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Texans fear US sovereignty will disappear down superhighway If it were built, the road would be one of the engineering wonders of the 21st century -a trade route a quarter of a mile wide, carving a path from Mexico through the heart of America to Canada.
In its most radical form, it would allow lorry drivers to travel hundreds of miles from the Mexican border deep into the US before reaching customs and immigration controls in Kansas. (London Telegraph)
Putin warns US policy creating new arms race Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Saturday that the United States' increased use of military force is creating a new arms race, with smaller nations turning toward developing nuclear weapons.
Speaking at a conference of the world's top security officials, including Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, Putin said nations "are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations."
"One state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way," he told the 250 officials, including more than 40 defense and foreign ministers. (Associated Press)
46 nations want global warming police Forty-five nations answered France's call Saturday for a new environmental body to slow inevitable global warming and protect the planet, perhaps with policing powers to punish violators.
Absent were the world's heavyweight polluter, the United States, and booming nations on the same path as the U.S. -- China and India.
The charge led by French President Jacques Chirac came a day after the release of an authoritative -- and disturbingly grim -- scientific report in Paris that said global warming is "very likely" caused by mankind and that climate change will continue for centuries even if heat-trapping gases are reduced. It was the strongest language ever used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose last report was issued in 2001.
The document, a collaboration of hundreds of scientists and government officials, was approved by 113 nations, including the United States. (Associated Press)
Zbigniew Brzezinski testimony to Senate Foreign Relations Committee "A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a “defensive” U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan." (US Congress)
EU plans 'industrial revolution' The European Commission has urged its members to sign up to an unprecedented common energy policy, unveiling a plan to diversify the bloc's energy sources - There are three central pillars to the proposed integrated EU energy policy. * A true internal energy market * Accelerating the shift to low-carbon energy * Energy efficiency through the 20% target by 2020 (BBC)
US could access EU data retention information: Bilateral agreements on US access to member states' information on phone calls and emails are already in place US authorities can get access to EU citizens' data on phone calls, sms' and emails, giving a recent EU data-retention law much wider-reaching consequences than first expected, reports Swedish daily Sydsvenskan.
The EU data retention bill, passed in February after much controversy and with implementation tabled for late 2007, obliges telephone operators and internet service providers to store information on who called who and who emailed who for at least six months, aimed at fighting terrorism and organised crime.
A week later on 2-3 March, EU and US representatives met in Vienna for an informal high level meeting on freedom, security and justice where the US expressed interest in the future storage of information. (EU Observer)
I killed the Bank When asked what his greatest accomplishment had been during his two terms as President, Andrew Jackson replied "I killed the Bank." He was talking about the "Second Bank of the United States", which was our country's second central bank.
So, why was Jackson so passionate about terminating the central bank? And why did he believe that central banks were so insidious? And why should you care?
A couple of reasons you might be interested to know about what motivated Jackson:
1. Though Jackson ended the central bank, it was re-created in 1913 under a new innocuous-sounding name "The Federal Reserve", which is still with us today.
2. Also, it's interesting to note that Andrew Jackson's populist message relating to banking helped to launch the Democratic party.
Andrew Jackson, outmaneuvered for the Presidency in 1824, combined with Martin Van Buren to form a coalition that defeated Adams in 1828. That new coalition became a full-fledged party that (by 1834) called itself Democrats. (Daily Kos)
The Meta-morphosis and the sabotage of Canada by our own government The North American continent is being transformed from three sovereign nations Canada, USA, Mexico) into one regional corporate power base, the North American Union. Unlike the creation of the European Union, there is no public political/ academic discourse on the merits, or pros and cons of a North American Union building up to a vote within each nation as to the wish of the people to join such a union. Instead the union is being created by stealth, is already well on its way to fruition, and is being imposed on us by our own elected representatives and government with no opposition.
The driving force is corporate. The Chief Executive Officers of the most powerful corporations operating in the three countries want this union and have been working for some time devising their strategies and goals. Their facilitators are first, unelected officials and bureaucrats who move easily between corporations and government; second, former elected officials like John Manley , former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada; third, the heads of the three nations, Martin, Bush, and Fox; and finally, the governments and the rest of the elected members who apparently just rubber stamp what is put in front of them by the unelected officials- few questions, if any asked.
