So, in no particular order, this is the news...
- Net Regulation Confusion: The Supreme Court ruled that giant cable companies aren't required to share their wires with other Internet service providers. The issue was misleadingly framed as an argument over regulation, when it's really a case of the Federal Communications Commission and Congress talking about giving cable and telephone companies the freedom to control supply and content, a decision that could have them playing favorites and forcing consumers to pay to get information and services that currently are free.
- Halliburton Sells Nuclear Technology to Iran: Halliburton sold key nuclear-reactor components to a private Iranian oil company called Oriental Oil Kish as recently as 2005, using offshore subsidiaries to circumvent U.S. sanctions.
- World Oceans in Extreme Danger: Governments deny global warming is happening as they rush to map the ocean floor in the hopes of claiming rights to oil, gas, gold, diamonds, copper, zinc and the planet's last pristine fishing grounds. Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2005 found "the first clear evidence that the world ocean is growing warmer," including the discovery "that the top half-mile of the ocean has warmed dramatically in the past 40 years as the result of human-induced greenhouse gases."
- Poverty on the Increase in the US: Hunger and homelessness rise in the United States, the Bush administration plans to get rid of a data source that supports this embarrassing reality, a survey that's been used to improve state and federal programs for retired and low-income Americans. In 2003, the Bush Administration tried to whack the Bureau of Labor Statistics report on mass layoffs and in 2004 and 2005 attempted to drop the bureau's questions on the hiring and firing of women from its employment data.
- High-Tech Genocide in Congo: The ongoing genocide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is not just a case of ugly tribal warfare. What's really at stake in this bloodbath is control of natural resources such as diamonds, tin, and copper, as well as cobalt, which is essential for the nuclear, chemical, aerospace, and defense industries and coltan and niobium, which is most important for the high-tech industries.
- Federal Whistleblower Protection at Risk: Though record numbers of federal workers have been sounding the alarm on waste, fraud, and other financial abuse since George W. Bush became president, the agency charged with defending government whistleblowers has reportedly been throwing out hundreds of cases and advancing almost none. Statistics released at the end of 2005 by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility led to claims that special counsel Scott Bloch, who was appointed by Bush in 2004, is overseeing the systematic elimination of whistleblower rights.
- U.S. Operatives Torture Detainees to Death in Afghanistan and Iraq: While reports of torture aren't new, the documents are evidence of using torture as a policy, raising a whole bunch of uncomfortable questions, such as: Who authorized such techniques? And why have the resulting deaths been covered up? Of the 44 death reports released under ACLU's FOIA request, 21 were homicides and eight appear to have been the result of these abusive torture techniques.
- Pentagon Exempt from Freedom of Information Act: In 2005, the Department of Defense pushed for and was granted exemption from Freedom of Information Act requests, a crucial law that allows journalists and watchdogs access to federal documents. The ruling could hamper the efforts of groups like the ACLU, which relied on FOIA to uncover more than 30,000 documents on the US military's torture of detainees in Afghanistan Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, including the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.
- World Bank Funds Israel-Palestine Wall: In 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled that the wall Israel is building deep into Palestinian territory should be torn down. Instead, construction of this cement barrier, which annexes Israeli settlements and breaks the continuity of Palestinian territory, has accelerated. In the interim, the World Bank has come up with a framework for a Middle Eastern Free Trade Area, which would be financed by the World Bank and built on Palestinian land around the wall to encourage export-oriented economic development. But with Israel ineligible for World Bank loans, the plan seems to translate into Palestinians paying for the modernization of checkpoints around a wall that they've always opposed, a wall that will help lock in and exploit their labor.
- Expanded Air War in Iraq Kills More Civilians: At the end of 2005, U.S. Central Command Air Force statistics showed an increase in American air missions, a trend that was accompanied by a rise in civilian deaths thanks to increased bombing of Iraqi cities.
Have a nice day. I'm off to Telford to finish the tour of Dream Come Out To Play.