The Sun News: Online Version
Whether you consider the Sun News an alternative newspaper or a local journal of politics and opinion , this was its website for several years. When its domain registration expired the site disappeared from the web. The page has been created from archived 2007 content from Leland Lehrman's online edition of his newspaper, The Sun News.
The Sun News
PO Box 5588
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Sun-News is northern New Mexico's alternative monthly.
We cover subjects such as Organic Food and Farming, Alternative Energy Sources, Movie-Making in New Mexico, Alternative Education, Alternative Heatlh Cultural Events, Weird News, Book and Music Reviews, etc!"
15,000 copies are printed monthly and distributed at hundreds of locations throughout north central New Mexico.
SELECTED NEWS ARTICLES
New Mexico Legislature Opposes Plan for National ID Card
The Joint Memorial is Sponsored by Senator Michael Sanchez and Representative Ken Martinez
by Leland Lehrman
Editor’s Note: The happiest moment of New Mexico’s political life this year came when we found out that both houses of our State Congress will be sponsoring a joint memorial “opposing the creation of a national identification card, and the implementation of the Real ID Act of 2005.” A fascist-communist style internal passport law, the Real ID Act of 2005 calls for implementation by 2008, with all costs to be borne by the states. This confrontation, which is happening nationwide between the Federal Government and the States, represents the most important State’s Rights issue since the Civil War. In this case, the State’s Rights case is excellent, since the Real ID act is both unconstitutional and totally unAmerican.
Read the text of the Joint Memorial sponsored by the Majority Leaders of both houses, and see if it doesn’t warm your heart too:
WHEREAS, the state of New Mexico recognizes the constitution of the United States as our charter of liberty and the bill of rights as affirming the fundamental and inalienable rights of Americans, including freedom of privacy and freedom from unreasonable searches; and
WHEREAS, New Mexico has a diverse population whose contributions are vital to the state’s economy, culture and civic character; and
WHEREAS, New Mexico is proud of its tradition of protecting the civil rights and liberties of all of its residents, affirming the fundamental rights of all people and providing more expansive protections than are granted by the United States constitution; and
WHEREAS, the state of New Mexico denounces terrorism in all its forms and condemns all acts of terrorism by any entity, wherever the acts occur; and
WHEREAS, any new security measures to protect from terrorist attacks should be carefully designed to enhance public safety without infringing on the civil liberties and rights of citizens; and
WHEREAS, the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, Public Law 109- 13, creates a national identification card by mandating federal standards for state driver’s licenses and identification cards and requiring states to share their motor vehicle databases; and
WHEREAS, the REAL ID Act mandates the documents that states must require to issue driver’s licenses and requires states to place uniform information on every driver’s license in a standard, machine-readable format; and
WHEREAS, the REAL ID Act prohibits federal agencies and federally regulated commercial aircraft from accepting a driver’s license or identification card issued by a state that has not fully complied with the act; and
WHEREAS, the REAL ID Act places a costly unfunded mandate on states, with initial estimates for New Mexico of more than thirty-seven million dollars ($37,000,000) over five years and national estimates of more than eleven billion dollars ($11,000,000,000) over the next five years; and
WHEREAS, the REAL ID Act requires the creation of a massive public sector database containing information on every American that is accessible to motor vehicle employees and law enforcement officers nationwide and that can be used to gather and manage information on citizens, and this is not the business or responsibility of government; and
WHEREAS, the REAL ID Act enables the creation of additional massive private sector databases, combining both transactional information and driver’s license information gained from scanning the machine-readable information contained on every driver’s license; and
WHEREAS, these public and private databases are likely to contain numerous errors and false information, creating significant hardship for Americans attempting to verify their identities in order to fly, open a bank account or perform any of the numerous functions required to live in the United States today; and
WHEREAS, the federal trade commission estimates that ten million Americans are victims of identity theft annually, and, because identity thieves are increasingly targeting motor vehicle departments, the REAL ID Act will enable the crime of identity theft by making the personal information of all Americans, including date of birth and signature, accessible from tens of thousands of locations; and
