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Arctic Saved! * US Diplomatic Coup * Kucinich Walks Out * Sonar Kills * Peltier

18 April 2002


Thank Goodness Today the Senate turned back the latest attempt to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. This victory was vital for the environmental movement, and could represent a beginning for other needed victories. The following items show some other challenges remaining for democracy and life, so keep energized, and working for peace. Item 2 is an article about another coup d'etat about the US wanting to depose the diplomat who could take away its pretext for war with Iraq. This Sunday there will be an unprecedented "special session" to oust a "peacemaker," director of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Item 3 is another situation where Dennis Kucinich is rising to the occasion to try and protect the US government's democratic ideals. Strange doings are most likely going on with the Homeland Security's $38 billion budget, but it is so much more than about money, which was the point made by Dennis Kucinich in walking out of a "secret" meeting. Remember, this is the man who put forth a proposal to ban weapons from space, (H.R. 3616) and THIS is the turnaround legislation that could change everything. We need to get the Senate behind such a transformation for real peace, democracy, health, and prosperity. Nevertheless, like space, the US is exploiting our oceans. The decision for the Navy's deadly sonar blasts is coming to a point for a decision. Please research and help support our special kinship with life in the sea, too. Special updated pages can be found from www.flybynews.com on these issues. Item 5 is on an event in Vermont to honor the Earth and support the human rights of Leonard Peltier and the indigenous people, surrounded by the strange ways and concepts of the US rule of law.

May this be a wonderful Earth Day. Thanks for helping protect Alaska's pristine wilderness sanctuaries. Thanks for sending in articles to post, and for reading these intense issues and taking actions in support of what is true in the Lakota words: Mitakuye Oyasin All My Relations.

1) Senate REJECTS Arctic Drilling 54-46
2) A War Against the Peacemaker
3) Kucinich Walks Out on Ridge Secret Meeting
4) Navy Sonar Controversy Coming to a Head
5) Leonard Peltier Benefit and Earth Awareness Day

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1) Senate REJECTS Arctic Drilling 54-46

Senate REJECTS ARCTIC DRILLING, 54-46, In Major Environmental Victory!

Today eight Republicans joined with 45 Democrats and one Independent to turn back the latest attempt to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. The win represents the environmental community's biggest political win in years as a majority of Senators opposed Arctic drilling under any condition or scenario, a major defeat for President Bush's oil and gas-focused energy plan. The Senate voted 54-46 to uphold a filibuster by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), well short of the 60 votes necessary to conclude debate on the amendment to give the president authority to allow drilling in the Arctic Refuge, an American natural treasure, for a mere six months of oil that wouldn't be available for a decade. The Senate also turned back, by a vote of 64-36, an attempt by Alaska Senator Ted Stevens (R) to link Arctic drilling revenues to benefits for steel workers.

Copyright 2001 by League of Conservation Voters (LCV)
LCV will post the roll vote results on our site as soon as they are available.
http://www.lcv.org/

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2) A War Against the Peacemaker

Published on Tuesday, April 16, 2002 in the Guardian of London

Chemical Coup D'Etat: The US Wants to Depose the Diplomat Who Could Take Away Its Pretext for War With Iraq
by George Monbiot


A War Against the Peacemaker

The US wants to depose the diplomat who could take away its pretext for war with Iraq

By George Monbiot.
Published in the Guardian
16th April 2002

On Sunday, the US government will launch an international coup. It has been planned for a month. It will be executed quietly, and most of us won't know what is happening until it's too late. It is seeking to overthrow 60 years of multilateralism, in favour of a global regime built on force.

The coup begins with its attempt, in five days' time, to unseat the man in charge of ridding the world of chemical weapons. If it succeeds, this will be the first time that the head of a multilateral agency will have been deposed in this manner. Every other international body will then become vulnerable to attack. The coup will also shut down the peaceful options for dealing with the chemical weapons Iraq may possess, helping to ensure that war then becomes the only means of destroying them.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) enforces the Chemical Weapons Convention. It inspects labs and factories and arsenals and oversees the destruction of the weapons they contain. Its director-general is a workaholic Brazilian diplomat called Jose Bustani. He has, arguably, done more in the past five years to promote world peace than anyone else on earth. His inspectors have overseen the destruction of two million chemical weapons and two-thirds of the world's chemical weapon facilities. He has so successfully cajoled reluctant nations that the number of signatories has risen from 87 to 145 in the past five years: the fastest growth rate of any multilateral body in recent times.

