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KN4M 03-01-02

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  • robalini
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com New York Mayor Ponders Selling Brooklyn
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2002
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Thanks,

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist
      http://www.konformist.com


      New York Mayor Ponders Selling Brooklyn Bridge, Four Others
      2-27-2

      NEW YORK (Reuters) - Unbelievable perhaps, but New York City's new
      mayor wants to sell you the historic Brooklyn Bridge.

      In fact, he wants to sell three other bridges in America's biggest
      city -- anything to raise cash in a city reeling from the economic
      effects of the Sept. 11 attacks coupled with the first U.S. recession
      in 10 years.

      Michael Bloomberg, elected mayor last year just weeks after the
      destruction of the World Trade Center, inherited a nearly $5 billion
      hole in his $40 billion spending plan, which an official in his
      administration said could be partly filled through the sale of the
      four bridges.

      "The proposals (to sell the bridges) are under consideration,"
      Bloomberg spokesman Jordan Barowitz said on Monday, declining to
      elaborate.

      Selling the bridges is likely to generate as much opposition from
      elected officials in Brooklyn and Queens as the mayor's budget
      proposal two weeks ago to charge tolls on the bridges, which are now
      free.

      The Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge
      and the Queensboro Bridge all span the East River and connect the
      boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens to Manhattan.

      The toll plan could raise up to $800 million a year by 2006.

      While it was not immediately clear how much the city might get from
      the sale of the four bridges, an arm of the New York Metropolitan
      Transportation Authority would be the likely buyer, Bloomberg's
      spokesman said. An MTA spokesman said the agency had no comment on
      the Bloomberg plan to sell the bridges.

      New York City's tax collections took a severe hit after the Sept. 11
      attacks, which came at a time when the U.S. economy was already
      slowing after a record 10 years of economic growth.

      The air attacks not only killed nearly 3,000 people, they also led to
      110,000 job losses and forced thousands of businesses to shut down.

      *****

      Colombian Rebel Says Thousands Will Die In Total War
      By William Parra
      2-26-2

      IN THE ANDES MOUNTAINS, Colombia (Reuters) - Colombian Marxist
      guerrillas bombed power lines and clashed with the army on Tuesday as
      a senior rebel called the collapse of peace talks a disaster and
      warned that thousands will die in the coming "total war."

      At a secret mountain camp in southern Colombia, rebel commander Pablo
      Catatumbo blamed Colombia's upper classes and the United States for
      President Andres Pastrana's decision to halt three years of peace
      talks last week with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia --
      known in Spanish as FARC.

      "I think this is an historic mistake. Not only by President Pastrana,
      but also by the Colombian ruling classes, the establishment, who have
      pushed Colombia into total war," FARC rebel commander Pablo Catatumbo
      told Reuters in an interview.

      Pastrana abandoned the tortuous peace talks after the FARC hijacked a
      commercial plane and kidnapped a senator aboard. The negotiations had
      done little to stem the bloodshed in a 38-year-old war which pits
      leftist rebels including the FARC against the Colombian army and far-
      right paramilitary outlaws and has claimed about 40,000 lives in the
      last decade.

      "We have to sit down and talk again. The terrible thing is that there
      are going to be 5,000 or 10,000 deaths. Whether they be guerrillas,
      police, soldiers or civilians, it's terrible for Colombia. We don't
      want that," added Catatumbo, dressed in camouflage and surrounded by
      armed guerrillas.

      Since Monday, FARC rebels have killed eight soldiers and police, as
      well as a young boy, in firefights and bombings in three southern
      Colombian provinces. The attacks all occurred in and around the
      thinly populated region of jungle and cattle pasture the size of
      Switzerland that Pastrana gave the FARC as a safe haven for peace
      talks in late 1998.

      Backed by U.S.-built Black Hawk helicopters, army troops pushed back
      into the area last week and bombed rebel camps after Pastrana
      declared the talks dead on Wednesday, calling the FARC drug-
      trafficking "terrorists" who had never ceased the violent struggle
      outside their territory.