WHEREAS, the REAL ID Act requires a driver’s license to contain a person’s actual home address and makes no exception for individuals in potential danger, such as undercover law enforcement or victims of stalking or criminal harassment; and
WHEREAS, the REAL ID Act contains onerous record verification and retention provisions that place unreasonable burdens on the motor vehicle division of the taxation and revenue department and on third parties required to verify records; and
WHEREAS, the REAL ID Act will place enormous burdens on consumers seeking new driver’s licenses such as longer lines, higher costs, increased document requests and a waiting period; and
WHEREAS, the REAL ID Act will place state motor vehicle staff on the front lines of immigration enforcement by forcing state employees to determine federal citizenship and immigration status, excessively burdening both foreign-born applicants and motor vehicle staff; and
WHEREAS, the REAL ID Act passed without sufficient deliberation by congress and did not receive a hearing by any congressional committee or a vote solely on its own merits, despite opposition from more than six hundred organizations; and
WHEREAS, the REAL ID Act eliminated a process of negotiated rulemaking initiated under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which had convened federal, state and local policymakers, privacy advocates and industry experts to solve the problem of misuse of identity documents; and
WHEREAS, the REAL ID Act provides little security benefit and leaves identification systems open to insider fraud, counterfeit documentation and database failures;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that it support the government of the United States in its campaign against terrorism, while affirming the commitment of the United States that the campaign not be waged at the expense of the essential civil rights and liberties of the citizens of this country; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that it is the policy of the state of New Mexico to oppose any portion of the REAL ID Act that violates the rights and liberties guaranteed under the constitutions of New Mexico or the United States, including the bill of rights; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the New Mexico legislature enact no legislation nor authorize an appropriation to further the passage of the REAL ID Act in New Mexico, unless such appropriation is used exclusively for the purpose of undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the costs of implementing the REAL ID Act or to mount a constitutional challenge to the act by the state attorney general; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the New Mexico legislature urge the New Mexico congressional delegation to support measures to repeal the REAL ID Act; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to President George W. Bush, United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Governor Bill Richardson, Senator Pete Domenici, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Representative Tom Udall, Representative Heather Wilson and Representative Steve Pearce.
Peace or War, Renewables or Nukes and Coal New Mexico Must Decide
by Leland Lehrman
The politicians line up along an unmistakable axis. Domenici for war, nukes, oil and coal. Bingaman and Udall for renewable energy and peace. Bingaman and Udall can be criticized for their ongoing support of the nuclear components of Los Alamos National labs, but at least they are now aggressively promoting a federal Renewable Portfolio Standard. Senator Bingaman’s landmark energy legislation will require 15% of the nation’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2020. As we go to press, Domenici is blocking it with a filibuster, having lost his vote to include nuclear and “clean” coal as “renewable energy.” Democratic staff indicate that they have only 56 votes so cannot get “cloture,” or a final vote on the bill without four more Senators. Domenici’s actions are devolutionary, but predictable.
But Santa Fe’s own progressive Democrat, Rep. Tom Udall, surprised everyone recently when he voted, and lost, to fund the “reliable replacement warhead” - code for new nuclear weapons at Los Alamos. In a subsequent conference call, Udall suggested that he didn’t want to cut the funding because of lost jobs in Los Alamos and Española. He did, however, indicate that he was focused on changing the mission of the labs from nuclear weapons to non-proliferation and other peaceful science (renewable energy, public transportation would be great). Representative Udall should be able to find broad support for extensive peaceful science funding in the Democratic House, and need not vote for more nuclear weapons at all.
Udall’s conference call also generated poll numbers. These numbers were very encouraging: 84 percent of those on the call wanted the lab’s mission to change away from nuclear weapons. This number is even more significant because the majority of the people on the call were lab employees or relatives.