The ultimate enforcement mechanism for the North American Union is a police state. (Canadian Action Party)
Amateur 'video bloggers' under threat from EU broadcast rules THE Government is seeking to prevent an EU directive that could extend broadcasting regulations to the internet, hitting popular video-sharing websites such as YouTube.
The European Commission proposal would require websites and mobile phone services that feature video images to conform to standards laid down in Brussels.
Ministers fear that the directive would hit not only successful sites such as YouTube but also amateur “video bloggers” who post material on their own sites. Personal websites would have to be licensed as a “television-like service”.
Viviane Reding, the Media Commissioner, argues that the purpose is simply to set minimum standards on areas such as advertising, hate speech and the protection of children.
But Shaun Woodward, the Broadcasting Minister, described the draft proposal as catastrophic. He said: “Supposing you set up a website for your amateur rugby club, uploaded some images and added a link advertising your local sports shop. You would then be a supplier of moving images and need to be licensed and comply with the regulations.”
The draft rules, known as the Television Without Frontiers directive, extend the definition of broadcasting to cover services such as video-on-demand or mobile phone clips. (London Times)
Let 'em have nukes. But... Editorials & Commentary, by Ted Koppel - A few days ago, I inadvertently violated U.S. economic sanctions against Iran. I was paying my hotel bill in Tehran, didn't have enough cash and asked if I could use a credit card.
"I'll need to keep your card for at least half an hour," said the clerk. Since he'd also "needed to keep" my passport for the first couple of days I was in Iran, I thought nothing more of it. Half an hour later, I had my hotel bill and my credit card and left for the airport. - If Iran is bound and determined to have nuclear weapons, let it.
The elimination of American opposition on this issue would open the way to genuine normalization between our two nations. It might even convince the Iranians that their country can flourish without nuclear weapons.
But this should also be made clear to Tehran: If a dirty bomb explodes in Milwaukee, or some other nuclear device detonates in Baltimore or Wichita, if Israel or Egypt or Saudi Arabia should fall victim to a nuclear "accident," Iran should understand that the U.S. government will not search around for the perpetrator. The return address will be predetermined, and it will be somewhere in Iran. (International Herald Tribune)
Transcript of Ray Beckerman talking about the RIAA law suits If you couldn't make it to the conference call with Ray Beckerman, a lawyer representing clients in cases against the RIAA, you can listen or download the audio from Archive.org - For almost three years, the RIAA has been conducting a reign of terror and they have actually tripped across what is possibly their most effective device which is bringing lawsuits against defenseless people.
You have a multi-billion dollar cartel sueing unemployed people, disabled people, housewives, single mothers, home healthcare aids, all kinds of people who have no resources whatsoever to withstand these litigations. And due to the adversary system of justice the RIAA will be successful in rewriting copyright law, if the world at large, and the technological community in particular, don't fight back and help these people fighting these fights.
Every time you learn of one of those rare instances in the 19000 litigations in which one person has fought back, it means that there's a lawyer out there who's either working for free or getting a nominal fee for his work and you will notice that you will never see a big law firm in that category. For one thing, the big law firms are like any big corporation: they need to make a profit. That's what their primary purpose is. And they would be interested in representing the RIAA, not the poor people that the RIAA is sueing.
(Defective By Design)
Think Outside the Border FEW things infuriate Canadians more than to be told (by Americans) that their quiet, tolerant nation treats potential terrorists with kid gloves, putting their neighbors in mortal danger. Some of the wind has gone out of that argument since the arrests this month of 17 men in the Toronto area who were allegedly planning to attack Parliament buildings in Ottawa and behead the prime minister. Some of the wind, that is, but not all.
Representative Peter King, a New York Republican, warned last week that ''very liberal'' Canadian immigration and asylum laws encouraged a large Qaeda presence north of the border. Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, noted darkly that trucks carrying Canadian garbage to America receive little or no scrutiny.
