You Are a Suspect
By WILLIAM SAFIRE
New York Times
November 14, 2002
WASHINGTON --If the Homeland Security Act is not
amended before passage, here is what will happen
Every purchase you make with a credit card, every
magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription
you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send
or receive, every academic grade you receive, every
bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every
event you attend -- all these transactions and
communications will go into what the Defense Department
describes as "a virtual, centralized grand database."
To this computerized dossier on your private life from
commercial sources, add every piece of information that
government has about you -- passport application,
driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and
divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the
F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest
hidden camera surveillance -- and you have the
supersnoop's dream: a "Total Information Awareness"
about every U.S. citizen.
This is not some far-out Orwellian scenario. It is what
will happen to your personal freedom in the next few
weeks if John Poindexter gets the unprecedented power
Remember Poindexter? Brilliant man, first in his class
at the Naval Academy, later earned a doctorate in
physics, rose to national security adviser under
President Ronald Reagan. He had this brilliant idea of
secretly selling missiles to Iran to pay ransom for
hostages, and with the illicit proceeds to illegally
support contras in Nicaragua.
A jury convicted Poindexter in 1990 on five felony
counts of misleading Congress and making false
statements, but an appeals court overturned the verdict
because Congress had given him immunity for his
testimony. He famously asserted, "The buck stops here,"
arguing that the White House staff, and not the
president, was responsible for fateful decisions that
might prove embarrassing.
This ring-knocking master of deceit is back again with
a plan even more scandalous than Iran-contra. He heads
the "Information Awareness Office" in the otherwise
excellent Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency,
which spawned the Internet and stealth aircraft
technology. Poindexter is now realizing his 20-year
dream: getting the "data-mining" power to snoop on
every public and private act of every American.
Even the hastily passed U.S.A. Patriot Act, which
widened the scope of the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act and weakened 15 privacy laws, raised
requirements for the government to report secret
eavesdropping to Congress and the courts. But
Poindexter's assault on individual privacy rides
roughshod over such oversight.
He is determined to break down the wall between
commercial snooping and secret government intrusion.
The disgraced admiral dismisses such necessary
differentiation as bureaucratic "stovepiping." And he
has been given a $200 million budget to create computer
dossiers on 300 million Americans.
When George W. Bush was running for president, he stood
foursquare in defense of each person's medical,
financial and communications privacy. But Poindexter,
whose contempt for the restraints of oversight drew the
Reagan administration into its most serious blunder, is
still operating on the presumption that on such a
sweeping theft of privacy rights, the buck ends with
him and not with the president.
This time, however, he has been seizing power in the
open. In the past week John Markoff of The Times,
followed by Robert O'Harrow of The Washington Post,
have revealed the extent of Poindexter's operation, but
editorialists have not grasped its undermining of the
Freedom of Information Act.
Political awareness can overcome "Total Information
Awareness," the combined force of commercial and
government snooping. In a similar overreach, Attorney
General Ashcroft tried his Terrorism Information and
Prevention System (TIPS), but public outrage at the use
of gossips and postal workers as snoops caused the
House to shoot it down. The Senate should now do the
same to this other exploitation of fear.
The Latin motto over Poindexter"s new Pentagon office
reads "Scientia Est Potentia" -- "knowledge is power."
Exactly: the government's infinite knowledge about you
is its power over you. "We're just as concerned as the
next person with protecting privacy," this brilliant
mind blandly assured The Post. A jury found he spoke
Copyright The New York Times Company
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A federal agency confirms that it maintains an air-travel blacklist of 1,000
people. Peace activists and civil libertarians fear they're on it.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Dave Lindorff
Nov. 15, 2002 | Barbara Olshansky was in Newark
International Airport at the JetBlue departure gate
last March when an airline agent at the counter
checking her boarding pass called airport security.
Olshansky was subjected to a close search and then,
though she was in view of other travelers, was ordered
to pull her pants down. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks
may have created a new era in airport security, but
even so, she was embarrassed and annoyed.
Perhaps one such incident might've been forgotten, but
Olshansky, the assistant legal director for the left-
leaning Center for Constitutional Rights, was pulled
out of line for special attention the next time she
flew. And the next time. And the next time. On one
flight this past September from Newark to Washington,
six members of the center's staff, including Olshansky,
were stopped and subjected to intense scrutiny, even
though they had purchased their tickets independently
and had not checked in as a group. On that occasion,
Olshansky got angry and demanded to know why she had
been singled out.
"The computer spit you out," she recalls the agent
saying. "I don't know why, and I don't have time to
talk to you about it."
Olshansky and her colleagues are, apparently, not
alone. For months, rumors and anecdotes have circulated
among left-wing and other activist groups about people
who have been barred from flying or delayed at security
gates because they are "on a list."
But now, a spokesman for the new Transportation
Security Administration has acknowledged for the first
time that the government has a list of about 1,000
people who are deemed "threats to aviation" and not
allowed on airplanes under any circumstances. And in an
interview with Salon, the official suggested that
Olshansky and other political activists may be on a
separate list that subjects them to strict scrutiny but
allows them to fly.
"We have a list of about 1,000 people," said David
Steigman, the TSA spokesman. The agency was created a
year ago by Congress to handle transportation safety
during the war on terror. "This list is composed of
names that are provided to us by various government
organizations like the FBI, CIA and INS
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Muhammed - Terrorist Or Informer?
By Jim Rarey
That John Allen Muhammad, nee John Allen Williams and several aliases, was
known to the U.S. Government long before the "sniper" shooting spree is fast
becoming apparent. There are just too many instances where authorities should
have investigated, arrested and prosecuted him. Even the criminal falsification
of Muhammad's seventeen-year old companion's immigration status by a
Seattle INS official is not a risk bureaucrats ordinarily take without approval or
direction from higher sources.
When Muhammad (using the name of Thomas Alan Lee) was arrested in
Antigua in March, 2001 for his involvement in providing false i.d. and other
documents for entry of illegal aliens into the United States, he was held for two
days and then allowed to "just walk out of the police station and disappear."
Was the two day delay due to Antiguan authorities communicating with U.S.
authorities about Muhammad/Williams/Lee?
Back in the U.S. Muhammad/Williams was detained in Florida when
intercepted with forged credentials for at least two false identities. Again he was
released without charges being made. Later in Tacoma, he and 17 year-old
Malvo were arrested for shoplifting. When he failed to show for his court
hearing a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. For some unexplained
reason, the warrant was not entered into the FBI national data base.
In March of 2000, Muhammad's ex-wife obtained an "Order of Protection"
against him making it illegal for him to own or possess a firearm. Two months
later he sold a Bushmaster rifle (similar to the one used in the sniper killings) to
a gun shop from which he had earlier purchased it. That is the proof of the
weapons violation for which a warrant was issued by a Tacoma magistrate
(Monica J. Benton) less than twenty-four hours before Muhammad was
arrested on October 24, 2002 (31 months after the violation occurred). Malvo
was held as a material witness.
The warrant was supported by an affidavit from BATF agent Craig A. Howe.
It was based in part on an interview FBI agents had conducted with Robert
Edward Holmes the previous day (Oct. 22nd). Holmes was in the army with
Muhammad (then Williams) and said Muhammad had visited him several times
in the last six months and shown him an AR-15 rifle.
At least two persons, months before the sniper attacks, reported to the FBI that
they suspected Muhammad might be a "sleeper" terrorist. FBI officials say no
follow up investigations were done.
It has not been explained how authorities made such a quick connection to
Holmes since they were said to have only identified Muhammad as being
involved with Malvo on Oct. 21st. It was Malvo's fingerprints on a gun
catalogue found at the scene of an attempted robbery and murder in
Montgomery, Alabama which were obtained at the earliest on Oct. 20th that
led to Malvo. The identification of Malvo led investigators to the Pacific
Northwest where they supposedly discovered, for the first time, Malvo's
relationship with Muhammad.
