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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE ACT FOR PEACE. As NATO forces “accidentally” blasted the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, and fundraising President Clinton ducked war protesters in Austin, former U.S. Attorney General and U.T.Austin alum Ramsey Clark delivered a sobering keynote address to an Austin convocation sponsored by Peace Action Texas May 7-8. Clark, who since leaving government office has worked in defense of human rights and against U.S. aggression abroad, called for a 90 percent reduction of the military budget. “It is imperative that we create a unified peace party in the United States that demands demilitarization,” he said. Clark denounced the growing U.S. militarism, founded upon a $300 billion annual military budget. “We now manufacture and sell more than 75 percent of all weapons that are killing people, all over the planet.” China, currently excoriated in the mainstream press for supposed nuclear espionage, has four to five times as many people as the U.S., Clark noted, yet spends only $34 billion annually for defense. Clark also provided grim details of current conditions in Iraq under the U.S./U.N. sanctions, calling the policy “deliberate destruction of human life,” and “responsible for the deaths of way more than 1.5 million people who never hurt us, and couldn’t.” Sanctions against Iraq, the continued bombing of Yugoslavia, and the ongoing conflict at the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas were the central issues at the weekend membership meeting, which also included actor/activist Martin Sheen and human rights lawyer Jennifer Harbury. National Peace Action, headquartered in Washington D.C, is trying to build its lobbying strength by recruiting new members, especially in Texas, said state chair Lon Burnam, also the Democratic state representative from Fort Worth. Sheen was in Texas to visit his friend Kathleen Rumpf, serving a one-year federal sentence in Fort Worth for defacing a sign at the S.O.A., the U.S. training center for Latin American military officials, also known as the “School of Assassins.” S.O.A. graduates have been implicated in massacres and assassinations across Latin America, most recently by the Guatemalan Truth Commis Ramsey Clark Alan Pogue sion report issued in February. Clinton later apologized for the covert U.S. role in Guatemala’s civil war, calling it a “mistake.” Fourteen U.S. representatives, including San Antonio’s Ciro Rodriguez, appealed in an April 29 letter to Clinton to close the S.O.A., “before we are responsible for more ‘mistakes,’ and before we are forced to apologize again.” Thousands of activists lobbied their representatives in Washington May 3, part of a four-day protest against the School; more than sixty were arrested after civil disobedience at the Pentagon. Ten thousand activists are expected at November’s annual protest at the S.O.A. in Fort Benning, Georgia, and Burnam said Peace Action Texas intends to send as many buses as possible. For more informa237-0111, or e-mail . BUSHWHACKED. Does the Bush-WhoWould-Be-President have time for the public business of Texas, or just for Texas Big Business? That was the question May 13, the day after a late-night session of the House State Affairs Committee, which had finally managed to send to the floor deregulation bill. Early word is that it has something for everyone although apparently not enough for major corpora tions, whose lobbyists panicked when an amendment was added that would allocate so-called “stranded costs” \(primarily the basis of kilowatt-hour usage. Those costs are currently allocated by “peak usage,” placing a disproportionate burden on residential customers. The amendment, proposed by Houston Democrat Kevin Bailey, initially passed 10-5, as Republicans joined their colleagues in giving a break to consumers, who use less electricity and in fairness should be charged less. But with a potential $1 billion in stranded costs at stake, cell phones started smoking. Goosed by the corporate lobby, the Guv dispatched legislative liaison Terral Smith to set things right. According to observers, Smith was twisting arms in the hallway, in the audience, even shamelessly on the dais to get the amendment overturned. \(At one point, Smith even elbowed confused Longview Republican Tommy Merritt to attention and instructed Smith worked the votes, Bailey denounced what he called “a shameful attempt to frustrate the will of the committee.” Stunningly, Smith’s late-night House call came to naught. The reconsidered publicans Kim Brimer, Paul Hilbert, and Ken Marchant defied the Guy’s bullying and helped send the bill to the floor with an amendment that Bush insisted \(in a stand. In the House, Bush may succeed where Smith failed, but Republicans will be hard pressed to explain why a bill heavily promoted as beneficial to consumers must pick their pockets for the benefit of big industrial power users. “Whatever happens on the floor,” said one consumer advocate, “Bush will have to expose himself as working directly for big corporate interests and against the public interest.” TURNER FOR THE WORST. Ricochets of the Littleton massacre continue to reverberate.The U.S. Senate had abruptly reversed its vote against requiring background checks at gun shows, after public outrage to a Republican counter-proposal of “volun See “Political Intelligence,” page 22 MAY 28, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17