The 49th Parallel is indeed riddled with security gaps. But the most high-profile solution on the table would complicate the lives of millions of Canadians and Americans, and perhaps seriously damage their closely linked economies. That solution comes out of laws passed by Congress in response to 9/11 mandating that next year Americans and Canadians crossing the border by airplane will need passports or other federal government-approved identification to get through United States customs. In 2008 similar requirements will be imposed at the 140 land-border crossings between the United States and Canada. (New York Times)
First experimental demonstration of the multipotential carcinogenic effects of aspartame administered in the feed to Sprague-Dawley rats. Abstract
The Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center of the European Ramazzini Foundation has conducted a long-term bioassay on aspartame (APM), a widely used artificial sweetener. APM was administered with feed to 8-week-old Sprague-Dawley rats (100-150/sex/group), at concentrations of 100,000, 50,000, 10,000, 2,000, 400, 80, or 0 ppm. The treatment lasted until natural death, at which time all deceased animals underwent complete necropsy. Histopathologic evaluation of all pathologic lesions and of all organs and tissues collected was routinely performed on each animal of all experimental groups. The results of the study show for the first time that APM, in our experimental conditions, causes a) an increased incidence of malignant-tumor-bearing animals with a positive significant trend in males (p < or = 0.05) and in females (p < or = 0.01), in particular those females treated at 50,000 ppm (p < or = 0.01); b) an increase in lymphomas and leukemias with a positive significant trend in both males (p < or = 0.05) and females (p < or = 0.01), in particular in females treated at doses of 100,000 (p < or = 0.01), 50,000 (p < or = 0.01), 10,000 (p < or = 0.05), 2,000 (p < or = 0.05), or 400 ppm (p < or = 0.01); c) a statistically significant increased incidence, with a positive significant trend (p < or = 0.01), of transitional cell carcinomas of the renal pelvis and ureter and their precursors (dysplasias) in females treated at 100,000 (p < or = 0.01), 50,000 (p < or = 0.01), 10,000 (p < or = 0.01), 2,000 (p < or = 0.05), or 400 ppm (p < or = 0.05); and d) an increased incidence of malignant schwannomas of peripheral nerves with a positive trend (p < or = 0.05) in males. The results of this mega-experiment indicate that APM is a multipotential carcinogenic agent, even at a daily dose of 20 mg/kg body weight, much less than the current acceptable daily intake. On the basis of these results, a reevaluation of the present guidelines on the use and consumption of APM is urgent and cannot be delayed. (European Ramazzini Foundation)
Terrorism and Western Statecraft: Al-Qaeda and Western Covert Operations After
the Cold War Abstract:
Al-Qaeda is conventionally portrayed as a monolithic, hierarchicalorganization whose activities --
coordinated by the network‟s leader Osama bin Laden
-- are the source of international terrorism today. Al-Qaeda is considered a radicaltendency within the broader Islamist Salafi movement, legitimizing its terroristoperations as a global Islamist
against Western civilization. Al-
Qaeda‟s terroristactivity today is considered “blowback” from long finished CIA and w
estern covertoperations in Afghanistan.The conventional wisdom is demonstrably false. After the Cold War, Westernconnections with al-Qaeda proliferated around the world, challenging mainstreamconceptions of al-
Qaeda‟s identity. Western covert operation
s and military-
intelligence connections in strategic regions show that “al
Qaeda” is a network whose
are inextricably embedded in a disturbingconglomerate of international Western diplomatic, financial, military and intelligencepolicies today. US, British and Western power routinely manipulates al-Qaedathrough a complex network of state-regional and human nodes. Such manipulationextended directly to the 9-11 hijackers, and thus to the events of 9-11 itself. (Nafeez Ahmed)
WikiLeaks is an international organization that publishes submissions of otherwise unavailable documents from anonymous sources and leaks. Its website, launched in 2006, is run by The Sunshine Press. Within a year of its launch, the site claimed a database that had grown to more than 1.2 million documents.
