News Release Archive - 2000

Revolution in Yugoslavia?

ROBERT HAYDEN
Director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Blueprints for a House Divided: The Constitutional Logic of the Yugoslav Conflict, Hayden said today: “The army has broken with the regime. The state media has been taken over by the opposition. It’s a real revolution — but it’s also anarchy…. I know the opposition leader, Vojislav Kostunica. He’s a constitutional lawyer, he’s a Serbian patriot, a democrat. He’s called a meeting of the newly-elected federal parliament, which will meet today or tomorrow and establish a democratic government. He’s untainted by dealings with either the Milosevic regime or the Clinton administration…. NATO has indicated that it may attempt to intercept Milosevic’s plane if he tries to leave the country…. Since Milosevic made it impossible for the opposition to have any kind of access to internal funding, they had to turn to outside sources.”

STEPHEN ZUNES
An associate professor of politics and chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, Zunes said: “Change in Eastern Europe has come not from the armed force of NATO but from large-scale nonviolent action of the subjugated peoples themselves. This was true in 1989 and it is true today in Yugoslavia. If anything, NATO’s bombing last year may have set back the growing anti-Milosevic movement. Now, however, the dictator’s days may finally be numbered.”

MARJORIE COHN
Associate professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Cohn recently attended an international conference at Belgrade University on the ethics of humanitarian intervention and is writing a book on the subject. She said today: “For months before the Sept. 24th election in Yugoslavia, the U.S. and its NATO allies poured millions of dollars and technical support into the opposition movement. They also bankrolled pre-election polls which showed Kostunica leading Milosevic. Many people in Yugoslavia oppose Milosevic but they also despise NATO, which subjected them to a ruthless 11-week bombing campaign. Yugoslavia remains crippled by economic sanctions imposed by the West. The U.S. interference has tainted the election…. They must be able to choose their own leadership, free from Western domination…. The long-term question is who will run Yugoslavia once Milosevic is ousted — Kostunica or NATO? Members of the opposition have been meeting in Bulgaria with representatives from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and NATO.”

JEREMY SCAHILL
An independent journalist who reports for the nationally-syndicated radio show Democracy Now!; Scahill, who is in Belgrade, said today: “Hundreds of thousands of people are in the streets, they have taken over the federal parliament and the media. Police and military are actually in the streets mingling with the protesters. Already 100 people have been injured in clashes and two people have been shot. The opposition is doing its best to prevent a looting frenzy. Even if the democratic opposition of Serbia takes power in Yugoslavia, there are still many issues unresolved, not the least of which is future relations with the U.S.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Beyond Debate for Bush and Gore

STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER
Co-director of the Center for National Health Program Studies at Harvard University, Woolhandler said today: “On Medicare, Gore supports what is happening now — seniors slowly being forced into HMOs — while Bush supports accelerating the process. Bush cloaks his privatization of Medicare as ‘choice,’ but it means choosing between restrictive HMO ‘A’ or restrictive HMO ‘B.’ Neither candidate noted that 42 million people, 15 percent of the population, have no health insurance…. We need real regulation of drug prices, which is what every other developed country has done to control drug costs (that’s why we pay 60 percent more than Canadians for the same drugs). Gore is proposing throwing some money at the problem that will help seniors a little bit, but doesn’t solve the problem.”

RUTH BRANDWEIN
Author of Battered Women, Children and Welfare Reform: The Ties That Bind and a visiting scholar at the University of Washington, Brandwein said: “Gore boasted: ‘Our country has cut the welfare rolls in half…we’ve moved millions of people in America into good jobs.’ But most of the people leaving the welfare rolls do not have good jobs — many are working, but still are unable to support their families. Having a livable wage needs to become a central issue in this campaign.”