      BUSH AIDES DISCUSS COLOMBIA

      Catatumbo said Washington shared the blame for the collapse of peace
      talks. "The United States has always been the main obstacle for
      obtaining peace in Colombia. Until the necessary consensus is reached
      for committing the United States to the idea that Colombia needs
      reforms, it's going to be very difficult to get peace," he said.

      The United States has given Colombia over $1 billion in mainly
      military aid for anti-drugs efforts and has said it hopes to give $98
      million more to defend a key oil pipeline.

      Top aides to President Bush on Tuesday discussed how they could do
      more to help Colombia given constraints on using U.S. military aid
      for anything other than the fight against drugs. No decisions were
      reached.

      But officials said Washington's designation of the FARC as a
      terrorist group may open the door to more aid and Defense Secretary
      Donald Rumsfeld did not rule out sending in troops.

      The FARC has said it is prepared to talk to a future government, but
      Alvaro Uribe, who has a massive lead ahead of May 26 presidential
      elections, is a bitter enemy of the peasant army. The rebels want
      social reforms and land redistribution in a country marked by a huge
      divide between rich and poor.

      Striking back after the government incursion, the rebels bombed power
      pylons across southern Colombia, leaving 45 small towns without
      electricity and many without running water.

      But Catatumbo, a commander of the 17,000-strong rebel force in Valle
      del Cauca province -- outside the former rebel-held "demilitarized
      zone" -- said the FARC wanted peace.

      "We're looking at about 5,000 deaths, because there are very
      important sections of the establishment here who don't want peace.
      They're making money out of war, including the military," he said.

      Over the weekend, the guerrillas grabbed a minor presidential
      candidate, Ingrid Betancourt, after she ignored military advice not
      to venture into the former rebel zone. She has now been added to the
      list of more than 800 people being held hostage by the FARC, mainly
      for ransom.

      *****

      World Socialist Web Site www.wsws.org

      WSWS : News & Analysis : North America

      US court sanctions further media monopolization
      By Patrick Martin
      28 February 2002

      A US court ruling issued February 19 means the effective end to any
      limitation on the drive by a handful of giant corporations to
      monopolize broadcasting and cable television.

      A three-judge panel of the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the
      District of Columbia—the most important federal court below the
      Supreme Court—upheld a lawsuit brought by a group of media
      corporations, including AOL Time Warner, Viacom, and News
      Corporation, against two rules issued by the Federal Communications
      Commission, the broadcast industry regulator.

      The court struck down outright an FCC regulation that barred cross-
      ownership of cable systems and local TV stations in the same media
      market. It voided and sent back for reconsideration by the FCC a
      regulation limiting television networks to the ownership of local TV
      stations covering no more than 35 percent of the US market.

      Viacom and News Corporation filed suit because recent acquisitions
      have brought both conglomerates above the 35 percent mark. When
      Viacom acquired CBS two years ago, the combination of the network-
      owned stations and its existing local stations came to 41 percent.
      News Corporation, which owns Fox network, has access to 40 percent of
      the US market after its merger with Chris-Craft Corporation.

      Local stations are frequently monopolies, and highly profitable, so
      that even a small group of stations constitutes a substantial
      property. Large chains, such as those assembled by the biggest media
      conglomerates, are among the most lucrative of businesses. News
      Corporation, for instance, owns 33 local stations. They took in $526
      million in revenue in the last quarter of 2001, of which $259 million
      was earnings before taxes and interest, a gross profit margin of
      almost 50 percent.

      It is a remarkable and revealing feature of the US legal landscape
      that giant corporations routinely take business decisions that flout
      existing laws and regulations, and then obtain retroactive sanction
      for their illegal actions by going to court. One can imagine the fate
      of a worker or a small businessman who tried the same thing. But the
      major media outlets—which are owned by these same corporations—take
      virtually no notice of corporate lawlessness.

      The media ownership rules were reaffirmed by the FCC only two years
      ago, in a split vote in which the current FCC chairman, Michael
      Powell, son of Secretary of State Colin Powell, voted with the
      minority who favored loosening or eliminating the restrictions.
      Powell will now be responsible for deciding whether to raise the
      ownership limit, perhaps to 50 percent of the US market, or
      abolishing it entirely.

