THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
13th March, 2008 0
Every year Project Censored - a journalism team coordinated through The University of Sonoma in Southern California sifts through countless news stories, wire services, and journals to assemble a series of stories either ignored or under-reported by the Mainstream Media.
This year the major theme seems to center around a newly empowered Executive branch relinquishing away civil liberties in the name of an amorphous 'War on Terror'. And for the most part, the 'major media' weren't paying attention.
"This year it seemed like civil rights just rose to the top," said Peter Phillips, the director of Project Censored.
In this first installment, The Review will examine the 'Top Five' significant news stories that were bumped off the front page while camera were flashing in the face of Britney.
#1 Future of Internet Debate Ignored by Media
Sources: Buzzflash.com, July 18, 2005
Title: "Web of Deceit: How Internet Freedom Got the Federal Ax, and Why Corporate News Censored the Story" Author: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D.
Throughout 2005 and 2006, a large underground debate raged regarding the future of the Internet. More recently referred to as "network neutrality," the issue has become a tug of war with cable companies on the one hand and consumers and Internet service providers on the other.
Yet despite important legislative proposals and Supreme Court decisions throughout 2005, the issue was almost completely ignored in the headlines until 2006. And except for occasional coverage on CNBC's Kudlow & Kramer, mainstream television remains hands-off to this day.
Most coverage of the issue framed it as an argument over regulation-but the term "regulation" in this case is somewhat misleading. Groups advocating for "net neutrality" are not promoting regulation of Internet content. What they want is a legal mandate forcing cable companies to allow internet service providers (ISPs) free access to their cable lines (called a "common carriage" agreement). This was the model used for dial-up Internet, and it is the way content providers want to keep it. They also want to make sure that cable companies cannot screen or interrupt Internet content without a court order.
Those in favor of net neutrality say that lack of government regulation simply means that the cable companies themselves will regulate cable lines. ISPs will have to pay a hefty service fee for the right to use cable lines (making internet services more expensive). Those who could pay more would get better access; those who could not pay would be left behind. Cable companies could also decide to filter Internet content at will.
On the other side, cable company supporters say that a great deal of time and money was spent laying cable lines and expanding their speed and quality. They claim that allowing ISPs free access would deny cable companies the ability to recoup their investments, and maintain that cable providers should be allowed to charge. Not doing so, they predict, would discourage competition and innovation within the cable industry.
In March 2005, the FCC settled a case against a North Carolina-based telephone company that was blocking the ability of its customers to use voice-over-Internet calling services instead of (the more expensive) phone lines.
In February 2006, Cox Communications denied customers access to the Craig's List website. Though Cox claims that it was simply a security error, it was discovered that Cox ran a classified service that competes with Craig's
Recent court decisions have extended the cable company agenda further. On June 27, 2005, The United States Supreme Court ruled that cable corporations like Comcast and Verizon were not required to share their lines with rival ISPs.
On June 8, the House rejected legislation (HR 5273) that would have prevented phone and cable companies from selling preferential treatment on their networks for delivery of video and other data-heavy applications. I also passed the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement (COPE) Act (HR 5252), which supporters said would encourage innovation and the construction of more high-speed Internet lines.
Internet neutrality advocates say it will allow phone and cable companies to cherry-pick customers in wealthy neighborhoods while eliminating the current requirement demanded by most local governments that cable TV companies serve low-income and minority areas as well.
#2 Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies
Source: Global Research. Title: "Halliburton Secretly Doing Business With Key Member of Iran's Nuclear Team" Author: Jason Leopold
According to journalist Jason Leopold, sources at former Cheney Company Halliburton allege that, as recently as January of 2005, Halliburton sold key components for a nuclear reactor to an Iranian oil development company. Leopold says his Halliburton sources have intimate knowledge of the business dealings of both Halliburton and Oriental Oil Kish, one of Iran's largest private oil companies.
Additionally, in recent years, Halliburton worked closely with Cyrus Nasseri, the vice chairman of the board of directors of Iran-based Oriental Oil Kish, to develop oil projects in Iran. Nasseri is also a key member of Iran's nuclear development team. Iranian authorities interrogated Nasseri in late July 2005 for allegedly providing Halliburton with Iran's nuclear secrets. Iranian government officials charged Nasseri with accepting as much as $1 million in bribes from Halliburton for this information.
