Who Earns an AEfor Animals?, Power Politics: Watson Out, Pachauri In, Ashcroft Burns Consumer-Friendly Attorney, The Very Definition of Chutzpah,ETaiwangate: Will Congress Probe Bushs Taiwan Ties?
July 12, 2002
Who Earns an AEfor Animals?
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510, www.peta.org] is concerned that some of the countrys best-known environmental groups not only support Ebut demand Ethe poisoning of animals in cruel and useless chemical toxicity tests.E
PETA recently surveyed a number of leading green groups to determine how animal friendlyEthey were. According to PETAs survey, World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense and Natural Resources Defense Council all flunked. The Childrens Environmental Health Network, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Science and Environment Health Network all rated a D. Friends of the Earth was given a C and Greenpeace won a B-plus.
The only organization to be accorded an A? Earth Island Institute.
A Monumental Mistake?
On February 22, US newspapers printed this photo of the Washington Monument...
The EcoMole had to wonder What were they thinking?Ewhen the US Park Service announced the reopening of the restored Washington Monument on February 22. The event was heralded with a lot of publicity and many photos drawing attention to the world-famous 555-foot-tall obelisk.
What caught the Moles eye was the fact that the hoopla over the Washington Monument came the very day before Eid al-Adha (the Muslim feast of sacrifice) and the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
The connection? Ordinarily there wouldnt be one. Except for the chilling fact that one of the highlights of the pilgrimage that draws an estimated 2 million Muslims to Saudi Arabia is the traditional ritual known as the stoning of the devil.EDuring this event, each pilgrim is invited to toss seven stones at a 50-foot slab of rock that represents the evil one.E
Heres the problem: The devils stoneEin Mecca bears a striking resemblance to the Washington Monument. It would seem that the last thing the US government would want to do is draw attention to this unsettling visual similarity. Its almost as if someone in government was inviting an attack Ekind of like Uncle Sam saying to Al Qaeda: Ive got a 90,854-ton chip on my shoulder. I dare you to knock it off!E
On February 23, US newspapers carried this picture of the "Devil's Stone" being attacked by worshipers near Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
The next time the EcoMole visits Washington, he plans to pause before the Washington Monument and toss seven pebbles at the icon Ejust to be safe.
Ashcroft Burns Consumer-Friendly Attorney
Chief US Bankruptcy Administrator Linda Stanley had practiced her craft for 18 years and had won the respect of her peers. In a field known to have been corrupted by political cronyism, Stanley stood apart. She tried to bring in more professionals,Ebankruptcy lawyer John Hansen told the San Francisco Chronicle. Attorney Penn Butler also praised Stanley: The US trustees office during her tenure improved dramatically.E
On June 21, US Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered Stanley fired and demanded that she vacate her office within two working days. Ashcroft gave no explanation for Stanleys unprecedented termination.
Stanley still had two years to run on her contract, a fact that lead her to observe that Ashcrofts action might be perceived as a political decision.EStanley was overseeing the bankruptcy negotiations for Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), a giant California utility that moved millions of dollars in profits into a holding company before seeking bankruptcy protection.
Linda Stanley went out on a limb to insist that consumers had a right to representation in the bankruptcy proceeding and to question the outrageous legal costs PG&E is racking up,Ethe consumer watchdog group The Utility Reform Network announced. We hope this isnt payback for her standing up for consumers.E
Justice Department officials have refused to explain the reason for Stanleys firing.
Power Politics: Watson Out, Pachauri In
When the Bush Administration sacked Robert Watson as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in April, it was well-reported, but the incidents that preceded the political beheading received less coverage.
The White House acted after receiving a "recommendation" that Watson, who has been outspoken in the fight against global warming, had to go. The memo demanding Watsons removal was reportedly unsigned. Insiders confided that it was understoodEthat the directive came from the executive offices of oil giant ExxonMobil.
Ironically, Watson's replacement, R.K. Pachauri, has expressed support for the Kyoto treaty and even backed a campaign to boycott ExxonMobil. Why embrace such a candidate?EThe Nation pondered. Some of the possible answers: (1) Pachauri is a member of the Indian Oil Corporations board of directors, (2) Pachauri's Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI) partnered with Monsanto to develop genetically modified mustard oil, (3) TERI collaborated with the Global Technology Strategy Project, an "environmental" group sponsored by BP Amoco, Toyota and Mobil and (4) as a member of a panel investigating India's Dabhol Power Plant, he voted against investigating alleged illegalities involving government officials and the powerplants developer. The developer? Houston-based Enron.
Were Looking for a Few Good MenEWho Set Forest Fires
US Forest Service employee Terry Barton is facing a federal grand jury, a 65-year prison term and a $1 million fine. Barton, who claims that she only intended to torch a letter from her estranged husband, is accused of starting the largest wildfire in Colorado State history. Meanwhile, in Arizona, an unemployed Bureau of Indian Affairs firefighter named Leonard Gregg stands accused of starting a 450,000-acre conflagration in hopes of generating work. Gregg faces 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
When it comes to perpetrators of wildfire mayhem, the forces of justice are unforgiving. Unless you happen to be a Marine.
