The 1996 Project Censored Yearbook
Censored: The News That Didn't Make the News AND WHY
* The 1996 Project Censored Yearbook
1. CLOSING UP AMERICA'S "MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS"
CONSUMER PROJECT ON TECHNOLOGY
Title: "Federal Telecommunications Legislation: Impact on Media
Authors: Ralph Nader, James Love, and Andrew Saindon; an Internet
America's "marketplace of ideas," upon which our democracy
rests, began shutting its doors in the summer of 1995. The harbinger
of the bad news for the public was aptly titled the Telecommunications
Deregulation Bill, which moved through both houses of Congress.
As the name implies, the bill eliminates virtually all regulation
of the United States communication industry.
As tends to be the case with most anti-consumer legislation, the
bill stealthily moved under the guise of "encouraging competition"-but
will, in reality, have the opposite effect of creating huge new
concentrations of media power.
The most troubling aspect of the bill allows easing-and outright
elimination-of current anti-trust regulations. In what the New York
Times described as "a dazzling display of political influence,"
the nation's broadcast networks scored big in the House version
of the bill by successfully getting the limits on ownership eased
so that any individual company can control television stations serving
up to 50 percent of the country. The Senate version of the bill
provides for a more modest 35 percent coverage.
The legislation also dismantles current regulations which limit
the number of radio stations that can be owned by a single company.
Currently no one single company can own more than 40 stations. The
new legislation would remove the limits completely-allowing one
company to own every AM and FM radio station in the United States!
It also would lift the current FCC ban on joint ownership of a broadcast
radio or TV license and a newspaper in the same market-allowing
a single company to have 100 percent control over the three primary
sources of news in a community.
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader warned, "Congress is moving
the law in the wrong direction, toward greater concentration and
fewer choices for consumers, all under the guise of 'greater competition.'
Laws and rules that limit cross-ownership and concentration not
only enhance competition, a putative goal of the new legislation,
but they also serve important non-economic goals, by promoting a
greater diversity of programming, and enhancing opportunities for
local ownership." Nader also said the predictable result of
placing even greater power in the hands of fewer giant media moguls
will be less diversity, more pre-packaged programming, and fewer
checks on political power. "That these provisions are being
included in legislation that is being sold as pro-competitive is
Also galling was the major media's almost complete and utter avoidance
of the "monopoly ownership" factor in their reporting
of the bill's progress in Congress. The threat to the nation's "marketplace
of ideas" from mega-media monopolies has been a nomination
to Project Censored several times in the past.
2. THE BUDGET DOES NOT HAVE TO BE BALANCED ON THE BACKS OF THE
Date: July/August 1995
Title: "Cut Corporate Welfare: Not Medicare"
Author: John Canham-Clyne
Congress could go a long way toward balancing the budget by 2002
without slashing Medicare, Medicaid, education, and social welfare.
In fact, the Washington-based Center for the Study of Responsive
Law has identified 153 federal programs that benefit wealthy corporations
but cost taxpayers $167.2 billion annually. For comparative purposes,
federal support for food stamps, housing aid, and child nutrition
costs $50 billion a year.
An analysis by Public Citizen reveals how Congress could balance
the budget by cutting "aid to dependent corporations."
The federal budget and tax codes are rife with huge subsidies to
business-the sums involved make traditional "pork barrel"
spending look like chicken feed.
Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook said the budget axe misses
the subsidies for the wealthiest and most powerful U.S. corporations.
"The proposed $250 billion, or 15 percent cut in Medicare,
demands serious sacrifice from the more than 80 percent of seniors
with incomes below $25,000-yet big corporations on the public dole
are not asked to sacrifice at all."
Following are some examples of corporate welfare that miss the
Congressional budget axe:
* Direct Subsidies:
Under the Market Promotion Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
in 1993 gave $75 million for overseas product advertising, including
$500,000 to advertise Campbell's soup and $10 million to promote
beer, wine, and liquor.
* Indirect Subsidies:
The Forest Service, for example, spends $100 million annually building
more than 340,000 miles of access roads through national forests
to assist timber companies' logging operations.
From Lockheed and Chrysler to the S&L industry, the bigger the
failure, the more likely Uncle Sam will save it. The most recent
example is the so-called "Mexican peso bailout"-more of
a bailout for American banks, Wall Street, and wealthy individuals
who made bad investments in Mexican bonds.
* Below Market and Guaranteed Loans:
The federal government loans businesses money at below-market interest
rates, or offers the credit of the U.S. government as a guarantee
to a lender if a business opportunity should go sour.
