The Michigan Militia Corps'

Weekly Update
Internet Edition

Volume 5, Issue 30

Week of August 24, 1998

Livestock producers may need permits under EPA proposal

FARMER'S ADVANCE, Aug. 28, 2998
Lansing, MI

Livestock producers in Michigan will soon be getting to know the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a first-name basis. The agency is expected to release its Animal Feeding Operation Permit strategy sometime in mid-August in an attempt to meet several objectives of the 1972 Clean Water Act.

The agency is expected to call for all livestock operations, regardless of their herd size, to be permitted and subject to inspections, according to Kevin Kirk, Michigan Farm bureau livestock specialist. "They're talking about some on-farm inspections of all feeding operations," he said.

When EPA originally proposed the program, it was on what they call Confined Animal Feeding Operations of more than 1,000 animal units," Kirk continued. "Now they're looking at any animal feeding units. So that means if you have one animal on your premise, you are no qualified and could be subject to an on-site inspection."

Kirk says Michigan Farm Bureau, and the livestock industry in general, is hopeful the final EPA regulations will be regional or state-based. "EPA would like to formulate national standards that all states would have to conform to," he said, "But livestock operations in Michigan are not the same as they are in Florida and Texas. We have different situations in each state. More importantly, I think each state can monitor and educate the producers if we do it on a state-by-state basis."

If the proposals become reality, which Kirk predicts they will following a 120-day comment period, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality would most likely become the enforcing agency of the Animal Feeding Operation Permits.

Although the final recommendations have not been released, Kirk says livestock producers can expect the following:

Inspection of all animal feeding operations.

All animal operations larger than 300 animal units, regardless of the presence or absence of any pipe or point-source-type conveyance, to be required to get a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Provisions that would allow animal operations between 300 and 1,000 animal units, in unimpaired watersheds, to opt out of the permit program after the first five-year cycle if they can prove they have no potential to pollute.

Permits, based on subjective EPA determination, for all operations below 300 animal units.

Permits to require a phosphorus-based-nutrient management plan.

"The Illusion of Arms Control"

Aug. 27, 1998

Yesterday's resignation by Scott Ritter, perhaps the most determined and courageous of the U.N. weapons inspectors assigned to ferret out Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs, stands as a damning indictment of U.S. policy on Iraq -- or perhaps more precisely, the collapse of our policy. After this, how will the Clinton administration continue to deny its own inexcusable reversal -- from the demand for full Iraqi compliance with weapons inspections on pain of military reprisals to mealy-mouthed acceptance of Iraqi intransigence?

President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright owe all of us an accounting of what is going on. Today, their denials of any policy change have been proven to be without credibility.

It will be recalled that Mr. Ritter, a former Marine and an intensely resourceful fellow, was the spark that set off last winter's confrontation over the Iraqi "presidential palace" sites, in reality vast compounds that the Iraqis wanted very much left alone. The Iraqis furiously accused Mr. Ritter of being a spy for the United States and sought U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) teams more to their own liking in national composition. This was, undoubtedly, a clear sign that Mr. Ritter was doing his job. In February, the United State refused to give in --but allowed U.N. secretary General Kofi Annan to broker a compromise with the Iraqi leader on other points.

In July and August the same problem arose again, only now, the U.S. position has caved. According to news reports, American diplomats, including Mrs. Albright, asked chief UNSCOM inspector Richard Butler to put off sensitive challenge inspections involving Mr. Ritter at those same "presidential palaces."

On Aug. 3, the Iraqis threw out all the inspection teams with little or no reaction from the United Nations or the U.S. administration.

In his letter of resignation, Mr. Ritter had harsh words for the role played in this dishonest game by the United States and the United Nations. "The illusion of arms control is more dangerous than no arms control at all," he said. "What is being propagated by the Security Council today in relation to the world of the Special Commission is such an illusion, one which in all good faith, I cannot and will not, be a party to. I have no other option than to resign from my position here at the Commission effective immediately."

Mr.Ritter noted, "The issue of immediate unrestricted access, is, in my opinion, the cornerstone of any viable inspection regime, and as such is an issue worth fighting for. Unfortunately, others do not share this opinion, including the Security Council and the United States."

Mr. Ritter for good measure called the "diplomatic" solution to the Iraq problem currently sought through the offices of Mr. Annan "a surrender to the Iraqi leadership that has succeeded in thwarting the stated will of the United Nations."

