corporate media
controlled by profit, and to identify and create positive models for a
sustainable and equitable society."
Seattle Independent Media Center
1415 3rd Ave.
Seattle, WA, 98101
David Burman, IMC counsel
Perkins Coie LLP
1201 Third Ave., 40th Floor
Seattle, WA 98101
Alan Korn, Attorney with the National Lawyers Guild
Center on Democratic Communication
David Sobel, General Counsel
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Suite 200, 1718 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Nancy Chang, Senior Litigation Attorney
Center for Constitutional Rights
666 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10012
Lee Tien, Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
454 Shotwell Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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