ALI ABUNIMAH
Vice president of the Arab-American Action Network, Abunimah said today: “Every year American taxpayers are asked to spend billions of dollars on weapons for Israel. We are told that these weapons are designed to protect Israel from columns of armor streaming down the Golan Heights. In fact, we are seeing attack helicopters and armor-piercing missiles being used against Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories. It is a shame that neither candidate explained to the American people why we should be supporting regimes that abuse human rights in this way, and how it accords with our interests or values.”
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MARK WEISBROT
Co-author of Social Security: The Phony Crisis, Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He said today: “Bush repeatedly claimed that putting Social Security money into the stock market would yield higher returns. However, when one takes into account the current overvaluation of stocks and projected growth rates for the economy, this is extremely unlikely. Bush does not take into account that Social Security provides not only retirement income, but more than $12 trillion in life insurance — more than the entire private life-insurance industry — and disability insurance as well.” Weisbrot, who also wrote “Globalization for Dummies” in the May 2000 Harper’s, added: “Despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans correctly believe that our trade and commercial agreements such as NAFTA and the World Trade Organization have cost jobs and wages…there was no mention of trade policy in this debate.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Debate Commission Says Gore-Bush Only: Responses Available

The Commission on Presidential Debates has formally announced that it intends to exclude all third party candidates from the presidential debates.

Phil Donahue (who is a member of the Committee to Elect Ralph Nader President) wrote in the Sunday Los Angeles Times: “If Ralph Nader is excluded from the presidential debates, many issues important to millions of Americans will get little or no attention during the corporate sponsored face-offs between the two major party candidates” — e.g. drug war, death penalty, trade, national health insurance.

The following are among those available for interviews:

JAMIN RASKIN
Law professor at American University, Raskin represented Ross Perot in 1996, chairs the Appleseed Citizens’ Task Force on Fair Debates and has advised the Nader campaign on the debate issue. He said today: “The 15 percent rule is utterly lawless. It triples the 5 percent rule in federal law for qualifying for public financing in a presidential campaign.” Raskin added: “Nothing stops Vice President Al Gore and Gov. George W. Bush from setting up an exclusionary debate, but these debates are paid for by large corporations like Anheuser-Busch, which is contributing $550,000. The corporate funding makes these exclusionary debates an illegal corporate contribution.”

JEFF COHEN
Cohen is head of Open Debates 2000, a project of the media watch group FAIR. Cohen said today: “The CPD is not ‘nonpartisan’ as it claims, it’s a creation of the Democratic and Republican parties. A recent Zogby poll of 1,000 likely voters found that 60 percent want Nader and Buchanan included — and people who are not ‘likely voters’ may be even more sympathetic to third party candidates.”

JEFF MILCHEN
Director of ReclaimDemocracy.org, Milchen said today: “The CPD is not a legitimate institution. In 1992, Perot would have been banned from the debates under the CPD’s current 15 percent standard, as would Jesse Ventura in 1998.”
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ADAM EIDINGER
Eidinger is with the Open Debate Society. He said: “I was among the activists who occupied the offices of Wagner Communications and Brewer Consulting Group, the only known address of the CPD, for 40 minutes on Sept. 20. Our aim was to put a face to the name of the CPD, a stealthy private corporation controlled by the Republican and Democratic parties.” On Sept. 28, activists will attempt to shut down those offices. Eidinger added that “after this action we are going to join thousands to protest for open debates in Boston,” the site of the first scheduled presidential debate.
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[The CPD can be reached at (202) 872-1020.]

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Key Economic Issues: Oil, IMF, Euro