How, why did we allow this to happen? Who decided that keeping Saddam Hussein from producing weapons of mass destruction was no longer a priority?

If we hate terrorism, why does the U.S. keep arming and training terrorists?

WASHINGTON, DC -- Before we launch a bloody, decades-long war against terrorists, Libertarians have a question: Why doesn't the U.S. government simply stop arming and training terrorists and the dictators who support them?

"When will our government learn?" asked David Bergland, the party's national chairman. "From the African embassy bombings to the Persian Gulf War to Somalia, why do we keep furnishing the guns, money, and advanced military training that terrorists and foreign soldiers use to kill Americans?"

Bergland posed those questions after American missile attacks against alleged terrorist bases in Afghanistan and Sudan caused Islamic terrorists around the world to redouble their threats against the United States.

As a result, concrete anti-bomb barriers now circle the Washington Monument, black-clad SWAT teams with automatic weapons roam the grounds of the Pentagon, and politicians warn that America must fight a "new war" against terrorists.

Lost in all the anti-terrorist frenzy, said Bergland, is the fact that most of our nation's military encounters over the past decade -- whether anti-terrorist strikes, conventional warfare, or peace-keeping missions -- have been against enemies the American government armed or trained.

For example, to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, the U.S. supplied Islamic rebels in that country with over $2 billion in covert military assistance, and Afghan rebels were trained by the CIA.

The result: The "floating army of Islamic fundamentalist fighters who received weapons and training in Afghanistan [are] now mounting terrorists attacks on U.S.-backed governments in Algeria, Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia," reported the World Policy Institute. "Two of the men convicted in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center had received weapons and explosives training from CIA-backed rebels in Afghanistan prior to their attack in New York City."

These same Islamic fundamentalists also provided support for the terrorists who bombed American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

But the problem goes beyond terrorism.

"The last four times the United States has sent troops into conflict in substantial numbers -- in Panama, Iraq, Somalia, and Haiti -- they faced forces on the other side that had received U.S. weapons, training, or military technology in the period leading up to the outbreak of hostilities," reported the World Policy Institute in 1995. For example:

* Panama: Before the 1989 invasion to oust strongman Manuel Noriega, the United States had provided the Central American nation with $33.5 million worth of U.S. weapons, and spent $8.2 million to train Panamanian military personnel at the Pentagon's International Military Education and Training program (IMET). Even Noriega himself was a graduate of IMET.

* Iraq: In the years leading up to the Gulf War in 1991, "the Reagan and Bush administrations supplied critical military technologies that were put directly to use in the construction of the Iraqi war machine," according to the World Policy Institute.

*Somalia: Before sending the ill-fated peace-keeping mission to Somalia in 1991, the U.S. government furnished more than $1 billion in aid to that nation's oppressive government -- including $154 million in weapons. When American troops arrived to quell the civil war, American-supplied M-16 rifles, machine guns, mortars, howitzers, armored personnel carriers, land mines, and anti-tank missiles were used against U.S. military forces.

* Haiti: Prior to U.S troops being dispatched to the impoverished Caribbean nation in 1994, the American government had delivered $2.6 million in weapons to dictator Jean Bertrand Aristide.

In all, between the end of World War II and the early 1990s, the United States government gave away more than $950 billion (in constant 1989 dollars) in foreign or military aid to "more than 100 nations," according to the Cato Institute.

"Given that 101 armed conflicts occurred around the world between 1989 and 1996, it's inevitable that our government was somehow involved -- whether by furnishing money, arms, or military personnel -- in dozens of those skirmishes and wars," said Bergland. "And every time we got involved in another nation's war, it's inevitable that we made more enemies who became more determined to strike back at us."

That's why the Libertarian Party supports a non-interventionist foreign policy, he said -- which would keep America safer by reducing the number of nations and terrorist organizations that have reason to hate our country.

"The best way to defend America is by defending America -- not by intervening in the affairs of foreign nations," said Bergland. "And the best way to live free from the threat of terrorists is by not getting into a bloody, protracted, unwinnable war with terrorists in the first place.

"The sooner we learn that, the sooner Americans can stop worrying about becoming the next target of bloodthirsty, fanatical terrorists," he said. "In a non-interventionist, Libertarian nation, we could take down the anti-bomb barriers around the Washington Monument, retire the anti-terrorist SWAT teams, and live in peace."

