By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
1. Clinton administration aggressively promotes U.S. arms sales worldwide.Lora Lumpe, "Costly Giveaways," The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, October 1996. Martha Honey, "Guns ‘R’ Us," In These Times, August 11, 1997. On June 7, 1997, the House of Representatives unanimously approved the Arms Transfer Code, prohibiting U.S. commercial arms sales or military aid and training to foreign governments that are undemocratic, abuse human rights or engage in aggression against neighboring states. Yet, Honey reported, the Clinton administration is moving in the opposite direction. During 1993, at the peak of the post–Gulf War arms-buying frenzy, U.S. military contracts soared to $36 billion, a level never reached during the Cold War. The United States has also handed out $7 billion since 1990 in shipments of free American weapons to countries short on cash, according to The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists — often to justify the procurement of new weapons. This massive unloading of arms abroad has led to the so-called boomerang effect, putting U.S. troops at risk. "The last five times that the United States has sent troops into conflict — in Panama, Iraq-Kuwait, Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia — American forces faced adversaries that had previously received U.S. weapons, military technology, or training," Honey wrote. Honey noted that the 1996 federal welfare-reform law cut federal support by $7 billion annually — an amount almost equal to the yearly government subsidies given to U.S. weapons manufacturers.
2. Personal-care and cosmetic products may be carcinogenic.Joel Bleifuss, "To Die For," In These Times, February 17, 1997. Joel Bleifuss, "Take a Powder," In These Times, March 3, 1997. Joel Bleifuss started "To Die For" with the description of a hypothetical beauty regimen: Clairol hair color, Vidal Sassoon shampoo, Cover Girl makeup, Lubriderm lotion, Crest toothpaste, Massengill douche and Johnson & Johnson talcum powder. By the time a woman has completed such a regimen, Bleifuss wrote, she will have absorbed into her body five chemical compounds that are known carcinogens and exposed herself four times to a group of chemicals that are often contaminated with a carcinogenic byproduct. Didn’t know those products were hazardous? You might have thought they were approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But, as Bleifuss reported, the agency classifies cosmetics but does not regulate them. An FDA document posted on the agency’s World Wide Web site explains that "a cosmetic manufacturer may use any ingredient or raw material and market the final product without government approval." The culprit in many cosmetics is nitrosamines, a group of potent carcinogens. The FDA issued a warning in 1979 instructing the industry to take immediate steps to eliminate nitrosamines from cosmetic products. "In the 18 years since the FDA issued that warning, cosmetics manufacturers have done little to remove nitrosamines from their products, and the FDA has done even less to ensure that the industry does so," Bleifuss wrote. "All the while, evidence mounts that nitrosamines are a danger to public health."
3. Big business seeks to control and influence U.S. universities.Lawrence Soley, "Phi Beta Capitalism," CovertAction Quarterly, spring 1997. Lawrence Soley, "Big Money on Campus," Dollars and Sense, March-April 1997. In 1996 British pharmaceutical company Boots gave $250,000 to UC San Francisco for research comparing its hypothyroid drug, Synthroid, with lower-cost alternatives. Instead of demonstrating Synthroid’s superiority, as Boots had hoped, the study found the drugs to be bioequivalents. Release of that information could have saved consumers $356 million annually (they could have switched to a cheaper alternative) but would have undermined Boots’ domination of the market. Boots blocked UCSF researchers from publishing the results, citing provisions in the research contract dictating that results "were not to be published or otherwise released without [Boots’] written consent." The company went on to smear the never-released study. That’s just one example of how multinational corporations have bought control of academia, a crisis Lawrence Soley outlined in detail in his two articles. University presidents, Soley reported, often sit on the boards of directors of major corporations, giving rise to conflicts of interest and in some cases undermining academic freedom. "Large corporations, conservative foundations and well-heeled executives are buying the ivory tower and transforming it into an annex for industry," Soley wrote.
4. Exposing the global surveillance system.Nicky Hager, "Secret Power: Exposing the Global Surveillance System," CovertAction Quarterly, winter 1996-97. Nicky Hager reported in CAQthat in the late 1980s the United States prompted New Zealand to become the latest country to join a new and highly secret global intelligence system known as Echelon. Designed and coordinated by the U.S. National Security Agency, Echelon allows spy agencies to monitor most of the world’s telephone, e-mail and telex communications. Unlike many of the Cold War electronic spy systems, Echelon is designed primarily to gather electronic transmissions from nonmilitary targets: governments, organizations, businesses and individuals in virtually every country. Hager blew the lid off Echelon after more than 50 New Zealand intelligence veterans — concerned about the potential abuses of such a system — risked their careers and agreed to talk to him. They leaked to Hager precise information concerning how the system works, its capabilities and shortcomings, and where it operates, and such details as code names.
5. United States companies are world leaders in torture devices.Anne-Marie Cusac, "Shock Value: U.S. Stun Devices Pose Human-Rights Risk," The Progressive, September 1997. In its March 1997 report "Recent Cases of the Use of Electroshock Weapons for Torture or Ill-Treatment," Amnesty International listed 100 companies that manufactured push-button electroshock devices. Of those, 42 were based in the United States. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty claim the devices are unsafe and may encourage sadistic acts by police officers and prison guards, Anne-Marie Cusac reported. Countries that have received stun weapons exported from the United States in the last decade include Yemen, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Argentina, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates and Ecuador. "Stun belts offer enormous possibilities for abuse and the infliction of gratuitous pain," Jenni Gainsborough of the ACLU’s National Prison Project told The Progressive.
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