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Senate Judiciary Slates Piracy Bill Markup: Markup on S. 3804 scheduled Nov. 18 The Senate Judiciary Committee could vote an online piracy bill out of committee next week.
The committee has scheduled a markup Nov. 18 on S. 3804, Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which is sponsored by Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) among many others, including Republicans like Orrin Hatch of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.
It is possible the committee could get caught up in a number of nomination also scheduled for a vote at the meeting, but online protection is an important subject for the chairman. A separate piracy bill, S. 3728, the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Protection Act, is also scheduled for mark-up.
The bill would give the Justice Department more power to shut down Web sites that illegally stream or sell TV shows and movies. (Broadcasting & Cable)
TSA: Despite objections, all passengers must be screened In response to a video of a California man's dispute with airport security officials, the Transportation Security Administration said Monday it tries to be sensitive to individuals, but everyone getting on a flight must be screened.
The video, in which software engineer John Tyner refuses an X-ray scan at the San Diego, California, airport, has sparked a debate over screening procedures.
Tyner told CNN on Sunday that he was surprised to see so many people take an interest in his refusal and the dispute with airport screeners that followed it. But he said he hoped the video will focus attention on what he calls a government invasion of privacy.
"Obviously, everybody has their own perspective about their personal screening," TSA administrator John Pistole told CNN. "The question is, how do we best address those issues ... while providing the best possible security?" (CNN)
Airport body-scan radiation under scrutiny They're arriving at airports across the country. Some complain they are invasive and an assault on our privacy. But are body scanners at security checkpoints dangerous?
Some scientists and two major airline pilots unions contend not enough is known about the effects of the small doses of X-ray radiation emitted by one of the two types of airport scanning machines.
The Transportation Security Administration's advanced imaging technology machines use two separate means of creating images of passengers -- backscatter X-ray technology and millimeter-wave technology.
At the end of October, 189 backscatter units and 152 millimeter-wave machines were in use in more than 65 airports. The total number of imaging machines is expected to near 1,000 by the end of 2011, according to the TSA.
While the TSA says the machines are safe, backscatter technology raises concerns among some because it uses small doses of ionizing radiation. The use of millimeter-wave technology hasn't received the same attention, and radiation experts say it poses no known health risks. (CNN)
Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Mother Heather has two mommies—and no bruises, lacerations, fractures, fissures, or concussions: - Child Abuse Rate At Zero Percent In Lesbian Households, New Report Finds
The Williams Institute, a research center on sexual orientation law and public policy at UCLA School of Law, has announced new findings from the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS), the longest-running study ever conducted on American lesbian families (now in its 24th year). In an article published today in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the 17-year-old daughters and sons of lesbian mothers were asked about sexual abuse, sexual orientation, and sexual behavior.
The paper found that none of the 78 NLLFS adolescents reports having ever been physically or sexually abused by a parent or other caregiver. This contrasts with 26 percent of American adolescents who report parent or caregiver physical abuse and 8.3 percent who report sexual abuse. (The Stranger)
Obama Visits a Nation That Knew Him as Barry The two houses where he spent part of his boyhood stand pretty much the way they did when he went back to Hawaii four decades ago. The two schools he attended have grown larger but, in spirit, remain unchanged. Some of his old friends can still be found around the neighborhood.
Near one of his homes here, the same family still runs a wooden stall selling gado-gado, an Indonesian salad covered in peanut sauce. Agus Salam, who took over the business from his mother years ago, played soccer with the American boy everybody here called Barry.
“His house — all the houses around here — haven’t changed,” said Mr. Salam, 56.
When President Obama visits Jakarta on Tuesday, he will find a city that, in some ways, has changed beyond recognition. A city of one luxury hotel and one shopping mall when Mr. Obama lived here between 1967 and 1971, Jakarta is now the overextended and overcrowded capital of the world’s fourth most populous nation. But Jakarta’s neighborhoods, including the two where Mr. Obama lived, retain enough of their former selves that the president would quickly find his bearings. (New York Times)
Texas GOP Platform Advocates Criminalizing Gay Marriage, Banning Strip Clubs, Pornography Texas Republicans recently unveiled a policy platform that includes a statement of support for legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to same-sex couples as well as for an official to perform a marriage ceremony for gay partners wishing to wed.