WENONAH HAUTER
Director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project, Hauter said today: “Oil interests have used their enormous political power — which has increased with Exxon-Mobil and other mergers — to stop public policies that advance energy efficiency and conservation. Lehman Brothers reported recently that profits from the four largest oil companies are expected to more than double to a combined $50 billion this year alone. Texaco increased its net income by an astounding 473 percent in the first quarter of 2000.”
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NJOKI NJOROGE NJEHU
Director of the 50 Years Is Enough Network, Njehu said today: “The International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which are meeting in Prague this week, make the rules for the global economy by imposing their economic recipes on the countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Their ‘structural adjustment programs,’ which force countries to cut essential services, in over 90 countries have paved the way for the corporate globalization that an international coalition of faith-based, labor, student, environmental, human rights and economic justice groups have been protesting for years.”
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RICHARD B. Du BOFF
Professor of Economics at Bryn Mawr College and author of “Globalization and Wages: The Down Escalator” in Dollars and Sense magazine, Du Boff said today: “The financial instability that ravaged Asia in 1997-98, Russia in 1998, Brazil in 1999 (and to a lesser extent the euro now) has caused substantial disagreement even in the World Bank and IMF — for example, the departure of the World Bank’s chief economist, Joseph Stiglitz. These institutions are refusing to address a major destabilizing force in the global economy, namely the free flow of capital across borders, since that would challenge free market orthodoxy.”
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ROBERT NAIMAN
Senior policy analyst at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and co-author of the new report “The Emperor Has No Growth: Declining Economic Growth Rates in the Era of Globalization,” Naiman said today: “IMF, World Bank, and U.S. Treasury officials acknowledge that their policies have not helped the poor, but insist that these policies be continued, claiming that these policies promote economic growth. But the economic data contain no evidence that this is the case. On the contrary, there has been a growth slowdown worldwide, with developing countries losing $15 trillion in economic output over the last two decades due to lower growth.”
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JANE D’ARISTA
Director of programs at the Financial Markets Center, D’Arista said today: “The rising dollar is as important as the falling euro. Causes are that oil is priced in dollars and with the cost up, Europe and Japan have to exchange more of their currencies for dollars to pay the higher price. Also, U.S. interest rates are higher and have risen faster than in other countries. That encourages capital flows into the U.S. and out of Europe. U.S. investment has been fueled by foreign, not domestic savings. Huge capital inflows are producing unsustainable growth, an overvalued dollar and enormous trade deficits.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (415) 552-5378; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Analysts Available on National Association of Broadcasters

The National Association of Broadcasters, which lobbies for the commercial broadcast industry, is holding its annual radio convention in San Francisco through September 23. Nonviolent protests are planned. These analysts are available for interviews:

ROBERT McCHESNEY
Professor at the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois and author of Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times, McChesney said today: “The NAB is arguably the single most anti-democratic force in the U.S. today. It opposes campaign finance reform — broadcasters have little incentive to cover candidates because it is in their interest to force them to buy TV time. It is sustained by massive corporate welfare, such as the giveaway of the digital TV spectrum. They carpet bomb us with advertising and provide us with broadcast journalism obsessed with celebrity, trivia and the bottom line. As part of the massive Telecommunications Act of 1996, the NAB raised the number of radio stations a company could own from 28 nationally to unlimited. Since then, over half the U.S. radio stations have been sold and the field is now dominated by a few giants in non-competitive markets.”
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JANINE JACKSON
Program director for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, Jackson said today: “We give corporate broadcasters almost unlimited control over a precious public resource — our airwaves. What do they give us in return? Infomercials, narrow political debate and commercials on kids’ TV. A pair of recent studies found that local public affairs made up less than 0.5 percent of the fare offered by commercial broadcasters. Thirty-five percent of the stations surveyed had no local news and 25 percent had no local public affairs. Minority ownership has declined 9 percent in the two years following the Telecommunications Act.”
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ANDREA BUFFA
Executive director of Media Alliance, Buffa said today: “Four corporations control 80 percent of the radio market here in San Francisco, and none of them are based here. That’s a situation that’s going on all over the country. The NAB swindled the U.S. taxpayers out of the digital TV spectrum — estimated at $70 billion. We want 50 percent of digital radio for non-commercial, local programming. The airwaves should be used for the public interest. Working journalists should be allowed to flourish.”
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CHARLES LEWIS
Founder and executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, which recently released the report “Off The Record: What Media Corporations Don’t Tell You About Their Legislative Agendas,” Lewis said today: “From 1996 through 1998, the NAB and five media outlets…cumulatively spent nearly $11 million to defeat a dozen campaign finance bills mandating free airtime for political candidates. Since 1996, the 50 largest media companies and four of their trade associations have spent $111.3 million to lobby Congress and the executive branch of the government.” Lewis can be contacted via Helen Sanderson.

LOUIS HIKEN
Attorney for Free Radio Berkeley and a member of the National Lawyers Guild Committee for Democratic Communications, Hiken said today: “The NAB is using its lobbying might trying to squash low power radio, which would allow local civic groups to reach their communities.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (415) 552-5378; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

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Welfare: Bipartisan Success?

