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Regulation

Smells Like Texas

Ah, the smell of Texas in the morning!
According to LaNell Anderson, real estate agent, what I’m smelling is a combination of hydrogen sulphide and some other, unidentifiable toxic gunk. We’ve pulled up across from a pond on Houston’s ship channel, home of the biggest refinery and chemical complex in America. The pond is filled with benzene residues, a churning, burbling goop. Though there’s a little park nearby, this is not a bucolic swimming hole. Rather, imagine your toilet backed up, loaded, churning and ripe – assuming your toilet is a half-mile in circumference.

GATS Got His Tongue

(Note to American readers: Replace the words “Trade Minister Dick Caborn” with the words, “US Trade Representative” – whose assurances about the WTO are virtually interchangeable with European ministers’ happy-talk…)
Britain’s Trade Minister Dick Caborn does nothing all day and that keeps him very, very busy. Caborn is busy reassuring his nation that nothing in the proposed General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) threatens Britain’s environmental regulations. Nothing in GATS permits American corporate powers to overturn safety and health regulations.

Gregory Palast – International Investigative Reporter

Gregory Palast is almost certainly the greatest investigative journalist you’ve never heard of. An award-winning reporter in Britain, where he writes for The Guardian and The Sunday Observer, as well as hosts the BBC’s 60 Minutes-esque Newsnight, Palast abandoned his native America when the mainstream press declined to publish his groundbreaking, hard-hitting exposes, known for stripping bare abuses of power. Case in point: his recent series on how Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris conspired to illegally purge the Florida voting rolls of thousands of former felons whose voting rights had been restored by other states, the vast majority of whom were (not coincidentally) Democrats. In the few venues that have bothered to report it in the United States, it’s caused scarcely a ripple. Palast will be in Cleveland on Tuesday to debunk reigning myths about the much-touted phenomenon known as globalization.

Ask No Questions…


The Hinduja-Funded Spirit Zone Wasn’t The Only Corporate Cash Deal Done at The Dome

For The Observer
Sir Anthony Hammond was so busy, busy, busy last month clearing absolutely everyone in Government over the Hinduja affair that he had no time to speak to the key witnesses. ‘I have not interviewed any of the Hinduja brothers,’ he writes in his report to the Prime Minister. ‘There were obvious practical difficulties in visiting them in India.’ Yes, and sea monsters had eaten all the phone lines to the sub-continent, I assume.
If on his way to investigate the Hinduja-funded Spirit Zone at the Millennium Dome Sir Anthony hadn’t been as hurried as the March Hare, I would have invited him on The Observer ‘s special tour of the Dome. Had he followed me through the doorway marked ‘Privileged Access’, he might have asked whether there was a flea market in favours surrounding Geoffrey Robinson, Peter Mandelson, John Prescott and others at the top of a Government obsessed with funding the Greenwich sinkhole and other New Labour projects. But Sir Anthony was not asked to ask questions about the Dome.

A High Price to Pay For The Power and The Glory

The Firms That are Pulling The Plug on California Learnt Their Trade From Margaret Thatcher
The Observer
President George W. Bush has announced that on 7 February, come hell or high water, he will end Bill Clinton’s order directing emergency electricity supplies to California.
As the lights on the Golden Gate bridge blink off, the state’s politicians are in full panic that this spells bankruptcy for two giant regional electricity companies, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric. Not me. I can’t think of anything which would more joyously combine historic justice and good public policy than their corporate death.

Dear Richard, Don't Say We Didn't Tell You

For Gtech, an In With The Bush Family is Worth More Than Anything Lottery Players Have in Their Hand
The Observer
Congratulations to George W Bush and to Camelot on their victories.
More than a year ago, we reported that the Government had decided to let Camelot retain control of the National Flutter in perpetuity. That was two weeks before the formal bidding process began. Despite our announcement, Richard Branson soldiered on, refusing, like the last dinosaur, to heed the voice whispering: ‘Excuse me, but you’re extinct.’

Why Would Ralph Lie To Me?

I have it on good authority that Ralph Nader has changed his name to Larry, glued on a false moustache and joined the French Foreign Legion… not out of fear that pissed-off African-American voters will find his skinny carcass and thump him for planting the Evil Shrub in the White House; Ralph just wants to get away from the absurd he-should-have-he-shouldn’t-have shouting match among Americas activists.

Inside Corporate America

An internal Study Reveals The Price ‘Rescued’ Nations Pay: Dearer Essentials, Worse Poverty and Shorter Lives The Observer So call me a liar. I was standing in front of the New York Hilton Hotel when the limousine carrying International Monetary Fund director Horst Kohler zoomed… 

Blair's American Daze

A truly curious letter appeared in the New York Times two years ago headed, ‘It’s time to repay America’, by one Tony Blair. In it, he thanked Bill Clinton and the whole of the US for introducing him to the pleasures of governing the American Way. That, he wrote, meant ‘results, not theology… free from preconceptions and bureaucratic wrangling… Government should not hinder the logic of the market!’

States Deregulate Energy at Their Peril – from The New York Times

While reporters ogled celebrities at Barbra Streisand’s bungalow during the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, there was a real display of populism 100 miles to the south in San Diego. There politicians have enrolled two million citizens in a scary economic experiment. This year, San Diego became the first city in California to experience the end of state regulation of electricity prices.