      The regulation, called the National Television Station Ownership
      Rule, has been in place since the 1940s, when television broadcasting
      began. Its avowed purpose was to "prevent any undue concentration of
      economic power" in television broadcasting, in large measure because
      monopoly control of the media was seen as inimical to democracy. In
      the present world of American politics, such considerations no longer
      apply.

      Gene Kimmelman, co-director of the Washington office of the Consumers
      Union, called the decision "earth-shattering." He explained, "The end
      result could be the most massive consolidation in media this nation
      has ever seen. It's a radical effort by the Court of Appeals to ...
      expand corporate free-speech rights at the expense of the public's
      First Amendment rights."

      The monopolization of the television media is not a new phenomenon.
      The restrictions on station ownership have steadily eroded. The limit
      of three stations established in the 1940s had, by 1984, been raised
      to twelve stations and 25 percent of the national audience. The
      telecommunications deregulation bill sponsored by the Clinton
      administration—with Al Gore serving as the main cheerleader—ended the
      numerical limit of stations and raised the permitted proportion of
      the national audience to 35 percent. The latest court ruling
      completes the process.

      In a basic sense, the FCC rules were never aimed at providing genuine
      public access to the broadcast media. That would require public
      ownership and making the media available to working class
      organizations and other groups without large financial resources.
      Rather, they sought to preserve a modicum of competition by
      restricting the ability of the largest media monopolies to gobble up
      their smaller rivals.

      Hence the lineup in the case before the court, Fox Television
      Stations v. Federal Communications Commission, in which the National
      Association of Broadcasters, whose membership consists mainly of the
      owners of local television stations, was pitted against Viacom (CBS),
      AOL Time Warner, General Electric (NBC) and News Corporation (Fox).

      Joining the "anti-monopoly" side of the lawsuit were corporations
      principally based in the newspaper industry, such as the Washington
      Post Co. and the New York Times Co., which also own considerable
      properties in local television. Both the Post and the Times published
      editorials critical of the ruling, with the Times in particular
      pointing to the danger to democracy from the ever-narrower
      concentration of media power.

      But neither publication pointed to the clear connection between the
      anti-democratic policies of the Bush administration, and this
      government's origins in the theft of the 2000 presidential election
      and the suppression of vote counting in Florida by the Supreme Court.
      This is not surprising, since both the Times and the Post endorsed
      the political coup which placed Bush in the White House, at least
      after the fact, and urged the acceptance of his administration as
      legitimate.

      The composition of the three-judge panel that issued the February 19
      ruling is significant. Heading the panel was Judge Douglas Ginsburg,
      an unsuccessful nominee to the Supreme Court during the Reagan
      administration and a longtime advocate of right-wing causes. Joining
      him was Judge David Sentelle, a former aide to ultra-right Senator
      Jesse Helms, who gained notoriety as the chairman of the three-judge
      panel that installed Kenneth Starr as the independent counsel in the
      Whitewater investigation, and later approved the extension of his
      jurisdiction to cover Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky.

      The anti-regulatory zealotry of the ruling stopped short of endorsing
      the argument of the networks and AOL Time Warner that the FCC rules
      violated their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. Such a
      decision would have enshrined a right of monopolization in the US
      Constitution, but the Appeals Court held that promotion of diversity
      in ownership was a legitimate goal of government policy.

      Instead of issuing a more sweeping opinion, the judges held that the
      FCC had not provided a "reasonable basis" for the ownership rules, in
      violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, by failing to show how
      ownership regulations would actually promote diversity. In effect,
      the failure of the existing setup to prevent monopolization was used
      as an argument for scrapping any regulation whatsoever.

      The court ruling is widely expected to be upheld if appealed to the
      current Supreme Court. In any case, the decision means that Viacom
      and News Corporation will not be required to sell off a portion of
      their current television holdings, and it will encourage a new round
      of mergers and consolidation in the industry.

      According to reports in the business press, a prime candidate for
      merger or takeover is Walt Disney Co., which owns ABC and several
      cable television networks. This huge company is considered somewhat
      undersized in comparison to such behemoths as News Corporation and
      Viacom. There is also speculation about a sale of NBC to AOL Time
      Warner.