In early June, a 15,000-acre wildfire raged through Californias Humboldt-Toiyhabe National Forest near Yosemite National Park. In the course of fighting that blaze, a C-130A fire-fighting plane broke apart and crashed, killing three pilots. The accident was dramatically captured by a TV news camera. Had Barton or Gregg been charged with starting the Yosemite blaze, they could well have been socked with an added charge of manslaughter for the deaths of the pilots.
In this case, however, investigators discovered that the fire had been started by a group of US Marines who were practicing mountain warfare techniques in the forest, firing their weapons and building campfires. One of the campfires erupted into the Humboldt-Toiyhabe blaze. The Marine CorpsECamp Pickle-Meadows Cold Weather Remote Training Site was consumed by the fire. So far, the Pentagon appears to be off the hook for the resulting deaths and damage.
The Very Definition of Chutzpah
When Congress was deliberating the farm bill, the most visceral lobbying tactic came in the form of a videocassette that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) supplied to every member of congress. The tape, which was shot by a 24-year-old spyEwho slipped a hidden camera into the University of North Carolinas animal research facility, showed researchers slicing open the heads of screaming baby rats and scooping out their brains. I dont put them to sleep,Ethe technician confides on the tape. Maybe its illegal, but its easier.E
The release of the videotapes caused a predicable cry of outrage. One burst of indignation, however, stood out. His voice trembling with rage, Frankie Trull, president of the National Association for Biomedical Research, directed his rage at PETA. I think its abhorrent that they [PETA] use illegal tactics to affect public policy,ETrull complained. They should work within the system.E
And We Thought Laura Was the Smart One
During a swing through France earlier this year, First Lady Laura Bush condemned teenaged Palestinian suicide bombers. Addressing the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Mrs. Bush argued that the best way to erase the hopelessness and poverty that lead to terrorism was not through promoting political and economic justice but through education. A lasting victory in the war against terror depends on educating the worlds children because educated children are much more likely to embrace the values that defeat terror,EMrs. Bush declared.
A member of the audience then asked Mrs. Bush to comment on the fact that several of the September 11 airline hijackers had university degrees and ringleader Mohamed Atta spent eight years studying at the Technical University in Hamburg, Germany. According to Associated Press reporter Sandra Sobieraj, who was covering the speech, Bush was at a loss to reconcile her thesis about education and terrorism with the fact that several of the Sept. 11 suicide hijackers were university educated.E
Taiwangate: Will Congress Probe Bushs Taiwan Ties?
Remember Chinagate,Ethe political influence-peddling scandal that Republicans used to hound the Clinton Administration? Now the GOP has a scandal of its own. Taiwangate.E
Fortunately for the GOP, however, the US media is ignoring the story. Not so the Chinese press, which still remembers the humiliations surrounding the Chinagate investigations.
According to a report by Pacific News Service reporter George Koo, Chinese press coverage of the Taiwan slush-fund scandal has revealed enough evidence of Taiwan buying influence with the US government to warrant Congressional investigations.E
In March, Taipei police raided a weekly magazine to prevent the publication of story that exposed a secret $100 million slush-fund contolled by the Taiwan's National Security Bureau (NSB). From 1988 to 2000, the report revealed, Taiwans President Lee Teng-hui used the NSB money to buy influence abroad ? mainly in the US.
While the US media has dropped the story, Koo reports, the Chinese media have been explicit in suggesting a link between the hidden funds controlled by Lee and the Bush administration.E
The Hong Kong-based Sing Tao Daily has reported that between 1999 and 2000, US Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research Carl Ford made six contributions ranging from $1 million to $1.75 million to the Bush campaign and the Republican National Committee. Each of these massive donations arrived shortly Ford returned from Taiwan where he met with President Lee. Before he was tapped to join the Bush administration, Ford was a senior official with Cassidy & Associates, a Washington firm that lobbies for Taiwan.
President Bush reportedly relied heavily on Fords recommendations before deciding to sell $4 billion worth of advance armaments to Taiwan. This has prompted the Asian media to ask aloud whether Bushs weapons deal was a payback for Lee's earlier contributions to the RNC and the Bush Presidential Campaign.
According to Chinese press reports, while Lee was president, he personally opened his office doors to former ambassador to China (and CIA operative) James Lilley, who reportedly received a $50,000 fee per visit.EDuring this period, Lilley became known as a strong defender of Taiwan and a harsh critic of China.
If secret foreign funds were used to influence US foreign policy, that should be a matter of grave national concern. Based on the evidence in the foreign media, Koo believes that there now is ample evidence to justify holding a congressional hearing to examine any connection with the Taiwan slush fund.E
Koo wonders if the same members of congress who used ChinagateEto dog President Clinton through two terms of office will call a hearing to inquire if Ford acted as a courier of funds from Taiwan's Lee to the Bush campaign and the RNC.
While Lee is no longer president, he still commands considerable power. Lee made one trip to the US as Clintons guest in 1995 (but only after a Cassidy & Associates lobbying effort overcame objections from China). The Bush administration recently had granted Lee permission to visit the US again. But that was before the slush-fund scandal broke. At last word, Lees trip had been placed on hold.
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