Leaders of Canada, the US, and Mexico have been meeting to secretly expand the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with “deep integration” of a more militarized tri-national Homeland Security force. Taking shape under the radar of the respective governments and without public knowledge or consideration, the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP)—headquartered in Washington—aims to integrate the three nations into a single political, economic, and security bloc.
More than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collect and provide information on fellow Americans. In return, members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public, and at times before elected officials.
A resurgence of US-backed militarism threatens peace and democracy in Latin America. By 2005, US military aid to Latin America had increased by thirty-four times the amount spent in 2000. In a marked shift in US military strategy, secretive training of Latin American military and police personnel that used to just take place at the notorious School of the Americas, in Fort Benning, Georgia—including torture and execution techniques—is now decentralized.
President Bush has signed two executive orders that would allow the US Treasury Department to seize the property of any person perceived to, directly or indirectly, pose a threat to US operations in the Middle East.
While the guest worker program in the United States has been praised and recommended for expansion by President Bush, and is likely to be considered by Congress as a template for future immigration reform, human rights advocates warn that the system seriously victimizes immigrant workers. Workers, labor organizers, lawyers, and policy makers say that the program, designed to open up the legal labor market and provide a piece of the American dream to immigrants, has instead locked thousands into a modern-day form of indentured servitude.
In light of a declassified Office of Legal Counsel proclamation that the president can secretly change his signing statements at will, we are left exposed to the whims of a secret, unchecked executive agenda.
Dozens of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan occupation publicly testified at the four-day Winter Soldier gathering about crimes they committed during the course of battle—many of which were prompted by the orders or policies laid down by superior officers. Such crimes include targeting innocent, unarmed civilians for murder and detention, destroying property, desecrating corpses, severely abusing detainees (often torturing to death), and using corpses for medical practice.
The Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS) task force was assembled in response to growing evidence that psychologists were not only taking part in procedures that have shocked the senses of humanity around the world, but were in fact in charge of designing those brutal tactics and training interrogators in those techniques.
The architect of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), President Bush’s first senior education advisor, Sandy Kress, has turned the program, which has consistently proven disastrous in the realm of education, into a huge success in the realm of corporate profiteering. After ushering NCLB through the US House of Representatives in 2001 with no public hearings, Kress went from lawmaker—turning on spigots of federal funds—to lobbyist, tapping into those billions of dollars in federal funds for private investors well connected to the Bush administration.
Beginning in April 2003, one month after the invasion of Iraq, and continuing for little more than a year, the United States Federal Reserve shipped $12 billion in US currency to Iraq. The US military delivered the bank notes to the Coalition Provisional Authority, to be dispensed for Iraqi reconstruction. At least $9 billion is unaccounted for due to a complete lack of oversight.
Twenty-seven million slaves exist in the world today, more than at any time in human history. As many as 800,000 are trafficked across international borders annually, and up to 17,500 new victims are trafficked across US borders each year, according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ). More than 30,000 additional slaves are transported through the US on their ways to other international destinations. Attorneys from the DOJ have prosecuted ninety-one slave trade cases in cities across the United States and in nearly every state of the nation.
The 2007 edition of the survey, covering 138 countries, shows an alarming rise in the number of people killed as a result of their trade union activities, from 115 in 2005 to 144 in 2006. Many more trade unionists around the world were abducted or “disappeared.” Thousands were arrested during the year for their parts in strike action and protests, while thousands of others were fired in retaliation for organizing. Growing numbers of trade union activists in Africa, the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific are facing police brutality and murder as unions are viewed as opponents of corporatist governments.
The declaration was passed by an overwhelming majority vote of 143–4. Only the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand voted against the resolution, expressing the view that strong emphasis on rights to indigenous self-determination and control over lands and resources would hinder economic development and undermine “established democratic norms.”
In a nationally conducted survey, the Associated Press contacted each state agency that oversees juvenile correction centers and asked for information on the numbers of deaths as well as the numbers of allegations and confirmed cases of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by staff members since January 1, 2004. According to the survey, more than 13,000 claims of abuse were identified in juvenile correction centers around the country from 2004 through 2007—a remarkable total given that the total population of detainees was about 46,000 at the time the states were surveyed in 2007.
Consequences of the livestock industry’s globalization include the threat to sustainable development and global food security, destruction of the livelihoods of over one billion people worldwide, smallholder bankruptcies and suicides, and the extinction of some of the world’s hardiest breeds of animals.
For the fourth year in a row, US marijuana arrests set an all-time record, according to 2006 FBI Uniform Crime Reports. Marijuana arrests in 2006 totaled 829,627, an increase from 786,545 in 2005. At current rates, a marijuana smoker is arrested every thirty-eight seconds, with marijuana arrests comprising nearly 44 percent of all drug arrests in the United States.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officials are considering a first strike nuclear option to be used anywhere in the world a threat may arise. Former armed force chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France, and the Netherlands authored a 150-page blueprint calling for urgent reform of NATO, and a new pact drawing the US, NATO, and the European Union (EU) together in a “grand strategy” to tackle the challenges of an “increasingly brutal world.” The authors of the plan insist that “the first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.”
In August 2007, one of the biggest and best-known American charity organizations, CARE, announced that it was turning down $45 million a year in food aid from the United States government. CARE claims that the way US aid is structured causes rather than reduces hunger in the countries where it is received.
While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) turns a blind eye, drug companies are making false, unsubstantiated, and misleading claims in their advertising, often withholding mandated disclosure of dangerous side effects. Though companies are required to submit their advertisements to the FDA, the agency does not review them before they are released to the public.
In a parliament Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee session held to debate the ethics of renewing Japan’s “anti-terror law,” which commits Japan to providing logistical support for coalition forces operating in Afghanistan, Yukihisa Fujita opened the session by stating, “I would like to talk about the origin of this war on terrorism, which was the attacks of 9/11, . . . When discussing these anti-terror laws we should ask ourselves, what was 9/11? And what is terrorism?”
Timing suggests that Spitzer was likely a target of a White House and Wall Street operation to silence one of its most dangerous and vocal critics of their handling of the current financial market crisis.