Daily Archives: May 15, 2007

The New World Order: Transatlantic Economic Integration

The Peoples Voice | May 13, 2007

eu-us

Long before George W. Bush met with Paul Martin, then Canada’s Prime Minister and Vicente Fox, then Mexico’s president at Baylor University in the miserably memorialized city of Waco, Texas on March 23, 2005, he had a similar meeting in Göteborg, Sweden on June 14, 2001 with Romano Prodi, then European Commission President and Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson, then President of the European Council. There were several reasons for this media-blacked-out meeting but the essential purpose was the discussion and implementation of the Transatlantic Agenda, supported by both E.U. and U.S. authorities.

The Transatlantic Agenda was adopted on December 3, 1995 at the EU-US Summit in Madrid and signed by William Clinton, then U.S. president and Felipe Gonzalez, then Spanish Prime Minister and Jacques Santer, then European Commission President (1995 – 15 March 1999). The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. On 1 May 2004 the European Union (EU) undertook an historic enlargement, bringing the total number of Member States from fifteen to twenty five.

Then again from 25 to 26 June 2004, George W. Bush met with Romano Prodi and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, then President of the European Council in the Dromoland Castle, County Clare, Ireland. [iii] They discussed Iraq, the Middle East and counter-terrorism. The summit ended with an agreement between the satellite navigation systems, GPS from the US and the EU’s Galileo system, which secures full interoperability of the two satellite navigation systems. This agreement, initiated in December 1995, was signed by U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, Commission Vice President Loyola de Palacio and Irish Foreign Minister, Brian Cowen. The system will be operational by 2008, possibly to coincide with Real ID?

The crux of this media-blacked-out summit: “The EU and the US are committed to a result-driven economic partnership focused on well-identified and mutually beneficial bilateral projects in all areas where better cooperation between governments and regulators can achieve common solutions to concrete problems affecting transatlantic business.”  They expanded on the Transatlantic Economic Partnership Action Plan of 1998 and the Positive Economic Agenda roadmap of 2002. Right, we never heard of those meetings or schemes either!

Another issue was non compliance with the WTO, “a legal system set up to regulate and bring order to world trade. As such, upon accession to the organization, WTO members agree to stand by and uphold any decisions that the WTO takes. Full compliance with WTO rulings is therefore one of the fundamental cornerstones on which the continued functioning of the international trade system rests.”

Then there was the summit in June 2005 where they “launched the ‘Initiative to Enhance Transatlantic Economic Integration and Growth.’” And how about the meeting on November 30, 2005 in Brussels, Belgium which was a follow-up to the commitments made at the U.S.-EU summit in June 2005? The U.S. delegation was led by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. “The delegations agreed to concrete action plans and timelines to tackle the most significant issues in the trans-Atlantic economy, according to a press release from the Council of the European Union.” [vii] There was another meeting on November 9, 2006 where they talked about the Transatlantic Capital Market Integration.

What next – the Amero? That is the least of our worries. While the astute are focused on the NAU there are other issues. Foreign Affairs, published by the CFR had the following to say: “the world economy and the international financial system have evolved in such a way that there is no longer a viable model for economic development outside of them.”

“The right course is not to return to a mythical past of monetary sovereignty, with governments controlling local interest and exchange rates in blissful ignorance of the rest of the world. Governments must let go of the fatal notion that nationhood requires them to make and control the money used in their territory. National currencies and global markets simply do not mix; together they make a deadly brew of currency crises and geopolitical tension and create ready pretexts for damaging protectionism. In order to globalize safely, countries should abandon monetary nationalism and abolish unwanted currencies, the source of much of today’s instability.” Given the CFR’s influence in foreign, national and personal policies, this is significant.

Then on April 30, 2007 there was yet another meeting, mentioned in the alternative media but blacked-out in the mass media. This meeting was entitled: Framework for Advancing Transatlantic Economic Integration Between the United States of America and the European Union with the opening paragraph: “Believing that deeper transatlantic economic integration and growth will benefit our citizens and the competitiveness of our economies, will have global benefits, will facilitate market access for third countries and will encourage other countries to adopt the transatlantic economic model of respect for property rights, openness to investment, transparency and predictability in regulation, and the value of free markets;

…There is an Open Skies agreement that will take effect on March 30, 2008 and will allow EU carriers to fly to anywhere in the US and vice versa.” The conspirators reaffirmed America’s commitment to the 2005 U.S.-EU Summit Declaration on Enhancing Transatlantic Economic Integration and Growth in which they “resolved to pursue a forward-looking agenda to enhance transatlantic economic integration and growth, and our commitments from the June 2006 Summit to redouble our efforts to reduce barriers to transatlantic trade and investment and our pledge to keep our investment regimes open and to build on existing investment flows to boost growth and create jobs in the transatlantic economy.”