Limiting the liability of certain businesses is a nuclear time bomb;
the Price-Anderson Act makes it likely that almost the entire cost
of a Chernobyl-style nuclear catastrophe would be shifted to taxpayers
or the victims.
* Tax Expenditures:
The largest of all corporate welfare programs are specially targeted
tax loopholes and provisions in the tax code. Citizens for Tax Justice
identified $412 billion in potential savings over five years by
closing just 10 tax loopholes.
* Trade Barriers:
For example, U.S. government trade quotas on imported sugar cost
the taxpayer virtually nothing but cost consumers over $1.4 billion
a year in higher sugar prices.
* Giveaways of Government Intellectual Property for Private Use:
Tens of millions of dollars annually fund research contracts to
develop new drugs, aircraft for NASA, and weapons systems for the
Department of Defense.
3. CHILD LABOR IN THE U.S. IS WORSE TODAY THAN DURING THE 1930s
Date: Fall/Winter 1995
Title: "Working in Harm's Way"
Athor: Ron Nixon
Every day, children across America are working in environments
detrimental to their social and educational development, their health
and even their lives.
In 1992, a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
(NIOSH) report found that 670 youths aged 16 to 17 were killed on
the job from 1980 to 1989. A second NIOSH report found that more
than 64,100 children went to the emergency room for work-related
injuries in 1992. Seventy percent of these deaths and injuries involved
violations of state labor laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act
(FLSA), the federal law which prohibits youths under 18 from working
in hazardous occupations.
These numbers are a conservative estimate since even the best figures
underestimate the number of working children by 25 to 30 percent.
As of yet, there is no comprehensive national data collection system
that accurately tracks the number of working youth, nor their occupation,
where they work, or how many are injured or killed on the job.
Of the estimated five million youth in the work force, thousands
are injured, even killed, because several barriers continue to prevent
them from being adequately protected in the workplace.
A patchwork of inefficient data collection systems fail to monitor
the total number, much less the well being, of youth in the workplace.
Enforcement of the FLSA is lax. Cultural beliefs about the worth
of work for children are strong. And, various PACs lobby successfully
to keep child labor laws from being strengthened, and, in many cases,
to weaken existing laws.
"Child labor today is at a point where violations are greater
than at any point during the 1930s," said Jeffrey Newman of
the National Child Labor Committee, an advocacy group founded in
Violations are occurring today on farms and businesses around the
country. Farm owners beat the system by allowing their entire family,
including the children, to work under one person's social security
number or by hiring a farm contractor who, on the books, counts
as only one employee (while the contractors then hire whomever they
Businesses aren't worried about the child labor violations that
they commit because the laws are rarely enforced. One report found
that the average business could expect to be inspected once every
50 years or so. Inspectors spend only about five percent of their
time looking into child labor problems.
Even when companies are inspected and violations are found, the
maximum penalty of $10,000 per violation is rarely enforced.
Lobbying efforts by various business trade organizations are making
congressional reform nearly impossible. In the nation's capital,
money talks, and both the National Restaurant Association (NRA)
and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI)(representing areas where
many child labor violations occur), speak persuasively with their
generous contributions to potential supporters of their agenda.
The restaurant industry alone has given $1.3 million to Republican
candidates in recent years; House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been
a favorite of both the NRA and the FMI. Since 1991, Gingrich has
received more than $27,000 from both PACs.
4. PRIVATIZATION OF THE INTERNET
Title: "Keeping On-Line Speech Free: Street Corners in Cyberspace"
Author: Andrew L. Shapiro
You may not have noticed, but the Internet, one of the hottest
news stories of 1995, was essentially sold last year. The federal
government has been gradually transferring the backbone of the U.S.
portion of the global computer network to companies such as IBM
and MCI as part of a larger plan to privatize cyberspace. But the
crucial step was taken on April 30, when the National Science Foundation
shut down its part of the Internet, which began in the 1970s as
a Defense Department communications tool. And that left the corporate
giants in charge.
Remarkably, this buyout of cyberspace has garnered almost no protest
or media attention, in contrast to every other development in cyberspace
such as the Communications Decency Act, and cyberporn. What hasn't
been discussed is the public's right to free speech in cyberspace.
What is obvious is that speech in cyberspace will not be free if
we allow big business to control every square inch of the Net.