      Copyright 1998-2002
      World Socialist Web Site
      All rights reserved

      *****

      Jim Kinney

      I'm not sure if this is up your alley or not, but I saw an article on
      the BBC news site yesterday.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1833000/1833902.stm
      <http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1833000/1833902.stm>


      It mentions several names in association to the notion that there is
      no global warming. The names were: former CIA director and defence
      secretary James Schlesinger, Richard Lindzen, professor of
      meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Philip
      Stott. The institute in the article, the George C. Marshall
      Institute, is run by Jeffrey Salmon.

      I did a little research.

      Richard Lindzen seems to be an honest scientist who feels that global
      warming is not happening. He is well quoted in numerous places on
      the topic.

      Philip Stott is a British researcher who apparently only recently
      brought his primary focus onto global warming. Previously his focus
      was on the value of GM crops. He ran a web site called "Seeds of
      Opportunity" that pushed GM foods until recently, when apparently it
      was changed to environmental issues. I was unable to find the site
      currently operating.

      He apparently worked closely with the U.S. embassy to set up a GM
      foods conference several years ago.

      Jeffrey Salmon is widely quoted on a number of topics, including an
      article he did titled "The Opposition to Missile Defense: Why Some
      Things Never Change." He is very pro-defense. I believe that he is
      also the Jeffrey Salmon whom the Virginia Education Advisory
      Committee Roster refers to as a Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S.
      Department of Energy.

      http://www.vruec.org/commit/roster.htm

      Both have numbers in the 202 area code.

      James Schlesinger was indeed the head of the Department of Defense
      and the CIA, but the thing that was not mentioned is that he was also
      the first Secretary of Energy. He is also very 'pro' for the missile
      defense program.

      He is apparently on the board of Global Energy Solutions.
      Schlessinger and Salmon apparently have known each other for a
      while. They both appeared at the Climate Treaty Proceedings before
      the U.S. Chamber of Commerce back in 1998. Schlesinger gave a talk
      on "U.S. Sovereignty, Security and the Climate Treaty.

      http://www.climatetreaty.com

      Please note that the web page for this is entitled "U.S. Sovereignty
      and Security at Risk? U.N. Climate Treaty".

      I tend towards a small amount of paranoia, but when I see two people
      (Salmon and Schlesinger) who seem to have an interest in the
      environment more based upon economic and military concerns than a
      conservation or sustainability outlook I tend to be suspicious about
      the quality of the research.

      Especially when it comes so soon after Bush unveils his answer to
      Kyoto.

      I hope you found this interesting.

      *****

      dave@...
      Center for an Informed America

      This article comes courtesy of the Los Angeles Times. The original is
      at: http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-
      000012166feb17.story


      A Natural Seducer
      EDITORIAL
      Los Angeles Times
      February 17, 2002

      Let's say you're talking foreign policy with Colin Powell (or
      whispering sweet nothings to your sweetheart) when Bullwinkle Moose
      appears on a television in the room. If your attention wanders to the
      screen, you're hardly alone.
      As the authors of research published in this month's Scientific
      American admit, they too often find themselves succumbing to the
      tube's almost occult ability to seize people's attention and not let
      go. They cite, as an example, a UC Berkeley professor who confesses
      to having many "embarrassing moments ... when I am engaged in
      conversation in a room while a TV set is on, and I cannot for the
      life of me stop from periodically glancing over to the screen. This
      occurs not only during dull conversations but during reasonably
      interesting ones just as well."
      In the article, Robert Kubey, a media studies professor at Rutgers,
      and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychology professor at Claremont
      Graduate School, offer a gripping explanation of how images and
      sounds from the small screen seduce us by evoking a biological
      reaction that has been wired into our brains over millions of years
      of evolution. The researchers are hardly the first to describe
      the "orienting response," which dilates blood vessels to the brain,
      slows the heart and constricts blood vessels to major muscle groups
      at the sight of sudden or novel stimuli. Russian physiologist Ivan
      Pavlov studied it back in 1927, recognizing it as an adaptive
      response that evolved to help our ancestors vigilantly scan the
      environment for lions and other threats.
      However, Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi are among the first academics
      to "out" the science of media manipulation in the popular press.
      Previously, you had to look in publications like Advertising Age to
      learn how the orienting response can be evoked by such simple TV
      tricks as quick cuts, zooms, pans and sudden noises. The authors
      deserve cheers for exposing some of advertisers' secrets, thus
      nipping at the hand that gives lucrative grants to many media studies
      institutes today.
      These mavericks' research is hardly on a par with curing cancer. But
      it could, in a sense, add years to someone's life. Take, for
      instance, this typically common-sense observation: "Viewers often
      know that a particular program or movie of the week is not very good
      within the first few minutes but instead of switching off the set,
      they stick with it for the full two hours." Learn to break that
      pattern and you might wind up spending less time in front of the tube
      than the average person in the industrialized world--a full nine
      years of life.
      Here's our tip for making the change: Get a clue--Bullwinkle is not a
      real threat.

