"We don't have to think about how we're gonna make a profit here. All we have to think about is how we're gonna provide
a good service to the citizens." So says Michael McDonald, a veteran water-plant supervisor in Stockton, California, as he decries the city's $600 million plan to sell its water system. Stockton's mayor insists the privatization plan will launch a new era
of "customer" service. But McDonald can't abide the thought of someone profiting by supplying this basic human need.
Stockton's is just one of three battles pro-filed in this perceptive documentary. Thirst begins in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where Bechtel took over the city's water supply in 1999, only to have its contract revoked
following violent uprisings over prices. The film also travels to Rajasthan, India's most arid state, where a populist named Rajendra Singh is leading a boycott of corporate bottled water.
Richard Ben Cramer grew up believing in Israel as a "land without people for a people with no land." A self-described "ham on rye" American Jew, his understanding of Israel remained largely superficial until he went there as a correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1977. He spent the next seven years reporting on the Middle East, winning a Pulitzer Prize. Along the way, he found that his identification with Israel and its people could coexist with his deepening sympathy for Palestinians and their cause.
In 2002, he went back to Israel, only to find a country much different from the one he'd lived in. His new book, How Israel Lost, collects his wry observations and lamentations about a place he no longer recognizes. "I thought I knew the country—but it turned out, I didn't," he writes. "At least I couldn't understand how the country I knew was doing the things that I read about now." As Israeli tanks bulldozed Palestinian homes as collective punishment for suicide bombings and Israeli jets bombed residential neighborhoods to kill terrorist leaders, Cramer sensed that Israel was shooting itself in the foot. Israelis saw themselves as fighting for survival, but he wondered if they hadn't already lost what was most worth fighting for—their soul, the "ache of humanity" that had drawn him to them two decades earlier.
George W. Bush's aversion to international travel is legendary. But when the leader of the Free
World does emerge from his domestic bubble, look out—especially if you happen to live where
he's headed. That's because the president's hosts and handlers will go to extreme lengths—from
suspending civil liberties to tearing down substandard housing—to make sure his trips
come off without a hitch.
Lima, Peru March 2002, 17 hours
While Bush praised President Alejandro Toledo's "commitment to democracy," the Peruvian government
shut down Lima's airspace and banned all demonstrations. Seven thousand security officers hit
the streets, teargassing and arresting the (fool)hardy few who came out to protest.
In his 2003 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush uttered 16 now-infamous words implying that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium from Africa. When the phrase was finally revealed to be based on questionable intelligence and forged documents, the White House parsed it within an inch of its life and insisted that Bush should not be held accountable for everything he said. As one senior White House official memorably put it, "The president is a not a fact checker"
A year later, Bush seemed to acknowledge last year’s controversy during his 2004 speech to Congress, declaring “words must be credible -- and no one can now doubt the word of America.” Sadly, there’s no indication that the president has added fact checking to his job description over the past 12 months. And, as much as we’d like to give the president and his speechwriters the benefit of the doubt, we figured it might be worth our time to check some of his new assertions for accuracy, and note what he misstated, oversimplified, or didn’t bother to mention.
When Houston-based Nabors Industries, the nation's largest oil-rig com- pany, reincorporated in the island tax haven of Bermuda in 2001 and secured a $10 million tax break, it had no intention of forsaking the benefits of being a corporate U.S. citizen, just the costs.
Nabors owns a 33-ship fleet to service its rigs, which it has tried to register as all-American. Although the Jones Act of 1916 prohibits foreign-owned ships from doing business solely in U.S. waters, Nabors claims its ships don't belong to the mail-drop parent company, but rather to its "American subsidiary."