Let's Invade the WTO, The Arithmetic of Terror, Forget Growth: What the World Needs Is ‘Shrinkth.’
July 19, 2002

We Need a New Word and The Word Is “Shrinkth”
In late May, Japan’s Health Minister Chikara Sakaguchi went public with the alarming news that his country’s birthrate was shrinking. “If we go on this way," Sakaguchi declared, "the Japanese race will become extinct.”

Because Japan is an island nation of only 145,883 square miles (about the same acreage as Montana) and is home to127 million, declining birthrates should foreshadow a rising standard of living and increased quality of life. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's response to Sakaguchi’s pronouncement was to appeal to the Japanese people to start having more babies.

One of the problems is that the Japanese language - like English - lacks a proper antonym for the word “growth.”

The opposite of “growth” is not “death.” Earth Islanders dug in to start growing a community garden in Berkeley on Brower Day, June 29. Photo credit: Gar Smith/The-Edge.
Growth generally is viewed as a positive thing. Lacking a proper antonym, or opposite, people usually make the mistake of assuming that the opposite of “growth” is “death.” In reality, the biological and linguistic opposite of "death" is "life." (This is an example of the Error of False Opposites. Another common EFO suggests that “capitalism” - instead of "freedom" - is the opposite of “slavery.”)

We will never be able to adequately debate the impacts of exponential human proliferation on this planet until we agree on a proper word to express the intelligent reduction of overpopulation and its corresponding improvement in the collective quality of life.

Until a better term comes around, we are proposing that folks try using the term “shrinkth.” [If you can come up with a better word (even if it's in a different language), please send it to The-Edge.]

Grab Your Guns! Let's Invade the WTO!
“America’s conservatives see the creation of the first global criminal court as another step toward a sinister ‘world government’ that threatens world sovereignty:” So reported the Times of London on July 2. The New York Times similarly opined that “The White House is bowing to conservatives who have a knee-jerk reaction to any international body that has even the most remote authority to the US what to do.”

Hello? Are not these two titans of modern media overlooking a major flaw in their thesis? Its initials are... W.T.O.

The World Trade Organization is the very model of a modern major threat to national sovereignty - a prime example of a totalitarian “world government” entity. Unlike the United Nations, which tries to function as an open, democratic world parliament, the WTO is a secretive and unaccountable corporate trade tribunal that holds itself above national, state and even municipal laws.

Conservatives seem to have a schizophrenic view when it comes to the New World Order (and that's their phrase, not ours). World government (read “Globalization”) only seems to be welcome when it works to advance corporate hegemony.

In a phrase: "Globalization for Corporations - Good; Globalization for Justice - Bad."

In response to the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on July 1, reactionary forces in Washington passed a remarkable piece of legislation called the American Servicemembers Protection Act (HR 4775). The ASPA authorizes the Pentagon to stage a military raid on the ICC's offices in The Hague to rescue any US peacekeepers being held for trial on war crimes charges. [See related articles in Hoots & Hollers.]

While the political rhetoric focus exclusively on the risk to US soldiers serving as "peacekeepers," the ASPA does not actually mention peacekeepers. Instead, it states that the Pentagon will come to the rescue of any "covered United States persons" or "covered allied persons." This wording covers not only soldiers but all current members of the Bush White House as well.

The "covered US persons" clause means that the Pentagon could, as some future date, be empowered to dispatch US Special Forces to The Hague to rescue Henry Kissinger. Kissinger is currently on the run from the courts of several countries that wish to hold him accountable for foreign policy atrocities committed in Asia and Latin America during the days of the Nixon Administration.

The agitators at The-Edge are at this moment crafting proposed legislation for submission to the US Congress. It would authorize the US military to attack the offices of the WTO tribunal in Geneva, Switzerland anytime that body attempted to nullify any local, state or federal laws safe-guarding public health or the protecting the natural environment.

Hey, Mr. Walters: It’s Time for a New Anti-Drug Campaign
During the last Superbowl broadcast, a government-financed TV spot suggested that anyone who had bought or smoked marijuana was in bed with Islamic terrorists.

“I killed mothers, fathers, grandmas…,” a chagrined-looking teenage actor confessed in the ads. “Drug money supports terrorism. If you buy drugs, you might, too,” the Drug Czar’s tagline scolded viewers.

Two months later, US Drug Czar John Walters’ $3.5 million ad campaign appeared to be a bigger bust than Attorney General John Ashcroft's latest raid on a medical marijuana club. According to a survey released by Act for Change [], Walters’ ads not only failed to dampen teens’ interest in illicit drugs but they “may have even inspired girls aged 12 to 13 to experiment with drugs” [emphasis added].

Even worse was the news coming out of a federal courtroom in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Mohammad Youssef Hammoud and a dozen co-conspirators were convicted of running a $7.9 million drug-smuggling ring. Hammoud was found guilty of funneling money to the Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based organization linked to terrorist acts. The reason this was bad news for Drug Czar Walters is that the deadly drug that was being smuggled was... tobacco.

Hammoud and his colleagues bought lightly taxed cigarettes in North Carolina and sold them at a profit in Michigan. Ordinarily this kind of “buy low; sell high” initiative is encouraged as a core precept of enterprise capitalism. But when it cuts into the profits of the tobacco industry, somebody stands to get smoked.

Hammoud openly admitted smuggling coffin nails for profit but insisted that he spent the proceeds only to help his family in Lebanon, to assist the Hezbollah in providing free schoolbooks and to finance the repair of public water systems.

The amount of money Hammoud and Co. were accused of sending to high-ranking Hezbollah leaders came to a mere $3,500. Nonetheless, on June 22, Mohammad Hammoud was sentenced to a minimum of 155 in prison.