Given the First Amendment and the history of our past victories
in fighting for freedom of expression, it should be clear how important
public forums in cyberspace could be-as a way of keeping on-line
debate robust and as a direct remedy for the dwindling number of
free speech spaces in our physical environment.
There already are warning signs about efforts to limit on-line
debate. In 1990, the Prodigy on-line service started something of
a revolt among some of its members when it decided to raise rates
for those sending large volumes of e-mail. When some subscribers
protested, Prodigy not only read and censored their messages, but
it summarily dismissed the dissenting members from the service.
There are at least three fundamental ways that speech in cyber-space
already is less free than speech in a traditional public forum:
* First, cyberspeech is expensive, both in terms of initial outlay
for hardware and recurring on-line charges. For millions of Americans,
this is no small obstacle, especially when one considers the additional
cost of minimal computer literacy.
* Second, speech on the Net is subject to the whim of private
censors who are not accountable to the First Amendment. Commercial
on-line services, such as America Online and Compuserve, like Prodigy,
have their own codes of decency and monitors to enforce them.
* Third, speech in cyberspace can be shut out by unwilling listeners
too easily. With high-tech filters, Net users can exclude all material
from a specific person or about a certain topic, enabling them to
steer clear of "objectionable" views, particularly marginal
political views, very easily.
If cyberspace is deprived of true public forums, we'll get a lot
of what we're already used to: endless home shopping, mindless entertainment
and dissent-free talk. If people can avoid the unpalatable issues
that might arise in these forums, going on-line will become just
another way for elites to escape the very nonvirtual realities of
injustice in our world. As the "wired" life grows exponentially
in the coming years, we'll all be better off if we can find that
classic free speech street corner in cyberspace.
As the supreme Court said in Turner Broadcasting v. FCC (1994),
"Assuring that the public has access to a multiplicity of information
sources is a governmental purpose of the highest order, for it promotes
values central to the First Amendment."
5. U.S. PUSHES NUCLEAR PACT BUT SPENDS BILLIONS TO ADD BANG
Title: "U.S. Seeks Arms Ingredient As It Pushes Nuclear Pact"
Author: Thomas W. Lippman
Title: "House Bill Would Order Nuclear Reactor As New Source
Author: Thomas W. Lippman
Even as the United States urges the rest of the world to indefinitely
extend a treaty requiring signatories to work toward elimination
of nuclear weapons, the U.S. Department of Energy is planning a
multibillion-dollar project to resume production of tritium-a radioactive
gas used to enhance the explosive power of nuclear warheads. Apparently
the only decision not yet made as the year drew to a close was what
kind of facility the department plans to build and where it plans
to build it.
The choice is between a huge particle accelerator, using theoretically
workable but untested technology, and a nuclear reactor, which would
be the first reactor ordered in the U.S. since the 1979 Three Mile
Island nuclear accident.
Either choice involves immense political, financial, environmental
and national security risks, yet the American public is little aware
of the enormity of the decision to be made.
Many officials in the Clinton administration are averse to nuclear
power and do not want the federal government to sponsor construction
of a reactor. But many career staff members in the Energy Department
and the Pentagon have long supported the nuclear industry and favor
the reactor method of producing the tritium needed for the weapons
While Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary has pledged to begin work
on a new facility to produce tritium in the next fiscal budget,
she has been under intense congressional pressure to choose the
reactor option and to build it at the Energy Department's Savannah
River, S.C., weapons plant where all of the tritium for the nation's
nuclear arsenal has been produced.
O'Leary's choice appears to be between investing billions of federal
dollars in a particle accelerator or accepting a proposal from a
nuclear industry consortium to use mostly private funds to construct
In late May, the Washington Post reported that the House committee
had approved legislation requiring the Energy Department to begin
development next year of a nuclear reactor that would produce tritium
for the nation's nuclear warheads, generate electricity, and burn
plutonium as fuel. Meanwhile the National Security Committee tacked
the provision onto the defense authorization bill.
While the bureaucrats' and politicians' argument has been limited
to two choices-either the accelerator or the nuclear reactor-the
American public deserves to be made aware of the issues surrounding
this critical decision.
Further, the public should be made aware that there is a third
option: not to produce the tritium needed to add more bang to America's
6. RADICAL PLAN FROM NEWT GINGRICH'S THINK TANK TO GUT FDA
Date: September/October 1995
Title: "agency under attack"
Author: Leslie Weiss
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), sometimes criticized in
the past for being too cozy with corporations, is now under attack
for exactly the opposite reason. A powerful bloc of critics in the
drug industry has joined hands with the Republican Congress and
together they are pushing to overhaul the FDA. These critics claim
the FDA is too tough on drug companies, unnecessarily inhibits innovation,
and delays approval of new drugs and medical devices.
