Fuji's Panda Wins EcoPorn Award. Mole Kiss to Sir Paul. Globalization Is Not the Savior. Water Pirates Left High and Dry. Butler Accuses US of Nuclear Hypocrisy. A Veiled Threat in Afghanistan. ‘Chip All Immigrants!’ and more!
November 8, 2002

EcoPorn Award. WWF's Plush Panda panders to the throwaway economy.
EcoPorn Awards
The panda has become one of the world’s best-known icons for endangered species survival and habitat protection. But the creature that soared to fame as the symbol of the World Wildlife Fund was recently adopted and co-opted by Japan’s Fuji film company. Fuji offered customers a foot-tall stuffed Plush Panda in exchange for $2.50 and the purchase of one of the company’s products.

To become eligible to receive a panda, customers had to buy “any two 24mm APS or 35mm Fujicolor QuickSnap One-Time-Use Cameras.” This example of pandering to the mind-set of the “disposable society” wins Fuji this week’s EcoPorn Award.

Mole Kisses Beatle
The EcoMole sends a Mole Kiss to Sir Paul McCartney who, during his US concert tour, learned about Measure 27 on the Oregon ballot and volunteered to endorse the campaign with a 30-second radio spot. Measure 27 would require the labeling of genetically modified foods. The Oregon ballot suddenly became a cause celebre after the AP ran a story reporting “McCartney Promotes GM Food Labeling.” Measure 27’s backers were ecstatic, pointing out that thanks to Sir Paul’s on-the-spot activism, “the whole world knows Americans are working to pass labeling legislation on genetically engineered foods.” To hear the ad, go to

Globalization Is Not the Savior
EL SALVADOR — Attempts to privatize El Salvador’s health and electricity systems have been short-circuited by massive popular resistance. On October 24, 200,000 Salvadorans (four percent of the country’s entire population!) filled the capitol’s streets, shutting three major entrances to the city and blocking access to the airport. Salvadoran President Francisco Flores’ is playing hardball in an attempt to promote the US-backed Plan Puebla Panama. Twenty-nine electrical union organizers have been fired since March and Flores’ has threatened to hold the paychecks of any government workers who oppose globalization. For more info:

Global Water Pirates Left High and Dry
USA — As if the drenching rains of Hurricane Lili were not bad enough, New Orleans recently had to deal with another water crisis — a plan by two French conglomerates to seize control of the city’s water and sewage systems. USFilter and United Water (the corporate progeny of the French multinationals Suez and Vivendi Universal) had lobbied heavily to win 20-year contracts worth at least a billion dollars. On October 16, the city’s Water and Sewerage Board pulled the plug on privatization. “Water privatization can lead to corruption and rate hikes, inadequate customer service and a loss of local control and accountability,” Public Citizen [] points out. The New Orleans decision is a major victory since “corporations trying to privatize the nation’s water supply were counting on New Orleans to serve as a model… for other privatization efforts from coast to coast.”

Butler Accuses US of Nuclear Hypocrisy
AUSTRALIA — In a remarkably stinging September 11 speech at the University of Sydney, former UN chief weapons inspector in Iraq Richard Butler accused the United States of adopting a hypocritical "double standard” on the possession of nuclear weapons. The US claims the right to maintain a nuclear arsenal but denies this option to other nations.

"My attempts to have Americans enter into discussions about double standards have been an abject failure," Butler told a seminar at the University's Center for Peace and Conflict Studies. "I sometimes felt I was speaking to them in Martian, so deep is their inability to understand." Butler's comments were captured in the university newsletter and subsequently reported by the Sydney Morning Herald

"What America totally fails to understand is that their weapons of mass destruction are just as much a problem as are those of Iraq," he said, adding that Hollywood storylines fuelled the idea that there are “good weapons of mass destruction and bad ones.”

Butler, a former Australian ambassador for disarmament, headed the UN weapons inspection team in Iraq in the early 1990s. "Amongst my toughest moments in Baghdad were when the Iraqis demanded that I explain why they should be hounded for their weapons of mass destruction when, just down the road, Israel was not, even though it was known to possess some 200 nuclear weapons," he said.

"I confess, too, that I flinch when I hear American, British and French fulminations against weapons of mass destruction, ignoring the fact that they are the proud owners of massive quantities of those weapons — unapologetically insisting that they are essential for their national security, and will remain so." Butler observed that such manifestly unfair double standards have created conditions that are "deeply, inherently unstable." Butler noted that "human beings will not swallow such unfairness. This principle is as certain as the basic laws of physics itself."

One problem that faces weapons inspections is that materials and technologies used to make chemical or biological weapons can be identical to those used in a range of benign products for medical, industrial or agricultural use.

A Veiled Threat
AFGHANISTAN — US troops in Afghanistan have not been winning many friends with their raids on villages in search of suspected Taliban or Al-Qaeda members. On September 21, in an incident unreported in the US press, two US soldiers conducting a house-to-house search in the Khost Province village of Nakayee were rebuffed when they knocked on the door of a tribal home occupied by a veiled Muslim woman.

Because she was alone in the house, the woman’s faith required her to forbid entry to any men. Undeterred, the two soldiers decided to storm the house. But when they barged in, they found the woman waiting for them with a loaded Kalashnikov assault rifle. She opened fire and killed both soldiers.

“A few hours later,” according to a September 25 report carried by the Muslim news service Al Muhajiroun [], “over 50 American troops arrived in Nakayee, demanding the villagers to hand over the woman, but the tribesmen refused and a stand-off is continuing.”

‘Chip All Immigrants!’
Applied Digital Solutions, the manufacturers of the VeriChip — a tiny computerized device that can be injected under the skin and used to identify and track human beings, has begun to redefine its mission. The company had initially presented the VeriChip as a benign medical device that could be used to protect Alzheimer’s sufferers.

