Number 22 - December 26, 2002
|George Bush Blacked-out, Africa
U.S. seized Iraq corporate client list
Rich man's "strike" in Venezuela
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The 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.
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."
Secretary 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.
UN 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 Anan.
Last 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.
Even the most casual
observer will note that key players in the U.S. military-industrial
complex profited from Iraq's arms programs:
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.
Many 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
ATCC 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.
Along 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.
Clearly, 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.
What the well-dressed
U.S. 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.
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.
U.S. 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.
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."
That pretty much
tells the tale. Figure out whose side Washington is on.
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
According 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 your money?