Nader rips Channel One

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Does Channel One keep kids in touch with current events in an interesting way, or does it feed them corporate advertising and commercial values? As the Senate hearings on the matter get pushed back further, the debate over the network is still hot. Channel One broadcasts a news show that is beamed into classrooms and viewed by 12 million schoolchildren nationwide. The show includes 10 minutes of news and two minutes of advertisements, and it’s this advertising that has disparate social activists such as Ralph Nader and Phyllis Schlafly up in arms. “Many parents are worried about commercial culture and the way it pervades the lives of kids and reinforces values that are utterly contrary to the ones parents try to instill,” Nader writes in this week’s SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN. He also contends that the news portion is just “filler,” and “what Channel One really conveys is materialism: that buying is good and will solve your problems, and that consumption and self-gratification are the goals and ends of life.” The network’s main defense is that it is a valuable educational tool, and that to condemn it for its advertising portion is to deny the capitalist society we live in. Watch for the Senate hearings later this month (They were supposed to be held in April, but the war pre-empted them) investigating the network’s effects on schoolkids.


Chilean reporter flees to Internet

May 13

Alejandra Matus, a Chilean newspaper reporter, fled that country this week after her book on political corruption in the Chilean Ministry of Justice was banned and removed from bookstores, according to THE FREEDOM FORUM.

Matus was said to flee on the advice of her lawyers, who believed she would be arrested if she stayed. Three other Chilean journalists who attempted to expose the corruption have been murdered in recent years, according to Matus’ recently published book, “El Libro Negro de la Justicia Chilena” (The Black Book of Chilean Justice). The book reportedly details political corruption among Chile’s top jurists during and since Auguste Pinochet’s reign. Members of Chile’s civilian legal system are appointed by and protected by the country’s military.

The Chile-based Association of Digital Journalists has published the book online. Free Speech Internet TV in the U.S. is hosting the digital publication on its servers based in Boulder, Colo.


It’s not easy being clean

May 12

The European Union (EU), now consisting of 15 member countries, could see its growth stunted by its own strict environmental policies, unless environmental ministers agree to grant some dirty prospective member nations temporary exemptions from the EU’s pollution standards.

Six European nations slated to join the European Union in the next wave of admissions will probably fail to meet the alliance’s standards on environmental factors, such as quality of water and pollution control, according to REUTERS.

The Czech Republic, Estonia, Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, and Cyprus had been scheduled to join the EU in 2002 and 2003, but Acting EU Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard told environmental ministers from current EU member nations that he doubted any of the prospective admissions would come off.

Bjerregaard singled out Poland as a particularly bad environmental offender. And while he noted that Hungary has made considerable progress in its environmental policies and enforcement in the past few years, Bjerregaard said he doubted the nation would be able to meet the EU’s standards by that country’s target year of 2002.

The environmental ministers, assembled in Weimar, Germany, were encouraged to review the cases of each prospective member nation and consider granting temporary exemptions from some of the minimum standards in the 4,000 pages of EU environmental laws. If granted, the exemptions would be in effect until each country passed appropriate legislation addressing those standards.

“What we want to avoid above all is that either EU enlargement is postponed because of environmental concerns, or that enlargement doesn’t effectively guarantee environmental standards,” said Bjerregaard’s spokesperson, Peter Jorgensen.…


100 years of political bons mots

May 11

Not another list! Aah, but this one’s good. The LOS ANGELES TIMES has compiled a list of the 10 most effective American political one-liners of the century. Gems include classics such as Ronald Reagan’s “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” and John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” There are also legendary quotes such as Teddy Roosevelt’s “Speak softly and carry a big stick” (definitely still the way Clinton does business), and Lloyd Bensten’s stinging words against Dan Quayle in a televised presidential debate: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” The number-one most effective political one-liner of the century, though, may be up for debate: The Times has it as “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” — the attack against Joe McCarthy by one Joseph Nye Welch during the McCarthy trials. But MoJo thinks MLK Jr.’s “I have a dream…” — which only made second place with the Times — takes the cake as the most effective, awe-inspiring and throat-catching one-liner of the century.…


US arms exports break records

May 10

It’s official: Bill Clinton has broken nearly every record imaginable for selling arms abroad. This may not come as a surprise to MoJo loyalists who have read our own critical examination of the U.S. arms trade. However, some of the information that Washington D.C.-based DEMILITARIZATION FOR DEMOCRACY unearthed in its annual report, “Dictators or Democracies: U.S. Arms Transfers and Military Training,” depressed even us. For starters, in fiscal year 1997, Bill’s military-friendly policies resulted in a record-setting $21.3 billion in worldwide arms sales and transfers. More than $8.3 billion in weapons was delivered to “non-democratic regimes,” as defined by our very own State Department.

And, despite highly-publicized efforts to close the School of the Americas, the U.S. military still plays an important role in training foreign militaries. According to the report, in 1997 the U.S. trained 9,100 foreign soldiers in 208 separate exercises under the Pentagon’s Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) program. In more than one-third of the exercises, the U.S. was training soldiers from non-democratic countries. U.S. forces trained an additional 3,454 soldiers under the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. One particularly disturbing finding: nearly $1 million was spent on training Indonesian forces under JCET, despite a congressional ban on combat training for Indonesian troops under IMET.

The full text of the report is not available online, but the forward and summary of findings offer lots of juicy information on, among other things, the influence of corporate lobbying and the use of U.S. arms in civil conflicts.



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