Multinational Monitor

NOV 2001
VOL 22 No. 11


Pentagon Spending Spree: The Wartime Opportunists on High Alert
by William Hartung

Too Cheap to Deter: The Nuclear Power Industy Pushes Ahead Post 9-11
by Charlie Cray

Fear of Flying: The Political Economy of Airport Security
by Todd Paglia


The Great Game: Oil and Afghanistan
an interview with
Ahmed Rashid

A Resource War
an interview with
Michael Klare

A Corporate Tax Break Feeding Frenzy
an interview with
Nancy Watzman

The Corporate Attack on Electronic Privacy
an interview with
Chris Hoofnagle

Insuring a Fair Deal
an interview with
Robert Hunter


Behind the Lines

The Corporate State and the Public Interest

The Front
The Cipro Rip-Off

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News


Behind the Lines

Charleston Five Victory

Five Charleston, South Carolina union dockworkers who were attacked by police during a protest to protect their jobs and subsequently charged with inciting a riot were allowed to plead no contest to misdemeanor charges and pay a token fine of $100 each just before going to trial in November. The misdemeanor charges mean the five admit no guilt.

The conflict began in late 1999, when the Danish shipping line Nordana announced it would not renew its contract with the local International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) in Charleston, the fourth largest port in the United States.

The dockworkers were arrested during a January 2000 legal informational picket where they were protesting the use of a non-union crew to unload Nordana’s container ship, the Skodsborg.

For almost two years, the five workers have remained under house arrest — unable to leave their homes between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. unless they were working or at a union meeting.

Although travel restrictions prohibited the workers from leaving the state, defense committees involving union activists, civil rights organizations, community and faith-based groups were formed across the United States.

According to Ken Riley, president of ILA Local 1422, the case was becoming a major point of confrontation between rank-and-file activists and the Bush administration, especially since Charles Condon, the attorney general of South Carolina, and the principal prosecutor in the case, is a close political ally of President Bush. Condon served as Bush’s campaign manger in South Carolina.

“Working people have to stand up for their rights,” says Peter Washington, an ILA member and one of the Charleston Five. “If a similar situation to Nordana arises in the future, I would again protest to protect my union job.”

Patently Offensive

While Bush administration officials claim they saved taxpayers millions of dollars in October when purchasing a stockpile of Cipro to protect U.S. citizens from Anthrax, members of the drug industry were quietly lobbying Congress to pass legislation that would give a lucrative six-month monopoly patent extension for Cipro and over 100 other drugs.

The patent extension legislation, which passed the Senate in October, gives drug companies a six-month patent extension for testing their products for safety in children. The bill is still under consideration in the House of Representatives.

The costs of the tests sought by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are estimated at $727 million. In return, patent-holding drug companies expect to collect $29.6 billion more — or 40 times their projected investment — if the patent extension is enacted.

Bayer, the maker of Cipro, would rake in an extra $358 million in sales due to the antibiotic’s patent extension, according to Public Citizen.

Bayer has spent $3.7 million on campaign contributions and lobbying since 1999. Public Citizen estimates that the patent extension for Cipro would pay for all of those expenses in just two days.

Bayer did not respond to requests for comment.

“The drug industry has put on a cynical PR front about its patriotic efforts to fight bioterrorism,” says Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen'sCongress Watch.

“It’s outrageous that Congress feels the need to bribe drug companies to do what they should be required to do — test the safety and efficacy of drugs for our children.”

Trouble With Harry?

Consumer and health activists have launched a campaign to stop Coca-Cola from using children’s literary hero Harry Potter to market its line of soft drinks. Coke reportedly paid Warner Brothers (a unit of AOL Time Warner) $150 million for the exclusive global marketing rights to the Harry Potter movies — the first of which is due out in November.

“It’s outrageous that Coca-Cola is using the magic of Harry Potter to lure kids to drink more soda pop. Consumption of soft drinks has soared over the past two decades, contributing to the doubling in the percentage of obese teenagers,” says Dr. Patience White, professor of medicine and pediatrics at George Washington University Medical Center. “That obesity epidemic is fueling a diabetes epidemic.”

Diabetes, tooth decay and other illnesses are linked to an excess intake of sugar. Each 12-ounce can of Coke contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) surveys, 20 years ago teenagers drank almost twice as much milk as soda pop. Today they drink twice as much soda pop as milk. Observers attribute the change to aggressive marketing by Coke and other soft drink makers.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest launched the campaign’s web site,, to urge J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, to end the deal with Coca-Cola.

Coke officials say the movie will not include product placements and that its marketing program includes a literacy campaign.

But CSPI’s Michael Jacobson says the bottom line is that “the Harry Potter craze is being turned by Muggle moguls into a sales vehicle for liquid candy.”

— Charlie Cray



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