In May 2000, as a tribute to his extraordinary record, Bustani was re-elected unanimously by the member states for a second five-year term, even though he had yet to complete his first one. Last year Colin Powell wrote to him to thank him for his "very impressive" work. But now everything has changed. The man celebrated for his remarkable achievements has been denounced as an enemy of the people.

In January, with no prior warning or explanation, the US State Department asked the Brazilian government to recall him, on the grounds that it did not like his "management style". This request directly contravenes the Chemical Weapons Convention, which states "the Director-General ... shall not seek or receive instructions from any government." Brazil refused. In March, the US government accused Bustani of "financial mismanagement", "demoralization" of his staff, "bias" and "ill-considered initiatives". It warned that if he wanted to avoid damage to his reputation, he must resign.

Again, the US was trampling the convention, which insists that member states shall "not seek to influence" the staff. He refused to go. On March 19th, the US proposed a vote of no-confidence in Mr Bustani. It lost. So it then did something unprecedented in the history of multilateral diplomacy. It called a "special session" of the member states to oust him. The session begins on Sunday. And this time the US is likely to get what it wants.

Since losing the vote last month, the United States, which is supposed to be the organisation's biggest donor, has been twisting the arms of weaker nations, refusing to pay its dues unless they support it, with the result that the OPCW could go under. Last week Bustani told me, "the Europeans are so afraid that the US will abandon the convention that they are prepared to sacrifice my post to keep it on board." His last hope is that the United Kingdom, whose record of support for the organisation has so far been exemplary, will make a stand. The meeting on Sunday will present Blair's government with one of the clearest choices it has yet faced between multilateralism and the "special relationship".

The US has not sought to substantiate the charges it has made against Bustani. The OPCW is certainly suffering from a financial crisis, but that is largely because the United States first unilaterally capped its budget and then failed to pay what it owed. The organisation's accounts have just been audited and found to be perfectly sound. Staff morale is higher than any organisation as underfunded as the OPCW could reasonably expect. Bustani's real crimes are contained in the last two charges, of "bias" and "ill-considered initiatives".

The charge of bias arises precisely because the OPCW is not biased. It has sought to examine facilities in the United States with the same rigour with which it examines facilities anywhere else. But, just like Iraq, the US has refused to accept weapons inspectors from countries it regards as hostile to its interests, and has told those who have been allowed in which parts of a site they may and may not inspect. It has also passed special legislation permitting the president to block unannounced inspections, and banning inspectors from removing samples of its chemicals.

"Ill-considered initiatives" is code for the attempts Bustani has made, in line with his mandate, to persuade Saddam Hussein to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention. If Iraq agrees, it will then be subject to the same inspections -- both routine and unannounced -- as any other member state (with the exception, of course, of the United States). Bustani has so far been unsuccessful, but only because, he believes, he has not yet received the backing of the UN Security Council, with the result that Saddam knows he would have little to gain from signing.

Bustani has suggested that if the Security Council were to support the OPCW's bid to persuade Iraq to sign, this would provide the US with an alternative to war. It is hard to see why Saddam Hussein would accept weapons inspectors from UNMOVIC -- the organisation backed by the Security Council -- after its predecessor UNSCOM was found to be stuffed with spies planted by the US government. It is much easier to see why he might accept inspectors from an organisation which has remained scrupulously even-handed. Indeed, when UNSCOM was thrown out of Iraq in 1998, the OPCW was allowed in to complete the destruction of the weapons it had found. Bustani has to go because he has proposed the solution to a problem the US does not want solved.

"What the Americans are doing," Bustani says, "is a coup d'etat. They are using brute force to amend the convention and unseat the director-general." As the Chemical Weapons Convention has no provisions permitting these measures, the US is simply ripping up the rules. If it wins, then the OPCW, like UNSCOM, will be fatally compromised. Success for the United States on Sunday would threaten the independence of every multilateral body.

This is, then, one of those rare occasions on which our government could make a massive difference to the way the world is run. It could choose to support its closest ally, wrecking multilateralism and shutting down the alternatives to war. Or it could defy the United States in defence of world peace and international law. It will take that principled stand only if we, the people from whom it draws its power, make so much noise that it must listen. We have five days in which to stop the US from bullying its way to war.

