Organizers of the Summit of the Americas in Quebec offered the world’s biggest multinationals the opportunity to make private "welcoming remarks" to George W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and 32 other world leaders in exchange for a donation of 500,000 Canadian dollars ($320,000). Conservative Party Leader Joe Clark called the offer of face-time for high rollers "insulting to anyone who believes in democracy."
All the News That’s Fit to Place
Recently declassified memos from the days of the Bay of Pigs invasion show the CIA boasting of its ability to plant political propaganda "directly on international wire services." One CIA memo states that "radio and leaflet operations... will be augmented by all the regular propaganda apparatus." During the first days of the invasion, the CIA advised the Pentagon: "We will be in a position to place specific messages and propaganda lines" into all the major mainstream media channels. "One report on United Press International, for example, will be repeated on nearly every radio station and most of the newspapers of the Caribbean Area."
Boost Your Ratings: Kill a Pig.
"There’s been a disturbing trend in radio these days of killing animals as a stunt to boost ratings," reports Eco-Mole Jackie Dove. Clear Channel Communications (CCC), one of the largest US media chains, is a repeat offender. CCC radio employees in Colorado dropped a live hen from a third-story window and a CCC station in Virginia broadcast the slaughter of a steer on-air. On February 27, a Florida WXTB rock-radio DJ known as "Bubba the Love-Sponge Clem" staged the on-air castration and killing of a squealing pig. Shocked listeners flooded the station with complaints. On March 29, Clem and three WXTB associates were arrested on third-degree felony charges for violating the state’s animal cruelty laws. WXTB officials denied the boar was tortured, claiming the squealing noises were caused by electronic equipment in the studio. [CEO Lowry Mays, CCC Inc., 200 E. Basse Road, San Antonio, TX 78209, (210) 822-2828]
N2H2, the company behind the "Bess" Internet filtering software, secretly conspired to sell client data to the Department of Defense. The "clients" were 14 million US schoolchildren who used N2H2’s "Class Clicks" to surf the Internet. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admitted that being able to monitor how kids used military websites was an "appealing" idea but the howls of protests from educators convinced him to cancel the program. Gary Ruskin, of the watchdog group Commercial Alert, was pleased. "It is not the purpose of the public schools to abet corporations that spy on the web-browsing of schoolchildren," he said.
Another Rigged Election
The International Action Center (IAC) reports that the Clinton administration and European governments engaged in "open and extensive intervention" in last September’s Yugoslav elections and used "blatant pressure, bribery and interference" to assure the victory of Vojislav Kostunica. Computers, fax machines, cellphones and cash-filled suitcases were handed across the border after the US Congress voted to provide more than $180 million to anti-Milosevic parties. (By comparison, Al Gore and George Bush spent a combined $134 million in the US election battle.) The IAC, lead by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, will conduct a commission of inquiry into the foreign manipulation of the Yugoslavian election. "Since the end of WWII," the IAC claims, "the US has organized the overthrow of more than 50 governments." [IAC, 39 West 14th St., No. 206, New York, NY 10011, (212) 633-6646]
Meet the Ambassador
George Bush’s choice for UN Ambassador, John Negroponte, has a shadowy past. Negroponte was US Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985 when Battalion 316, a covert Honduran army unit trained by the CIA, murdered hundreds of students and labor leaders. The battalion’s commander, General Gustavo Alvarez, was trained at the notorious School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia. The previous US Ambassador to Honduras, Jack Binns, testified that "Negroponte would have had to be deliberately blind not to know about human rights violations."
Kaiser Aluminum – owned by the same Texas-based behemoth that controls embattled forest-raper Pacific Lumber – was quick to profit from the western power "crisis." Because its Spokane, Washington aluminum smelters were protected from surging power costs by a price-cap of $23.50 per megawatt, Kaiser could have kept its plants open. Instead, the company realized that it could make more money by shutting down the plant and reselling its power for $550 per megawatt hour – a 2,200 percent markup. Kaiser laid off more than 400 workers at the start of the Christmas holidays and made a quick $52 million.
What $25 Billion Can Buy
The 40-year-old National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is so secret that its logo wasn’t declassified until 1994. Its annual budget (still a secret) is believed to exceed $6 billion – greater than the budgets of the CIA or National Security Agency. According to the Los Angeles Times, the NRO has embarked on a super secret $25 billion spy-in-space project that would increase the US’ ability to watch over the entire world, day and night, with a constellation of orbiting, cloud-penetrating cameras. Work on the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) project could "dwarf the Manhattan Project" (the secret program that enlisted 125,000 US scientists to build the world’s first A-bomb). Companies with FIA contracts include Boeing, Raytheon, Eastman Kodak and Marris Corp, none of which would comment on the project.
To Minnesota’s outspoken Governor Jesse Ventura, who talked himself into another controversy during his weekly radio broadcast. Sounding for all the world like an animal rights zealot, Ventura scolded people who hunt "Bambi" and "Yogi Bear." Ventura, who confessed to a love of fishing and pheasant-shooting, stated, "I’ve seen the tapes of bear hunts" where hunters leave bait traps with food for several days then hide and ambush the animals. When you "shoot them from up in the trees," Ventura vented, "I don’t classify that as hunting."
To Jennifer Lopez for appearing at the Oscars wearing false eyelashes made from red fox fur. Japan’s Shu Urmura cosmetics company was so struck by J-Lo’s lashes that it plans to add "eye stoles" to its catalog (also available in mink and chinchilla).
To Donald Kennedy for his editorial in the March 20 edition of Science magazine. Referring to the debate over CO2 emissions and global warming, Kennedy wrote: "Mr. President, on this one, the science is clear." The essay was decorated with a picture of George Bush’s face peering dimly through the fumes from a billowing smokestack.