Oriental Oil Kish dealings with Halliburton first became public knowledge in January 2005 when the company announced that it had subcontracted parts of the South Pars gas-drilling project to Halliburton Products and Services, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Halliburton that is registered to the Cayman Islands.
Halliburton has a long history of doing business in Iran, starting as early as 1995, while Vice President Cheney was chief executive of the company. Leopold quotes a February 2001 report published in the Wall Street Journal, "Halliburton Products and Services Ltd., works behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block. A brochure declares that the company was registered in 1975 in the Cayman Islands, is based in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Dubai and is "non-American."
Moreover mail sent to the company's offices in Tehran and the Cayman Islands is forwarded directly to its Dallas headquarters.
In an attempt to curtail Halliburton and other U.S. companies from engaging in business dealings with rogue nations such as Libya, Iran, and Syria, an amendment was approved in the Senate on July 26, 2005. The amendment, sponsored by Senator Susan Collins R-Maine, would penalize companies that continue to skirt U.S. law by setting up offshore subsidiaries as a way to legally conduct and avoid U.S. sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).
A letter, drafted by trade groups representing corporate executives, vehemently objected to the amendment, saying it would lead to further hatred and perhaps incite terrorist attacks on the U.S. and "greatly strain relations with the United States primary trading partners."
Collins supports the legislation, stating, "It prevents U.S. corporations from creating a shell company somewhere else in order to do business with rogue, terror-sponsoring nations such as Syria and Iran. The bottom line is that if a U.S. company is evading sanctions to do business with one of these countries, they are helping to prop up countries that support terrorism-most often aimed against America.
#3 Oceans of the World in Extreme Danger
Source: Mother Jones. Title: The Fate of the Ocean. Author: Julia Whitty
Oceanic problems once found on a local scale are now pandemic. Data from oceanography, marine biology, meteorology, fishery science, and glaciology reveal that the seas are changing in ominous ways. A vortex of cause and effect wrought by global environmental dilemmas is changing the ocean from a watery horizon with assorted regional troubles to a global system in alarming distress.
According to oceanographers the oceans are one, with currents linking the seas and regulating climate. Sea temperature and chemistry changes, along with contamination and reckless fishing practices, intertwine to imperil the world's largest communal life source.
In 2005, researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory found clear evidence the ocean is quickly warming. They discovered that the top half-mile of the ocean has warmed dramatically in the past forty years as a result of human-induced greenhouse gases.
One manifestation of this warming is the melting of the Arctic. A shrinking ratio of ice to water has set off a feedback loop, accelerating the increase in water surfaces that promote further warming and melting. With polar waters growing fresher and tropical seas saltier, the cycle of evaporation and precipitation has quickened, further invigorating the greenhouse effect.
The ocean's currents are reacting to this freshening, causing a critical conveyor that carries warm upper waters into Europe's northern latitudes to slow by one third since 1957, bolstering fears of a shut down and cataclysmic climate change. This accelerating cycle of cause and effect will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.
Meanwhile, since its peak in 2000, the global wild fish harvest has begun a sharp decline despite progress in seagoing technologies and intensified fishing. So-called efficiencies in fishing have stimulated unprecedented decimation of sealife. Long-lining, in which a single boat sets line across sixty or more miles of ocean, each baited with up to 10,000 hooks, captures at least 25 percent unwanted catch. With an estimated 2 billion hooks set each year, as much as 88 billion pounds of life a year is thrown back to the ocean either dead or dying.
While at no time in history has science taught more about how the earth's life-support systems work, the maelstrom of human assault on the seas continues. If human failure in governance of the world's largest public domain is not reversed quickly, the ocean will soon and surely reach a point of no return.
Most of these stories remain out of view, sunk with cement boots in the backwaters of scientific journals. The media remains unable to discern good science from bad, and gives equal credence to both, when they give any at all. The story of our declining ocean world, and our own future, develops beyond the ken of the public, who forges ahead without altering behavior or goals, and unimpeded by foresight.
#4 Hunger and Homelessness Increasing in the US
Sources: The New Standard. Title: "New Report Shows Increase in Urban Hunger Homelessness" Author: Brendan Coyne
OneWorld.net, March, 2006 Title: "US Plan to Eliminate Survey of Needy Families Draws Fire Author: Abid Aslam
The number of hungry and homeless people in U.S. cities continued to grow in 2007, despite claims of an improved economy. Increased demand for vital services rose as needs of the most destitute went unmet, according to the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors Report, which has documented increasing need since its 1982 inception.