The most encouraging recent event on the renewable energy scene was Ben Luce’s decision to abandon “insider advocacy” style renewable energy activism. The Sun News joined him at his recent press conference announcing his change to a courageous, public form of direct action designed to “Break the Grip” of corporate influence on the New Mexico Legislature. At that press conference, Ben introduced his new organization “Break the Grip”and made his unpleasant experiences with the Administration and the Legislature public. He exposed the corrupting and stalling effect that New Mexico’s largest public utility, PNM, has on clean, renewable energy development. Excellent coverage by the Associated Press, the New Mexican, the Journal and the Tribune highlighted Ben’s concerns about the ongoing relationship between PNM executives and the New Mexico political leadership, as well as their constant efforts to derail renewable, efficiency, and low-income energy legislation. Ben was careful to make clear that he had been as vocal about his concerns as he could to Administration and Legislative officials during the legislative session, but that they had simply disregarded the broad consensus of New Mexico activists and citizens in favor of a straightforward PNM agenda.
Break the Grip’s emerging policy initiatives are focused first on reforming the Legislative and Electoral processes as a first step towards creating a Legislature more responsive to the people and less to corporations. Here are some of the specific proposals from BreaktheGrip.org on political reform:
· A Paid Full-Time Legislature: No more part-time, volunteer legislature that is dependent on the “expertise” of corporate lobbyists.
· Publicly Financed Elections: No more corporate donations.
· Fair and Open Committee Hearings: Real access for the public:
o Committee hearings that stay on schedule and are advertised well in advance.
o Televised hearings.
o Full access for video-recorders.
o Full opportunity to testify by members of the public.
· Prohibitions on private communications with paid lobbyists: Communications should either take place in public, or via written correspondence that is available to the public.
Break the Grip’s recommendations on energy policy are as follows:
· Repeal Inappropriate Legislation from the 2007 Session (Transmission Authority, flawed Renewable Energy Standard, Clean Coal incentive, rollback of low-income protections)
· Repeal of the 2005 Efficient Use of Energy Act
· Call for PNM Audit/Delay of PNM’s Ratecase (Request to increase rates)
· Call for Weatherization Funding
· Call for Halting of Current Building Code Upgrade Push and Open Building Code Development
· Electric Utility Reform: Major new regulations or Utility Municipalization.
· Democratization of Utility infrastructure, including aggressive use of distributed energy and efficiency.
The response from compromised politicians to efforts to stop war and promote clean energy are basically the same: “We can’t do it now, but we’ll talk about doing it slowly later.” But later never comes, and we need peace and renewable energy now. There is no time to wait on peaceful, renewable energy, and Break the Grip’s push to accelerate the process is a true blessing.
Thank You Senator Bingaman, Now Filibuster the Iran War Amendment in the Defense Approriations Bill
by Leland Lehrman
I remember when Senator Bingaman was in New Mexico recently talking to the Chamber of Commerce about the spiraling Federal Debt. He was worried because it was clear to him that it was heading in a terminal direction. The endless wars of American Imperialism are one of the principal causes of this suicidal debt - doubtless delighting the warmongers for profit at the Federal Reserve. Since Senator Bingaman clearly understands the dangers of such debt, we call on him to filibuster HR 1585, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, now that it contains the Kyl-Lieberman amendment promoting war with Iran. Passed by a disgraceful majority of 76-22, the Kyl-Lieberman amendment is strikingly similar to the “Iraq Liberation Act” which put the United States on record supporting regime change in Iraq. Senator Bingaman, round of applause please, was among the 22 opponents.
