By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
All signs are that the trade balance will get worse. Brazil now exports more soy products than we do. To boost Brazil's strength in soybeans, the Chinese have entered into a trade deal for farm products. They will open their borders to Brazilian beef, soy, and minerals, while China agrees to invest $5 billion to $7 billion in Brazilian roads, ports, and railways. Brazilian agriculture is becoming such a hot item that the Chicago Board of Trade is setting up a Brazilian soybean futures contract so that the financial institutions that have driven American farmers out of business can speculate on Brazil and get in on the action. Russia is growing more grain than expected, as is the Black Sea region.
Matters will get worse if the World Trade Organization forces us to reduce our trade barriers further. If the quota on Australian beef is abandoned, the market will be flooded with imports. A recent ban on Canadian beef due to mad-cow fears has reduced imports from the north. Once that is lifted, beef imports by the U.S. will increase.
Homeland Security officials argue that the food supply is not protected from germ and biological contamination. And if there are more imports, that danger will increase, especially because the food industry and Agriculture Department have lobbied hard to turn over inspection to private hands or abandon it altogether. The result, as the Canadian mad-cow experience demonstrates, is to turn the open U.S. border crossings into sluices for serious food-borne disease.
"A country that makes a film like Star Wars deserves to rule the world." Phillip Adams, former chairman of the Australian Film Commission, in The Washington Times, 12.27.04
While members of Congress and women fume as airport screeners poke around their breasts for hidden knives, guns, and bombs, Jim Blair, assistant administrator at the Federal Aviation Administration, is providing terrorists a road map of how to make a successful attack by telling them where not to go.
In a December 22 memo to all FAA area directors, Blair announced which airports would become "model" and "pilot" sites for new technology to spot trace explosives: "Technology is one of the key elements necessary in our ability to enhance our passenger and baggage screening processes. As new and better components of technology have become available, sites have been selected to test these enhancements for the ultimate betterment of all our airports." Then he told the world that the airports include LAX, JFK, Chicago O'Hare, and Dallas-Ft. Worth, along with Miami, Baltimore-Washington, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Boston, Tampa, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Atlanta, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Gulfport, Mississippi.
In picking these sites for beefed-up screening equipment, Blair said, "Variables such as proximity to the manufacturer, stated congressional interest, checkpoint configurations, and site suitability were some of the additional considerations that were used in the selection process."
Additional reporting: Nicole Duarte