The 25-page proposal debuted last week as a guiding light for the state GOP over the next two years defines its position by saying:
Marriage Licenses - We support legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for such.
White House IP Chief Talks Tough on Online Piracy The top White House official overseeing intellectual property issues on Tuesday said that the administration is meeting with a broad array of Internet companies in an attempt to craft policies to curtail the flow of online pirated content.
Victoria Espinel, who serves as the nation's first intellectual property enforcement coordinator within the Office of Management and Budget, said the administration is working with a variety of stakeholders, including Internet service providers, search engines and payment processors, in what it is billing as a "voluntary cooperation initiative."
"We are now actively calling on the private sector to do more in this area," Espinel said this morning at an event hosted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. "In order to have a functioning Internet, there are many different types of entities and functionalities that you need to make that work. So we are calling on all of those to work cooperatively with the rights holders."
For instance, Espinel plans to meet tomorrow with a group of domain name registrars and registries to discuss, among other things, the prospect of denying Web addresses to illegal pharmacies selling knock-off drugs. (Internet.com)
U.S. Newspaper Circulation Falls 10% The two-decade erosion in newspaper circulation is looking more like an avalanche, with figures released Monday showing weekday sales down more than 10 percent since last year, depressed by rising Internet readership, price increases, the recession and papers intentionally shedding unprofitable circulation.
In the six months ended Sept. 30, sales fell by 10.6 percent on weekdays and 7.5 percent on Sundays, from the period a year earlier, for several hundred papers reporting to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. That means that the industry sold about 44 million copies a day — fewer than at any time since the 1940s.
The figures join a list of indicators of the industry’s health — like advertising and newsroom headcounts — that, after years of slipping, have accelerated sharply downward, as newspapers face the greatest threats since the Depression. Through the 1990s and into this decade, newspaper circulation was sliding, but by less than 1 percent a year. Then the rate of decline topped 2 percent in 2005, 3 percent in 2007 and 4 percent in 2008. (New York Times)
Driver's licenses for the Internet I just went to a panel discussion about Internet security and let me tell you, it was scar-y. Between individual fraud, organized crime, corporate espionage and government spying, it's an incredibly dangerous world out there, which, according to one panelist, is growing exponentially worse.
These are incredibly complex problems that even the smartest of the smart admit they don't have a great handle on, although Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and technology officer, offered up a surprisingly simple solution that might start us down a path to dealing with them: driver's licenses for the Internet.
The thing about the Internet is that it was never intended to be a worldwide system of mass communication. A handful of guys, all of whom knew each other, set up the Web. The anonymity that has come to be a core and cherished characteristic of the Internet didn't exist in the beginning: it was obvious who was who. (Time)
Cyberwarfare: Darpa's New 'Space Race' The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, was created 50 years ago, in response to the Soviets’ launch of Sputnik. In less than a year, Darpa put together the infrastructure that guided the American space effort for decades to come. Now, Darpa has been given new marching orders: to help America fight and win battles online.
Under a directive signed by the President — and OK’d by Congress — nearly every arm of the government’s security apparatus is starting work on a massive national cybersecurity initiative, designed to protect the United States from electronic attack (and strike at adversaries online, as well). Darpa’s role: Create a cyberwarfare range where all these new forms of electronic combat can be tried out. According to a defense official familiar with the program: "Congress has given DARPA a direct order; that’s only happened once before — with the Sputnik program in the ’50s." (Wired)
Where Big Brother Snoops on Americans 24/7 Customers of the Bank of America branch at 3625 Fairfax Drive in Arlington, Virginia, often wonder about the Arlington police car that is always parked in front of the building in the next block.
They also can’t help but notice the two armed guards from the private Cantwell Security Service who patrol the street in front of the building and eye each passerby warily.
“What’s going on across the street?” one woman asked while waiting in line to deposit her paycheck last Friday.
“Not sure,” said the man ahead of her in line. “Something to do with the government. The police cars and guards have been there since shortly after 9-11.”
