|George Bush Blacked-out,
Africa must wait
U.S. seized Iraq corporate client list
Rich man's "strike" in Venezuela
only thing black George Bush wants to deal with in January is Iraqi
oil. What with his Trent Lott troubles, Bush is all Blacked-out.
That's the general assessment of Africa Action executive director
Salih Booker, responding to the White House decision to postpone
the President's January 10 - 17 trip to Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya,
South Africa and Mauritius.
again Africa is not a priority for this White House and the Republican
rulers on Capitol Hill," said Booker. "They think they've
addressed enough Black issues with the
replacement of Lott and they callously dump Africa again. The Bush
Administration is disinterested in Africa aside from oil imports
and the use of African territory in Washington's war on terrorism."
of State Colin Powell laid the groundwork for the Bush trip back
in September, amid great fanfare. Africa Action's Booker said the
postponement demonstrates that the White House is more concerned
about making war on Iraq than in fighting the AIDS pandemic. "The
U.S. government continues shamelessly to limit funding for AIDS
programs in Africa and supports the pharmaceutical companies' efforts
to enforce patent laws against poor countries seeking access to
affordable medicines," said Booker. He called the decision
"wholly unjustified and insensitive to those dying on the frontlines
in the War on AIDS, a war more just and important than any war on
Iraq, and one which George Bush refuses to acknowledge."
Iraq released its long awaited report to the United Nations, detailing
its claims to have abandoned all programs to develop weapons of
mass destruction, U.S. personnel physically seized the 12,000-page
document from stunned UN officials in New York and whisked it off
to Washington. The Iraqi papers were too sensitive, even for the
eyes of the four other permanent members of the Security Council,
said the Bush men, suggesting that the documents might contain information
that would help terrorists build their own weapons.
Secretary General Kofi Annan bit his lip and issued a statement
calling the U.S.hijacking of UN property "unfortunate."
Infuriated at the African's insolence, the U.S. registered its own
complaint against Annan.
week, Washington returned the Iraqi papers to the UN, minus 8,000
pages. Shortly thereafter, Berlin's left-wing Die Tageszeitung newspaper
revealed the information that Washington tried to hide: a list of
150 Western corporations at the heart of Saddam Hussein's arms program,
24 of them American.
the most casual observer will note that key players in the U.S.
military-industrial complex profited from Iraq's arms programs:
Spectra Physics, Semetex, TI Coating, Unisys, Sperry Corp., Tektronix,
Rockwell, Leybold Vacuum Systems, Finnigan-MAT-US, Hewlett-Packard,
Dupont, Eastman Kodak, American Type Culture Collection, Alcolac
International, Consarc, Carl Zeiss, Cerberus, Electronic Associates,
International Computer Systems, Bechtel, EZ Logic Data Systems,
Inc., Canberra Industries Inc., Axel Electronics Inc.
of these corporations are large contributors to the Republican and
Democratic Parties. Most are U.S. defense contractors. One name
seemed out of place. We searched for information on the curiously
non-threatening American Type Culture Collection:
is a global nonprofit bioresource center that provides biological
products, technical services, and educational programs to private
industry, government, and academic organizations around the world.
Our mission is to acquire, authenticate, preserve, develop, and
distribute biological materials, information, technology, intellectual
property, and standards for the advancement, validation, and application
of scientific knowledge.
with maintaining and distributing biological materials, research
is a key part of ATCC's science program. Staff scientists conduct
research on both collection-oriented and grant-supported topics,
including improved storage and characterization methods, authentication
of standards, descriptions of new species, genomics, in vitro
cell biology, and disease diagnosis and prevention.
ATCC has been a useful resource for Iraq's national health program.
Luckily for itself, the non-profit is U.S.-based. In the hands of
the Bush men, ATCC's own mission description could be used to place
it at the center of Saddam Hussein's biological warfare program.
Most Americans wouldn't know the difference - or care.
the well-dressed striker wears
media continue to throw around the term "national general strike"
to describe the opposition's attempt to provoke and overthrow Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez. It is a strange
"strike," indeed, organized by rich owners of property
and highly paid executives of the state oil company. The
disruptions have certainly been "national" in scope, costing
the Venezuelan economy as much as $50 million a day. However, the
rich man's campaign cannot be considered a "general" anything,
directed as it is against a popularly elected government supported
by the poor majority of the people. The rich close their businesses,
and call it a strike. They send money out of the country, and blame
Chavez for the losses to the economy.
corporate media read the opposition's press releases, drink their
wine, and call it reporting. Then they call unnamed U.S. embassy
officials and cloak the results as "background." They
are likely talking to the American officials who help subsidize
the opposition's propaganda, through the National Endowment for
Democracy, a quasi-governmental foundation funded by the U.S. Congress.
media spend most of their time with the overwhelmingly white middle
and upper class protestors who hurl racial epithets at Chavez and
the dark Venezuelan majority. (See RE-PRINT
on African Venezuelans in this issue.) Well-dressed housewives,
unused to labor and therefore unfit to "strike" against
much of anything, ease their political burdens by blasting cassette
recordings of banging pots and pans, the traditional form of protest.
When these brave, luxury high-rise dwellers get really angry, they
just turn up the volume. This impresses the American media, who
often as not don't bother to mention pro-Chavez demonstrations of
equal or larger size. The racial aspects of Venezuela's social crisis
are rarely explored.
Greg Palast, a real reporter, described one clash of rival demonstrations.
"200,000 blondes marched East through Caracas' shopping corridor
along Casanova Avenue. At the same time, half a million brunettes
converged on them from the West."
pretty much tells the tale. Figure out whose side Washington is
isolated in Latin America - and sidetracked by the Iraq obsession
- the U.S. was forced to back away from its demand that Chavez submit
to early elections. In a stunning rebuke to Washington, the Organization
of American States pointed out that any referendum before August
would violate Venezuela's constitution.
to Chavez supporters, the misnamed "national general strike"
shows signs of imminent collapse. Stores in rich neighborhoods have
begun opening. What's the point of being rich, if you can't spend