COLUMN 101, JANUARY 1, 2004
(Copyright © 2004 The Blacklisted Journalist)

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Subject: The Liquidation of the Commons
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2003 22:28:11 -0500

Liquidation of the Commons
There has not been such a wholesale giveaway of America's public assets since McKinley was president in the late 1800s 

By Adam Werbach 

November21, 2003, In These Times 

When the Bush administration's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency was asked to describe his goals, Gov. Mike Leavitt of Utah summed up his general approach by invoking the Latin term enlibra, which roughly means "in balance." In typical fashion for the Bush administration, the choice of language is both
elegant and misleading. Environmentalists understand balance, but Leavitt's balance is not the tending of the delicate interaction between nature and humanity in order to ensure that the ecological systems on which we rely are protected. An examination of the Bush administration's record during its first three years in office demonstrates that it views its role as reestablishing the preeminent right of corporations to take from nature what they need with little regard for the long-term health of nature or for the communities that live downwind or can't afford bottled water. The "balance" the administration wishes to strike is akin to an affirmative action program for corporate polluters. 

There has not been such a wholesale giveaway of our common assets to corporate interests since the presidency of William McKinley. In the 1896 presidential election, McKinley was aided in his battle against the
great American populist, William Jennings Bryan, by coal and oil magnate Mark Hanna. Hanna has been cited by Karl Rove, President Bush's key political adviser, as a major influence and inspiration. Hanna raised more than $4 million in campaign contributions from corporations like Standard Oil and unapologetically blanketed the country with pamphlets suggesting that only a government thatcatered first to the needs of corporate interests could serve the needs of the people. Upon election, McKinley proceeded to give away large sections of America's common assets under the direction of Hanna.

The Bush administration, elected with the contributions of America's largest polluting companies, is on a similar path. Executing the plan are the same people who were lobbying for exemptions and tax breaks before Bush
took office, only now they're being paid by the federal government. For example, the Undersecretary of the
Interior, J. Steven Griles, is an industry lobbyist still being paid by his former firm to work on behalf of that firm's interests rather than on behalf of the interests of the American people.  ##

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Subject: The Cross of Iron
Date: Sat, 22 Nov 2003 18:38:35 -0500

The Cross of Iron 

By Conn Hallinan

With less than a year before the next election, the recent scandal over a sweet-heart deal to lease air tankers from the Boeing Corporation underlines the enormous and disturbing power the arms industry exerts
on American politics. The original deal involved leasing 100 Boeing 767s for $22.9 billion, several billion dollars more than it would have cost to buy them outright. The scheme unraveled when Sen. John McCain (R-Az) revealed that Boeing had rigged the bidding through Andrew Card, White House Chief of Staff. In the uproar that followed, the Department of Defense (DOD) recast the deal: lease 20 tankers and buy 80, saving a little over $4 billion.

The whole business, however, is a sobering reminder of how lobbyists and Political Action Committee (PAC)
contributions can distort the political process. "The curtain has been lifted on the real power brokers in Washington," noted Keith Ashdown, vice-president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. There is serious money involved in all this. While the official military budget for 2004 will be $401.3 billion, that figure doesn't include a number of add-ons, from the cost of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, to the production and maintenance of nuclear weapons. The actual price tag for military spending in fiscal 2004 will be $486 billion, or 56 percent of all federal discretionary spending. That figure is likely to rise, given the recent failure of the Madrid conference to generate little more than loans and import credits for Iraq. The war that has already cost $65 billion.  ##

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Subject: California Is First State to Mandate Verifiable E-Voting
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 21:10:47 -0500

California Goes Verifiable,2645,61334,00.html'tw=wn_tophead_1 

E-Votes Must Leave a Paper Trail 

By Kim Zetter

03:25 PM Nov. 21, 2003 PT

SAN FRANCISCO -- California will become the first state requiring all electronic voting machines produce a
voter-verifiable paper receipt. The requirement, announced Friday by California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, applies to all electronic voting systems already in use as well as those currently being purchased. The machines must be retrofitted with printers to produce a receipt by 2006. With a receipt, voters will be able to verify that their ballots have been properly cast. However, they will not be allowed to keep the receipts, which will be stored at voting precincts and used for a recount if any voting irregularities arise.