“Oh,” she said. “No matter.”
Actually, if the woman knew what was happening inside the nondescript office building at 3701 Fairfax Drive, she might think it really does matter because the building houses the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Total Information Awareness Program, the “big brother” program Congress thought it killed. (Capitol Hill Blue)
Homeland Security revives supersnoop Homeland Security officials are testing a supersnoop computer system that sifts through personal information on U.S. citizens to detect possible terrorist attacks, prompting concerns from lawmakers who have called for investigations.
The system uses the same data-mining process that was developed by the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness (TIA) project that was banned by Congress in 2003 because of vast privacy violations.
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation of the project called ADVISE -- Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement -- was requested by Rep. David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
The investigation focuses on whether the program violates privacy laws, and the findings will be released after completion of the Iraq war supplemental spending bill, possibly as early as this week, a panel aide said. (Washington Times)
Concentration Camps in America If you type the phrase “concentration camps” into your Internet search engine, you will find page after page of references to martial law and the construction of concentration camps in the United States on behalf of the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
A close examination reveals that many of these references lack sufficient facts to support their conclusions; however, taken as a whole, there is an abundance of factual information showing an alarming trend in the deployment of federal and military forces to restrain and detain American citizens.
Among the Internet sites are those listing between 600 and 800 locations in the United States where the government is establishing “concentration camps.” Many of these are former or active military bases; however, several provide detailed information about their location and improvements, including maps, videos, and satellite photographs... (William John Cox)
VIDEO Security and Prosperity Partnership: Origins, Structures and Impacts Interview; Janet Eaton & Karen O'Donnell -- 29 min -- Apr 19, 2008 - In this interview Janet Eaton provides an overview of the origins, structures and impacts of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), a NAFTA - plus initiative within a 'security' fortress America framework which is being executed, beneath the radar screen of public, Parliamentary and Congressional scrutiny, by executive levels of government with advice from big business. Impacts discussed include human rights and civil liberties under attack on the 'security' side and downward regulatory harmonization, tar sands and energy implications, NAFTA super corridor impacts, the environment as loser under both NAFTA and the SPP, loss of jobs, and attempts to privatize Mexico's Pemex, among other things, on the so- called prosperity or trade side of the arrangement. (Global Research)
Top 25 of 2009: # 2 Security and Prosperity Partnership: Militarized NAFTA Leaders of Canada, the US, and Mexico have been meeting to secretly expand the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with “deep integration” of a more militarized tri-national Homeland Security force. Taking shape under the radar of the respective governments and without public knowledge or consideration, the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP)—headquartered in Washington—aims to integrate the three nations into a single political, economic, and security bloc.
The SPP was launched at a meeting of Presidents George W. Bush and Vicente Fox, and Prime Minister Paul Martin, in Waco, Texas, on March 31, 2005. The official US web page describes the SPP as “. . . a White House-led initiative among the United States and Canada and Mexico to increase security and to enhance prosperity . . .” The SPP is not a law, or a treaty, or even a signed agreement. All these would require public debate and participation of Congress.
The SPP was born in the “war on terror” era and reflects an inordinate emphasis on US security as interpreted by the Department of Homeland Security. Its accords mandate border actions, military and police training, modernization of equipment, and adoption of new technologies, all under the logic of the US counter-terrorism campaign. Head of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, along with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Finance Carlos Gutierrez, are the three officials charged with attending SPP ministerial conferences. (Project Censored)
Critics oppose unified North America Critics of a security partnership among the United States, Mexico and Canada are concerned that such measures might someday lead to a unified North America.
As the three governments discuss the Security and Prosperity Partnership initiative to improve international relations, opponents of the measure say such negotiations could lead to the formation of a North American Union of more than 440 million people, The Arizona Republic said Wednesday. (United Press International)
NAFTA Superhighway Mid Continental Corridor is under way The American Presidential candidates are discussing the existence of what is contained in the Manitoba Speech from the Throne and the Albertan North American Trade Corridors map. Americans concerned about their country losing sovereignty in a North American Union are circulating YouTubes contrasting the reality of the Speech, and Map, to the words of those denying the Superhighways' existence.