The organization has described itself as having been founded by Chinese dissidents, as well as journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the U.S., Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. Newspaper articles and The New Yorker magazine (June 7, 2010) describe Julian Assange, an Australian journalist and Internet activist, as its director.
WikiLeaks has won a number of awards, including the 2008 Economist magazine New Media Award. In June 2009, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange won Amnesty International's UK Media Award (in the category "New Media") for the 2008 publication of "Kenya: The Cry of Blood – Extra Judicial Killings and Disappearances", a report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights about police killings in Kenya. In May 2010, the New York Daily News listed WikiLeaks first in a ranking of "websites that could totally change the news".
In April 2010, WikiLeaks posted video from a 2007 incident in which Iraqi civilians were killed by U.S. forces, on a website called Collateral Murder. In July of the same year, WikiLeaks released Afghan War Diary, a compilation of more than 76,900 documents about the War in Afghanistan not previously available for public review. In October the group released a package of almost 400,000 documents called the Iraq War Logs in coordination with major commercial media organisations. (Wikipedia)
Roche to increase Tamiflu production Roche will raise the production of its antiviral drug Tamiflu, the drugmaker said, just as the World Health Organisation warned on Monday that a lethal strain of the avian influenza virus was spreading fast (Indian Express)
CFR's Plan to Integrate the U.S., Mexico and Canada This CFR document, called "Building a North American Community," asserts that George W. Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin "committed their governments" to this goal when they met at Bush’s ranch and at Waco, Texas on March 23, 2005 (Idaho Observer)
Police shift focus to finding organisers Please use the link to reference this article. Do not copy & paste articles which is a breach of FT.com's Ts&Cs (www.ft.com/servicestools/help/terms) and is copyright infringement. Send a link for free or email firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/93c01ffc-01ee-11da-9481-00000e2511c8,dwp_uuid=46d6f5a8-d260-11d8-b661-00000e2511c8.html#ixzz16dA76Mtj
British police have begun to shift their London bombing investigation to focus on finding suspects who organised and co-ordinated the two attacks on the city’s transport system, scaling back the manhunt after last week’s arrests of the four suspected July 21 bombers.
According to police, investigators are looking for individuals who helped with the logistics of the attack – those who built the bombs, recruited the attackers, provided the funding – under the assumption that the bombers themselves were low-level operators with little organisational ability. (Financial Times)
Inquiry into blasts a ludicrous diversion: Blair British Prime Minister Tony Blair has rejected demands for a government inquiry into Thursday's multiple bomb attacks on London, even as police and security services pinned their hopes on a quick breakthrough in the search for the culprits while an anguished city defiantly returned to work against all odds.
On Monday, police said they believed almost all the fatalities had been identified by name, perpetrators, thereby ruling out raging speculation one or more suicide bombers was among the dead.
With London remaining on its very highest state of alert, Downing Street officials said on Monday that Blair had dismissed demands for an inquiry from the main opposition Conservative Party. Blair believed an inquiry into the attacks would be a "ludicrous diversion", they said. (Times of India)
U.K. Wants Massive EU Monitoring of E-mails, Cell Phones In the wake of the deadly London terrorist attacks, British Home Secretary Charles Clarke says millions of personal e-mail and mobile phone records could be stored and shared with police and intelligence officials across Europe to help thwart future attacks, according to an Observer report.
Clark claimed that such communications could "quite possibly" have helped prevent such attacks by identifying in advance suspicious patterns of behavior by potential terrorists. (NewsMax)
The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means: The G8 must seize the opportunity to address the wider issues at the root of such atrocities I have rarely seen the Commons so full and so silent as when it met yesterday to hear of the London bombings. A forum that often is raucous and rowdy was solemn and grave. A chamber that normally is a bear pit of partisan emotions was united in shock and sorrow. Even Ian Paisley made a humane plea to the press not to repeat the offence that occurred in Northern Ireland when journalists demanded comment from relatives before they were informed that their loved ones were dead.
The immediate response to such human tragedy must be empathy with the pain of those injured and the grief of those bereaved. We recoil more deeply from loss of life in such an atrocity because we know the unexpected disappearance of partners, children and parents must be even harder to bear than a natural death. It is sudden, and therefore there is no farewell or preparation for the blow. Across London today there are relatives whose pain may be more acute because they never had the chance to offer or hear last words of affection.