Also, no explanation has been offered as to how the Tacoma warrant came to
list two aliases for Muhammad in addition to John Williams (Wayne Weeks
and Wayne Weekley). The two aliases were not among those known to
Antiguan authorities. Perhaps they were the false i.d.'s Muhammad got caught
with in Florida. In any event, they likely came from a file being kept on
Since none of the derogatory information was entered into the FBI national
data base, Muhammad and Malvo were not detained the four times they were
stopped by police during the sniper spree. But there is another reason black
males were not carefully scrutinized in the traffic stops.
One of Montgomery County, Maryland Police Chief Charles Moose's main
claims to fame, both in Maryland and in Portland, Oregon when he was police
chief there, was reduction of racial profiling of African-Americans and other
minorities. As journalist Paul Sperry discloses in his copyrighted article. "Chief
Moose Cost Lives" Moose instructed officers to search only vehicles with
white male drivers. This according to a BATF agent who was part of the force
manning the blockades.
A look into Moose's activities and associations in Portland raises more
questions. Moose spent 27 years in the Portland Police Department (the last six
as chief). He was appointed chief in 1993 by the leftist mayor of Portland,
Vera Katz. This was shortly after earning a masters degree in public
administration and a doctorate in urban studies from Portland State University
During Moose's studies PSU was (and continues to be) a hotbed of Islamic
terrorists and Jihad propaganda. Moose figuratively rubbed shoulders with
known and suspected terrorists.during his time there. The situation was so bad
that Israel refused to allow students to accept scholarships at PSU fearing for
their safety. This according to the dean of the department offering a Ph.D.
course in terrorism which Moose took.
Moose had a number of confrontations with whites during his tenure and was
disciplined four times while an officer. As chief he also had to offer an apology
to a white sales clerk he had insulted. As chief he virtually reversed the racial
profiling problem into one of profiling whites to the exclusion of blacks. Some
white officers claimed they were being discriminated against.
Mayor Katz also created some controversy of her own. At a large "social"
function she publicly embraced a known drug dealer. At the function.she had
barred police from being present with their weapons. She claimed she could do
that because it was a "private" party although $50,000 in taxpayers' money had
been spent for the entertainment.
This year Mayor Katz refused to allow her police department to participate in
the questioning of middle eastern non-citizens as requested by federal
authorities. On October 4th of this year, three would be terrorists were arrested
in Portland. They had gone to Pakistan and attempted (unsuccessfully) to join
al Qaeda and the Taliban in fighting U.S. forces. One of them, Patrice
Lumumba Ford, had worked as an intern in Mayor Katz' office in 1998 and
1999 during Chief Moose's tenure.
One coincidence not reported in the major media is that Moose and John
Muhammad/Williams both served in the Oregon National guard at the same
time for approximately a year. However their reporting stations were about a
mile apart and there is no known indication that the two ever met.
In 1999, Moose was chosen to be Police Chief at Montgomery County,
Maryland, at least partially on the recommendation of Attorney General Janet
Reno. The NAACP had charged the county with egregious racial profiling and
Moose was brought in to correct the situation.
So what are we to make of John Muhammad/William's seeming immunity
from prosecution in his many brushes with the law in fraudulent documents,
shoplifting and a federal firearms violation. There are several explanations that
could explain most (but not all) of what we now know.
Muhammad may have been an FBI informer or CIA "asset." That would have
resulted in his name being flagged for no action by local law enforcement and
other government agencies, i.e. the INS, Customs, BATF and others if he was
detained for an apparent crime.
Alternatively he may actually be a terrorist with connections in the FBI and
CIA as he bragged to people in Antigua. He also could be a double agent with
ties to an organized terrorist group.
It seems obvious that the government knew a lot about him before the "tips"
started coming in which allegedly resulted in his capture. Those tips are the
most incomprehensible part of the whole scenario if they actually came from
Muhammad and Malvo.
If the anonymous phone calls we are told resulted in the identification of
Muhammad and Malvo as sniper suspects were from someone else, that
implies that the two are being framed.
The only physical evidence against the duo is the rifle allegedly found in their
car with only Malvo's fingerprints on it. Early reports on the radio and
television and in a NYT article by Jayson Blair quoted police as saying no
weapons were found in the car. After the car was loaded into a closed truck
and taken to the BATF laboratory in Rockville, Maryland, the rifle reportedly
But what about the fingerprints? First, it is curious that Malvo's were the only
prints on the rifle. That implies that the rifle had been wiped clean of prints
fairly recently. Could the fingerprints have been planted on the rifle (and the
catalogue in Alabama)?
In the magazine "Justice Denied" in a discussion of fingerprinting, the following
appears. "Transference of actual prints made by real fingers, from one location
to another by means of sticky tape, is one possibility, with techniques long
known to law enforcement officers."
Most would be unwilling to accept that the government would plant evidence in
such a high profile case. However, we do know that (in the past) the FBI
laboratory has fabricated evidence and lied in court about evidence. This was
proved conclusively by Fredrick Whitehurst, a FBI lab supervisor
whistleblower. The FBI has lied at least seventy times to the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain search warrants. Both the FBI and
BATF lied to the Army in the Waco tragedy to obtain tanks and in the Ruby
Ridge killings lied to their own superiors and the Congress.
Which of these possible scenarios is most likely? You be the judge.
Permission is granted to reproduce this article in its entirety.
The author is a free lance writer based in Romulus, Michigan. He is a former
newspaper editor and investigative reporter, a retired customs administrator and
accountant, and a student of history and the U.S. Constitution.
If you would like to receive Medium Rare articles directly, please contact us at
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American Coup: Mid-Term Election Polls vs Actuals
Tuesday, 12 November 2002, 10:25 am
Article: Alastair Thompson
In the interests of further examining the question of whether the vote in some races in the U.S. midterm elections was fixed
by electronic voting machines supplied by republican affiliated companies, Scoop has done some digging. How accurate were
the pollsters in advance of the US mid-term elections?
Scoop’s analysis shows that - according to the polls - the Republican Party experienced a pronounced last minute swing in its
favour of between 4 and 16 points. Remarkably this last minute swing appears to have been concentrated in its effects in
critical Senate races (Georgia and Minnesota) where it secured it's complete control of Congress.
Scoop has compared the results of final week polling in 19 races, with the actual results in those same races.
The full details of the Scoop analysis follow below. In summary Scoop found:
- 14 races showed a post opinion poll swing towards the Republican Party (by between 3 and 16 points);
- 2 races showed a post opinion poll swing towards the Democratic Party (by 2 and 4 points);
- In three races the pollsters were close to correct;
- The largest post opinion poll vote swings occurred in Minnesota and Georgia where pollsters got the final result wrong
(see… Pollsters defend their surveys in wake of upsets for more coverage of this issue);
- All the post polling swings in favour of the democratic party were within the margin of error.
- Several of the post polling swings in favour of the republican party were well outside the margin of error.
- In the states where the senate races were critical and close the swing was predominantly towards the Republicans, with
the exceptions of Arkansas and Missouri. The level of post-poll swing in these races in favour of the Republican Party in each
race were: North Carolina 3, Colorado 4, Georgia 9-12, Minnesota 8-11, Texas 3-11, New Hampshire 1.
- The state where the biggest upset occurred, Georgia, is also the state that ran its election with the most electronic voting
FULL DETAILS OF ANALYSIS FOLLOW…
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At Navy school in Monterey, voices of skepticism about
Sunday, November 10, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
When former Secretary of the Navy James Webb gave a
speech last Thursday at the Naval Postgraduate School
in Monterey slamming the Bush administration's
threatened war with Iraq, an outsider might have
expected the officers assembled there to give him a
In fact, the opposite occurred. The respectful,
admiring welcome he received gave an unusual, somewhat
counterintuitive glimpse into the often- closed world
of the U.S. military. Among the Naval Postgraduate
School's students and faculty, at least, it seems that
independent, critical thinking is alive and well.