No Way Back for Clinton

Neither bombs nor lies can save him, says Tim Hames. There is no way back for Clinton.

President Clinton, having declared war on international terrorism, has returned to the "holiday from hell". His domestic difficulties, intense as they may be, are of nothing compared with the fire awaiting him when he returns to Washington. Kenneth Starr remains a far more dangerous threat to the President than Osama bin Laden. The Clinton presidency is now living on borrowed time and misleading opinion polls - within six months it will be history.

The American public, it is said, do not want the impeachment or enforced resignation of this President. They also want this fiasco put firmly behind them. These are incompatible aspirations. The Starr inquiry is a legal process. It cannot be stopped. Americans will shortly come to appreciate that, whatever they might think of Mr Starr, there is only one means by which this affair can be brought to an abrupt conclusion - and this involves Mr Clinton's resignation.

Mr Starr has recalled Monica Lewinsky for further testimony to the grand jury. He will bring back all the associates of the President who he believes did not reveal everything that they knew at the first time of asking. He will remind them that Mr Clinton has changed his story and that they have one last chance to do the same or court the charge of perjury themselves. The mountain of evidence that Mr Starr used to force Monica Lewinsky finally to co-operate will be deployed to secure further material. Even the Clinton inner circle will crack at the prospect of imprisonment. The sinking ship will soon abandon the rat.

Russia tries to Salvage its Teetering Economy

Acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced a desperate plan to save Russia's financial system amid new signs of collapse yesterday, acting as the ruble plummeted almost 10 percent in a single day.

The plan spells out how Russia will deal with its default last week on $40 billion in debt, some $11 billion of which is held by foreigners. But U.S. analysts said the plan would mainly serve the interests of Russia's wealthy new elite.

Mr. Chernomyrdin, fired as prime minister five months ago and renominated for the job Sunday, also proposed creating a "government of accord" in which prominent Cabinet posts would go to Communists and other foes of President Boris Yeltsin.

Such a partnership might help break through the deadlock in parliament that has long blocked economic reforms. But the Communists are likely to demand as the price of their cooperation that the reform effort be frozen in place.

"Not everything has been lost yet -- far from it," Mr. Chernomyrdin said in barely reassuring comments quoted by the RIA news agency. "There are things we can still do."

The ruble yesterday suffered its worst one-day fall since what became known as Black Tuesday in October 1994. Valued at almost 16 cents until it was devalued nine days ago, it slid further yesterday from 14.01 cents to just 12.72 cents. Trading was suspended twice when the Central Bank was overwhelmed by demand for dollars.

The ruble's dive reflects a collapse of public confidence in Russia's fragile financial system more severe than the loss of faith in U.S. banks at the height of the Great Depression. The accelerating crisis, which threatens a return of the hyperinflation of the early post-communist years, prompted Mr. Yeltsin on Sunday to sack his entire Cabinet for the second time this year.

Russian analysts now openly warn that the stability of the democratic system is under serious threat. Under the repayment plan announced yesterday, the $40 billion in debt that was frozen on Aug. 17 will be repaid over three to five years at annual interest rates of 20 percent to 30 percent.

Western analysts said the plan was better than some other ideas that had been suggested, but was unlikely by itself to solve the huge structural problems in the Russian economy and fiscal system. The plan "is a bit of an improvement over what was expected a couple of days ago, but it is still a stretch-out," said financial analyst David McClain of Babson United Inc. in Boston. "Investors are going to have to line up to be paid, and that won't happen under the new scheme until after the Russian presidential elections" scheduled for 2000, he said.

David Merkel, Russian risk assessment analyst for Jefferson Waterman International, said the debt restructuring would serve the interests of the wealthy bankers who dominate Russia's financial system, but it would not relieve the sufferings of ordinary Russians. "This program brings back the oligarchs whom [ousted Prime Minister Sergei] Kiriyenko was trying to control, but I don't think it does anything for the ordinary Ivan and Natasha in the street," Mr. Merkel said. In order to win communist support, he said, Mr. Chernomyrdin would have to defy the International Monetary Fund by easing the sufferings of the Russian people before stabilizing the economy. "The solution for Russia's social problems and for its long-term economic problems are not the same thing."

According to Interfax, the Russian government may restrict trade in its new securities on the secondary market. That would also make Western investors more reluctant to buy them. The crisis is destroying the infant Russian banking system, which is less than a decade old. The banks were already critically short of liquidity, or ready cash, before last week's ruble devaluation reduced the value of their 90-day, or short-term, treasury bond holdings by more than a third.