Further it was stated: “We have identified … projects, selected from the existing work program and other programs within the existing transatlantic dialogue, that will significantly enhance transatlantic economic integration, and we resolve to achieve progress on these projects within six to eight months of the effective date of this Framework, and at latest by the time of the 2008 EU-U.S. Summit.”

There are co-chairs on both sides: “The Transatlantic Economic Council is hereby established, to be co-chaired, on the U.S. side, by a U.S. Cabinet-level official in the Executive Office of the President (embedded January 2005), Allan Hubbard and on the EU side by a Member of the European Commission, Vice President Guenter Verheugen, collaborating closely with the EU Presidency.” [xiv] Where is our comatose Congress on this “treaty,” this plan to integrate the EU and the United States? Some Americans have been heavily distracted by the North American Union and the open-on-purpose southern border. [Continues…]

Is Scrooge plotting against Santa? Government says it’s a secret

Seattle Times | May 13, 2007
 
A CIA report on terrorist threats described a “Group of the Martyr Ebenezer Scrooge” that planned to “sabotage the annual courier flight of the Government of the North Pole” imperiling “Prime Minister and Chief Courier S. Claus.”

A government-watchdog group obtained the memo from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library through a Freedom of Information Act request. When it asked the CIA for the same report, it received a document entirely blacked out to protect national security.

It’s an example of increasing and unjustified government secrecy, said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which last year helped expose a federal program to make secret millions of records once available to the public.

“We’re back to a real rising tide of secrecy,” Blanton said. And that tide has been accelerated by the Bush administration’s war on terrorism, said several experts who met in Seattle this weekend for the annual Freedom of Information Summit, a conference attended by more than 100 open-government advocates who discussed topics ranging from John Lennon to myths about identity theft.

More federal records have been stamped secret in the last three years than during the peak years of the Cold War with the former Soviet Union, Blanton noted.

Estimates of “over-classification” — the term for making documents secret that should be public — range from 50 percent, according to congressional testimony by a high-ranking Pentagon official, to 75 percent, cited by Thomas Kean, former New Jersey governor and chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

Some of the so-called secrets seem inexplicable: A government profile of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet released in 1999 noted that Pinochet “drinks scotch and pisco sours.” A government version released in 2004 deleted those details as matters of national security.

A major problem, experts said during a panel discussion, are bureaucrats who see little reward and a lot of professional peril in releasing information.

“We realize the system needs to change,” said William J. Bosanko, the associate director of the federal Information Security Oversight Office.

Another federal official, Gary Stern, general counsel of the National Archives, said the government sometimes reclassifies records for good reasons. Stern cited a federal database that listed Social Security numbers for grant recipients. Those computer records were taken down until Social Security numbers were deleted.

The Bush administration has a mixed record on secrecy, experts said.

Blanton said Bush deserves credit for keeping in place a Clinton administration executive order that calls for making secret federal records public after 25 years. But he said the Bush administration made changes to the order that led to releasing fewer documents.

Freedom-of-information requests aren’t just crucial to watchdogs and journalists. John Scheinfeld said his 2006 documentary film “The U.S. vs. John Lennon” was based on a 20-year battle to obtain FBI records about the former Beatle-turned-Vietnam-War-protester.

Scheinfeld said his film offers “great parallels” to current debates about government secrecy: “At the heart of it is an unpopular war and a president who lied to the country. And if you protest, the government calls you unpatriotic and tries to silence you. Doesn’t that sound familiar?”

The conference also touched on local issues, such as recent state legislation pushed by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels that would have exempted birth dates of public employees from being public records. Such information could be used in identity theft, Nickels said.

News organizations argued against the proposal, which died in the Legislature earlier this year, because they often use birth dates to check if public agencies employ felons who have access to vulnerable citizens.

Washington state’s primary felon database operates on date of birth, state Attorney General Rob McKenna explained, and journalists use “birth dates to distinguish one Rob McKenna from another.”

McKenna opposed the bill because he said there’s no evidence identity theft can be traced to public records such as birth dates.