Granted, Webb is no outsider. A much-decorated former
Marines officer, he became assistant defense secretary
and secretary of the Navy during the Reagan
administration -- quitting the latter job in 1988 to
protest budget cutbacks in the Navy's fleet expansion
In recent months, Webb has been a vocal critic of the
Bush administration's Iraq policy, calling it, in an
op-ed in the Washington Post, a distraction from the
fight against al Qaeda.
But in his introduction before a packed auditorium, the
school's superintendent, Rear Adm. David Ellison,
called Webb a "military hero" and a "dedicated public
Webb took the baton and ran with it, warning that a war
in Iraq -- and a possible long-term occupation of the
country -- would be a critical mistake.
"We should not occupy territory in Iraq," he said. "Do
you really want the United States on the ground in that
region for a generation?
"I don't think Iraq is that much of a threat," said
Webb, an opinion rarely heard among current or former
Republican administration officials.
But Webb recalled proudly that as Navy secretary in
1987, "I was the only one in the Reagan administration
who opposed the tilt toward Iraq in the war with Iran,"
referring to the U.S. sharing of intelligence and arms
with Saddam Hussein's forces.
The reaction at Monterey to Webb's speech might have
surprised Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who has
led the administration's charge on Iraq.
"His reputation may be controversial, but a lot of
things he said we tend to agree with," said Navy Lt.
Cmdr. Paul Tanks, a graduate student in space systems
The Naval Postgraduate School, at least in civilian
circles, does not have the name recognition of military
institutions like West Point. But it is a premier
school for the U.S. armed services, giving master's and
Ph.D. degrees to mid-level officers of the Navy and
other branches. About one-quarter of its student body
is foreign, from the armed forces of 45 nations.
Some departments, such as meteorology and computer
science, rank with the best of U.S. civilian
"The military is not monolithic," said John Arquilla, a
professor of defense analysis who was in the audience
Thursday. "These are all military officers, they're
very sensible people, and Webb is a very, very
Arquilla, like Webb, is one of the military's critical
thinkers, an oft- quoted expert on what he calls
"network theory" -- studying decentralized
organizations like al Qaeda.
"Iraq is a terrible detour from what we ought to be
doing," Arquilla said. "The real threat is from the al
Qaeda network. Saddam is a minimal threat to us. He
knows that if he uses any of his weapons of mass
destruction against us or our allies, we're going to
nuke him into glass, but if al Qaeda uses them, what
are we going to retaliate against? Whom do we target?"
Arquilla explained that many students agree with Webb.
Military officers, he said, are far from the hard-line,
uncritical followers that most civilians think they
"Most of my students are in special operations, they
want to be challenged, they are off-design thinkers by
nature," Arquilla said.
"Overall, military officers have a great openness of
mind. There's a great capacity for innovative thinking.
They've seen a lot, they've done a lot, they come here
at mid-career. Now, we're getting many who are rotating
out of Afghanistan. This isn't like four-star generals
who are just thinking how to protect their conventional
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The Pentagon's Path From Osama to Saddam Why the War
November 13 - 19, 2002
Even as President Bush strong-armed the UN last week
into passing a virtual declaration of war, he left much
of the world unconvinced of his reasoning for attacking
Iraq. Why are we so eager to take up arms? To protect
ourselves against Saddam Hussein, who the commander in
chief says is poised to strike with weapons of mass
destruction? The imminence of the threat remains
unproven. Because, as many on the left aver, we covet
Iraq's 0il reserves? That's just a vague cliché.
Perhaps a fuller explanation hinges neither on oil nor
on weapons of mass destruction, but on geopolitical
necessity. Exactly how this is so is the subject of a
very elegant paper released in September by the
Institute for National Strategic Studies, part of the
Pentagon's National Defense University. Entitled
"Beyond Containment: Defending U.S. Interests in the
Persian Gulf," it neatly summarizes the historical and
strategic factors affecting U.S. decision-making in the
region. And though its authors may read these words in
horror, their work may be the closest American
strategists have yet come to explaining why we're
taking out Saddam.
"For the U.S., there is no escaping the role of
security guarantor of the Gulf for the foreseeable
future," the report states. "But trying to guarantee
that security through a large-scale, visible, and
permanent-looking U.S. presence will erode security,
undermine security relationships with key Gulf States,
impede needed political reforms, stir domestic
opposition within Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States,
and feed anti-American Islamic extremism. . . .
"If the continued survival of the Saddam Husayn regime
(or a hostile successor regime) extracts huge costs for
regional security, success in removing him and his
circle would yield an enormous payoff. It would not
eliminate all problems from the region, but it would
drastically reduce the requirement for U.S. military
forces to deal with the problems that remained."
Though this report has been made public (it's online at
www.ndu.edu/inss/press/Spelreprts/SR_03.htm), you won't
hear its nuanced conclusions discussed much by the
current administration. Instead, the president
continues to draw a broad link between an attack on
Iraq and Osama bin Laden's attack on us. The act of
deposing Saddam has become part of the war on terror,
and not without reason. For in truth that is a war
Osama declared on us, three years before 9-11, in part
over our conduct not only toward Saudi Arabia, but also
In his 1998 call for jihad against "Jews and
Crusaders," Osama boldly iterated his complaints
against America. "First," the fatwa began, "for more
than seven years, the United States has occupied the
lands of Islam in the holiest of its territories,
Arabia, plundering its riches, overwhelming its rulers,
humiliating its people, threatening its neighbors, and
using its bases in the peninsula as a spearhead to
fight against neighboring Islamic peoples."
This was a reference to U.S. military forces that
remained in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War, at UN
behest, on land that had been virtually off-limits to
infidel troops. Their mission was and is Operation
Southern Watch, which patrols and sometimes bombs
Iraq's southern no-fly zone.
"Second," Osama continued, "despite the immense
destruction inflicted on the Iraqi people . . . and in
spite of the appalling number of dead . . . the
Americans nevertheless, in spite of all this, are
trying once more to repeat this dreadful slaughter."
That proved a prescient reflection of America's growing
frustration with UN sanctions, which were clearly
failing to contain Saddam. Eight months after Osama
issued his fatwa, President Clinton signed the Iraq
Liberation Act, breaking with UN policy and making
regime change the stated aim of the U.S. government.
This measure provides the legal basis for President
Bush's insistence that, when it comes to war on Iraq,
we will go it alone if we have to.
And though the world has been transfixed for more than
a year by America's slow-motion rush to battle, it is
worth remembering that for decades our interests in
Saudi Arabia have shaped our policy toward Iraq, and
that for the last 10 years we have been fighting Saddam
from Saudi Arabia. The connection between the two
powers isn't often made in the media, but it is common
enough knowledge among both the followers of Osama and
the policy-planners in the Pentagon.
The institute report is clear on the need to lower our
Mideast profile without relinquishing our presence.
"Regardless of how regime change occurs in Iraq—whether
it happens quickly and decisively or is protracted and
messy—and whatever type of post-Saddam regime finally
emerges," argue the authors, "the United States will
need to diversify its dependence on regional basing and
forward presence, as well as reduce the visibility and
predictability of its forward-deployed forces."
The U.S. has always considered the Persian Gulf vital
to national security. Ten years ago, a document called
the Defense Planning Guidance—drafted for then
secretary of defense Dick Cheney by then and current
assistant secretary Paul Wolfowitz—was the first
documentation of America's intention to unilaterally
dominate the world, and when parts of it were leaked by
The New York Times, it created a firestorm. Referring
to the Persian Gulf, it read, "Our overall objective is
to remain the predominant outside power in the region,
and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region's
Yet today, the U.S. has almost no access to Iranian or
Iraqi oil, and our very efforts to gain that access are
threatening our traditional ties to the Saudi mother
lode. By getting rid of Saddam, the U.S. not only puts
Iraqi oil in play but gains leverage over Iran. We
could stop bombing Saddam from the bases in Saudi
Arabia, and thus lighten if not erase our military
presence in the kingdom. Further, we get a more open
field in Iraq, with the possibility of remaking not
only that country but the region in our image.
for the rest of this article, go to
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NOVEMBER 14, 04:15 ET
Tainted Soybeans Delivered to Neb.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — About 500 bushels of soybeans contaminated with genetically engineered corn were
delivered to a Nebraska grain elevator, delivering a blow to a biotechnology industry still reeling from a
similar contamination two years ago.