Though our political system differs, Canadians will do well to watch the influence of these contributions from Canada as Americans select their next president. Will the person selected be following the denial policy of President Bush or charting a different course? (The Canadian)
Pros and Cons Regarding a "North American Union" If it hadn’t happened in my own backyard, I might have missed it. Humbling, but true. It’s been reported by other news sources by now, but since it did occur so close to home I’ll share my angle….
Inasmuch as I’ve been following the actions of globalists for almost thirty years, it may surprise that I’ve only taken to writing with regularity fairly recently. The reason for this is that their machinations of late have become more audacious and their effects apparent (i.e., the Amnesty bill, the Mexican trucking “experiment” and the SPP, Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, all of which have been unpopular with the majority of Americans, but have strangely taken shape anyway – or come damn close). (Mexidata.info)
Katrina Update: Poor People Lose Again When Hurricane Katrina hit, poor people in Louisiana and Mississippi bore the brunt of it — they lived in the most vulnerable areas and structures, and they were in the worst position to escape the storm and deal with the aftermath.
When Congress voted relief money, it specified that half of it was to go to help low-income victims.
Guess what? As Leslie Eaton reports in today’s Times, Mississippi has spent $1.7 billion in federal grant money, and most of that has gone to programs that have benefited big businesses and well-off individuals.
Only $167 million, or about 10 percent, so far has gone on programs dedicated to the poor. It’s a scandal, or it should be. (New York Times)
Highway To Hell? Ron Paul's worked up about U.S. sovereignty. Ron Paul wants you to be scared. There's a conspiracy in the land—what he calls a "conspiracy of ideas"—to give up America's sovereignty. It's a shadowy scheme that begins with the NAFTA "superhighway," a road as wide as several football fields that will link Mexico, the United States and Canada. "They don't talk about it and they might not admit it," Paul said at the CNN-YouTube presidential debate last week. He didn't say exactly who "they" are, but perhaps one can guess. "They're planning on [taking] millions of acres … by eminent domain," warned the prickly libertarian. But elected government officials aren't acting alone. There's "an unholy alliance of foreign consortiums and officials from several governments" pushing the idea, Paul wrote in October 2006. "The ultimate goal is not simply a superhighway, but an integrated North American Union—complete with a currency, a cross-national bureaucracy, and virtually borderless travel within the Union."
Only it's not true. The main purveyor of this broad conspiracy theory is Jerome Corsi, coauthor of "Unfit for Command," the book that helped Swift Boat John Kerry's presidential ambitions. His latest offering is "The Late Great U.S.A.: The Coming Merger With Mexico and Canada," which became a best seller on The New York Times's business list this summer. Corsi plays on growing nationalist fears. He sees a scenario in which a North American Union is born and shares a currency, the "amero." Even some right-wing standard-bearers regard the fears as over-blown. Jed Babbin, editor of the conservative newspaper Human Events, says: "I guess there are people who believe in [the plan for a North American Union]. But there are people who believe in Bigfoot." "The evidence is out there," says Corsi.
Like all good conspiracies, the NAFTA superhighway is a strange stew of fact and fiction, fired by paranoia. There is a big road planned. It's called the Trans-Texas Corridor. The idea was unveiled in 2002 by GOP Gov. Rick Perry. And it's true the corridor was originally designed to be 1,200 feet wide, including a highway for vehicles, railway lines, petroleum pipes, electricity and water lines and broadband fiber optics. (It's since been scaled back slightly.) A considerable swath of Texas land, perhaps as much as a half-million acres, will be taken by eminent domain. (Newsweek)
Que. provincial police spent $7 million on Montebello summit: One of a number of police and security forces ensuring protection at the Montebello summit bringing together North American leaders this year, the Quebec provincial police spent over $7 million on the event alone CanWest News Service has learned. One of a number of police and security forces ensuring protection at the Montebello summit bringing together North American leaders this year, the Quebec provincial police spent over $7 million on the event alone CanWest News Service has learned.
On Aug. 20 Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon convened in the Quebec town some 80 kilometres east of Ottawa for a two-day summit as part of the Security and Prosperity Partnership. The initiative aims to deepen the integration of Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Security was both tight and expensive, especially as a three-metre high fence was raised to surround Chateau Montebello where the meetings took place, to keep hundreds of protesters away.