He said Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden name and bank-account information are the main sources of identity theft and fraud, and those are not public records in Washington state.

“Looking at the data,” McKenna said, “the idea of identity theft through public records is simply not supported by the facts.”

Police ‘have got away with murder’

Information Liberation | May 13, 2007

The family of Jean Charles de Menezes reacted with fury as it was announced eleven officers involved in his death will not face disciplinary action.

They said they were “gravely disappointed” that the Independent Police Complaints Commission had exonerated them and accused the Metropolitan police of “getting away with murder”.

The IPCC said just one surveillance officer out of the eleven will be given “management advice” over action he took after the shooting.

The cleared officers include the two from Scotland Yard’s elite firearms unit CO19 who shot the young Brazilian seven times in the head at Stockwell tube station after he was mistaken for a suicide bomber.

The fate of police chief Cressida Dick, who authorised the shoot-to-kill policy, and three other senior officers is yet to be decided.

Mr de Menezes’ family believe criminal charges for manslaughter through gross negligence can still be brought against the four senior officers and said yesterday’s announcement could prejudice the case.

A spokeswoman said: “We can see no advantage in making this early announcement, other than to provide relief to the officers facing potential disciplinary charges.

“Whilst the officers are spared that ongoing anxiety, the family are given no relief to their own agony, grief and anxiety caused by their lack of access to all the evidence surrounding the shooting of their loved one.

“We hope ultimately that all the officers about whom evidence emerges of wrongdoing that led to this wrongful death are ultimately rendered fully accountable.

The innocent 27-year-old electrician was killed a day after failed London bombings on July 21 2005.

His death came in the wake of the 7/7 bombings in London in which 52 people were murdered and nearly 1,000 injured.

Police believed that Mr Menezes was Ethiopian Hussain Osman, one of the alleged July 21 bombers currently on trial, and followed him from his flat in South West London to the station.

He was killed as he boarded a train.

Students tell of strip search

Billings Gazette | May 10, 2007

Reba Curley said her son was humiliated and embarrassed because he was seen undressed by other students and she was infuriated that her son was touched, while undressed, by a female administrator.

The junior high principal here has been suspended without pay after she called four seventh-grade boys into her office and instructed them to strip to their underclothes for a search, apparently for contraband.

Verna Ivey, who was hired as junior high principal last July, was suspended with pay after the May 2 incident and without pay for the rest of the school year beginning yesterday, Superintendent of Schools Gary Scott said.

Larry Ketcham will serve as principal for the high school and the junior high until school ends, Scott said.

Here is what happened, according to students involved, who spoke with their parents’ consent, their parents and a school staff member who was called in by Ivey to witness the incident:

The four boys, including T.J. Curley and Darrin Swank, were seen off campus, on a wooded hill near the school, during the lunch hour on May 2. When the boys returned to campus, they were met by Ivey, who sent them to her office.

Ivey was in the office with the boys for a few minutes before she called in Kim Rogers, school receptionist, Rogers said. Ivey read the boys a disciplinary statement from the student handbook about the consequences of leaving the closed campus.

The boys were seated at a table and Ivey took a chair away from and at one end of the table. She individually called the boys up and had them remove their clothing, down to their underwear, one item at a time, Rogers said.

“She said take ’em off and I was like ‘What for?’ ” T.J. Curley said.

“She didn’t say anything about drugs or anything.”

Curley said Ivey patted him around the waistband both before and after he removed his pants.

Curley said he and the others were instructed to put their thumbs in the waist bands of their trunks and jump up and down.

After the searches, Rogers said, each boy was allowed to dress and sit down.

The searches were done in front of a window in Ivey’s office, which has a view through the administrative offices and into the main hall of the school. The building houses both the high school and junior high.

The boys said other students and staff were able to see them in stages of undress.

After the searches – in which no contraband but one wood tick was found – Ivey spoke to the boys and instructed Rogers to write them passes to return to class.

Rogers said she was told nothing about the reason for the search. Because a wood tick was found early on, and “just the manner in which she was searching them,” Rogers said, she thought maybe it was a search for ticks.

Scott, the superintendent, said the searches were not within district policy. The policy on student searches gives school authorities permission to search students and their possessions when there is “reasonable ground for suspecting that the search will produce evidence” the student has violated the law or student conduct codes.

“The search itself must be conducted in a manner which is reasonably related to its objectives and not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the nature of the infraction,” the policy states.