The Omaha World-Herald reported Thursday the soybeans were hauled to Aurora Cooperative Elevator Co.,
about 100 miles west of Omaha, within the last six weeks and had been contaminated with the remnants of a
test plot of experimental corn.
The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday it would order Prodigene Inc. to destroy the entire
500,000-bushel soybean pile — worth an estimated $2.7 million — at its own expense. None of the soybeans
made it into the food supply, so there is no risk to the public, FDA Deputy Commissioner Lester Crawford
The announcement comes just weeks after Prodigene joined several biotech companies in agreeing not to
grow genetically engineered corn intended for drug development in places where it could contaminate
neighboring fields planted with crops for human consumption.
It also follows a massive recall two years ago when the StarLink brand of genetically engineered corn,
approved solely for animal feed, turned up in taco shells.
Neil Harl, an Iowa State University agriculture economist, called the Nebraska contamination ``an early
warning shot across the bow'' for a biotechnology industry trying to create vaccines and other products by
altering genes in plants. ``We have to ramp up our regulatory effort to assure that other incidents do not
occur, and there is no gene-flow out of fields that are producing biotech crops.''
U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors traced the apparent contamination to volunteer corn that sprouted
and grew in the soybean field this year, spokesman Jim Rogers said. Inspectors estimated about one ounce
of corn leaves and stalks was chopped up during the harvest and intermingled with the soybeans.
One acre of the field served as an experimental plot for ProdiGene last year, and the volunteer corn came
``As soon as a concern was raised, we buttoned it up,'' Harlan Schafer, the elevator's interim general
manager, told the World-Herald.
Prodigene is attempting to grow different medications, from hepatitis B vaccine to an insulin-making enzyme,
inside the kernels of genetically modified corn.
ProdiGene officials did not immediately return a phone call left Wednesday night at their offices by The
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NOVEMBER 13, 12:34 ET
Castro, NAACP Discuss Trade Links
By ANITA SNOW
Associated Press Writer
HAVANA (AP) — Cuban leader Fidel Castro ``seemed very
interested'' in creating trade links with thousands of black American
farmers under a U.S. law allowing some agricultural transactions
with the island, the NAACP's leader said Wednesday.
Kweisi Mfume and other members of the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People delegation discussed the issue with
Castro during a four-hour meeting Tuesday. The delegation includes
John Boyd, president of the National Association of Black Farmers,
representing more than 12,000 growers in 38 states.
America's black farmers are eyeing Cuba as a potential market
under a U.S. law allowing direct commercial sales of agricultural
products to the island on a cash basis, Mfume said.
``President Castro seemed very interested and had around him all
the people in the government who could make that happen,'' Kweisi
The 2000 law chips away at the trade embargo imposed by the United States in the early 1960s shortly after
Castro came to power. So far, Cuba has purchased hundreds of millions of dollars worth of American food.
Castro scheduled a meeting between the NAACP delegation and Pedro Alvarez, president of Cuba's food
import company, for later this week, Mfume said.
Another meeting with Castro is possible before the group returns to the United States on Friday, Mfume said.
The NAACP, the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the United States, also is exploring the
possibility of establishing a branch in Cuba, Mfume said. The NAACP, with about 500,000 members, currently
has overseas branches in Japan, Germany and South Korea.
``We hope to build a bridge between the NAACP and the people of Cuba, many of whom are descendants of
Africa,'' said Mfume, the organization's president and chief operating officer.
The former U.S. congressman first traveled to Cuba a decade ago as part of a delegation.
During the current visit, the NAACP delegation also met with government opponents, American diplomats in
Havana and representatives of the National Assembly, Cuba's unicameral parliament.
Back to Main News Page
Sperm Quality Low in Farming Region
Study Finds Sperm Quality, Count Low in Farming Region; Researchers Cite Agricultural Chemicals
The Associated Press
|Nov. 11 — A study has found the quality of semen significantly poorer in men from
rural mid-Missouri than in males from urban areas, and its authors believe agricultural
chemicals might explain the difference.
The University of Missouri researchers said their study offered the first convincing evidence that semen quality measured by the count, shape and movement of sperm varies significantly among regions of the United States.
The study appeared in Monday's online edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Fertile men from mid-Missouri's Boone County were found to have a mean sperm count of about 59 million per milliliter, compared to 103 million for men in New York, 99 million in Minnesota and 81 million in Los Angeles. The sperm of the Boone County men also tended to be less vigorous, the study found.
Dr. Shanna Swan of the University of Missouri-Columbia, the lead researcher, said she and her collaborators believe that environmental factors such as the use of agricultural chemicals might contribute to the differences.
Farms make up more than half of Boone County, and most use chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. In contrast, 0 to 19 percent of the urban areas studied were devoted to farming.
The researchers studied 512 couples receiving prenatal care at clinics in Columbia, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and New York as part of an ongoing Study for Future Families funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Swan said previous studies of semen quality were conducted in large cities, except for a study in Iowa City, Iowa, that also found lower sperm concentration.
Researchers still do not know why semen quality varies geographically, but are testing their hypothesis that exposure to agricultural chemicals through contaminated air or water plays a role.
The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of Minnesota, the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, the University of California, Davis, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
On the Net:
Environmental Health Perspectives: www.ehponline.org/swan2002
Study for Future Families:
Back to Main News Page
Was Wellstone murdered?
It's a legitimate question journalists must feel
free to ask
By Kéllia Ramares
Online Journal Contributing Editor
November 7, 2002—Soon after the news of Minnesota Sen.
Paul Wellstone's death hit the wires, I got a phone call in the
newsroom of radio station KPFA in Berkeley, Calif. The caller
was a listener who said that, after hearing of Wellstone's death,
he called the Washington, DC, office of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-
Calif) to urge that the senator get the Canadian government to
investigate the circumstances of Wellstone's plane crash. The
listener also said that Boxer's staff told him that they were getting
"flooded with calls," urging that the Canadians or some other
foreign government investigate the crash.
The next day I moderated a teach-in after a major anti-war
demonstration in San Francisco. The second speaker asked the
audience of approximately 40 people, "Does anyone here not
think that Wellstone's plane crash was a hit?" No one raised a
hand. As I circulated among the literature tables during one of
the speeches, I noted that people were talking about the news
reports on Wellstone's death and that they had been paying
attention to how the stories evolved. It seemed that the later the
report, the worse the weather was near the Eveleth-Virginia,
Minn., airport at the time of the crash. Although the possibility of
icing seemed to be the concern of the networks by Saturday
evening, several people at the teach-in were aware of the
exchange between CNN's Wolf Blitzer and a reporter on the
scene, who discounted weather problems.
From CNN?s Initial Report:
The crews on the ground found two large sections of plane. The tail
section was intact. The weather did not have anything to do with
the crash, said the on the scene reporter.
Wolf Blitzer tried to correct her.
He said, The plane was flying into the storm of freezing rain, right?
"There is no evidence that weather had anything to do with the
The on-the-scene reporter stuck to her guns.
Peruse the Internet and you will easily find people who doubt
that the crash was an accident and they back up those doubts
with rational questions about the flight and rational concerns
about the state of the country. But Wellstone was barely in his
grave when a news director on a radio listserve to which I
belong made a comment that is typical, even stereotypical, of
what I've come to call the Lily-Livered Left:
"I can't stand it how so many people, not just in the left, get
invested in conspiracy theories when the power structures anyone
can see and observe in broad daylight suffice to explain what's
going on. . . . More than once I head callers to Talk of the Nation or
The Connection start making truthful, to-the-mark observations
about power politics only to veer off into lunatic conspiracy theories,
disqualifying their entire statement. Thanks a lot, man!