It is arbitrary and therefore an event that changes whole lives, which turn on the accident of momentary decisions. How many people this morning ask themselves how different it might have been if their partner had taken the next bus or caught an earlier tube? (London Guardian)
Our Sad Neglect of Mexico Whether you believe Mexican immigrants help or hurt the United States, there is one truth you have to accept: Work here pays much, much better. A low-skill Mexican worker earns five to six times as much in this country as back home, assuming he or she could find a comparable job there.
This truth is so obvious it seems a cliche and yet it remains mostly absent from the debate on how to reform U.S. immigration. For all the talk around the country of border enforcement, guest-worker programs, employer sanctions and driver's license restrictions, the sad fact is that none of these "solutions" addresses the root of the problem: a persistent and large income disparity between the United States and Mexico.
Even the most comprehensive and progressive immigration reform proposal in years, introduced this month by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), is more concerned with making U.S. immigration policy more humane than dealing with this income disparity. The bill crafts a guest-worker program -- creating new visa categories and quotas and a secure identification system for employers -- but provides only a vague indication that income disparity might be a problem or a responsibility to take on. (Washington Post)
Task Force Urges Measures to Strengthen North American Competitiveness, Expand Trade, Ensure Border Security North America is vulnerable on several fronts: the region faces terrorist and criminal security threats, increased economic competition from abroad, and uneven economic development at home. In response to these challenges, a trinational, Independent Task Force on the Future of North America has developed a roadmap to promote North American security and advance the well-being of citizens of all three countries.
When the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States met in Texas recently they underscored the deep ties and shared principles of the three countries. The Council-sponsored Task Force applauds the announced "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America," but proposes a more ambitious vision of a new community by 2010 and specific recommendations on how to achieve it.
Pointing to increased competition from the European Union and rising economic powers such as India and China in the eleven years since NAFTA took effect, co-chair Pedro C. Aspe, former Finance Minister of Mexico, said, "We need a vision for North America to address the new challenges." The Task Force establishes a blueprint for a powerhouse North American trading area that allows for the seamless movement of goods, increased labor mobility, and energy security.
"We are asking the leaders of the United States, Mexico, and Canada to be bold and adopt a vision of the future that is bigger than, and beyond, the immediate problems of the present," said co-chair John P. Manley, Former Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. "They could be the architects of a new community of North America, not mere custodians of the status quo." (Council on Foreign Relations)
Authors of "Building a North American Community" by the Council on Foreign Relations
John P. Manley
William F. Weld
Thomas P. D'Aquino
Robert A. Pastor
Publisher: Council on Foreign Relations Press
- Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations in association with the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales.
North America is vulnerable on several fronts: the region faces terrorist and criminal security threats, increased economic competition from abroad, and uneven economic development at home. In response to these challenges, a trinational, Independent Task Force on the Future of North America has developed a roadmap to promote North American security and advance the well-being of citizens of all three countries.
When the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States met in Texas recently they underscored the deep ties and shared principles of the three countries. The Council-sponsored Task Force applauds the announced “Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America,” but proposes a more ambitious vision of a new community by 2010 and specific recommendations on how to achieve it. (Council on Foreign Relations)
Building a North American Community Report of an Independent Task Force;
Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations with the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales - America’s relationship with its North American neighbors rarely gets the attention it warrants. This report of a Council-sponsored Indepen- dent Task Force on the Future of North America is intended to help address this policy gap. In the more than a decade since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect, ties among Canada, Mexico, and the United States have deepened dramatically. The value of trade within North America has more than doubled. Canada and Mexico are now the two largest exporters of oil, natural gas, and electricity to the United States. Since 9/11, we are not only one another’s major commercial partners, we are joined in an effort to make North America less vulnerable to terrorist attack.
This report examines these and other changes that have taken place since NAFTA’s inception and makes recommendations to address the range of issues confronting North American policymakers today: greater economic competition from outside North America, uneven develop- ment within North America, the growing demand for energy, and threats to our borders.