Leading the charge in Congress is Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich,
who has labeled the FDA the "number one job killer" in
the country, and called its head, David Kessler, "a bully and
a thug." Gingrich's Progress & Freedom Foundation has a
radical plan to privatize much of the FDA supervision of drugs and
medical devices. If enacted the Progress & Freedom Foundation's
plan will place responsibility for drug development, testing, and
review in the hands of private firms hired by the drug companies
themselves, while retaining a weakened FDA to rubber-stamp their
recommendations. Additionally, the plan limits the liability of
drug companies that sell dangerous drugs to the public.
Under the plan, government-licensed firms called DCBs (drug or
device certifying bodies) would be retained by drug companies to
develop, test, and review new products. According to the proposal,
"competition between firms would inevitably produce a lower-cost,
faster, and higher-quality development and approval process."
FDA spokesperson Jim O'Hara charged, "What this report proposes
is dismantling many of the safeguards that protect the public from
drugs and devices that are unsafe or just don't work. This is basically
a proposal that says public health and safety are commodities for
Though drug testing and review would be privatized under the plan,
the FDA would still exist and would theoretically have the final
say on new products. However, the report states there would be "a
strong presumption that private certification decisions would not
be overturned without substantial cause." Further, the FDA
would not be authorized to request additional testing or data, and
it would "have to exercise its veto within a fixed time period
(e.g. 90 days) after which the drug or device would automatically
receive FDA approval."
The Progress & Freedom Foundation plan also limits the drug
company's liability should a patient be injured or killed by a dangerous
drug or medical device. According to the plan, a victim could not
sue for punitive damages if the manufacturer of the product could
show it met regulatory standards (no matter how weakened they were)
during development and testing.
Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen's Health Research
Group, says the plan to limit corporate liability is "hypocrisy
at the very least." Even some in the drug industry feel it
goes too far.
Not surprisingly, the foundation has financial backing from some
of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry, including Bristol-Myers
Squibb Co., Eli Lilly & Co., and Marion Merell Dow. Another
drug manufacturer, Glaxo, has given an undisclosed amount to the
foundation, in addition to contributions of approximately $325,000
to the Republican Party and Republican candidates. As a whole, the
drug industry contributed more than $1.6 million to the Republican
Party in the 1993-94 election cycle.
7. RUSSIA INJECTS EARTH WITH NUKE WASTE
SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL
Title: "Russia injects earth with nuke waste"
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Title: "Poison in the Earth: A special report; Nuclear Roulette
for Russia: Burying Uncontained Waste"
Author: William J. Broad
For more than three decades, the Soviet Union and now Russia secretly
pumped billions of gallons of atomic waste directly into the earth
and, according to Russian scientists, the practice continues today.
The scientists said that Moscow had injected about half of all
the nuclear waste it ever produced into the ground at three widely
dispersed sites, all thoroughly wet and all near major rivers. The
three sites are at Dimitrovgrad near the Volga River, Tomsk near
the Ob River, and Krasnoyarsk on the Yenisei River. The Volga flows
into the Caspian Sea and the Ob and Yenisei flow into the Arctic
The injections violate the accepted rules of nuclear waste disposal,
which require it to be isolated in impermeable containers for thousands
of years. The Russian scientists claim the practice is safe because
the wastes have been injected under layers of shale and clay, which
in theory cut them off from the Earth's surface.
But the wastes at one site already have leaked beyond the expected
range and "spread a great distance," the Russians said.
They did not say whether the distance was meters or kilometers or
whether the poisons had reached the surface.
They began injecting the waste as a way to avoid the kind of surface-storage
disasters that began to plague them in the 1950s. But by any measure,
the injections were one of the Cold War's darkest secrets.
The amount of radioactivity injected by the Russians is up to three
billion curies. By comparison, the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear
power plant released about 50 million curies of radiation, mostly
in short-lived isotopes that decayed in a few months. The accident
at Three Mile Island discharged about 50 curies. The injected wastes
include cesium-137, with a half life of 30 years, and strontium-90,
with a half life of 28 years and a bad reputation because it binds
readily with human bones.
The Russians are now working with the U.S. Department of Energy
to try to better predict how far and fast the radioactive waste
is likely to spread through aquifers.