LIZ ACCLES
Accles is national coordinator for the Welfare Made A Difference National Campaign, which today launched a public education drive. Accles can arrange interviews with current and former welfare recipients; some of their stories are available on the web page.
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FRANCES FOX PIVEN
Piven is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. Her books include The Breaking of the American Social Compact. Piven said today: “The welfare rolls are down and politicians, the media, everyone touts the success of welfare reform. But it is really no feat, and no accomplishment, to cut the welfare rolls unless poverty among single mothers and their children is also reduced…. The Congress regularly voted down proposals to systematically monitor the impact of welfare reform on the well-being of families. Wisconsin, the welfare reform pioneer that has slashed its rolls by 68 percent, won’t release employers’ quarterly reports that tell not only whether recipients got jobs, but how long they kept them. New York City won’t open its records to outside researchers. When the Massachusetts welfare department was told that one in three of the people leaving welfare was unemployed, their response was to stop collecting information on why people were leaving the rolls.”

GWENDOLYN MINK
Professor of politics at the University of California at Santa Cruz and author of Welfare’s End, Mink said today: “In this campaign year, both Republicans and Democrats are taking credit for reducing the welfare rolls by 46 percent, and both sides are touting the ‘brilliant success’ of punitive innovations such as time limits and coerced work outside the home. But between 30 and 50 percent of families leaving welfare do not have earnings: that’s a 30-50 percent unemployment rate among former recipient families. Three years after leaving welfare, the median income even among employed former recipients was only $10,924 — well below the poverty line. By any measure, these data show that welfare reform has been a disaster for families who need welfare. The hardest hit are women of color and their children: welfare reform has had an unmistakable disparate racial impact. If Al Gore truly means to redistribute the joys and opportunities of prosperity to folks who have been left out, he needs to spearhead a campaign to reform welfare reform. And if he’s truly committed to women’s rights and racial equality, he must fight to repeal welfare provisions that make poor single mothers a separate and unequal caste.”

LINDA BURNHAM
Director of the Women of Color Resource Center and co-author of the report “Working Hard, Staying Poor: Women and Children in the Wake of Welfare ‘Reform,'” Burnham said: “Undoing the damage of welfare ‘reform’ requires the restoration and strengthening of the social safety net for women, while funding programs that support women all along the path to economic self-sufficiency…. Welfare ‘reform’ compromises the human rights of poor women in the United States. United Nations human rights instruments attest to the strong link between economic stability and all other human rights.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Analysts on UN Summit

NOAM CHOMSKY
Author of a number of books on international relations, most recently Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs, and Institute professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chomsky said today: “The UN Millennium Summit has a nice wish list — it calls on governments to do lots of good things like devote resources to eliminating poverty and protect the environment. But the issues that matter can’t simply be solved by most of the countries of the world, they need to be addressed by the richest countries, the U.S. primarily. Its dominance in the world and its unique recalcitrance make it crucial. The U.S. has not signed the Kyoto protocol, is refusing to fund UN functions, even in Kosovo and East Timor. The Summit calls for increased aid, but aid from wealthy countries has actually decreased since 1990 — substantially from the U.S. There’s extreme opposition to U.S. policies on a wide range of issues at the UN: the Cuban embargo, Palestinian right of return, Lebanon’s right to compensation for the Israeli invasion and the U.S.’s Colombia policy. The UN is moving towards being corporate-based and that will tend to merge it with the financial institutions and the World Trade Organization. In a recent G77 meeting, which represents most of the population of the world, there was strong condemnation of corporate-led globalization, unilateral sanctions (mostly U.S-imposed) and the so-called ‘right’ of humanitarian intervention.”
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MARJORIE COHN
Author of the recent paper “Humanitarian Intervention” and associate professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Cohn said today: “The U.S., the sole remaining superpower, has sought to weaken the UN by failing to pay its UN dues and refusing to ratify many of the primary human rights treaties such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. At the same time, the U.S. has bypassed the UN and, through NATO, invaded a sovereign nation under the guise of a new norm of ‘humanitarian intervention.'”
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MICHAEL RATNER
An international human rights attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights and adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, Ratner said today: “The U.S. may talk of internationalism, but its practice is one of exceptionalism. It refuses to subject itself to any international system of justice, is attempting to sabotage the international criminal court and pulled out of the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice after the decision condemning its war against Nicaragua…. A substantial step forward would be to end the inhuman embargo on Iraq.”
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JOSHUA KARLINER
Director of the Transnational Resource & Action Center and CorpWatch and co-author of a new report, “Tangled Up in Blue: Corporate Partnerships at the United Nations,” Karliner said: “The UN is developing partnerships with corporations known for human, labor and environmental rights violations such as Nike and Shell…. The UN has the potential to foster global corporate accountability through binding environmental, human rights and labor accords, but the voluntary nature of its ‘Global Compact’ with transnational corporations weakens that potential.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Debating the Debates: Who to Include?