      *****

      Still a few glitches in the emerging police state ...

      Deputy Shoots 2 Soldiers In Training
      By DOUG JOHNSON The Associated Press
      Published: Feb 25, 2002
      RALEIGH, N.C. - A sheriff's deputy shot two soldiers, one a former
      Clearwater resident, when they tried to disarm him because they
      thought he was part of their training exercise, officials said. One
      of the soldiers died.
      The Fort Bragg soldiers, dressed in civilian clothes, were taking
      part Saturday in a role- playing exercise that is part of the Army's
      Special Forces Qualification Course.
      ``One of the soldiers attempted to disarm the officer as the other
      was attempting to get a military weapon that the soldiers had in
      their possession,'' a statement from the Moore County Sheriff's
      Office said. ``The deputy believed that the two individuals intended
      on killing him.''
      The Army said in a news release Sunday evening that the incident was
      a mistake. Civilians and authorities often are asked to assist in the
      training exercises, said Special Operations spokesman Maj. Gary Kolb.
      Kolb said the soldiers were carrying a disassembled M-4 carbine rifle
      in a bag when they were pulled over by Deputy Randall Butler. It was
      unclear why he pulled their car over.
      Stephen Phelps, a 27-year-old Army sergeant who grew up in
      Clearwater, was in serious condition Sunday at FirstHealth Moore
      Regional Hospital in Pinehurst. The dead soldier's name was not
      released.
      Phelps' family in Clearwater learned about the shooting Saturday
      night when the sergeant's wife, Suzanne, called his mother, said
      Phelps' grandmother Ann Wells.
      The family was told Phelps had been taken off a ventilator and would
      need to spend several days in intensive care. Reached just before she
      left for North Carolina, his mother, JoAnne Lycans, said her son is
      expected to recover.
      The Moore County Sheriff's Office had been told a training exercise
      was under way, Kolb said. But he said the Army did not coordinate
      specifically with the sheriff's office, and Butler was likely unaware
      of it.
      ``The scenario itself was not intended to draw attention of the local
      authorities,'' Kolb said.
      The sheriff's department said Butler was ``totally unaware'' of the
      exercise.
      The soldiers were participating in a reconnaissance mission in which
      they were to locate a target to be used in a future mission, Kolb
      said. Butler stopped the vehicle on a rural road near Robbins, about
      25 miles from Fort Bragg.
      The vehicle was driven by a civilian playing the role of a resident
      of a fictitious country, Kolb said. He said he couldn't discuss
      details of the incident because it was being investigated by the
      State Bureau of Investigation and the Army.
      No charges had been filed Sunday. Butler was placed on administrative
      leave with pay.
      The training exercise, known as ``Robin Sage,'' is the 19-day final
      exam of the Special Forces Qualification Course. It tests skills in
      survival tactics and dealing with people, as well as judgment,
      decision-making and ethics.
      Though born in Kentucky, Phelps was raised in Clearwater and went to
      Dunedin High School, his grandmother said. He was stationed in Alaska
      for three years and also served in Bosnia. Stephen and Suzanne Phelps
      have a daughter who turns 3 next month.


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