“It isn’t a question that [a story] never appeared in the major media,” Bagdikian, author of The Media Monopoly, said. “It’s just that it appeared and quickly disappeared. And we all know that you don’t impact the political process or public opinion with a single story.” Following are the top 10 underreported stories of 1997. 1.Clinton administration aggressively promotes U.S. arms sales worldwide: Lora Lumpe, “Costly Giveaways,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, October 1996; Martha Honey, “Guns ‘R’ Us,” In These Times, August 11, 1997. On June 7, 1997, the House of Representatives unanimously approved the Arms Transfer Code, prohibiting U.S. commercial arms sales or military aid and training to foreign governments that are undemocratic, abuse human rights, or engage in aggression against neighboring states. Yet, Honey reported, the Clinton administration is moving in the opposite direction. During 1993, in the peak of the post-Gulf War arms-buying frenzy, U.S. military contracts soared to $36 billion, a level never reached during the cold war. The United States has also handed out $7 billion since 1990 in shipments of free American weapons to countries short on cash, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, often to justify the procurement of new weapons. This massive unloading of arms abroad has led to the so-called boomerang effect. “The last five times that the United States has sent troops into conflict in Panama, Iraq-Kuwait, Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia American forces faced adversaries that had previously received U.S. weapons, military technology, or training,” Honey wrote. Honey noted that the 1996 federal welfare reform law cut federal support by $7 billion annually -an amount almost equal to the yearly government subsidies given to U.S. weapons manufacturers. 2.Personal care and cosmetic products may be carcinogenic: Joel Bleifuss, “To Die For,” In These Times, February 17, 1997; Joel Bleifuss, “Take a Powder,” In These Times, March 3, 1997. Joel Bleifuss started “To Die For” with the description of a hypothetical beauty regimen: Clairol hair color, Vidal Sassoon shampoo, Cover Girl makeup, Lubriderm lotion, Crest toothpaste, Massengill douche, and Johnson and Johnson talcum powder. By the time a woman has completed such a regimen, Bleifuss wrote, she will have absorbed into her body five chemical compounds that are known carcinogens and exposed herself four times to a group of chemicals that are often contaminated with a carcinogenic byproduct. Didn’t know those products were hazardous? You might have thought they were approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But, as Bleifuss reported, the agency classifies cosmetics but does not regulate them. An FDA document posted on the agency’s World Wide Web site explains that “a cosmetic manufacturer may use any ingredient or raw material and market the final product without government approval.” The culprit in many cosmetics is nitrosamines, a group of potent carcinogens. The FDA issued a warning in 1979, instructing the industry to take immediate steps to eliminate nitrosamines from cosmetic products. “In the eighteen years since Ile FDA issued that warning, cosmetics manufacturers have done little to remove nitrosamines from their products, and the FDA has done even less to ensure that the industry does so,” Bleifuss wrote. “All the while, evidence mounts that nitrosamines are a danger to public health.” 3.Big business seeks to control and influence U.S. universities: Lawrence Soley, “Phi Beta Capitalism,” Covert Action Quarterly, Spring 1997; Lawrence Soley, “Big Money on Campus,” Dollars and Sense, March-April 1997. In 1996, British pharmaceutical company Boots gave $250,000 to U.C.-San Francisco for research comparing its hypothyroid drug, Synthroid, with lower-cost alternatives. Instead of demonstrating Synthroid’s superiority, as Boots had intended, the study found the drugs to be bioequivalents. Release of that information could have saved consumers $356 million annually \(they could mined Boots’ domination of the market. Boots blocked U.C.S.F. researchers from publishing the results, citing provisions in the research contract dictating that results “were not to be published or otherwise released without [Boots’] written consent.” The company went on to smear the never-re leased study. That’s just one example of how multinational corporations have bought control of academia, a cri sis Lawrence Soley outlined in detail in his two articles. University presidents, Soley reported, often sit on the boards of directors of major corporations, giv ing rise to conflicts of interest and in some cases undermining academic freedom. 4.Exposing the global surveillance system: Nicky Hager, “Secret Power: Exposing the Global Surveillance System,” Covert Action Quarterly, Winter 1996-97. Hager reported in CAQ that in the late 1980s the United States prompted New Zealand to become the latest country to join a new and highly secret global intelligence system known as ECHELON. Designed and coordinated by Dan flubig 14 THE TEXAS OBSERVER APRIL 24, 1998
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