The Task Force offers a detailed and ambitious set of proposals that build on the recommendations adopted by the three governments at the Texas summit of March 2005. The Task Force’s central recommen- dation is establishment by 2010 of a North American economic and security community, the boundaries of which would be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter. - More than a decade ago NAFTA took effect, liberalizing trade and investment, providing crucial protection for intellectual property, creating pioneering dispute-resolution mechanisms, and establishing the first regional devices to safeguard labor and environmental standards. NAFTA helped unlock the region’s economic potential and demon- strated that nations at different levels of development can prosper from the opportunities created by reciprocal free trade arrangements.
Since then, however, global commercial competition has grown more intense and international terrorism has emerged as a serious regional and global danger. Deepening ties among the three countries of North America promise continued benefits for Canada, Mexico, and the United States. That said, the trajectory toward a more integrated and prosperous North America is neither inevitable nor irreversible.
In March 2005, the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States adopted a Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), establishing ministerial-level working groups to address key secu- rity and economic issues facing North America and setting a short deadline for reporting progress back to their governments. President Bush described the significance of the SPP as putting forward a common commitment ‘‘to markets and democracy, freedom and trade, and mutual prosperity and security.’’ The policy framework articulated by the three leaders is a significant commitment that will benefit from broad discussion and advice. The Task Force is pleased to provide specific advice on how the partnership can be pursued and realized.
To that end, the Task Force proposes the creation by 2010 of a North American community to enhance security, prosperity, and opportunity. We propose a community based on the principle affirmed in the March 2005 Joint Statement of the three leaders that ‘‘our security and prosperity are mutually dependent and complementary.’’ Its boundaries will be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter within which the movement of people, products, and capital will be legal, orderly, and safe. Its goal will be to guarantee a free, secure, just, and prosperous North America.
- A North American Advisory Council. To ensure a regular injection of creative energy into the various efforts related to North American integration, the three governments should appoint an independent body of advisers. This body should be composed of eminent persons from outside government, appointed to staggered multiyear terms to ensure their independence. Their mandate would be to engage in creative exploration of new ideas from a North American perspective and to provide a public voice for North America. A complementary approach would be to establish private bodies that would meet regularly or annually to buttress North American relationships, along the lines of the Bilderberg or Wehrkunde conferences, organized to support transatlantic relations. (Council on Foreign Relations)
The secret Downing Street memo We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. (London Times)
Canada's International Policy Statement Securing access to markets through trade agreements remains important, but there is increased recognition that investment is a much more significant driver of economic growth.
The forthcoming International Policy Statement (IPS) is likely to highlight a broad set of measures that can make the country more competitive (for instance, in attracting and keeping human capital). Moreover, investment agreements, such as the one being negotiated with the EU, will probably be emphasised as models for engagement with new economic partners. (Forbes)
Hands Across North America FOR all its bureaucratic faults, the European Union represents an important advance in the relations between nations, transforming once bitter and war-prone rivals into a model of cooperation, prosperity and community. The United States, on the other hand, blessed with two stable and peaceful neighbors, has no need for such a tight regional alliance. Or does it?
The meeting last week among the three North American leaders -- President Bush, President Vicente Fox of Mexico and Prime Minister Paul Martin of Canada -- at Mr. Bush's Texas ranch may have represented the beginning of serious discussion of that question. In their joint statement, the participants said their goal was a ''security and prosperity partnership'' for the continent. This shows a recognition that an absence of military conflict is not a good enough reason to avoid tighter regional alliances, particularly in a globalizing world where competition comes not only from other nations, but increasingly from other blocs of countries.
The idea that political stability could be a building block of economic prosperity and improved quality of life was something that Jean Monnet, the architect of the European Union, understood when he brought his long-term vision out of the ashes of a bitter war. And in 50 years, what was once simply a trade area has turned into a real political community, fostering peace and advancing the economic development of all its members.