A number of local, provincial and federal police forces participated in the security effort on land, water and in the air, and for just one of them the bill climbed over $7 million according to an audit obtained by CanWest News Service through Quebec's access to information legislation. Figures for the others are not yet available.
According to documents obtained from the audit bureau of the Surete du Quebec, $7,192,635 was spent by the provincial police force to help secure the event, most of it to make sure enough manpower was available. A total of $4,589,965 went to cover overtime during the summit and another $1,416,303 covered lodging, transportation and catering costs. (Canada.com)
Prime Minister Harper officially endorses North American Union with Council of Foreign Relations visit Prime Minister Stephen Harper's appearance at the New York City based Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) on 25 September 2007, was an official endorsement and expression of solidarity on the North American Union agenda. Harvard University educated CNN Veteran anchor Lou Dobbs, has further confirmed the official endorsement of the Stephen Harper Minority Conservative government on North American Union, or "New America".
Mr. Harper has been apparently directed by the principal funders of the Conservative Party of Canada, which are ideologically linked to the CFR, to assimilate Canada into a new "Fortress North America" which is controlled by the U.S. political-military-industrial complex by no later than 2010.
Indeed, the Stephen Harper government has been reported to be in the process of getting various Canadian government departments and agencies to "harmonize", with U.S. governmental agencies, to expedite the assimilation of Canada into the neo-conservative vision of a "Fortress North America". (The Canadian)
U.S., Canada and Mexico Take Lead to Manage Industrial Chemicals The United States, Canada and Mexico are strengthening their efforts to ensure the safe manufacture and use of industrial chemicals by developing a regional partnership for assessing and managing potential risks. This regional partnership, announced today in Montebello, Quebec, is the result of discussions between President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America Leaders' Summit.
As part of the regional agreement, the three countries' top environmental officials agreed that their agencies would coordinate efforts to assess and take action on industrial chemicals. The United States, by 2012, will complete risk characterizations and take action, as needed, on more than 9,000 chemicals produced above 25,000 pounds per year. It also provides for the sharing of scientific information and technical understanding, best practices and research on new approaches to chemical testing and assessment. The agreement establishes goals to be met by 2020, which includes creating and updating chemical inventories in all three countries, as well as coordinating the management of chemicals in North America as outlined in other international agreements.
This U.S. commitment to complete assessments and take needed action on 9,000 chemicals will apply the results of EPA's work on High Production Volume (HPV) chemicals and extend its efforts to moderate production volume chemicals. The 2012 goal is to ensure that these chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize risks to health and the environment. (News Blaze)
N American trade, security meet wraps up North American leaders wrapped up a two-day summit here on Tuesday, trumpeting consumer protections and other joint efforts, while dismissing charges of plotting to erode national sovereignty.
The trilateral talks were "as cordial as they were constructive," said host Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, flanked by US President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon at a closing press conference.
Canada, the US and Mexico are "independent and interdependent," Harper said. "And we're committed to working together on mutual security, continued economic growth and expanding our unique North American relationship."
The partnership was launched at the first "Three Amigos" summit in Waco, Texas, in March 2005, but has been attacked by activists, labor groups and academics critical of its business focus. (Taipei Times)
Security and Prosperity Partnership Of North America home page (archive) Joint Statement
Prime Minister Harper, President Bush and President Calderón North American Leaders’ Summit
April 22, 2008
The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) was launched in March of 2005 as a trilateral effort to increase security and enhance prosperity among the United States, Canada and Mexico through greater cooperation and information sharing.
This trilateral initiative is premised on our security and our economic prosperity being mutually reinforcing. The SPP recognizes that our three great nations are bound by a shared belief in freedom, economic opportunity, and strong democratic institutions.
The SPP provides the framework to ensure that North America is the safest and best place to live and do business. It includes ambitious security and prosperity programs to keep our borders closed to terrorism yet open to trade.
The SPP builds upon, but is separate from, our long-standing trade and economic relationships. It energizes other aspects of our cooperative relations, such as the protection of our environment, our food supply, and our public health.