". . . . May I remind people that air travel is dangerous? In January
an FAA inspector died in a plane crash in Alaska, called to
investigate the high incidence of plane crashes there. A
conspiracy? How about bad weather?
"Please, I'm not denying that we have murderous power structures,
but I don't like it when people start discrediting themselves,
especially when they are in the alternative media business."
Yes, bad weather happens, mechanical parts fail, pilots make
mistakes, and birds fly into planes. All these matters are being
investigated in the Wellstone case, rightly so.
Here are some of the preliminary findings:
Safety Record of the type of aircraft involved:
Fifty accidents involving King Air A100s have occurred since
1975, according to the FAA. Five were fatal, but three of those
five weren't the plane's fault. King Air A100 accidents since
1975 have killed eight people in the United States and injured
The aircraft's safety record is particularly impressive considering
its widespread use. (From the Duluth-Superior 10–25–02)
Experience of the Pilots:
. . . only one pilot is required to fly the plane, two were hired
because a senator was on board.
The pilots of Wellstone's plane . . . Conry had nearly 5200 hours
of flying time and the highest certification a pilot can attain, his
company said. Guess had 650 hours and was certified as a
commercial pilot; he graduated from UND's aeronautics
program. (From the Minneapolis Star Tribune 10–26–02)
Physical Condition of the Pilots:
Dr. Thomas Uncini, St. Louis County's chief medical examiner,
said Monday his preliminary conclusions are that the two pilots
were in good physical condition and there were no signs that
they suffered a heart attack or stroke. "No, it didn't happen," he
said of medical problems. "It looked pretty straightforward."
(From the 10–29–02 St. Paul Pioneer Press)
Newspaper reports, as well as an email exchange I have had
with a former private pilot, indicate a catastrophic loss of control
in the last minutes of the flight, in an airplane with a good
reputation, with two fully qualified pilots, in good health, the
more experienced of whom had passed a test required to
maintain licensure just two days before. Think about it again:
Last minute catastrophic loss of control of an airplane that was
carrying a man with a reputation as being the most liberal US
senator, who was last on the Chamber of Commerce's list of
business-friendly senators, who was the only senator up for
re-election in a close race who voted against Bush's Iraq war
resolution, who was regarded as an enemy by those who occupy
the White House, and who was holding a seat the White House
wanted in order to regain control of the Senate . . . and the polls
were showing that Wellstone's "no" vote on the Iraq war
resolution was gaining him support!
Those of us who look askance at "coincidence theory" are
wondering, "What are the odds that two Democratic Senate
candidates, in two closely contested races important to the Bush
camp, would die in purely accidental plane crashes in the waning
days of their campaigns in two consecutive election cycles?"
According to the airport manager, the pilots clicked on the
runway lights by sending a signal from the plane, and were never
heard from again. Maybe the switch that turned on the runway
lights was rigged with a gas bomb, knocking out both pilots who
slumped over their controls causing the plane to take a steep
dive into the ground.
Then again, maybe shortly after the pilots clicked on the runway
lights, a stray loon flew into the windscreen, shattering it,
knocking out both pilots who slumped over their controls causing
the plane to take a steep dive into the ground.
Sound journalism, especially in today's political climate, asks
both questions. Lily-Livered Leftists, concerned with being
"discredited," (by whom?) discredit themselves by closing off the
possibility of foul play.
As anyone familiar with the entertainment industry knows, plane
crashes happen. That fact also makes it easy to dismiss (and
hide?) sabotage. The world is full of criminals, people with such
a lust for power or taste for money that they are not beyond
killing someone, or paying off someone to kill, if it suits their
goals. It's an ugly reality, but assassination happens.
So why do some journalists feel the need to demonize the
possibility of conspiracy with adjectives such as "lunatic?" After
all, doesn't organized crime exist? What about the corporate
executives who are being led away in handcuffs these days?
Does anyone seriously believe that each person guilty of crimes
in the current corporate accounting scandals acted alone, in total
ignorance of what their colleagues were doing? If there is
concerted action in criminal enterprises such as drug trafficking,
and in the so-called "legitimate" business world, e.g. Arthur
Andersen, isn't it lunacy to believe that criminal conspiracies
never, ever happen in politics? Indeed, if the plane that crashed
had carried Bush, Cheney or any of the Cabinet members to
their deaths, wouldn't assassination be the first thing everyone
would be investigating? In fact, the first assumption in their cases
would be "It was Al Qaeda!" (Terrorism was briefly raised and
quickly eliminated in the Wellstone case). Isn't any terrorist
organization a criminal conspiracy?
I think that facile dismissal of the possibility of foul play in
Wellstone's case is symptomatic of the state of denial many
media makers are in concerning the ruthlessness of the Bush
camp. What reason is there to believe that there is some magical,
moral bright line that these political actors who have committed
atrocities abroad would refuse to cross in pursuing their agenda
at home? The notion that there would never be criminal
conspiracies among the highest echelons of American politics is
at best naïve grade school patriotism and at worst it's "them not
us" racism. That this notion of "lunatic conspiracy theories"
persists even after the truly non-corporate journalists have
exposed the Bush camp's foreknowledge of 9–11 shows that the
denial runs very deep.
The person who spoke of "lunatic conspiracy theories" on the
listserve said, "Also, if the 'Repiglicans' wanted to snatch that
Senate seat all they had to do is prop up the Green candidate
hoping it would divert enough votes; it's been tried in Oregon."
But what if gaining that particular Senate seat was not the main
goal? What if the main goal was to intimidate members of
Congress? I think that has been tried also, in the form of anthrax
letters sent to Democratic leaders during the debate on the USA
PATRIOT Act. It's worth noting that the anthrax was
American-made and the attacks stopped once that
unconstitutional abomination was passed.
The next problem is the Lily-Livered Leftist insistence that we
focus on abstractions, rather than on human actors who can be
There are times when social change has to be approached
systemically, such as in passing amendments to the Constitution.
But, just what is a "murderous power structure?" Is it a
high-voltage electrical tower come to life and gone berserk?
How does a structure commit murder? What is a power
structure but a group of people operating within a certain set of
rules, rules which may include eliminating their enemies? In these
cases, the only way to get to the "root cause" of the problem, as
the structuralists like to call it, is to go after the criminals. Catch
enough of them, and the system may change because the bad
actors will realize that they can't get away with murder. Focus on
incremental, institutional change during a revolutionary time like
the present, and you may find yourself in an institution.
As a journalist, what is most troubling to me about the comment
made on the listserve is its source. It came from the news
director of a community radio station. And it reflects a viewpoint
held by so-called progressive writers such as Norman Solomon,
David Corn, and Marc Cooper, who are respected in left media
circles. In essence, what this news director is saying is that
people in the independent media should eliminate certain lines of
inquiry before the investigation fairly begins. By this approach,
rather than testing the conspiracy theory against the facts, he
refuses to even formulate the hypothesis. A comment such as "I
don't like it when people start discrediting themselves, especially
when they are in the alternative media business," reeks of the
need for approval. Approval from whom? Certainly not the
anti-war protesters who believe Wellstone was murdered. And
those are the very people likely to be using independent media.
Whenever someone says, "Don't go there. Don't ask about that.
Don't investigate that," as Dick Cheney is saying about 9–11,
that is the first place a reporter should go, ask about and
investigate. Anything else allows gatekeepers to limit the scope
of the reporter's search for truth. Once that happens, journalism
is turned into stenography for the power elite. Unfortunately, that
is the way some of the Lily-Livered Leftists would have it.
Back to Main News Page
Gore Vidal claims 'Bush junta'
complicit in 9/11
America's most controversial novelist calls for an
investigation into whether the Bush administration
deliberately allowed the terrorist attacks to happen
Talk: Gore Vidal on Bush
Terrorism crisis: Observer special
Sunday October 27, 2002
America's most controversial writer Gore Vidal has launched the
most scathing attack to date on George W Bush's Presidency,
calling for an investigation into the events of 9/11 to discover
whether the Bush administration deliberately chose not to act on
warnings of Al-Qaeda's plans.