The searches were inappropriate, done without good cause and without parental permission, Scott said. If there were reason for a search, it should be by an adult of the same sex, he said.

Parents and students both have a right to be told why searches are being conducted and to reject being searched, he said. If contraband is suspected, Scott said, it would be reasonable to call the police.

Scott said in his career as an educator, he has asked students to empty their pockets.

“You don’t pat people down, you don’t search people,” he said.

BIA Chief of Police John Grinsell said the police department is investigating the incident to determine if any criminal conduct occurred.

“I think we have a responsibility to investigate it,” Grinsell said.

The school has cooperated with the police investigation, turning over all information related to the incident, and officers will do more follow-up in their independent investigation, Grinsell said. The department has a school resource officer and he is in the school daily, Grinsell said.

The results of the investigation will be given to authorities to determine if tribal and/or federal prosecution or other action is appropriate, Grinsell said.

Parents upset

Reba Curley, T.J’s mother, and Duane and Betsy Swank, Darrin’s parents, said they are upset about the searches. Both boys took days off school after the incident. The parents said their boys have not been in serious trouble at school in the past.

Duane Swank said Ivey called him about having his son in her office because he was seen off school property. She did not tell him about the search, he said.

Betsy Swank learned of the search when her older son called from the high school and told her to come down because something happened and Darrin was in his “skivvies” in the principal’s office.

“These boys are at their puberty stage,” she said. “Their privacy is really important to them.”

T.J. told his mother about the incident after school. Reba Curley said her son was humiliated and embarrassed because he was seen undressed by other students and she was infuriated that her son was touched, while undressed, by a female administrator.

“I told him this is your personal boundary and nobody crosses it,” Curley said and moved her hands in a circle around herself.

The parents said they are going to attend Tuesday’s school board meeting and see if further action is taken. They are exploring all of their options, they said, including legal action.

“I know she’s been suspended for the rest of the year, but that’s kind of letting her off without paying for what she did to them, mentally and physically,” Betsy Swank said.

Duane Swank said he wants the suspension and the incident put on Ivey’s record.

“What if another school hires her?” he said.

He also wants the school board to take responsibility.

“They’re the ones responsible for her even being there,” he said.

School Officials Investigate Alleged Strip Search

NBC 10 | May 8, 2007

School officials at Paulsboro High School met behind closed doors on Tuesday, trying to get answers as to why students were strip-searched during a class trip.

NBC 10 reported that the students left two weeks ago and headed south on a trip to Orlando. The principal, Lucia Pollino, was apparently convinced that four of her male students bought drugs or alcohol on the trip.

She allegedly ordered a strip search of 19-year-old Alfred Abate and three friends and found nothing. Paulsboro’s school board said they were trying to find out exactly what happened and why.
 
An attorney for Abate claimed the students’ constitutional rights were violated. The school board said they were continuing their investigation.

Outrage at teachers’ fake gun siege on school trip

The Times | May 15, 2007

Pupils were told that the “code-red situation” was not a drill.

“The children were in that room in the dark, begging for their lives.”

Teachers at a Tennessee primary school terrified pupils by mounting a fake shooting spree as a “campfire prank” during a field trip.

Staff from Scales Elementary School, in Murfreesboro, near Nashville, face disciplinary action after the fictitious attack, which came only a month after the death of 33 people at Virginia Tech in the worst shooting in US history.

Staff, led by the assistant principal, told the 69 pupils – aged 10 and 11 – that a gunman was on the loose on Thursday night during their week-long visit to a state park.

The children were told to lie on the floor and hide beneath tables as a teacher, disguised in a hooded sweatshirt, pulled on a locked door as though he was trying to force his way into the building.

Another teacher reportedly threw open the door of an adjacent room and simulated the sounds of a struggle. Pupils were told that the “code-red situation” was not a drill. After five minutes of horror, the teachers came back into the room, turned on the lights and announced that they were only trying to spice up the traditional “campfire prank”.

Don Bartch, the assistant principal, said that the prank was meant to be a learning experience. “We got together and discussed what we would have done in a real situation,” he told theTennesseannewspaper.

But parents were furious. “The children were in that room in the dark, begging for their lives, because they thought there was someone with a gun after them,” said Brandy Cole, whose son went on the trip.