Three of the nation's leading banks -- Oneximbank, Bank Menatep and Most Bank --yesterday announced a merger in an apparent attempt to escape the acute liquidity crisis by combining their assets.

The French petroleum company Elf Aquitaine decided to abandon a proposed alliance with Russia's Sibneft worth $500 million because of economic instability in Russia and low world oil prices.

Either Way, We Pay

With all the recent events taking place in our country and around the world, the big tobacco issue seems to have taken a back seat. Be assured, with the upcoming elections in November, the evils of tobacco will take center stage again. This is just another example of politicians trying to save us from ourselves while at the same time, relieving us of more of our money.

The Liberal answer to every one of society's ills is to make a new law or to add a "sin" tax to help cover some of the added costs to the public. Under our current system, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase tobacco products. For over 30 years, we have known the use of tobacco products can be harmful to our health. Cigarette makers are forced to print warnings on each and every pack they sell, informing us of the different health risks which may occur. We have the government spending millions of brochures, anti-smoking programs, and public service announcements. The only question I have is, "Why?"

You can ask almost any man, woman, or child and they will say you should not smoke. The percentage of people who smoke has dropped dramatically since the 70's, when the anti-smoking forces began their quest. So why does the government feel they should punish the evil tobacco companies for making a legal product which we still subsidize?

The answer: They are not punishing tobacco companies, the government is making another grab for our tax dollars under the guise of "protecting" the public interest. The Liberals will also tell us the American people are footing the bill to pay for the added costs to different health care providers and the

Medicare programs. The other argument being made for the tobacco legislation is to tax the products so children won't be able to afford them.

Let's analyze both of these arguments. First, every smoker is already paying for their habits in numerous ways. Smokers have to pay higher health insurance premiums even though there is no evidence that a smoker has more health problems than any other person. Yes, they do run the risks of certain types of cancer and other diseases, but they are already paying a higher cost for taking that risk. Smokers, on the average, have a shorter life expectancy than a non-smoker, yet they pay the same amount in Social Security tax as others. If we are to be totally honest on this, shouldn't smokers pay less since they are not expected to live as long?

Another point rarely brought to light, tobacco users are already taxed at an enormous rate for using these products and have been paying an ever increasing tax for years. Where has all that money gone? Basically, tobacco users have been paying for other social and governmental programs that have nothing to do with health care. Now, with the newly proposed legislation, the tobacco user will be forced to pay a huge tax to: 1. Cover added health care costs to the public, and 2. Raise the costs of cigarettes so children cannot afford to buy them. We have established the tobacco user is already paying increased health care premiums and taxes to cover any costs they may incur in the future. As for the kids, during Clinton's presidency, drug use is up substantially among teens, so added costs to cigarettes is a negligible cost to them. Besides, if they can't afford them, the Liberals want to establish a higher minimum wage so they will be able to pay for their smokes.

Why can; Liberals be honest for once? They are using the tobacco tax to dig deeper into the common man's pockets because even the mention of an income tax increase would be political suicide. The disturbing fact about this whole issue is there are a few Republicans who support this legislation.

I will leave you with this thought: As a part of the Clean Air Act, R-12 Freon, the refrigerant used in all pre-1991 model cars, was phased out to protect the ozone. At the time, R-12 cost about $1.25 a pound. Thanks to the Liberal legislation, today the replacement R-12 costs the average consumer roughly $40.00 per pound. Let's face it, all the "rich" people aren't the ones driving the older cars which require R-12. It is the working class who are paying that price just to be able to keep their families comfortable in their vehicles.

Democrats purport to be the "Party of the Working Family." But the legislation they pass costs the working family every time.

China Creates 'Smart Card' Project

NEW YORK - China's vast emerging consumer market is to become the most ambitious testing ground to date for `smart cards," the plastic payment cards that have an embedded computer chip.

The People's Bank of China plans to issue 1.5 million to 2 million of the computerized cards next year. Schlumberger Ltd., the New York City-based technology and oil industry services business, this week announced it will provide the cards and the electronic machines that process them, as well as train consumers and clerks to use them.

The Bank of China had engaged Visa International last year to develop national and international smart card standards for the Chinese market.