At best, the Russian waste may stay underground long enough to
be rendered largely harmless by the process of radioactive decay.
At worst, it might leak to the surface and produce regional calamities
in Russia and areas downstream along the rivers. If the radioactivity
spreads through the world's oceans, experts say, it might prompt
a global rise in birth defects and cancer deaths.
At the least, the media should be reporting what progress is being
made by the Department of Energy to monitor this potentially horrendous
8. MEDICAL FRAUD COSTS THE NATION $100 BILLION ANNUALLY-OR MORE
Date: March/April 1995
Author: L.J. Davis
The United States' $1 trillion annual health bill is 14 percent
of the gross domestic product, making the medical industry the largest
business in the land.
Of this sum, a staggering amount is stolen. According to the National
Health Care Anti-Fraud Association, the yearly swag totals between
$31-$53 billion; according to the authoritative General Accounting
Office, the annual take is $100 billion; according to other investigators
the amount is as high as $250 billion. In fact, an extensive Mother
Jones investigation discovered no one really knows how much money
is stolen from the medical system every year-and, possibly even
worse, no one has any way of finding out.
Although Medicare and Medicaid were created in 1965, no specialized
police force was established until 1978, giving the bad guys, according
to Bill Whatley Jr., president of the National Association of Medicaid
Fraud Control Units, "a 13-year head start, and we never caught
up. The people who put this program together didn't believe that
the [health care providers] in the program would commit fraud, because
medicine was such a high calling."
Unfortunately, such optimism was misplaced; it did not take health
care providers long before they developed a series of medscam techniques
including the following:
* Upcoding: a doctor performs one medical procedure and charges
the insurer for another (more profitable) one;
* Unbundling: the whole is sometimes worth less than the sum of
its parts. A wheelchair broken down into its components-a wheel
here, a seat there-with a separate bill for each, can mean bigger
* Pharmacy Fraud: a corrupt pharmacist, often abetted by a physician
and a patient, dispenses a generic drug rather than a brand-name
drug and pockets the difference;
* Psychiatric Schemes: in the 1980s, the nation experienced an
"epidemic" of clinical depression, as hospital chains
filled their beds with teenagers, the overweight, and substance
* Home Health Care: this includes overbilling, billing for services
not rendered, kickbacks, the use of untrained (i.e. inexpensive)
personnel, and the delivery of unnecessary equipment;
* Ghost Patients: there are doctors who continue to treat patients
after they're dead and doctors who work more than 24 hours a day.
Social Security is another area rife with fraud, costing billions
of dollars. The Social Security Administration (SSA) runs a $1.4
billion program that pays drunks and junkies to remain drunks and
junkies. As long as the substance abusers continue to abuse substances,
they receive a federal payday every month; if they go straight,
the checks stop. In a number of documented instances, the SSA provided
the wherewithal that enabled abusers to drink or overdose themselves
The irony of all this is that prosecuting medical insurance fraud
is one of the government's few profit centers, returning about $72
for every taxpayer dollar spent; even allowing for the usual bureaucratic
exaggeration, the monies recovered are substantial-to say nothing
of the money that is saved when a fraudulent practitioner is removed
9. U.S. CHEMICAL INDUSTRY FIGHTS FOR TOXIC OZONE-KILLING PESTICIDE
EARTH ISLAND JOURNAL
Date: Summer 1995
Title: "Campaign Against Methyl Bromide: Ozone-Killing Pesticide
Author: Anne Schonfield
Methyl bromide is a pesticide that is at least 50 times more destructive
to the ozone layer, atom for atom, than chlorofluoro-carbons (CFCs)
yet America's chemical industry is fighting to prevent it from being
In 1992, the United Nations estimated that the bromine atoms released
into the upper atmosphere are responsible for five-to-ten percent
of global ozone depletion, a share that is expected to increase
to 15 percent by the year 2000.
In 1994, the UN listed elimination of methyl bromide (MB) as the
most significant remaining approach (after phase-out of CFCs and
halons) to reducing ozone depletion. UN scientists conclude that
eliminating MB emissions from agricultural, structural, and industrial
activities by the year 2001 would achieve a 13 percent reduction
in ozone-depleting chemicals reaching the atmosphere over the next
50 years. MB also is extremely toxic and can cause acute and chronic
health effects. Farmworkers, pesticide applicators, and people living
or working where MB is used can suffer poisoning, neurological damage
and reproductive harm. The chemical is so toxic to humans and animals
that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies it as
a Category 1 acute toxin, the most deadly group of substances.