Key Accomplishments Since August 2007
April 22, 2008 (Security And Prosperity Partnership Of North America)
Stop, Stop! A North American Union! As Some Stoke Fears of 'Dangerous' Partnership, Reality Takes a Detour Those who celebrated immigration reform's defeat last month as "a glorious victory for the American people" have a new issue to exploit. Their target: the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, or SPP, launched in March 2005 by the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Haven't heard of it? Well, those merchants of fear and exaggeration wish you had. According to them, the SPP will lead to a host of undesirable consequences, from a 10- to 12-lane highway splitting America's heartland from Mexico to Canada, to the elimination of America's borders and an "end (of) the United States as we know it," according to CNN's Lou Dobbs. One Web site, StopSPP.com, depicts the ramifications with a graphic of North America in flames.
Dobbs and others believe that the SPP is a "blueprint for the North American Union" and that next month's summit in Montebello, Canada, between President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon will further consolidate the agreement and lead to the dissolution of U.S. sovereignty.
As it turns out, the agenda for that meeting isn't so apocalyptic. The three North American leaders are expected to announce an integrated strategy to combat pandemics, with avian flu one of the central motivations. Also finalized should be what organizers call a "trilateral regulatory cooperation framework meant to enhance competitiveness, while maintaining high standards of health and safety."
As far as an attempt to dissolve the U.S. and establish a North American Union, don't look for it in the summit's plans. There is no mention of erasing borders and establishing a separate legal system, adopting a single currency or creating a secret police. Unless, of course, the team of disease-fighting scientists somehow takes a wrong turn in Kansas City and transforms into a revolutionary army for the North American Union. In sum, the SPP doesn't pose much of a threat. (Washington Post)
OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR; The Center Shouldn't Hold IT'S just a red stake stuck in an anonymous spread of pasture 20 miles north of Belle Fourche, S.D., a rodeo town of about 5,000 inhabitants. But it is also the geographical center of the United States of America, as defined by the National Geodetic Survey in 1959. Or at least it is for now.
To find it, says Teresa Schanzenbach, executive director of the town's chamber of commerce, ''you have go into a ditch, cross a barbed-wire fence and maneuver amongst the cactus and cow pies.'' So, plans are that in August, the center of the nation is to be moved 20 miles south, and an eye-catching granite monument will be unveiled in Belle Fourche itself so that visitors can see it more easily.
This may seem like a high-handed way to treat both geography and the United States itself. Certainly the implications reach well beyond Belle Fourche. Is the balance of the nation going to be affected? Will there be a seismic tilt towards Canada? And can we be sure that the center won't shift again? History certainly suggests that it will -- and within the foreseeable future.
The event that made Belle Fourche the focal point of the nation's land mass was the admission of Hawaii and Alaska in 1959. Never have the frontiers of the United States remained fixed for so long. - Unlike the European Union, where six large nations jostle for power with 21 others of varying size, any North American model would inevitably be dominated by the partner whose population and economy are respectively almost three and six times bigger than those of the other two put together. It is significant that even at this early stage, all Security and Prosperity Partnership agreements have involved the United States, although often excluding one of the other two partners, and that American regulations are the norm for most of the partnership's 24 existing bilateral and trilateral agreements covering trade and security.
In other words, folks like Mr. Dobbs and Representative Goode are facing in the wrong direction. The partnership is increasing rather than diminishing the scope of United States sovereignty. History is resuming its normal course. It may be slower than invasion or purchase, but the regulations and agencies needed to enforce them will pull Canada and Mexico within the reach of United States jurisdiction as effectively as any means that Seward envisioned. Meanwhile, the citizens of Belle Fourche would be well advised to make the new geographical center of the United States transportable. It may eventually need to travel to somewhere near Omaha. (New York Times)
North American leaders do little to advance NAFTA Two years ago, President Bush agreed with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to set up a so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership to look at ways of deepening the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that links their countries.
Some detected a conspiracy to create a North American Union. They can relax: Talks last week at Montebello, a Canadian resort near Ottawa, among Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderón were "practical," according to the host. For example, Harper revealed that time had been spent discussing standardizing labels for jelly beans.