-- 16th April 2002

For more information on this and related issues, visit:
http://www.monbiot.com/

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3) Kucinich Walks Out on Ridge Secret Meeting

t r u t h o u t | Statement
Kucinich Statement on Ridge Secret Meeting with House Committee April 11, 2002

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), ranking member of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans' Affairs and International Relations today walked out of a Government Reform Committee briefing with Governor Tom Ridge, Director of the Homeland Security Office. Kucinich said Governor Ridge should testify publicly about the office. Kucinich said there was a ruling by the Chair that the meeting was not open because there was no official business being transacted. Kucinich then asked for a ruling from the parliamentarian, but did not receive one. The following is his statement about his departure from the briefing.

This is a very serious matter that a Director who speaks for the President on matters of national security is not accountable to the Congress, not accountable to the press and not accountable to the people. Homeland Security has a $38 billion budget. There's been no public process to review this $38 billion budget. So you have a Director who is not accountable to the Congress, not accountable to the press, and not accountable to the people.

I want to state that a free exchange of ideas behind closed doors may not in reality be free. It may in fact be a direct challenge to the doctrine of separation of powers that is a key and fundamental part of our democracy. And it's a challenge to the position of Congress as a coequal branch of government.

In a democracy, secret government is not an acceptable substitute for self-government. A wink is not an acceptable substitute for an oath.

http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/04.17G.Walks.Out.htm

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4) Navy Sonar Controversy Coming to a Head

Thursday, April 18, 2002, Issue 1607
NAVY SONAR CONTROVERSY COMING TO A HEAD:

With the NMFS "on the verge of making a final decision on whether to allow deployment of the new low-frequency sonar" the Navy and environmental groups have "intensified their competing campaigns to have it quickly approved or permanently sidetracked" says the Washington Post 4/15. Marine conservationists maintain the "extremely loud low-frequency pings" of the submarine detection system would "seriously confuse, injure and eventually kill noise-sensitive marine mammals and large whales in particular." For its part, the Navy is pushing proposed legislation to give the military broad exemptions from a variety of environmental laws including the ESA, Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act.

FISHERIES MANAGEMENT LACKING:

A federal judge has ruled that the NMFS's management of Pacific coast commercial fishing has "not adequately protected bottom-dwelling rockfish" says the S.F. Chronicle 4/17. Scientists have warned that some 80 species of Pacific rockfish are "declining rapidly" with overfishing and by-catch the inadvertent killing of juvenile fish, protected fish, marine mammals and birds "considered a big part of the problem."

SPERM WHALES MUCH RARER:

A leading expert on whale population biology has determined that "sperm whales are far rarer than had been previously estimated" says the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society 4/17. The new evidence that sperm whales are only at one-third of their historical abundance "casts doubt over the recovery of the sperm whale from centuries of intensive commercial whaling and highlights concerns over this species being taken as part of the Japanese scientific' whaling program." For more information see http://www.wdcs.org .

GLOBAL OVERFISHING MARINE CRISIS:

Scientists warn that "little is being done" to prevent the world's fishing fleets from decimating ocean ecosystems, marine biodiversity and the fisheries that they are over exploiting says the S.F. Chronicle 4/15. Largely due to government subsidies, the global fishing fleet has "expanded dramatically" in the last two decades resulting in up to 30% of fish populations being "overfished" and another 40% "fully exploited - meaning that additional pressure could result in their collapse." Public broadcasting stations will soon be airing an important documentary on the crisis (see story below).

"EMPTY OCEANS, EMPTY NETS":

On or around Earth Day, April 22, PBS stations around the country will be airing a powerful new documentary that presents a stunning case in support of what fishermen and scientists are reporting the world over; oceans are rapidly being depleted of fish. In fact, entire populations of fish are becoming commercially extinct as marine biodiversity and habitats are pushed to the brink. To find out when the film is airing near you go to http://www.habitatmedia.org/pbs.html and to learn more about what you can do see http://www.oceansatrisk.com .

(c) Endangered Species Coalition 2002
For more information you can call (202) 772-3231 or
e-mail elytwak@stopextinction.org

http://www.stopextinction.org

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5) Leonard Peltier Benefit and Earth Awareness Day

"Songs of Hope in Times of Struggle"

Sunday April 21, 2002
4 PM to Midnight at the Common Ground Restaurant
25 Elliot Street, Brattleboro, VT

Featuring:

Sacred Earth
Jesse Friedman
Rose Gerber
Timeship Earth
World Beat Ensemble
Spiral Spirit

Delicious vegetarian food and beverages will be available.
Generous Donations Encouraged
This is a fundraising and awareness event in support of bringing Leonard Pelitier's Paintings to our Community -- Leonard Peltier Support Group - Vermont - Honor the Earth

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