The threat of war with Iran is at an all time high, with Fox News and Rupert Murdoch’s international wizards of war spinning everything towards a massive air attack on thousands of targets. The advanced war plans are designed to completely destroy the Iranian military and political infrastructure softening up the region for regime change, and the inevitable oil/power grab. But the entire affair has taken on a fantastic urgency with the release of a report by former NSA and Naval Intelligence Officer Wayne Madsen. His sources inside the military and intelligence communities assert that patriotic elements of the Air Force and the US Intelligence community intercepted a nuclear armed B-52 prior to a planned attack on Iran. The attack was to coincide with the Sept. 6th Israeli attack on Syria, which Murdoch’s bullhorns now assert was an attack on nuclear bases inside Syri
Confirmation that the B-52 flight from Minot Air Base to North Dakota with nuclear underwing armed missiles can be asserted because the cover story, that the missiles were headed for decommissioning is verifiably false. Nuclear missile decommissioning occurs at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque and perhaps elsewhere, not at Barksdale in Louisiana, which is a jump off point to the Middle East. Nuclear missiles never travel armed under wing when headed for decommissioning, rather they would have been loaded on special C-130s or by rail according to international treaties set up during the Cold War. Several officers at the Barksdale and Minot airbases have turned up dead over the last couple weeks adding to the circumstantial evidence of patriotic mutiny within the Force.
The Sun News reached Wayne Madsen today and learned additionally that the wife of an officer has come forward to state that the B-52 was known to be headed for Israel. You can read Wayne’s entire report starting on the next page.
Responding to the patriotic revolt in the officer Corps, the neoconservatives, led by militant Zionist and Israel firster Joseph Lieberman, dragged the sold out Senate into the most recent disgraceful Amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill. Little known Executive Orders allowing indiscriminate and extralegal bombing attacks on “terrorist organizations” when combined with the Senate amendment characterizing the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guards military organization as a terrorist entity creates the legal pretext for bombing Iranian nuclear and military installations. Such an attack, in most war game scenarios, have precipitated a World War III possibly planned by the Luciferian-Masonic hierarchy as part of a strategy to deliberately enslave and destroy the human race and Mother Earth.
With the Senate voting 76-22 to enable an attack on Iran and the neocon media volume at full blast, it falls to the civic and spiritual powers of loving American and world citizens to take responsibility for and ward off this impending crisis. Prayers of support for patriotic and peace-loving officers combined with intense political and media pressure on the Senate, the Executive Branch and the sold-out Chiefs of Staff promoted by the neocons may be able to disable this insane war project and banish the Gods of War permanently over time. For this reason, we call on all citizens to appeal passionately and insistently that Senator Bingaman et al. filibuster the Defense Authorization Bill with this evil Amendment in it. The courage of any single Senator could spark the needed mobilization of the American citizenry in opposition to our disgraceful warmongering establishment.
Courageous Kucinich Tops the Heap, Ron Paul Runner Up in Presidential Candidate Analysis
Sun News Staff Reports
If you haven’t come out in favor of impeaching the President and/or Vice President, you probably won’t get our vote if you’re running for national office. What part of defending the Constitution against all enemies isn’t Presidential? Waging illegal resource wars on the basis of pre-meditated lies, the suspension of habeas corpus, warrantless spying on Americans, authorizing the use of the military for domestic police operations and using torture constitute the gravest violations of the spirit and letter of the Constitution that any President has ever committed.
The only two candidates who have even suggested that they might understand the necessity for impeaching the President and/or Vice-President are Rep. Kucinich D-OH and Rep. Ron Paul R-TX, and only Dennis has actually introduced articles of impeachment. His House Resolution 333, impeaching Vice President Cheney has 21 co-sponsors so far and is slowly working its way through the House Judiciary Committee. The Sun News caught up with the Congressman at his recent standing room only event in Albuquerque.
In both live remarks as well as answers to the press, Kucinich struck a bold, upbeat and self-confident tone without coming across as unrealistic. He is one of those visionaries who is also willing to work to make it happen. On the subject of impeachment, Dennis let me know that there are winds blowing in Washington and that he is going to introduce another impeachment –type resolution shortly which he says will get a vote in either the Judiciary Committee or on the floor. But then he went on to drop some serious bombs.
Sun News readers will recall from the last issue that a nuclear armed B-52 recently traveled outside the chain of command from Minot Air Force Base to Barksdale in Louisiana, a jump off point to the Middle East. The incident was called a “decommissioning accident” but senior military officials have explain that it could not be an accident, because nuclear decommissioning takes place at Kirtland AFB, not Barksdale. Furthermore, nuclear weapons headed for decommissioning never travel on bombers, but rather on specially configured C-130s or by rail. Although there are two parallel investigations inside the military, no member of Congress, until now, has called for a Congressional investigation.