By the time North Americans got serious about even limited continental cooperation, at the end of the cold war, it was enough to think solely in economic terms. Thus the North American Free Trade Agreement seemed sufficient to bring about prosperity and draw our countries closer together. But 11 years after it came into effect, Nafta is clearly an insufficient response to the 9/11 attacks, the strengthening of the euro, the rise of China as an economic and political power, and many other major challenges. We need to shut off the automatic pilot under which the countries of North America have been flying for the last decade. - We must move beyond just managing trade and into constructing a new relationship that has four principal goals: enhancing security cooperation; further strengthening economic ties; closing Mexico's development gap; and, certain to be the most controversial, building an institutional architecture to bring a North American community closer to reality.
First, security: the attacks of Sept. 11 and the rise of global terrorism show the need for a safety perimeter around the continent. The Mexican and the United States governments are deeply troubled by intelligence reports that Al Qaeda might be laying plans for an attack across America's southern border. But simply putting more guards and towers in the Arizona desert won't keep America safe. In place of the inefficient borders between the countries today, we need a policy on a strong external continental border.
Each country would of course keep sovereignty over the edges of its own territory, but each would have to meet border security requirements agreed upon by all three parties to ensure there are no weak links. This wall around the continent would, in turn, allow us to make internal North American crossings more flexible; the European model, with its uniform visa requirements, is worth following. - Finally, the key to achieving all these goals is creating permanent three-party institutions. Meetings like the one last week should be made annual, and the nations' defense, justice and intelligence chiefs should also meet every year to develop a common plan to fight terrorism, drug trafficking and immigrant smuggling. In time, the idea would be to create a permanent North American commission with cabinet-level representatives from each country; it would be charged not only with firming up nuts-and-bolts agreements on trade and security, but also with working toward an eventual goal of a true North American union.
Undoubtedly, this level of cooperation would be a hard sell to Americans, who would assume they would have the most to lose. But simply maintaining the status quo will not help the United States maintain its dominance in a changing world. Just as the Bush administration has articulated a radical strategy of military pre-emption in its national security strategy, it needs a similarly bold approach for defending the country's economic future.
Maybe, just maybe, the men gathered at the Crawford ranch could some day be seen as the Jean Monnets of their age, the founding fathers of the North American Community. (New York Times)
What Trumps What in the White House? President Bush's hasty embrace of federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo case -- followed by yesterday's partial retreat -- has some folks trying to ascertain the relative importance to the White House of such factors as the "culture of life," state's rights, activist judges, the gun culture, global catastrophes and brute political calculation.
Here's how one reader put it in my Live Online discussion yesterday: "Now we learn that the Republicans have a trumping order of issues. The sanctity of marriage trumps the rights of gays and state's rights, but the 'culture of life' trumps the sanctity of marriage and state's rights. . . . (Washington Post)
Transcript: Bush, Fox, and Martin Joint Press Conference: The following is a transcript of the joint press conference by President Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin BUSH: Thank you all for coming. It's my honor to welcome two friends to Baylor University.
First, I want to thank the Baylor University family for providing these facilities for us. Your hospitality is awesome.
I appreciate the meetings we've just had. Our relationships are important today. We intend to keep our relationships strong. Our relationships will be equally important for the years to come.
And so we had a good discussion about prosperity and security. Turns out the two go hand in hand. It's important for us to work to make sure our countries are safe and secure in order that our people can live in peace, as well as our economies can grow.
We've got a lot of trade with each other. We intend to keep it that way. We've got a lot of crossings of the border, and intend to make our borders more secure and facilitate legal traffic.
BUSH: We've got a lot to do. And so we charged our ministers with the task of figuring out how best to keep these relationships vibrant and strong. (Washington Post)
Protest as Harassment: The new crime bill permits the police to stop almost any demonstration. It was the greatest legal victory against corporate power in living memory. Last week, two penniless activists, Dave Morris and Helen Steel, persuaded the European Court of Human Rights that Britain’s libel laws, under which they had been sued by McDonald’s, had denied them their right of free speech. The law will probably have to be changed, depriving the rich and powerful of their most effective means of stifling public protest. So why aren’t they hopping mad about it? The company which sued Dave and Helen will say only that “the world has moved on … and so has McDonald’s.”(1) The Confederation of British Industry, so quick to denounce the legal rulings it doesn’t like, hasn’t uttered a word.