In the spirit of justice, The-Edge is suggesting that the Drug Czar should release a new series of public service ads warning Americans that: “If you buy or smoke tobacco, you might be helping terrorists kill mothers, fathers, grandparents….”

A Radical Approach to the Terrorist Threat
In a clumsy attempt to explain why it dropped the intelligence ball in the days leading up to September 11, CIA and FBI officials contended that it was impossible to “connect all the dots” because there were too damned many dots. The agencies proposed that the only practical response to September 11 would be to massively increase their respective budgets.

There is some truth to this mega-dot alibi. Author and former World News Tonight producer James Bamford estimates that that every few days each of the FBI’s 10,000 field agents sends “at least one major memo” to headquarters in Washington. Similarly, with 5,000 CIA operatives sending memos to HQ from around the globe, the central office staff faces an exhausting chore of digging through millions of rumors, tips and leads.

There is another approach that no one seems to be addressing.

Instead of increasing the number of people writing, filing, sorting, reading and assessing memos about potential terrorists threats, might we be a lot better off if we tried to simply reduce the conditions that lead to the terrorist threats in the first place?

If we, say, transformed our foreign policy so that it addressed issues of injustice and poverty, this could significantly reduce the number of people around the world whose anger against the US fuels the terrorist cause.

There are many paths toward this goal. One of the best avenues has been charted by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) who has introduced a bill to create a cabinet-level Department of Peace. HR 2459 currently has 38 co-sponsors.

We are facing a crisis in the history of our democracy. Republican hard-liners in Congress are pushing to elevate the Office of Homeland Security from its current laughing-stock status into a cabinet-level mega-agency - while allowing the CIA and FBI to go their own ways without any increased oversight or accountability.

One can't help but wonder whether, if we had a Peace Department, we might not need an Office of Homeland Security.

If you would like to bumperstick-it to the powers-that-be, The-Edge may have the ideal product. Bumperstickers reading "If we had a Department of Peace, we wouldn’t need an Office of Homeland Security. Support HR 2459.” are available for $4 from The-Edge, c/o Box 27, Berkeley, California 94701.

Seen from the Air. Temple Mount. Al-Aqsa Mosque. Dome of the Rock.
The Terrible Arithmetic of Terror
On September 29, 2000, Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon, accompanied by1,000 armed bodyguards, staged a provocative visit to Jerusalem’s holy Temple Mount - which is also known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site to the Muslim faithful.

Two days after Sharon’s pugnacious show-of-force, a massive Palestinian uprising erupted - the Second Intifada. On February 6, 2001, Sharon rode to power as Israel's new Prime Minister promising to restore "security" and "peace" by crushing the intifada.

Two years and thousands of deaths later, neither Israelis nor Palestinians know security nor peace.

According to the meticulous records of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, between September 29, 2000 and June 30, 2002, 1,637 Palestinian men, women and children were listed killed by Israel’s armed forces. During the same period, more than 500 Israeli men, women and children have been cut down and blown to pieces by suicide bombers.

Because Israel is equipped with the latest in US military equipment - including Apache attack helicopters and Hellfire missiles - the body count in this conflict has been decidedly in Israel’s favor. So much so, that it became an embarrassment even to Prime Minister Sharon.

In mid-April, Sharon indignantly called on the media to report Israeli deaths “2.85 times more intensively than Palestinian deaths.” As Israeli officials explained to CNN, “1140 Palestinians are dead as against 400 Israelis: It doesn’t look good for us, so we’d like those figures reported less accurately.”

It is impossible to grasp the magnitude of this double-edged horror. But let us attempt an exercise in perspective. (Ignoring Mr. Sharon’s call for a politically spun new math, the arithmetic used in this exercise is nonpartisan.)

Israel has a population of 6.3 million (including slightly more than 1 million Arab citizens). Between September 29, 2000 and June 30, 564 Israelis have been killed in terrorist attacks - this represents .00009 percent of the population. During this period, the Israeli consulate in San Francisco reports, terrorist attacks injured 4,122 - 7.3 times the number of deaths.

Two million people live in the Occupied Territories. Between September 29, 2000 and June 30, 1,637 Palestinians have been killed - this equals .000819 percent of the population. The number of Palestinians reported injured was 19,633 - 12 times number of those killed.

But what does it mean when three times as many people are killed in a population that is one-third the size of its neighbor?

We can gain some perspective by applying these percentages (.00009 vs. .0008) to the US, which has a population of approximately 287,440,000.

If the suicide bombings had been directed against the US population, the number of dead Americans would have reached 25,870 - the equivalent of 8.6 September 11 attacks. The number of injured would stand near 275,540.

Similarly, if American cities had been the target of Israel’s tanks, helicopter gunships and missiles, the death toll would stand at 258,696 - equal to a 9/11-scale attack in 77 different US cities. The number of injured Americans would exceed 2.8 million.

On April 10, the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting [] reports, the late edition of the New York Times ran a 36-point front-page headline that read: “13 Israeli Troops Killed in Ambush; Bus Bomb Kills 10.” It wasn’t until the sixth paragraph that the Times mentioned that “more than 100 Palestinians have been killed in Jenin.”

“By its headline choice,” FAIR commented, “the Times suggested that the deaths of 23 Israelis… are more important than the deaths of 100 Palestinians,” In this instance, the Times more than fulfilled Ariel Sharon’s 2.85 goal. The Times' reporting favored Israeli deaths by a ratio of nearly 4.4.

While FAIR praised the Times for including “some valuable reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on its inside pages,” it observed that it is the headlines that provide “a clear indicator of what a paper’s editors consider to be the most important events of the day.

” When it’s a matter of human lives, FAIR concluded, “the Times should not use its front page to send the message that some lives matter more than others.”

For the latest figures on Israeli casualties []. For the latest figures on Palestinian casualties [].

For more information contact:
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