Webster Tarpley’s now famous Kennebunkport Warning* has alerted the world to the ongoing attempts of the Cheney Administration to create an “outside event” to precipitate war with Iran. It was Tarpley who suggested I ask Kucinich if he would support an investigation of the B-52 incident. Without hesitation, the Congressman agreed. When I further asked him if it was necessary to open a new 9/11 Investigation, he agreed to that as well. When I asked him what was different between his policy of immediate withdrawal from Iraq and that of Governor Richardson, he said “I’m five years ahead of him, but he’s a friend.” It was like that all night. Punch after punch at establishment players and policies.
He was furious that the State Children’s Health Insurance Program legislation promoted by leading Democrats eliminated coverage even legal immigrant children, asking whether there was something wrong with our hearts in America today. Why scapegoat the NAFTA victims? He quoted verbatim the poem inscribed at the base of the State of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
He poked fun at those who authorize ten times the money for war as they do education and healthcare and then ask where the money is going to come from when the healthcare and education bills come up.
His solutions are equally dazzling: HR 576 Health Care for All, (except the insurance companies) H.R. 1234 Immediate Withdrawal from Iraq, Reparations and a Regional Security Force. A Green Rooseveltian Works Projects Administration designed to move American energy independence into the 21st century with wind and solar for everyone. What’s not to love?
Well, there is one thing. Kucinich recently introduced a complete handgun ban for all civilians. The second amendment has never been more important as we stare into the face of endless police state legislation pouring out of Washington. Antiwar constitutionalist Ron Paul is a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, has put together a powerful grass-roots organization and is doing very well in the polls. He could even conceivably win the Republican nomination, and go on to beat Hilary Clinton in a major upset victory. One problem with Paul however, is that although he regards abortion as a State’s Rights issue and supports individual rights in general, he is notably pro-life and votes that way.
A hybrid candidate can be constructed from Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul that looks great all around. Keep your eye on these two. Despite the sunset media panic and blockade on them, these are the ones to watch.
* The Kennebunkport Warning and related materials can be found at actindependent.org
Dennis Kucinich’s campaign is at www.kucinich.us
Ron Paul’s campaign is online at www.ronpaul2008.com
Stop Killer Coke’s Worldwide Abuses
by Ray Rogers, Founder
In a long list of countries including Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Turkey, and the United States, Coke is the target of much anger, criticism and protest because of widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses. Accusations that The Coca-Cola Co. has benefitted from the abuse of prison labor in China have also surfaced. The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke [www.killercoke.org] focuses attention on The Coca-Cola Company’s gross human rights abuses at its bottling plants in Colombia while educating the public about Coke’s unethical and criminal behavior worldwide. Michael Blanding wrote in The Nation (5/1/06): “In the past two years the Coke campaign has grown into the largest anti-corporate movement since the campaign against Nike for sweatshop abuses The fight to hold it [Coke] accountable has, in turn, broadly connected issues across continents to become a truly globalized grassroots movement.”
In 2001 and 2006, the International Labor Rights Fund and the United Steelworkers union filed lawsuits charging that Coke bottlers in Colombia “contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilized extreme violence, and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or otherwise silenced trade union leaders.” The lawsuits were filed on behalf of SINALTRAINAL, the primary union representing Coke workers in Colombia; several of its members, and survivors of Isidro Gil and Adolfo Munera, two of the union’s murdered officers. A SINALTRAINAL Vice President said, “If we lose the fight against Coca-Cola, we will first lose our union, next our jobs and then our lives.”
American University Professor Lesley Gill wrote: “Murdered unionists [in Colombia] are not the product of indiscriminate, chaotic violence They are the victims of a calculated and selective strategy carried out by sectors of the state, allied paramilitaries, and some employers to weaken and eliminate trade unions Gill added: “Coca-Cola has consistently pressured unionized workers to resign Coca-Cola is, in fact, a stridently anti-union company, and the destruction of SINALTRAINAL, as well as the capacity to drive wages into the ground, is one of the primary goals of the extrajudicial violence directed against workers.”