They don’t care, and they don’t need to. You can see why by reading the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, which has now passed through the Commons for the third time. What civil law once gave them, criminal law now offers instead.
There has been a great deal of disquiet about this bill, but not because of its effects on protest. The public complaints have concentrated on the clause banning “hatred against persons on religious grounds”.(2) This is important, but not nearly as important as the parts almost everyone has missed. Once this bill becomes law, it could be used to ban people from handing out leaflets to customers entering McDonald’s, whether their contents are defamatory or not. (London Guardian)
NATO's Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe Synopsis of the Book - As one participant in this formerly-secret program stated: “You had to attack civilians, people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security”
NATO’s secret armies linked to terrorism? According to a document compiled by the Italian military secret service in 1959, the secret armies had a two-fold strategic purpose: firstly, to operate as a so-called “stay-behind” group in the case of a Soviet invasion and to carry out a guerrilla war in occupied territories; secondly, to carry out domestic operations in case of “emergency situations”. (ISN Security Watch)
The Truth About the Drug Companies Every day Americans are subjected to a barrage of advertising by the pharmaceutical industry. Mixed in with the pitches for a particular drug—usually featuring beautiful people enjoying themselves in the great outdoors—is a more general message. Boiled down to its essentials, it is this: “Yes, prescription drugs are expensive, but that shows how valuable they are. Besides, our research and development costs are enormous, and we need to cover them somehow. As ‘research-based’ companies, we turn out a steady stream of innovative medicines that lengthen life, enhance its quality, and avert more expensive medical care. You are the beneficiaries of this ongoing achievement of the American free enterprise system, so be grateful, quit whining, and pay up.” More prosaically, what the industry is saying is that you get what you pay for.
Is any of this true? Well, the first part certainly is. Prescription drug costs are indeed high—and rising fast. Americans now spend a staggering $200 billion a year on prescription drugs, and that figure is growing at a rate of about 12 percent a year (down from a high of 18 percent in 1999).1 Drugs are the fastest-growing part of the health care bill—which itself is rising at an alarming rate. The increase in drug spending reflects, in almost equal parts, the facts that people are taking a lot more drugs than they used to, that those drugs are more likely to be expensive new ones instead of older, cheaper ones, and that the prices of the most heavily prescribed drugs are routinely jacked up, sometimes several times a year.
Before its patent ran out, for example, the price of Schering-Plough’s top-selling allergy pill, Claritin, was raised thirteen times over five years, for a cumulative increase of more than 50 percent—over four times the rate of general inflation.2 As a spokeswoman for one company explained, “Price increases are not uncommon in the industry and this allows us to be able to invest in R&D.”3 In 2002, the average price of the fifty drugs most used by senior citizens was nearly $1,500 for a year’s supply. (Pricing varies greatly, but this refers to what the companies call the average wholesale price, which is usually pretty close to what an individual without insurance pays at the pharmacy.) - This is an industry that in some ways is like the Wizard of Oz—still full of bluster but now being exposed as something far different from its image. Instead of being an engine of innovation, it is a vast marketing machine. Instead of being a free market success story, it lives off government-funded research and monopoly rights. Yet this industry occupies an essential role in the American health care system, and it performs a valuable function, if not in discovering important new drugs at least in developing them and bringing them to market. But big pharma is extravagantly rewarded for its relatively modest functions. We get nowhere near our money’s worth. The United States can no longer afford it in its present form. (The New York Review of Books)
Bilderberg 'performance' key to Edwards VP pick 'He reported back directly to Kerry' said participant in super-secret conference - Among the attendees from the U.S., according to a list obtained by WND, were Senators John Edwards, D-N.C. and Jon Corzine, D-N.J., Henry Kissinger, Richard Perle, Melinda Gates (wife of Bill Gates), David Rockefeller, Timothy F. Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Donald Graham, chairman and CEO of the Washington Post Company, and even Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition. (World Net Daily)
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