Officials in all three countries have worked on similar attempts to harmonize rules on everything from food to how to respond to health scares and tainted imports. This is useful, no doubt, but so small-scale as to be almost invisible, which worries some people. (Star Tribune)
North American Leaders Conclude Talks About "NAFTA On Crack" A summit of North American leaders has concluded in Montebello Quebec. On Tuesday President Bush praised NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.
* President Bush: "And I think we made some good progress towards eliminating barriers and to harmonizing regulations to a point where more prosperity will come to be."
President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon met in Montebellow to discuss an expanded version of NAFTA known as the Security and Prosperity Partnership. Canadian activist Jaggi Singh said "The Security and Prosperity Partnership is, in brief, NAFTA on crack combined with the fear and paranoia of Homeland Security policies." The three leaders also discussed border issues.
* Mexican President Felipe Calderon: "We all want secure borders. We all also want efficient borders, borders that will allow a border crossing of those who build, who contribute and of course prevent border crossings of those who damage our societies, organized crime, drug trafficking and and illegal markets."
In other news from the Canadian summit, protesters are accusing police of using undercover agents to provoke violent confrontations during the meeting. (Democracy Now)
In Depth Security and Prosperity Partnership: SPP FAQs To hear some people talk, the Security and Prosperity Partnership meetings are nothing to get worked up about.
Thomas D'Aquino, of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, has said the issues discussed at the SPP are "quite important but frankly quite boring. They're not terribly exciting."
David Bohigian, the American assistant secretary of commerce for market access and compliance, told the magazine The Nation that the SPP is mostly concerned with bureaucratic minutiae and standards harmonization.
"For instance, in the U.S., we sell baby food in several different sizes; in Canada, it's just two different sizes," he told the magazine.
But if it's all boring bureaucracy and baby food jars, why are thousands of protestors expected to show up in Montebello, Que., a small town halfway between Ottawa and Montreal, for the third leaders' meeting under the SPP? - Who is opposed to the SPP?
Opposition to the SPP exists in all three countries and on either end of the political spectrum.
Progressive groups, particularly in Canada, say the SPP amounts to Canada's deep integration with the United States.
The Council of Canadians says the SPP is anti-democratic, makes Canadians less secure and ties Canada to the U.S. "war on terror." The Council is also concerned about the SPP discussions about bulk water exports from Canada to the U.S.
The NDP has said it has concerns about the SPP's "lack of transparency and democratic oversight." NDP trade critic Peter Julian has tabled a motion calling for public consultations and full Parliamentary oversight of the SPP.
- On the Canadian government's website about the SPP, some of the agreement's accomplishments are listed:
* Initiatives that make it easier to ship goods across the border.
* Strategies to limit the impact of disasters and allow for a more co-ordinated international response and a faster recovery.
* International co-operation on intelligence, law enforcement, transportation security and border management to help reduce criminal activity and terror risks.
* Reduction of transit times by 50 per cent at the Detroit-Windsor gateway, the largest border crossing point between Canada and the U.S.
Not listed is a planned "harmonization" of pesticide limits between Canada and the U.S., which would raise the acceptable level of pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables.
The SPP's 2006 prosperity report identified "differences in pesticide maximum residue limits" as "barriers to trade." (CBC)
Analysis: Border issue to dominate summit Business leaders from the United States and Canada hope the North American summit in Montebello, Quebec, this week will put efforts to integrate the two nation’s border control systems back on track.
“The issue” of talks about a pilot project for a single frontier checkpoint where both U.S. and Canadian entry and exit formalities can be completed “will be part of the conversation,” Steven Nesmith, a former U.S. Commerce Department official now working as a lobbyist on border issues, told United Press International. He said the information came from U.S. officials involved in preparations for the summit.
A Canadian official, Susan Cartwright, confirmed to reporters at a pre-summit briefing last week that the pilot -- called the land pre-clearance project -- was one of several border issues that “would likely be discussed” at the bilateral meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President George W. Bush Monday.