Shay Naylor, an 11-year-old who joined the trip to the Fall Creek Falls state park, said that about twenty of the children started crying during the phoney attack last Thursday night.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God’,” she said. “At first I thought I was going to die. We flipped out. [A teacher] told us: ‘We just got a call that there’s been a random shooting’. I was freaked out. I thought it was serious.”

Catherine Stephens, the school principal, was forced to call a meeting of parents to address their complaints. She admitted that the prank involved “poor judgment” but added: “My hope is that we can learn from this, and, in the end, it will have a positive result of growth for all of us.”

In a statement published on the school website yesterday, the school administrators said that the pupils had been told repeatedly that a prank would be played on them and that the incident was “used as a teaching opportunity”.

“The lead teacher told the students and other adults that there were people somewhere in the park shooting guns but they were not shooting people. He added that the park ranger had advised him to tell everyone to take cover as a precaution,” the website said.

“The situation is being investigated by the administration and will be dealt with correctly. Prompt and appropriate discipline will be taken.”

Ground Zero Illnesses Clouding Giuliani’s Legacy

New York Times | May 14, 2007

giuliani_silverstein_demolition_experts

Today, with evidence that thousands of people who worked at ground zero have become sick, many regard Mr. Giuliani’s triumph of leadership as having come with a human cost.

An examination of Mr. Giuliani’s handling of the extraordinary recovery operation during his last months in office shows that he seized control and largely limited the influence of experienced federal agencies. In doing that, according to some experts and many of those who worked in the trade center’s ruins, Mr. Giuliani might have allowed his sense of purpose to trump caution in the rush to prove that his city was not crippled by the attack.

Administration documents and thousands of pages of legal testimony filed in a lawsuit against New York City, along with more than two dozen interviews with people involved in the events of the last four months of Mr. Giuliani’s administration, show that while the city had a safety plan for workers, it never meaningfully enforced federal requirements that those at the site wear respirators.

At the same time, the administration warned companies working on the pile that they would face penalties or be fired if work slowed. And according to public hearing transcripts and unpublished administration records, officials also on some occasions gave flawed public representations of the nature of the health threat, even as they privately worried about exposure to lawsuits by sickened workers.

“The city ran a generally slipshod, haphazard, uncoordinated, unfocused response to environmental concerns,” said David Newman, an industrial hygienist with the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, a labor group.

City officials and a range of medical experts are now convinced that the dust and toxic materials in the air around the site were a menace. More than 2,000 New York City firefighters have been treated for serious respiratory problems. Seventy percent of nearly 10,000 recovery workers screened at Mount Sinai Medical Center have trouble breathing. City officials estimate that health care costs related to the air at ground zero have already run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and no one knows whether other illnesses, like cancers, will emerge.

The question of who, if anyone, is to blame for not adequately protecting the workers could finally be decided in United States District Court in Manhattan, where thousands of firefighters, police officers and other recovery workers are suing the city for negligence.

City officials have always maintained that they acted in good faith to protect everyone at the site but that many workers chose not to wear available safety equipment, for a variety of reasons.

Mr. Giuliani has said very little publicly about how his leadership might have influenced the behavior of the men and women who worked at ground zero. Mr. Giuliani, whose image as a 9/11 hero has been a focus of his run for president, declined to be interviewed for this article. His representatives did not respond to specific questions about the pace of the cleanup, the hazards at the site and Mr. Giuliani’s reticence about the workers’ illnesses.

Moreover, many of the people who ran agencies for Mr. Giuliani or who handled responsibility for the health issues after he left office would not comment, citing the pending litigation.

In the past, Mr. Giuliani has said that quickly reopening the financial district was essential for healing New York and the nation. The cost of Wall Street’s going dark was enormous, and Mr. Giuliani has said he was forced to balance competing interests as he confronted a never-imagined emergency, and he acknowledged that he and others made mistakes.

A Mayor in Control

From the beginning, there was no doubt that Mr. Giuliani and his team ruled the hellish disaster site. Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, all with extensive disaster response experience, arrived almost immediately, only to be placed on the sideline. One Army Corps official said Mr. Giuliani acted like a “benevolent dictator.”

Despite the presence of those federal experts, Mr. Giuliani assigned the ground zero cleanup to a largely unknown city agency, the Department of Design and Construction. Kenneth Holden, the department’s commissioner until January 2004, said in a deposition in the federal lawsuit against the city that he initially expected FEMA or the Army Corps to try to take over the cleanup operation. Mr. Giuliani never let them. [continues..]