Reactors Kill In a little-noted "correction" published in the July 30, 2001 Federal Register,
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) confirmed that relicensing
aging US reactors to operate for another 20 years would release 14,800
person-rems of radiation per plant. The NRC calculated this exposure
could cause 12 cancer deaths per reactor. With as many as 100 reactors
seeking operating extensions, that means 1,200 cancer deaths. The
estimate does not include deaths from the storage, transport and
disposal of radioactive materials. The Nuclear Information and Research
Service [1424 16th St. NW, No. 404, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 328-0002, www.nirs.org]
suggests that "instead of relicensing atomic reactors, we should be
closing them and accelerating... [the shift to] renewable energy
Barricked Alive? In November 2000, the London Observer reported that Kahama Mining, a subsidiary of the Canadian multinational Barrick Gold Corp., was involved in the 1996 deaths of 52 mine workers in Bulyanhulu, Tanzania. In July 2001, Barrick sued the Observer, reporter Greg Palast and Tanzanian human rights lawyer Tundu Lissu. Palast had quoted a 1997 report by Amnesty International stating that the men were "buried alive" during the bulldozing of their small-scale mines as Barrick prepared to build a larger mining operation backed by a World Bank loan. Barrick insists that "no one was killed in the course of the peaceful removal of artisanal miners." Amnesty International has called for an independent investigation.
Bush Pooh-poohs the Poor The Group of Eight meeting in Genoa, Italy last July floated a plan to help 1 billion of the world's poorest people obtain clean electricity from solar, wind and tidal energy. The proposal was the work of a multinational G-8 task force of business leaders and environmentalists headed by Mark Moody Stuart, chair of Royal Dutch Shell. The Bush administration torpedoed the call for clean energy alternatives and protested plans to end subsidies for fossil fuels. The World Bank and the US Export-Import Bank continue to be the main backers of new coal- and gas-burning plants being built in poverty-wracked nations.
Rifkin Has a Beef Author Jeremy Rifkin's invitation to address the College of Southern Idaho on the topic of genetic engineering was brusquely withdrawn when cattle and dairy interests realized that Rifkin was the author of Beyond Beef, a book critical of cattle ranching. "We are an agriculture community. I think us bringing him in would be a violation of that, based on what I've read," explained college President Jerry Meyerhoeffer. Rifkin bristled that this was the first time in 30 years of lecturing around the world that he has ever been denied the right to speak. "It sends a chilling message to students and faculty that the free sharing of ideas is not welcome," Rifkin declared.
Bush & Bin Laden, Inc.? Oil and power make for strange bedfellows. In June 1977, George W. Bush started his first drilling company, Arbusto Energy, with a $50,000 investment from Houston businessman James R. Bath. Bath, along with Bush, had been suspended from the Texas Air National Guard for "failure to accomplish [the] annual medical examination" (in Bush's case he refused to be tested for illegal drug use). In their award-winning 1993 exposé The Outlaw Bank, Time magazine writers Jonathan Beaty and S.C. Gwynne reported that Bath "made his fortune by investing money for [Sheikh Kalid bin] Mahfouz and... Sheikh bin Laden." Since Bath had "no substantial money of his own at the time," Beaty and Gwynne suggest that Arbusto Energy was financed by Bath's Saudi Arabian clients. And who was bin Laden? The billionaire father of ex-CIA "freedom fighter" Osama bin Laden. Thus, observes Online Journal [www.onlinejournal.com], the money for GWB's first oil company "may have been derived at least in part from the family fortune of Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden." Meanwhile, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has revealed that Bush's father, former President George Bush, now serves as a paid consultant for The Carlyle Group, which handles investments for the bin Laden family.
Rent-an-Army Squall magazine [www.squall.co.uk] reports that Britain's Ministry of Defense has hired a private firm to supply "corporately employed soldiers" to serve beside regular UK troops. "The soldiers," Squall notes, "will owe allegiance only to their employer," a consortium lead by the US multinational Halliburton. Prior to the disputed US presidential election, Dick Cheney served as chair and CEO of Halliburton. The Texas-based firm builds oil pipelines and roads around the world and services Britain's nuclear submarines. A US "crusade against evil-doers" would mean windfall profits for Halliburton, which also supplies security to 150 US embassies and provides "everything from catering to laundry" to the US Army on overseas missions.
Rent-an-Army II The day after a plane carrying Baptist missionaries was shot down by Peruvian jets on a drug interdiction mission directed by the CIA, ABC News reported that the US pilots directing the Peruvian fighters had been "hired by the CIA from DynCorp." Within two days, all references to DynCorp were stripped from ABC's website. The US State Department refuses to discuss DynCorp, the largest US technology and outsourcing contractor working in Latin America. DynCorp's office at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida shares space with the State Department and defense contractor Raytheon. This cozy arrangement prompted Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) to ask, "Are we outsourcing [military operations] in order to avoid public scrutiny, controversy or embarrassment?" The watchdog group CorpWatch [www.corpwatch.org] observes that "private firms, working in concert with various intelligence agencies, constitute a vast foreign policy apparatus that is largely invisible, rarely covered by the corporate press and not currently subject to congressional oversight." These companies typically are staffed by former high-ranking military officers. DynCorp and its rival MPRI currently run operations in Bosnia, Macedonia, Croatia, Colombia, Bolivia, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Peru. Ed Soyster, the head of MPRI (and the former director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency) confirms that his firm is active in seven African nations and plans to set up shop in Poland, Argentina and Bahrain.
Mole Nip To the Smithsonian Institution for inking a 10-year deal to place a McDonald's in the Air and Space Museum. Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small has already named the transportation exhibit hall after General Motors (in exchange for $10 million), an insect exhibit after the founder of the Orkin Pest Control ($500,000) and plastered ads for K-mart over a mobile exhibit for Black History Month. Commercial Alert [3719 SE Hawthorne Blvd., No. 281, Portland, OR 97214, www.commercialalert.org] warns that the Smithsonian is "drifting from education to becoming a corporate PR arm."
Mole Kiss To Peter Werbe [www.peterwerbe.com], one of the broadcast media's rarest species - a progressive radio talk show host. Werbe has been pushing the radical message for 30 years. His award-winning "Nightcall" program broadcasts to 14 US cities in the same time slot dominated by right-wing ranter Rush Limbaugh. Werbe turns a sensitive ear to issues of the environment, women's rights and social justice. Nightcall is also accessible on the Internet at www.ieamericaradio.com.
Mole Kiss To Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), for raising a lone, brave voice for peace, conscience and the US Constitution.