The breakdown last April of talks about the pilot, mooted for the Peace Bridge -- which joins Fort Erie in Canada and Buffalo in New York state and is one of the busiest border crossings in the world -- has become something of a lightning rod for critics of the Department of Homeland Security, which pulled the United States out of negotiations on the issue after almost three years of talks. - Christopher Sands, an analyst at the Hudson Institute, said that the “very aggressive” U.S. attitude to security was also evident in the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership -- the trilateral process of keeping “our borders closed to terrorism yet open to trade,” according to its Web site.
“The security part is a little different (from the prosperity agenda), it’s very U.S.-driven,” he said. “It’s basically just a matter of the U.S. setting the standards and then getting the Canadians and the Mexicans to sign up.”
“That’s why they feel a little pushed,” he added, of Canada and Mexico. (United Press International)
Canadians in the Dark About SPP Union with the USA and Mexico The purpose of the Canada-USA-Mexico meeting in August, at Montebello, Quebec, is to ratify the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America
In less than a month’s time, on August 20, the most powerful president in the world will be arriving in Montebello, Quebec, for a two-day conference. President George W. Bush will be meeting with Stephen Harper and their Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon. So far, the silence from the Canadian and American media has been deafening.
Talk to 90 percent of people on the street and they won’t know about this upcoming conference, and if by a slim chance they do, they won’t know the purpose of the meeting or why the leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico are meeting in the dog days of summer under what amounts to a veil of secrecy. (Mexidata.info)
Watching the waistline--the thickening of the Canada-U.S. border: the difficulty of convincing the United States that Canada can September 11, 2001, was a seminal date in the young 21st century. The attacks on and collapse of the World Trade Centre in Manhattan was the seed from which grew America's preoccupation with the security of its homeland above all other national policy objectives. Canadians were justifiably proud of their immediate response to this crisis faced by their neighbour and closest ally. They opened their homes to thousands of air travels forced to land on Canadian soil and rallied in impressive numbers on Parliament Hill that same week to visibly demonstrate our nation's support. Within three months of the attacks, both countries issued the Canada-U.S. Smart Border Declaration, leading to the Canada-U.S. Smart Border Accord in 2002--aimed at improving security and border efficiency. In the aftermath of 9/11, however, Canada acquired a new imperative in its vitally important relationship with the United States--trust in a secure 49th parallel is a condition precedent for trade and further trade liberalization between both countries.
Almost seven years later, it is clear that the historical low-maintenance approach to managing the border is over. Security trumps trade for Canada's largest trading partner. This has contributed to what is commonly referred to as the "thickening" of the Canada-U.S. border, characterized by increased wait times, direct border crossing fees, additional and duplicative border programs, inconsistent regulations, and increased inspection times. (Entrepreneur)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
U.S. EPA, Mexico, announce air quality environmental successes at Tijuana conference: Mexico to use low-sulfur diesel along border; diesel emission reductions agreement to be signed Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and SEMARNAT, Mexico's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources met October 19 in Tijuana, Mexico, to announce significant policy changes that will improve the air quality for 12 million residents along the U.S. - Mexico border.
U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri joined Secretary Jose Luis Luege Tamargo of Mexico's environmental agency SEMARNAT to announce Mexico's plan to aggressively reduce sulfur levels in gasoline and diesel fuel beginning in 2006. Mexico is further exploring accelerated introduction of these cleaner fuels in key areas of the country including the US-Mexico border.
This announcement is the most important achievement in meeting the environment agenda developed under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America signed on March 23, 2005 by President Bush, President Fox of Mexico, and Prime Minister Martin of Canada. The SPP is an effort to address the threat of terrorism and to enhance the security, competitiveness and quality of life in North America. (Environmental Protection Agency)
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)
Are we safe? Unlike citizens of Great Britain, the United States and Spain, the Canadian public has remained unscathed during the so-called war on terror. Even after Osama bin Laden named Canada an enemy, we seemed unconvinced that our multicultural, tolerant and peace-loving nation could experience what others have.
It all seemed so far away.
Yet in light of last weekend's arrests and the allegations that a homegrown terror cell planned to attack Canadian targets, perhaps that perception has changed. (The Globe and Mail)
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)
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