Coca-Cola falsely claims that more than 30% of its work force in Colombia is unionized. Of some 8,000 workers in Colombia who generate profits for Coca-Cola, about 90% are now considered subcontracted, flexible workers. They receive low pay, meager or no benefits, can’t join the union, have no job security or future with the company and are often mired in poverty.
In 2004, New York City Council Member Hiram Monserrate led a delegation on a fact-finding mission to Colombia to investigate Coke’s human rights violations. “We heard one story after another of torture and injustice,” a delegation member said. “The sheer number of these testimonials is overwhelming.” The delegation issued a scathing report concluding “Coca-Cola is complicit in human rights abuses of its workers in Colombia” and “Coca-Cola bears responsibility for the campaign of terror leveled at its workers.”
The Sydney Morning Herald (6/5/07) reported: “Employers led by a Coca-Cola executive [Director of Global Labor Relations Ed Potter] stopped the [United Nations] International Labour Organisation examining violations of workplace rights in Colombia...” Potter’s attempts to shield Colombia and Coca-Cola from scrutiny come at a time when the Colombian government and multinational corporations have been getting attention for their ties to paramilitary death squads that prey on workers and their unions. Across India thousands are protesting Coke’s overexploitation and pollution of scarce water resources and the high levels of pesticides found in its beverages. In several states, villagers insist that Coca-Cola’s bottling operations are “destroying lives, livelihoods and communities.” Its plant in Kerala has been shut down.
A May 2007 report by International Environmental Law Research Centre in Geneva concluded: “The availability of good quality water for drinking purposes and agriculture has been affected dangerously due to the activity of the [Coca-Cola] Company the Company had also polluted the agricultural lands by depositing hazardous wastes.
All of these point to the gross violation of basic human rights, that is, the right to life, right to livelihood and the violation of the pollution control laws.” “Coke is also widely produced in Mexico, an arrangement that is threatening the country’s water supplies and undercutting indigenous control of natural resources,” according to author Beverly Bell. Since 2000, Coca-Cola has been given “27 water concessions by the Mexican government. Nineteen of the concessions are for the extraction of water from aquifers and from 15 different rivers, some of which belong to indigenous peoples. Eight concessions are for the right of Coke to dump its industrial waste into public waters.” Dr. Ann Lopez, author and teacher at San Jose City College in California, stated: “The people of west central Mexico are easy corporate prey for predator Coke. You can’t stand anywhere in some of the rural towns and not see a Coke ad. I’ve seen what Coke is doing in the west central Mexico countryside where I do research: pushing their addictive products on peasant populations who can ill afford them and in which one in 10 may have undiagnosed diabetes.”
The Campaign’s accomplishments thus far include the removal of Coke products from at least 45 college and university campuses. Many of the largest labor organizations in the U.S. and Europe have removed Coke machines, banned the sale and distribution of Coke products at their facilities and functions, and called upon their members to boycott Coke. The Coca-Cola Co. and its two largest bottlers have been dropped from the Broad Market Social Index (BMSI) list of socially responsible companies prepared by KLD Research & Analytics, Inc., an independent investment research firm that is considered a world leader in defining corporate responsibility standards. It was reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that KLD based its decision on a number of issues, including labor and human rights in Colombia and environmental issues in India “ This led to the divestiture of 1.25 million shares of Coca-Cola Co. stock and 185 thousand shares of bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises by TIAA-CREF (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund)’s $9 billion CREF Social Choice Account, the world’s second largest socially screened fund for individual investors.
Coke’s brand name has lost 4 percent of its value the last two years, which translates into about a $2.3 billion loss. Coca-Cola is clearly a company that is horribly out of control a corporate system full of lies, deception, immorality, corruption and widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses. It has inflicted great hardship and despair upon people and communities throughout the world.