Vidal's highly controversial 7000 word polemic titled 'The Enemy
Within' - published in the print edition of The Observer today -
argues that what he calls a 'Bush junta' used the terrorist
attacks as a pretext to enact a pre-existing agenda to invade
Afghanistan and crack down on civil liberties at home.
Vidal writes: 'We still don't know by whom we were struck that
infamous Tuesday, or for what true purpose. But it is fairly plain
to many civil libertarians that 9/11 put paid not only to much of
our fragile Bill of Rights but also to our once-envied system of
government which had taken a mortal blow the previous year
when the Supreme Court did a little dance in 5/4 time and
replaced a popularly elected President with the oil and gas
Vidal argues that the real motive for the Afghanistan war was to
control the gateway to Eurasia and Central Asia's energy riches.
He quotes extensively from a 1997 analysis of the region by
Zgibniew Brzezinski, formerly national security adviser to
President Carter, in support of this theory. But, Vidal argues, US
administrations, both Democrat and Republican, were aware
that the American public would resist any war in Afghanistan
without a truly massive and widely perceived external threat.
'Osama was chosen on aesthetic grounds to be the frightening
logo for our long-contemplated invasion and conquest of
Afghanistan ... [because] the administration is convinced that
Americans are so simple-minded that they can deal with no
scenario more complex than the venerable, lone, crazed killer
(this time with zombie helpers) who does evil just for the fun of it
'cause he hates us because we're rich 'n free 'n he's not.' Vidal
also attacks the American media's failure to discuss 11
September and its consequences: 'Apparently, "conspiracy
stuff" is now shorthand for unspeakable truth.'
'It is an article of faith that there are no conspiracies in American
life. Yet, a year or so ago, who would have thought that most of
corporate America had been conspiring with accountants to
cook their books since - well, at least the bright dawn of the era
of Reagan and deregulation.'
At the heart of the essay are questions about the events of 9/11
itself and the two hours after the planes were hijacked. Vidal
writes that 'astonished military experts cannot fathom why the
government's "automatic standard order of procedure in the
event of a hijacking" was not followed'.
These procedures, says Vidal, determine that fighter planes
should automatically be sent aloft as soon as a plane has
deviated from its flight plan. Presidential authority is not required
until a plane is to be shot down. But, on 11 September, no
decision to start launching planes was taken until 9.40am,
eighty minutes after air controllers first knew that Flight 11 had
been hijacked and fifty minutes after the first plane had struck
the North Tower.
'By law, the fighters should have been up at around 8.15. If they
had, all the hijacked planes might have been diverted and shot
Vidal asks why Bush, as Commander-in-Chief, stayed in a
Florida classroom as news of the attacks broke: 'The behaviour
of President Bush on 11 September certainly gives rise to not
unnatural suspicions.' He also attacks the 'nonchalance' of
General Richard B Myers, acting Joint Chief of Staff, in failing to
respond until the planes had crashed into the twin towers.
Asking whether these failures to act expeditiously were down to
conspiracy, coincidence or error, Vidal notes that incompetence
would usually lead to reprimands for those responsible, writing
that 'It is interesting how often in our history, when disaster
strikes, incompetence is considered a better alibi than .... Well,
yes, there are worse things.'
Vidal draws comparisons with another 'day of infamy' in
American history, writing that 'The truth about Pearl Harbour is
obscured to this day. But it has been much studied. 11
September, it is plain, is never going to be investigated if Bush
has anything to say about it.' He quotes CNN reports that Bush
personally asked Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to limit
Congressional investigation of the day itself, ostensibly on
grounds of not diverting resources from the anti-terror campaign.
Vidal calls bin Laden an 'Islamic zealot' and 'evil doer' but argues
that 'war' cannot be waged on the abstraction of 'terrorism'. He
says that 'Every nation knows how - if it has the means and will
- to protect itself from thugs of the sort that brought us 9/11 ...
You put a price on their heads and hunt them down. In recent
years, Italy has been doing that with the Sicilian Mafia; and
no-one has suggested bombing Palermo.'
Vidal also highlights the role of American and Pakistani
intelligence in creating the fundamentalist terrorist threat:
'Apparently, Pakistan did do it - or some of it' but with American
support. "From 1979, the largest covert operation in the history
of the CIA was launched in response to the Soviet invasion of
Afghanistan ... the CIA covertly trained and sponsored these
Vidal also quotes the highly respected defence journal Jane's
Defence Weekly on how this support for Islamic fundamentalism
continued after the emergence of bin Laden: 'In 1988, with US
knowledge, bin Laden created Al-Qaeda (The Base); a
conglomerate of quasi-independent Islamic terrorist cells spread
across 26 or so countries. Washington turned a blind eye to
Vidal, 77, and internationally renowned for his award-winning
novels and plays, has long been a ferocious, and often isolated,
critic of the Bush administration at home and abroad. He now
lives in Italy. In Vidal's most recent book, The Last Empire, he
argued that 'Americans have no idea of the extent of their
government's mischief ... the number of military strikes we have
made unprovoked, against other countries, since 1947 is more
Back to Main News Page
Nov 12, 2002
Study finds climate of racial animosity
Focus is Va. office of USDA division
BY MICHAEL MARTZ
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Racial animosity pervades the Virginia office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural
Development division, creating a hostile work environment and generating a surge of
discrimination complaints, a study says.
According to a closely guarded study by a consultant, employees, especially at the agency's
headquarters in Richmond, define human-relations and management disputes in "racial and
gender terms as acts of discrimination." The result has been a flood of complaints to the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission.
Employees have filed nine complaints against the agency since 1995, said the study by
Woodard & Associates. Six of those complaints alleged a hostile work environment, two
alleged retaliation and reprisal and one each alleged racial or sexual harassment.
Rural Development's failure to intervene with training in workplace diversity and team building
"has created a racial and gender schism" within the work force, the study concludes.
The report discounts a perception of "reverse discrimination" among white employees - white
males still receive most of the promotions.
But it said some black employees had developed "a hypersensitivity to using the complaint
process" for issues that could be resolved internally.
The report also blamed poor morale, staff reductions and declining customer service on major
reorganizations of the agency in 1994 and 1997. Little money has been available for essential
As a result, the study said, customers have filed almost two-dozen discrimination complaints
against the agency since the mid-1990s, primarily because of housing-related cases at
regional offices in Lynchburg, Harrisonburg and Suffolk.
USDA's Office of Civil Rights released a copy of the study to The Times-Dispatch under the
Freedom of Information Act.
The study was ordered two years ago by then-Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and
completed six months later. The Office of Civil Rights refused to release the report until last
week because USDA had not responded fully to it.
However, USDA strongly denied allegations that the problems in Virginia stemmed from the
"All of the Rural Development [offices] went through reorganization and are not experiencing the
magnitude of problems that have been identified in the State of Virginia," wrote Thomas C.
Dorr, undersecretary for rural development, in a point-by-point response a week ago.
Jim Brownlee, a spokesman for USDA, said yesterday the department "will not tolerate any
form of discrimination."
Brownlee said the department wants to improve employee morale in Virginia through ongoing
training of managers and employees and greater use of dispute processes that avoid formal
"It's mandatory department-wide, not just Rural Development," he said.
Dorr acknowledged the discrimination-complaint process "has been overused" and that
"management has not done those things that could have alleviated some of the problems."
However, he said, Rural Development's state director, Joseph Newbill, "is handling the
complaints in a fair and equitable manner."
Newbill, former director of the agency's Lynchburg office, was appointed state director by the
Bush administration last year. The study was conducted when Newbill's predecessor, Lloyd A.
Jones, was in charge.
But a lawyer for a former employee urged Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman to fire
"Mr. Newbill and the national [Rural Development] administration have wholly failed to
implement the Woodard recommendations, choosing instead to ignore and 'bury' the report,"
said James W. Myart Jr. of San Antonio, who also obtained a copy of the report under the
Freedom of Information Act.