`China is now embarking on the largest smart bank card project in the world," said Irwin Pfister, executive vice president of Schlumberger Test & Transactions, based in San Jose, Calif.

Schlumberger executives said China's 1.2 billion people and rapidly growing economy provide an ideal environment for smart cards, the wallet-sized plastic cards embedded with a silicon chip that can store vast amounts of information and make simple mathematical calculations.

With a smart card, a consumer can download electronic `cash" and present the card for payment. The merchant runs the card through an electronic reader, which records the transaction and credits the merchant's account. The cards also may be used to extract money directly from a bank account.

Schlumberger will design the cards so that other applications may be added later, such as including medical records or driver license information.

Unlike the United States, China does not already have an extensive system for handling payments by plastic. As a result, China is `able to leapfrog to smart card technology," said Paul Beverly, director marketing for Schlumberger Smart Cards & Terminals, based in Austin, Texas.

Building a smart card payment system from the ground up is cheaper than technology that stores data on a magnetic strip on the back of a card, which requires expensive telecommunications connections to run, Beverly said.

Jonathan Cassell, an analyst with Dataquest Inc., a technology research company in San Jose, Calif., said that more than 10 percent of the world's smart card transactions last year took place in Asia. That number is expected to grow to nearly 30 percent by the year 2002.

`China will account for the bulk of these," Cassell said. `We're seeing a very large volume coming out of China."


From Doug Fiedor's *Heads Up* Newsletter
Used with permission

Last month (July 19, #94) we reported that there are 14,484 registered lobbyists on Capitol Hill. That is, lobbyists on Capitol Hill outnumber Members of Congress 27 to 1. Reports show, these lobbyists spend a whopping $1.17-billion annually lobbying Capitol Hill. Which is, on average, about $21.9-million spent annually lobbying each Member of Congress.

Twenty-two million bucks per Congress Member should be enough to keep them rather attentive, one would think; and it does. Many of the free trips, fund-raiser parties, dinners and a whole series of perks are factored in there. That's one reason legislators have so little time for constituents.

Even the Congressional aides get plenty of lobbyist attention. It's not uncommon for an aide making $40,000 a year to be surrounded by a group of lobbyists who themselves make $200,000 annually and walk the halls of Congress with pockets full of money and the means for offering many other interesting perks.

As bad as that is, that's not the complete story. There is yet another whole set of foreign lobbyists vying for the time of Members of Congress, Congressional aides and federal regulators.

Last year, a U.S. News article (9-8-97) by Julian E. Barnes, "The Canadian menace?" identified spending by the 10 top foreign lobbyists in Washington.

With a lobbying expenditure of $5,130,000 for the year, and in spite of NAFTA, Canada was listed as the foreign government spending the most to lobby our government. Our other NAFTA partner, Mexico, comes in a close second with $5,078,000.

Interestingly enough, Mexico used some of the money we gave them to resolve some of the NAFTA trade disputes with the United States and to lobby to maintain our support for the 1995 peso bailout.

Next on the list comes Japan, spending $4,908,000 and Great Britain shelling out $4,372,000 to lobby the federal government. Taiwan spent $4,217,000, and Israel said they lobbied $3,236,000 worth.

Haiti spent $2,324,000 to lobby for more aid, and Indonesia spent $2,032,000 on aid, trade, and military aircraft issues.

The lobbying expenses of both Angola's government and the anticommunist UNITA rebels totaled $1,878,000, and Hong Kong spent $1,708,000 lobbying trade and support issues.

So far, that only amounts to about $35-million, a far cry from the $1.17-billion American private interest groups spend. However, that $35-million does not include any contributions to campaign committees. It is illegal for foreign governments to contribute to election campaign committees. Nor does that amount include lobbying by embassy staffs or general PR efforts.

There are also other, less obvious, accounts available. Most of these "other" accounts are held by one or more of Washington's many law firms -- all of which, incidentally, contribute heavily to campaign finance committees.

And, dear readers, the reason we never hear of the origin and disbursement of these funds is exactly the very same reason we will now end this article: Washington law firms have full use of the courts, the money to carry on for many years on end, and we do not.

Instead, we will say that foreign lobbyists carry the same clout with members of the federal government as domestic lobbyists. Needless to say, there are a few reasons for that -- about half of a billion of them annually.

If you would like to submit an editorial, commentary, or news story from your perspective on something you have been keeping an eye on, please e-mail it to and it will be evaluated for entrance. Thanks.

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