JAMIN RASKIN
Law professor at American University, Raskin represented Ross Perot in 1996, chairs the Appleseed Citizens’ Task Force on Fair Debates and has also advised the Nader campaign on the debate issue. Raskin said today: “While the two major parties are squabbling over details of what kind of debates they want, the full breadth of America is not being represented. The Commission on Presidential Debates has arbitrarily set 15 percent in several national polls as the threshold for appearing in the debates, thus effectively excluding third-party candidates. It’s critical that there be lawful, democratic standards for debate participation, whether the debates are conducted by the CPD or the TV networks. The Appleseed Citizens’ Task Force on Fair Debates proposed inclusion of any electable candidate who had 5 percent support in national polls (the statutory threshold for public financing) or at least 50 percent of the American public favoring that candidate’s inclusion. In 1996, upwards of 70 percent of the public favored Perot’s inclusion, and this time polls show a majority wants Nader included as well. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) has introduced a resolution that would institute the 5 percent/50 percent proposal.”

JEFF COHEN
Founder of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting and head of Open Debates 2000, Cohen said today: “Neither the two major parties nor a commission they set up should be allowed to decide whether third party candidates participate in nationally-televised debates. These decisions should be made by journalists and civic groups, acting independently, using inclusive criteria. Recent history shows that third-party candidates bring new issues, voters and viewers to the debates. Gov. Jesse Ventura (who had 10 percent support in polls prior to the debates) proves that open debates can affect election outcomes. A 15 percent barrier also would have excluded Ross Perot in 1992. Those presidential debates were watched on average by 90 million viewers, with the audience growing for each successive debate. The 1996 debates, limited to Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, had shrinking audiences that averaged 41 million viewers.”
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JEFF MILCHEN
Director of ReclaimDemocracy.org, Milchen said today: “The CPD is duopoly-by-design. Democrats and Republicans consolidated control over the debates in 1987, replacing the League of Women Voters with the CPD, thus replacing real debates with — in the CPD’s own words — ‘nationally televised joint appearances between nominees of the two major political parties.’ The CPD calls itself non-partisan, but it is controlled by the former heads of the Democratic and Republican parties (both now corporate lobbyists) and is funded by major corporations that give money to the two major political parties. This year Anheuser-Busch alone is paying over $500,000 for a contract that includes exclusive sponsorship of the St. Louis joint appearance. A host of issues, many of which revolve around corporate power, will likely be excluded if the joint appearances are not opened up.”
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Protests are scheduled at the CPD (1200 New Hampshire Ave., NW [21st and M Streets] in Washington, D.C.) every Thursday at noon in September. Further information: George Ripley of the Alliance for Democracy at www.thealliancefordemocracy.org, grassrootsunity@juno.com. The CPD can be reached at (202) 872-1020.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Analysts Available on Colombia