Beginning July 1, 2005, counties will not be able to purchase any machine that does not produce a paper trail. As of July 2006, all machines, no matter when they were purchased, must offer a voter-verifiable paper audit trail. This means machines currently in use by four counties in the state will have to be fitted with new printers to meet the requirement. "The schedule I have set forth for implementing a VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail) will ensure that there is adequate time for new voting systems to be properly certified," Shelley said in a statement released by his office Friday afternoon. "This also allows time to train elections officials and poll
workers and to educate voters."  ##

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Subject: Bush Gets Funds for New Nukes
Date: Sun, 7 Dec 2003 18:22:32 -0800 (PST)
From: Barry Cohen

Bush gets funds for new nuclear weaponry 

Compiled by IHT Staff From Dispatches AFP, AP 
December 2, 2003, International Herald Tribune

WASHINGTON President George W. Bush has signed a bill into law allocating millions of dollars for research into new types of nuclear weapons and for decreasing the amount of time needed to prepare for a new nuclear test. .

Provisions in the $27.3 billion energy and water bill that Bush signed on Monday gave his administration half of the $15 million it had sought for research on "bunker buster" bombs, which are designed to destroy underground command centers and hidden arms depots.

The bill includes the full $6 million that the administration requested for research into "mininukes," bombs of less than five kilotons. But the administration will get $4 million of that amount only after giving members of Congress a report on the status of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.  ##

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Subject: Rasta Poet Reject British Award
Date: Sun, 7 Dec 2003 18:19:24 -0800 (PST)
From: Barry Cohen 

Rasta poet publicly rejects his OBE 
By Merope Mills
November 27, 2003, The Guardian,2763,1094238,00.html 

The leading poet Benjamin Zephaniah has publicly rejected an OBE from the Queen in protest at British government policies, including the decision to go to war in Iraq. Writing exclusively in the Guardian today, Zephaniah breaks with the convention that those rejecting honours should do so privately when he openly
dismissed the award as a legacy of colonialism.

The Rastafarian poet argues that the very name of the Order of the British Empire reminds him of "thousands of years of brutality - it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised".
Zephaniah also challenges the prime minister to clarify the "suspicious circumstances" surrounding his cousin's death in police custody.

Zephaniah was perhaps an unusual choice to be nominated for an OBE: one of his poems, Bought and Sold, criticises contemporaries who compromise their work by accepting honours. Today, he condemns those who permit ego to win out over artistic integrity. Courting popular figures with honours is "what cool Britannia is all about", he writes. "It gives OBEs to cool rock stars, successful businesswomen and blacks who would be militant in order to give the impression that it is inclusive." He feels such people with OBEs after their names have "been had".

The poet writes: "Me? I thought, OBE me? Up yours, I thought ... You can't fool me, Mr Blair. You want to privatise us all; you want to send us to war; you stay silent when we need you to speak for us, preferring to be the voice of the USA."

Zephaniah joins the ranks of luminaries such as the actor Helen Mirren and the film director Ken Loach who turned down similar honours. In keeping with the request of the prime minister's office, however, they kept
tight-lipped about the offer until some years later. Downing Street refused to comment on the poet's rejection. A spokesman said: "We don't discuss honours lists. It is a matter for Mr Zephaniah."  ##

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Subject: Severe Water Shortages Seen as Glaciers Melt
Date: Fri, 28 Nov 2003 20:44:10 -0500

Billions May Suffer Severe Water Shortages as Global Warming Melts Glaciers

November 28, 2003, Agence France Presse 

MILAN -- Billions of people will face severe water shortages as glaciers around the world melt unless governments take urgent action to tackle global warming, the environmental group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said, ahead of a UN conference on climate change.

"Increasing global temperatures in the coming century will cause continued widespread melting of glaciers, which contain 70 percent of the world's fresh water reserves," it warned in a new study.

"An overall rise of temperature of four degrees Celsius before the end of the century would eliminate almost all of them," it said. Average temperatures have risen between 0.6 and 0.7 degrees Celsius since 1860, according to WWF, which urged countries to curb emissions of carbon dioxide to ensure the increase stays well below a threshold of two degrees.  ##

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