As the EcoMole predicted, the VeriChip is now being talked-up as a device to keep John Ashcroft’s America free from the specter of “terrorism.”
ADS’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Sullivan has proposed injecting VeriChips into undocumented immigrants so they could be “scanned and monitored at all times.”

In Sullivan’s words: "I think it's not unreasonable to ask people who want to come to work in the country that they respect the rights of people who are citizens in the United States.”

Sullivan also cited the example of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan, suggesting that Pearl might still be alive if only he’d had a VeriChip installed under his skin. The EcoMole would guess that Attorney General Ashcroft would favor the idea of installing VeriChips on the journalistic community.

Nuclear Plant Opponent Murdered in Kiev
UKRAINE – In early September, the non- governmental, environmental organization Public Control sued the Ukrainian government to halt construction on two nuclear powerplants at Rivne and Khmelnytskyi. On October 1, Public Control’s Vice-Chairman Ruslan Syniavskyi was shot to death outside his apartment. Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that Syniavsky was the victim of a robbery attempt but Public Control’s Oleh Sadanets believes Syniavsky’s murder "was linked to his activity in the organization... Four shots cannot be a simple accident."

Public Control accused the State Nuclear Regulatory Committee of granted the state-run Energoatom a license to build the power plants without conducting adequate public hearings as required by law. The same court denied an earlier environmental lawsuit by Committee for State Security that charged the nuclear plants posed an ecological threat to the country.

Ukrainian law requires the court to order construction to stop pending review of the group's petition and a decision. Court officials would not confirm whether a stop order has been issued, and Energoatom has denied that it had been ordered to stop construction. The disputed reactors are about 85% complete. Currently, Ukraine operates four nuclear power plants with 13 reactors, nine of which are now working. The reactors are frequently shut down for malfunctions or scheduled repairs.

On December 13, 2000 the European Commission approved a $585 million Euratom loan for the plant expansions, pending agreement by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). But several days before signing the contracts, Ukrainian Prime Minister Anatoly Kinakh determined that the loan conditions were unachievable and he refused to sign the EBRD contract. One of the EBDR’s conditions for the loan was an immediate 30% hike in electricity rates. With national elections approaching, Kinakh was forced to put the kibosh on the loan.

For more information, contact World Information Service on Energy [WISE Amsterdam PO Box 59636, 1040 LC Amsterdam The Netherlands,], WISE Ukraine [], Natasha Akulenko [POBox 218-2 Kyiv 02099 Ukraine] or the Ukrainian Energy Brigades [].

Nearly 100,000 people came to San Francisco with a message for George W. Bush: "We're MAD as heck and we aren't gonna shed any blood for oil." Credit: Marcio José Sanchez (AP)
Furshlugginer to the Chief
Will the indignities never cease? Not only did all three major TV networks fail to broadcast George W. Bush’s prime-time October 7 speech on Iraq but now even MAD Magazine [] has started beating up on the Com-mangler-in-Chief.

The October issue featured a guide to “The Subtle Differences between Tony Soprano & George W. Bush” in which America’s favorite magazine of illustrated satire invited us to “take a look as we compare the most powerful man on television…. to the second most powerful man in the White House (next to Dick Cheney.”

Here, then, are some of MAD’s “close similarities.”

  • Tony Soprano relies on his family to stay in power. George W. Bush relied on his family [especially Florida Governor Jeb] to GET in power.

  • Tony Soprano lives in fear of a prison sentence. George W. Bush lives in fear of an English sentence.

  • Tony Soprano has a fondness for strip clubs. George W. Bush has a fondness for strip mines.

  • Tony Soprano, in New Jersey regularly carries out gangland-style executions. George W. Bush, in Texas, regularly carried out government-style executions.

  • Tony Soprano won’t tell his psychiatrist much about his sordid criminal past. George W. Bush won’t tell the public much about his sordid drunk-driving past.

  • Tony Soprano is definitely being renewed by HBO for another season. George W. Bush is definitely NOT being re-elected by voters for another term.
CIA and Senator Byrd-dog the White House on Iraq
Who gave Saddam all those chemical and biological weapons George W. Bush keeps whining about? According to the CIA, Newsweek and Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-W.VA), it was the White House. In a Senate speech on September 26, Byrd proclaimed: “We have a paper trail…. We have in our hands the equivalent of a Betty Crocker cookbook of ingredients that the US allowed Iraq to obtain and that may well have been used to concoct biological weapons.

Among the weapons Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush gladly shipped to Saddam Hussein between 1985 and 1988 were: 11 shipments including anthrax, botulinum toxin and gangrene. Between 1980 and October 1993, the US Commerce Department and the Centers for Disease Control sent Saddam a wide range of biological toxins including Dengue fever and West Nile virus.

“The Defense Department ought to have the same lists, so that the decision-makers will know exactly what types of biological agents American soldiers may face in the field,” Byrd declared. “At last week’s Armed Services Committee hearing, Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld said he had no knowledge of any such shipments and doubted that they ever occurred. He seemed to be affronted at the very idea that the US would ever countenance entering into such a deal with the devil.” Nonetheless, Byrd concluded, “Secretary Rumsfeld should not shy away from this information. On the contrary, he should seek it out.” Byrd might also have suggested that Rumsfeld read the September 23 issue of Newsweek.

Meanwhile, Byrd’s hometown paper, the West Virginia Gazette noted that “Federal documents and a United Nations Security Council report document a direct connection between periods when Iraq received toxins and viruses from the US and the periods when Iraq developed biological weapons.” When the Gazette called the White House for a response, they were told to call the Defense Department. The Pentagon did not return the call. The White House receptionist asked, “How do you spell Byrd?”

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