For consumers, Coca-Cola ads and product displays should serve as constant reminders of crimes and misconduct so unthinkable that all Coke products become undrinkable. You can help hold Coca-Cola accountable by: starting a Campaign to Stop Killer Coke chapter to rid Coke products from your school, workplace, community center, labor union, church and government agencies. contacting your city/town council to ban the sale and distribution of Coke products in schools, city buildings or city-sponsored events. going to www.KillerCoke.org to read the latest news and reports and sign up to receive our online newsletter. Get friends and colleagues to sign up as well. To contact Campaign to Stop Killer Coke: Email-StopKillerCoke@aol.com; Phone-(917) 779-0735
Editor’s Note: Mr. Rogers' prodigious and commendable efforts have been successful in getting Coke totally banned at (among many others): the University of Illinois, New York University, Smith College, Rutgers, and several Universities in Canada and in Ireland. He anticipates Vassar College will join this long list this year.
Ray Rogers is the founder of Corporate Campaign, Inc., which has a long history of labor, human rights and environmental activism and established the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke in 2003. Ray has appeared frequently in media outlets worldwide. In 2006, Business Week described Ray as a “legendary union activist” and Time Magazine wrote in the ’80s that Ray has “brought some of the most powerful corporations to their knees, and his ideas are spreading.
From Soccer Mom and Businesswoman to Political Activist
by Bernadette T. Vadurro
Literally “glued” to my television during the controversial 2000 presidential election I believed this would be the most important election of my lifetime. Even though several people said they didn’t think it mattered who would win the election, my gut said they were wrong.
During those days of uncertainty before the Supreme Court appointed G.W. Bush, President, I witnessed a calculated and enterprising process of neoconservative tactics unfolding before my very eyes. One of the most effective strategies has been the ability of the Bush Administration to create illusions and distractions so that Americans focus on the superficial instead of more important concrete matters.
As the 2000 election dispute raged on for days, we saw more polished spokespersons speaking before the cameras on behalf of the Bush Campaign. Recall the articulate and fresh Karen Hughes confidently displayed against the older James Carville and other uninspiring Democratic cohorts.
Our televisions captured the drama of the well-dressed young lawyerly looking Republicans pushing themselves through office doors demanding that precinct officials stop counting the votes in Florida. We remember the expressions of helpless, tired and exasperated election officials struggling through the process.
These subtleties influenced the American psyche as they focused on the surface gloss instead of substantial core. The ultimate winning tactic Bush used was the lawsuit demanding that the Florida vote count be stopped. The analytical voices normally expressed through the mainstream media were muffled as they failed to point out the many strange coincidences that converged to short circuit our democratic process in the 2000 election.
This signaled the beginning of many neoconservative tactics to be employed by the Bush administration. A favored tactic is the flooding of radical policies hostilely and hurriedly pushed through Congress without public debate or analysis of how they might impact the American public. In the early days of 2001 it was overwhelming to watch how quickly Bush initiative after initiative was passed by Congress.
One of the first Bush neoconservative agenda items implemented was the gutting of the Clean Air Act. The razing of this Act allowed corporations in the U.S. to dump greater levels of toxic emissions into our air and to discharge more mercury into our streams. The gutted act was renamed the Clear Skies Act and when elements of this bill stalled in Congress; Bush simply ordered the implementation at a later date through the signing of an administrative order, thereby revealing two more tactics this administration would use. Legislative branches were bypassed as Bush gave himself the right to authorize any changes he or his administration deemed necessary
By implementing domestic and foreign policies through administrative order no traditional congressional or governmental agency review, approval or oversight was included. This is how companies such as Blackwater were granted immunity for any wrongdoing in Iraq. The Bush administration not only offered corporate cronies gigantic no bid contracts, but also complete exoneration for any and all illegal or inappropriate actions they may have engaged in while operating aboard.
Another highly effective tactic that allowed the Bush Administration to make significant changes to policies and programs was the use of deceptive marketing strategies. The administration avoided important scrutiny and examination by giving policies and programs pleasant sounding names that neither accurately described nor reflected the programs or the changes.