The study measures instances of emergency food and housing assistance in twenty-four U.S. cities and utilizes supplemental information from the U.S. Census and Department of Labor. More than three-quarters of cities surveyed reported increases in demand for food and housing, especially among families. Food aid requests expanded by 12 percent, while aid center and food bank resources grew by only 7 percent. Service providers estimated 18 percent of requests went unattended. Housing followed a similar trend, as a majority of cities reported an increase in demand for emergency shelter, often going unmet due to lack of resources.
As urban hunger and homelessness increases in America, the Bush administration is planning to eliminate a U.S. survey widely used to improve federal and state programs for low-income and retired Americans, reports Abid Aslam.
President Bush's proposed budget for fiscal 2007 included a Commerce Department plan to eliminate the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The proposal marks at least the third White House attempt in as many years to do away with federal data collection on politically prickly economic issues.
#5 High-Tech Genocide in Congo
Sources: The Taylor Report. Title: "The World's Most Neglected Emergency: Phil Taylor talks to Keith Harmon Snow"
Earth First! Journal. Title: "High-Tech Genocide" Author: Sprocket Z Magazin. Title: "Behind the Numbers: Untold Suffering in the Congo" Authors: Keith Harmon Snow and David Barouski
The world's most neglected emergency, according to the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, is the ongoing tragedy of the Congo, where six to seven million have died since 1996 as a consequence of invasions and wars sponsored by western powers trying to gain control of the region's mineral wealth.
At stake is control of natural resources that are sought by U.S. corporations-diamonds, tin, copper, gold, and more significantly, colt an and niobium, two minerals necessary for production of cell phones and other high-tech electronics; and cobalt, an element essential to nuclear, chemical, aerospace, and defense industries.
Columbo-tantalite, i.e. coltan, is found in three-billion-year-old soils like those in the Rift Valley region of Africa. The tantalum extracted from the coltan ore is used to make tantalum capacitors, tiny components that are essential in managing the flow of current in electronic devices. Eighty percent of the world's coltan reserves are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Niobium is another high-tech mineral with a similar story.
Sprocket reports that the high-tech boom of the 1990s caused the price of coltan to skyrocket to nearly $300 per pound. In 1996 U.S.-sponsored Rwandan and Ugandan forces entered eastern DRC. By 1998 they seized control and moved into strategic mining areas. The Rwandan Army was soon making $20 million or more a month from coltan mining. Though the price of coltan has fallen, Rwanda maintains its monopoly on coltan and the coltan trade in DRC. Reports of rampant human rights abuses pour out of this mining region.
Coltan makes its way out of the mines to trading posts where foreign traders buy the mineral and ship it abroad, mostly through Rwanda. Firms with the capability turn coltan into the coveted tantalum powder, and then sell the magic powder to Nokia, Motorola, Compaq, Sony, and other manufacturers for use in cell phones and other products.
Keith Harmon Snow emphasizes that any analysis of the geopolitics in the Congo, and the reasons for why the Congolese people have suffered a virtually unending war since 1996, requires an understanding of the organized crime perpetrated through multinational businesses. Invested corporations, their proxy armies, and the supra-governmental bodies that support them have instituted the tragedy of the Congo conflict.
The process is tied to major multinational corporations at all levels. These include U.S.-based Cabot Corp. and OM Group; HC Starck of Germany; and Nigncxia of China-corporations that have been linked by a United Nations Panel of Experts to the atrocities in DRC. Extortion, rape, massacres, and bribery are all part of the criminal networks set up and maintained by huge multinational companies.
Yet as mining in the Congo by western companies proceeds at an unprecedented rate-some $6 million in raw cobalt alone exiting DRC daily-multinational mining companies rarely get mentioned in human rights reports.
There are large fortunes to be made in the manufacturing of high-tech electronics and in selling convenience and entertainment to American consumers, but at what cost?
Conflicts in Africa are often shrouded with misinformation, while U.S. and other western interests are routinely downplayed or omitted by the corporate media.
Most disturbing is that in the corporate media; the effect of this conflict on nonhuman life is totally overlooked. Even with a high-profile endangered species like the Eastern lowland gorilla hanging in the balance, almost driven to extinction through poaching and habitat loss by displaced villagers and warring factions, the environmental angle of the story is rarely considered.
(This is the first part of a two-part series)
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)