For 60 years, MB has been used to kill pests in soils and buildings,
and on agricultural products. In 1991, the U.S. accounted for nearly
40 percent of the pesticide's worldwide use. Soil fumigation to
sterilize soil before planting crops is by far the largest use of
MB in the U.S. Worldwide, most MB is used for luxury and export
crops, like tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, tobacco and nursery
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has mandated a halt to MB production
in, and import to, the U.S. in 2001-but manufacturers and agricultural
users have mounted a formidable campaign to delay the ban. Because
no gradual phaseout is required, methyl bromide can be used without
major restrictions until 2001. Since the act does not prohibit the
use of existing stocks after 2001, application of the pesticide
can continue as long as stockpiled supplies last.
The Methyl Bromide Global Coalition (MBGC)-a group of eight international
MB users and producers-has launched a multimillion-dollar lobbying
campaign to keep the product on the market. A leaked document from
the Methyl Bromide Working Group, which includes Ethyl Corp. and
Great Lakes Chemical Corp., the country's major MB producers, ignores
reports of record ozone depletion, and states, "If we continue
to work together, we stand an increasingly good chance of being
able to use methyl bromide well beyond the year 2001."
While some nations are actively fighting a phaseout, other countries
have already banned or vigorously regulated MB. In 1992, the Netherlands
eliminated all soil fumigation using MB, and other countries, including
Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, are planning similar actions.
10. THE BROKEN PROMISES OF NAFTA
Date: Fall 1995
Title: "NAFTA's Corporate Con Artists"
Authors: Sarah Anderson and Kristyne Peter
Date: January/February 1995
Title: "A Giant Spraying Sound"
Author: Esther Schrader
The promises of prosperity that the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) would bring the USA and Mexico were most loudly proclaimed
by USA*NAFTA, a pro-NAFTA business coalition. The USA*NAFTA coalition
promised that the free trade pact would be all things to all people.
It would improve the environment, reduce illegal immigration by
raising Mexican wages, deter international drug trafficking, and
most importantly, create a net increase in high-paying U.S. jobs.
Now, some two years after the agreement became law, USA*NAFTA's
own members are blatantly breaking the coalition's grand promises.
Many of the firms-that only a short time ago were extolling the
benefits of NAFTA for U.S. workers and communities-have cut jobs,
moved plants to Mexico, or continued to violate labor rights and
environmental regulations in Mexico.
An analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies revealed how the
original promises are being broken in Mexico: while the standard
of living may be better for the wealthy, there's been a 30 percent
increase in the number of Mexicans emigrating to the U.S.; the peso
devaluation of December 1994 cut the value of their wages by as
much as 40 percent (making them far less able to buy U.S. goods
today than they were before NAFTA); interest rates on credit cards
climbed above 100%; retail sales in Mexico's three largest cities
have dropped by nearly 25%.
The continuing economic crisis in Mexico is expected to cause the
loss of two million jobs in 1995, and economic desperation is blamed
for the 30 percent increase in arrests by U.S. border patrols between
January and May 1995.
NAFTA's promises to U.S. workers also have been broken: the Department
of Labor's NAFTA Transitional Adjustment Assistance program reported
that 35,000 U.S. workers qualified for retraining between January
1, 1994, and July 10, 1995, because of jobs lost to NAFTA. A University
of Maryland study estimates that more than 150,000 U.S. jobs were
cut in 1994 as a result of increased consumer imports from Mexico.
And since the peso devaluation in December 1994, the U.S. trade
surplus with Mexico has turned into a deficit expanding from $885
million in May 1994 to $6.9 billion a year later, wiping out any
basis for claiming that NAFTA is a net job creator for U.S. workers.
And, finally, an investigative piece by Mother Jones revealed that
the environmental impact of NAFTA has been as severe as the economic
impact. While government officials promised that NAFTA would reduce
the level of pesticides coating Mexico's fields, this hasn't occurred.
The competition that NAFTA has set off between growers may actually
increase the amount of pesticides used on Mexican crops. In fact,
since NAFTA, Mexican growers are spraying more toxic pesticides
on fruits, vegetables, and workers. Responsibility for pesticide
use lies not only with Mexican growers but also with their U.S.
agribusiness partners. The Mother Jones investigation also revealed
that these companies, which supply capital to more than 40 percent
of large-scale agribusiness in Mexico, distribute produce that has
been sprayed with pesticides not permitted for use in the United
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