The Bush administration used speed as a tactic meaning they frequently inferred great need and urgency for their agenda items thereby pressuring congressional decision makers and government officials for quick approval. The Patriot Act and many other extremely expensive military spending bills were obtained through the engagement of urgency tactics employed by the Bush Administration.
After the 9/11 attacks on our nation, and the shift from the global war on terrorism launched in Afghanistan to the impending war against Iraq, I began finding that huge chunks of critical information were missing from the awareness of most Americans.
I found that close to one-fourth of the worlds proven oil reserves were in Iraq and that these reserves were quite lucrative and easily accessible. Because of the United Nations sanctions upon Iraq, Iraqi oil production had been severely curtailed for an entire decade. I also discovered that the U.S. and particular members of the Republican Party such as Donald Rumsfeld and George H.W. Bush had held close relationships with Saddam Hussein. They had also refused to condemn Saddam or engage in sanctions as recommended by the Democrats in the late 1980’s, instead openly assisting his war against Iran.
Few Americans understand the long and cozy relationship between the U.S. government and the royal family of Saudi-Arabia. This is a relationship that goes back to 1945 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt made the deal with the Royal Family promising protection in exchange for cheap Saudi oil. Let’s not forget that 15 of the 19 hijackers who attacked America on 9/11 were supposedly from Saudi Arabia.
Frustrated with the mainstream media, I spent many evenings researching topics on the internet and saving articles. I read books and watched video programs that you don’t find on regular television.
As a motivation professional speaker, I often discuss political matters, picking my clients brains to determine what they think about the state of our Union. This of course was done during the breaks and luncheons of our seminars. To best describe the bulk of my client base would be to say they are average, honest, hardworking, patriotic, middleclass Americans. Regardless of their political party affiliations; they have more commonalities than they do differences.
In early 2006, I finally began to see Bush loyalty fraying amongst Conservatives. They were asking two questions, “Why are we still in Iraq?” and “What in the world is going on with the federal deficit?” At last these Conservatives might be willing to hear a different story.
I began writing day and night, passionate about the message that our very democracy and the survival of our planet was at stake. As my research took me down several paths, I found numerous corporately funded think tanks engaged in propaganda to distort the truth on several important issues such as attempting to diminish the human CO2 impact on global warming, and the reasons for going to war in Iraq and why we should attack Iran.
I joined the race of other activists committed to spreading the message that our foreign oil dependency not only increased the likelihood of another terrorist attack but could also mean the inevitable destruction of our planet. Our nation must quickly find alternative energies to safeguard our planet from global warming.
The Bush Administration has ushered in an era of preemptive wars and occupation. Our public school system is in shambles as one out every three American child drops out. While Americans have the most expensive health care in the world we have poor outcomes and many Americans have no coverage at all.
Under the Bush Administration the media has become horrifically consolidated and a monopoly on information dissemination has occurred with 5 corporations now owning 80% of U.S. television channels and 3 corporations owning 74% of all radio stations.
Voting practices and irregularities remain an important concern as many Americans believe our very democracy is being stolen because of the lack of accountability and corruptible electronic systems.
It is essential that ordinary Americans take a stand to change the destructive course of our nation. Each of must get informed and involved! We must implement sound policies and programs to safeguard our planet, the middleclass and the precious democracy upon which our Republic was founded.
Bernadette T. Vadurro is the author of America’s Conscience: Facing Threats to Democracy the Middle Class and Our World . She is an award winning businessperson, a professional speaker and a passionate community leader. She grew up in a politically active household; her maternal grandfather was a prominent member of the Republican Party who served as the mayor of Santa Fe, NM. Her father was a staunch Democrat who served as a precinct chairman in the Democratic Party. Mrs. Vadurro was recently named one of the top 10 Latina Entrepreneurs in the U.S.
Book signing and Discussion: 6:00 p.m. December 14th at Hastings in De Vargas Mall on Guadalupe St