Myart represents Ava Marshall, who was fired by Newbill in late July, almost nine months after
he gave her notice of her dismissal. She has filed discrimination complaints against the
Marshall, 48, has been both the beneficiary and the target of discrimination complaints in the
past. Myart said she was given a "six-figure settlement" of a racial-discrimination complaint five
years ago and was made director of civil rights and management control in the state Rural
More than two years ago, however, USDA agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit filed in
federal court by Maria Gauthier, a white woman who alleged that Marshall, who is black, had
discriminated against her and threatened her life.
USDA denied discriminating against Gauthier but acknowledged in court documents Marshall
had made a threatening statement and had a history of prejudice against white women.
Marshall denied the allegations yesterday. "I was made the scapegoat," she said.
She and Myart said the department had retaliated against her for revealing evidence of racial
discrimination against black farmers in USDA loan problems more than a decade ago.
"She is what I would call a whistleblower extraordinaire," Myart said.
This fall, USDA lost a jury judgment of more than $700,000 in a federal lawsuit filed by a former
Rural Development employee.
The employee, Louis B. Proffitt, contended he had been the victim of gender discrimination in
the agency's Harrisonburg office and retaliation for filing a complaint against his supervisor.
Contact Michael Martz at (804) 649-6964 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This story can be found at:
Back to Main News Page
Half-A-Million March in Anti-War Rally in Italy
By Luke Baker
Saturday, 09 November, 2002
FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - More than half a million anti-war protesters from across Europe marched
through this Italian Renaissance city on Saturday in a loud and colorful demonstration denouncing any
possible U.S. attack on Iraq.
Brimming with anti-American feelings and riled by a tough new U.N. resolution to disarm Iraq, young
and old activists from as far afield as Russia and Portugal joined forces for the carnival-like rally, singing
Communist anthems and 1970s peace songs.
"Take your war and go to hell," read one banner, in a forest of multi-colored and multi-lingual placards.
"Drop Bush, not Bombs" read another. Some placards depicted President Bush (news - web sites) as
Hitler and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as Mussolini.
Organizers said the rally, planned months ago, gained added relevance by Friday's U.N. Security
Council resolution which gave Iraq a last chance to disarm or face almost certain war.
The protest, involving children as well as grandmothers, marked the climax of the first European Social
Forum, a four-day meeting of anti-globalisation campaigners from all over Europe. Delegates discussed
topics from debt-reduction to support for the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.
Florence has been virtually shut down for the November 6-10 period, with the State Department advising
its citizens to steer clear of Italy's art capital over concerns that violent, anarchist groups might infiltrate the
Authorities estimated that some 450,000 protesters flooded Florence's streets for the march on a chilly
But by dusk, the crowed had swelled to over half a million, many of them arriving on specially chartered
trains and buses. Organizers estimated the gathering at around one million, making it one of Italy's biggest
ever anti-war rallies.
Despite the large crowds, the march was largely peaceful and no incidents were reported.
"The atmosphere here is wonderful. Absolutely perfect. It shows that a new young left is emerging," said
Stavos Valsamis, a 27-year-old Greek activist from Athens.
Children climbed on their parents' shoulders to get a view of the sea of crowds marching along the
seven-km (4.5-miles) route. Many clapped as marchers passed by.
"This is amazing, it's so impressive," said 12-year-old Bianca Ronglia as she watched with her family
from the side of the road. "I'm happy and proud that my city is holding this."
BIGGER THAN GENOA
The march was bigger than a protest at a G8 summit in Genoa last year, when 300,000 demonstrators
took to the streets and an orgy of violence left one protester dead and hundreds injured.
Some 7,000 police officers were on call but security forces kept a low profile along the rally's route. No
incidents were reported.
The rest of Florence was a ghost town with most shops in the art-rich historical center pulling down the
shutters for fear of vandals. However, the city's famed museums remained open and offered free entry to the
few tourists around.
Many Florence residents deserted the city for the four days of the forum, prompting criticism from those
who stayed behind.
"I'm really disappointed by my fellow Florentines -- it really shows very little faith. This whole event has
been very calm, in fact the city has been much calmer and friendlier than usual," said housewife Maria
As well as university-age students, older political activists and thousands of trades unionists,
Saturday's throng also included Italian World War II partisans and a U.S. Vietnam war veteran who
marched in the first row of the crowd.
While Friday's U.N. resolution gives the Security Council a central role in assessing the new arms'
inspection program for Iraq, it does not require the United States to seek U.N. authorization for war in case
"I think it's a scandalous resolution," said Sean Murray, 29, a member of Workers' Revolution. "It proves
once more that the U.N. is a puppet of America, Britain and France."
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who
have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational
Back to Main News Page
How to Break the American Trance
AlterNet November 8, 2002 Viewed on November 11, 2002
The following is a speech given by 92-year-old Doris
"Granny D" Haddock, who walked across the U.S. in
1999-2000 for campaign finance reform. She made this
speech to Citizens for Participation in Political
Action in Boston, on Sept. 27, 2002.
I want to begin by congratulating you for all the work you do. I know it is
often frustrating work. You are blessed to be able to see ahead to a world of
cooperation and peace -- a world of justice and sustainable economies and
meaningful democracies. You wonder why others cannot or will not see these
things or reach out for them, and why they in fact oppose the obvious good --
why they take the part of the oppressor, the blindered war horse.
I would like us to take a few moments to consider why
this work is so hard, and what we might do to move
toward our common dreams more rapidly and with greater
Some of you may be old enough to remember the Reagan
Administration. Mr. Reagan and those around him
believed in a very new kind of American hero. This new
hero was a business hero -- not the fellow who built up
a family furniture store on Main Street and supported
the Little League and the Scouts; this new hero was not
the woman who worked late hours to create a successful
travel agency, nor was this new business hero anything
like any of the hard-working Americans who built-up our
middle class, advanced our standard of living and gave
us the resources and leisure for the proper civic life
of a democracy, with its leagues and Rotaries and Lions
and Elks and VFWs and party conventions and all that
No, the Reagan business hero was the corporate takeover
Any regulations that might get in the way of these
ruthless new capitalists were removed -- removed so
that reptiles of uncommon greed and brutality might
rule the earth, which they now nearly do.
What soon happened was that ALL corporations of medium
size or larger had to look over their shoulders. How
did a corporation protect itself in this environment
from a hostile takeover? It had to close down any
factories that were not earning obscene profits. Never
mind that a factory had served a town well for a
century, or that it provided a healthy and regular
profit for its stockholders. If it seemed to be
underperfoming by the new hypergreed standards, or if
it could be closed in favor of opening a foreign plant
that provided a slightly higher rate of return, then,
in this new atmosphere, the company was derelict in its
duty to its stockholders if it did not ruthlessly act.
Perfectly good and profitable factories were closed.
Benefits to employees everywhere were attacked, and
staffs were downsized, outsourced, computerized,
downsized again, outsourced again to temp agencies that
paid no health care or retirement, and on and on until
America became a very different place. The gap between
rich and poor is now wider than at any time in our
It is still a wealthy nation for many people, but
poverty is on the rise, and those with jobs find
themselves so overworked trying to make ends meet that
there is little time for family or for the joy of
living. Indeed, there is very little joy left in
American life. Workers are not loyal to their
companies, because companies treat them like expendable
slaves, with no dignity or assurance that hard work
will result in advancement or security.
We are living in the harsh world invented by a handful
of corporate raiders whose values were completely
foreign to the fairness and moderation that had so long
served as the proper foundation of American success and
the American dream of plenty for all. They were not a
new kind of person, for there have always been among us
a few reptilian hearts of uncommon greed. What was new
was the political permission they received for their
rape and rampage, which continues.
And so a new world devolved as if from a virus. The new
business hero, a Horatio Alger on crack, did very well.