LARRY BIRNS
Director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Birns said today: “President Clinton’s waiving of human rights constraints on the Colombian military to enable it to receive over $1 billion in U.S. military assistance is a dangerously provocative step.” Birns, who has spoken with the Colombian president and recently returned from a trip to Bogotá (where he met with several senior national security officials), observed: “While the right-wing military and its associated death squads are responsible for 80 percent of all human rights violations in Colombia, the White House drug czar is increasing the militarization of the anti-drug war through building up Colombia’s military, which is nothing less than a prime human rights violating machine. Meanwhile, the Clinton administration is heading for merging the anti-guerrilla and anti-drug wars. U.S. policymakers are pressuring Bogotá to de-emphasize economic reforms, the abatement of poverty and the creation of new jobs and the construction of adequate housing as matters of lesser priority, in favor of emphasizing a military solution in the anti-drug war. While the administration talks about stressing a demand-side strategy regarding the drug war (such as drug treatment), it is in fact putting most of its energy into supply-side interdiction and elimination policies. The Colombian military has long maintained that it cannot win a military victory against the guerrillas, and President Andres Pastrana acknowledges that he cannot personally guarantee the security of the guerrillas if they lay down their arms and return to civilian life. U.S. military aid essentially is an irrelevant response to such facts on the ground in today’s Colombia. Washington is not offering that nation a prescription for ending the conflict…”
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CECILIA ZARATE-LAUN
Co-founder and program director of the Colombia Support Network, Zarate-Laun said today: “President Clinton has declared his commitment to a negotiated solution to the conflict in Colombia and to respect human rights. If that’s so, he should ask President Pastrana some questions: Why did the Seventeenth Brigade of the Colombian army not protect residents of the small hamlet of La Union, a part of the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado, last month in northern Colombia? Why did soldiers and an army helicopter protect paramilitary forces as they killed unarmed peasants there? Why did the office of Colombian Vice President Gustavo Bell tell peasants who fled in terror after the massacre that his office would help them as long as they were refugees but not if they were to remain in La Union advancing their self-sufficiency projects? Does the Colombian government’s response to the massacre have anything to do with the coal deposits in the nearby Abibe Mountains? There have been 366 assassinations in the city of Barrancabermeja, showing a systematic plan of extermination of residents of that unfortunate city. Why have grass-roots social organizations been targeted for killing? Should not these organizations and labor unions be protected as expressions of democracy? Paramilitary forces have declared that by the end of this year they will control the city. Why does the Fifth Brigade not stop these killings? Does the reaction have anything to do with the fact that the city is the center of Colombia’s oil drilling and refining?”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Disasters: Forest Fires and Nuke Subs

CHAD HANSON
Executive director of the John Muir Project and author of Big Timber’s Big Lie in the current issue of Sierra magazine, Hanson said today: “The fire risk is coming from twigs, shrubs and saplings, material less than four inches in diameter. It’s not a problem that the timber industry in any way can solve. While the anti-environmental Republicans want to use fires as a pretext to continue logging mature forests on public lands to please the timber industry campaign contributors, the administration is proposing an equally destructive and baseless proposal: to cut down all the small and medium size trees (10-24 inches in diameter). Both approaches would do tremendous habitat damage and actually increase fire risk.”
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MARC EVANS
A former Forest Service firefighter (1985-89) and Greenpeace forest issues specialist (1993-99), Evans said today: “In 1998, the federal government released a 2,000-page, multi-year study on California’s Sierra Nevadas confirming that logging on National Forest lands increases the risk of fire more than any other single activity. Natural and old-growth forests rarely erupt into massive ‘crown’ fires, where all of the forest is burnt. That is because old growth forests have intact canopies that shade the forest floor, promote water retention and encourage understory species growth that has more water stored in vascular systems. Clear-cutting lets all the sunlight in and encourages massive tree seedling growth in the first decade, which then dies in the competition for scarce water and nutrients. This leaves standing dead wood and drought resistant (low moisture) understory plants that can then erupt into wildfires that are tens of thousands of acres…. The best fire protection available is to bring the West’s forest lands back to a natural, old-growth condition. Controlled burns in spring, non-commercial tree thinning, and better ecosystem management are the keys to controlling future forest fires, not letting the timber industry into the National Forest timberlands to create an even more dangerous situation with increased logging.”

LLOYD J. DUMAS
Author of Lethal Arrogance: Human Fallibility and Dangerous Technologies and professor of political economy at the University of Texas at Dallas, Dumas said today: “The sinking of the pride of the nuclear submarine fleet, the Kursk, is not just another tragic loss of life at sea. It has added two more nuclear reactors (and perhaps nuclear warheads as well) to the more than half dozen reactors (U.S., French and Russian) and nearly 50 nuclear warheads already at the bottom of the sea. No one knows just how much ecological damage this nuclear graveyard is doing, or when the silent threat posed to human life by so many out-of-control reactors and weapons will explode in our faces. Blaming the deteriorated condition of Russian military forces for the Kursk tragedy misses the key point. Threatening accidents like this have happened repeatedly in the past and will continue as long as fallible humans insist on creating and operating such complex and dangerous technologies.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020