The new model CEO derived from that moment -- the
ruthless mercenary who would come in to reorganize a
company and render it takeover-proof by rendering it
inhumane. This executive was worth millions per year,
we were told. In this way, a Darwinian system of
corporate survival assured that the most carnivorous,
rather than the most responsible, would rise to lead
our most powerful commercial organizations. And if you
need an explanation for Fox News or Enron, this is the
history you need to remember.
These superwealthy predators now, through their
political patronage, control both political parties.
They control Congress and the White House. They control
elements within your state house. They are not
particularly smart people, as their current agent in
the White House clearly demonstrates.
Here is how the takeover of corporations became the
corporate takeover of American democracy: To get along
and move up in one of these right wing business
organizations, you have to be like the boss. The people
working under you will then want to be like you to get
along themselves. In Fox News, even reporters in local
regions are told how to slant each story hard to the
right. There is no pretense of journalism within the
organization. And many people stuck in those jobs, who
got into journalism with the idea of doing legitimate
journalism, are sick to their stomachs every working
In this way, the right-wing leanings of a few people
have distorted entire industries, including television
news. Political leaders are quickly infected in this
trickle down reptilism -- trickling down from the
people who write the checks for political campaigns and
who control political news.
And the reptilism trickles down further, to the weaker
minds listening to talk radio or silly enough to spend
too much time watching cable television news -- people
who buy the lies, who are simply suckered into forking
over their own political best interests to the con
artists who attempt to pick their pockets at the same
moment they are pointing out others who, they say, are
the real trouble makers. About 25 percent of our people
are susceptible to this kind of con, and they then give
us problems by standing against any reasonable reforms.
They have been spiritually twisted by the cheap poison
of a hundred Rush Limbaughs into the angry, unthinking
agents of the superrich.
On my long walk across America, a man driving a garbage
truck told me that the biggest problem facing America
today was the inheritance tax. I didn't have to ask him
if he had a radio in his truck.
I remind you of all this because it is important to
know that the reason our reforms are difficult is not
because Americans are split into two camps,
conservative and liberal. It is not like that at all.
There are lots of conservatives and liberals in
America, but we are not the two sides of the divide.
True conservatives in our country don't have many
political leaders to look to with respect. Among the
last was Barry Goldwater. He believed that the
government had no business in our bedrooms. He believed
that a woman and her doctor didn't need the
government's help in deciding her important issues. He
would have laughed and then, I think, become very, very
angry at Ashcroft's attacks on the Bill of Rights and
his citizen-against-citizen snitching system. Goldwater
believed that the only issue of importance regarding
gays in the military was whether or not they could
What we are seeing now from the far right is not
conservatism at all. It is fascism: the imposition of a
national and worldwide police state to enforce a narrow
world view that enriches and empowers the few at the
expense of the many, and that gives no respect or honor
to other cultures, ways of living, or opinions. To call
that conservatism is a crime against the memory of
America's great and true conservatives, who might think
that government ought to be less involved in life than
we old liberals would concur with, but who nevertheless
stood for the core American values that today's
right-wing leaders undermine at every opportunity.
We Americans are not split into liberals and
conservatives. In fact, if you are running for office
from the center, or from left of center, just do a
better job of demonstrating how far right-wing your
opponent is, and you will win more and more votes. You
will win them from the vast number of people, most
especially urban women and professional men, who
identify themselves as Republicans for old time's sake,
but who are very uncomfortable when forced to look
squarely at the far right positions of many candidates
running under the flag of the Grand Old Party. Given
moderate alternatives, they will vote for them. That
was exactly the truth that Clinton understood and
exploited so brilliantly. He understood that
Republicans are conservatives but the Republican Party
is not. If you want to reflect upon how well he
exploited this insight, remember that Hillary was a
Republican when he met her.
If we Americans are split into two meaningful camps, it
is not conservative versus liberal. The two camps are
these: the politically awake and the hypnotized --
hypnotized by television and other mass media, whose
overpaid Svengalis dangle the swinging medallions of
packaged candidates and oft-told lies. It is all done
to politically prolong the open season on us -- open
season indeed, as the billionaire takeover artists bag
their catch for the day. And in their bags are our
freedoms, our leisure, our health care futures, our old
age security, our family time, our village life, our
family-owned businesses on Main Street, the middle
class itself, and our position of honor and peaceful
leadership in the world.
Once we understand what we are up against, and where
the meaningful dividing lines truly run, our lives as
reformers can be easier because we shall know how to
How to break the hypnosis is then the question. It is
Pull any contractor out of his white pickup truck, turn
down the talk radio blaring from it, and ask him,
"Government good, or government bad?"
His glazed eyes will widen. "Government bad!" he will
Ok, good. You found one to play with.
Now, ask him what the town might do to make it safer
for kids to get to and from school, and around town
when they're not in school, without getting killed by
traffic or getting in trouble. He will have a million
ideas. Good ideas. He has no clue that he is being
government -- if government is what happens when we get
together to solve our common problems and to make life
better for our communities.
You have broken his trance.
When a proposition is on the ballot, people talk about
the mechanics of the idea, and the hypnosis is largely
circumvented. You see quite progressive ballot
propositions passing in otherwise quite unprogressive
states. Why? Because people are problem-solvers at
heart, and they enjoy it. They want to participate and
be helpful and accepted as valuable players. It takes a
lot of hypnosis to overcome that instinct, and a lot of
hypnosis is what we have had. But we can get around it.
Government agencies, of course, have been the
communitarian's worst enemies. Anything that smacks of
bureaucratic rudeness or pushiness or counterproductive
stubbornness does nothing but damage the idea that
government is us -- we the people acting together to
solve our problems as fellow citizens. That brand of
government really needs to be stamped out whenever it
shows its pinched, gray face. That is what can be done
and must be done to prepare the ground for what must
come next, which is a new engagement of citizens with
the issues of interest to them in their communities. We
should begin in our high schools. During the years from
13 to 19, lifelong civic values are formed.
We should start with our younger people. As community
leaders, we should work with the popular history and
civics teachers in our high schools to bring the issues
of the day and the issues of the town into the
classroom -- not to propagandize but to openly invite
students to learn, research, and offer advice to the
community on a wide range of issues. This is where the
hypnosis falls apart. This is where democracy finds its
This summer I asked America's independent community
radio stations to get involved with those same teachers
in our high schools, to make students into community
reporters and commentators. I reminded these indy news
stations that they have the technology and the dramatic
missions young people crave. I said young people will
never become robots if they are enlisted in the cause
of truth at an early age.
What we do in schools, we must also do in colleges and
then in the general community. But if we only have the
means to focus on the high schools, that is enough.
These young people will be voting in only a few years.
If we support their increased civic engagement as they
move through college and into the community, we will
have raised an army of citizens immunized against
corporate hypnosis. Our victories for needed reforms
will come naturally. With an engaged and informed
citizenry, who knows what good we might do, and what
great civilization we might yet again move toward?
True conservatives and liberals unite! Bring your
issues and your opinions to our young people, and
create a new expectation that they will get involved,
get informed, and form a view of themselves as
problem-solving citizens of a democracy. Our
differences from the left or right are nothing compared
to the differences between the politically awake and
the hypnotized drones of the new colonialism that now
stalks and shreds our civilization.
I urge you to think young, to link with moderates on
the other side of the fence, and to approach the
schools and teachers who can help you connect your
young, rising citizens to the issues that will shape
If you believe that human beings, in addition to all
their other instincts, want to help create and live in
a happy, creative and cooperative world, then you must
believe that people are to be trusted in their politics
so long as they are encouraged to study everyone's
experience and study the competing points of view --
and so long as they are raised with enough love and
security to be capable of empathy. We need not force a
liberal agenda on our society, any more than we need
force our political opinions on our children. We can
enjoy life instead of banging our heads against the old
walls. If we encourage an awake thoughtfulness,
democracy and justice will have all the victories our
hearts can handle.
To read more of Doris Haddock's writings, visit
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