Natasha Hunter

Natasha Hunter is a former American Prospect writing fellow.

Recent Articles

Slick Oil:

F or all the attention being paid to drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) so as to -- here's that tired phrase again -- "reduce our dependence on foreign oil," few are listening to what the U.S. industry itself has to say about its possible future windfall. The answer? Not much. Environmentalists seem to think oil companies are drooling over the prospect of getting their drill bits planted in the 1.5 million acre stretch of pristine Alaskan wilderness. But in fact industry participation in the pro-ANWR campaign has proved minimal. Arctic Power , the lobbying group pushing for the drilling, receives only about 5 percent of its funds from oil companies; the rest comes from the state of Alaska (which depends on oil royalties for over 80 percent of its budget, and tends to support drilling in any form, at any cost). Indeed, Arctic Power lobbyists have been complaining that as the debate heats up, the oil industry has kept cool, refusing to launch or fund an...

Killer Logic:

A nother group has slid between the sheets of the strange bedfellows club supporting drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). In addition to the Teamsters, the Bush administration has enlisted veterans' groups -- including the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and AMVETS -- in its push to tap ANWR. The connection, you may wonder? As the argument goes, domestic oil production lessens our dependence on imported oil, which thus reduces the need for our boys to go abroad and die defending US oil interests. And that's something veterans, who know the hell of war, can support. Right? The veterans' groups met recently with Bush and Interior Secretary Gale Norton at the White House, along with Senators John Breaux (D-Louisiana) and Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska), a vocal proponent of Alaskan drilling. In the meeting, Murkowski likened support for opening ANWR to his recent vote against raising fuel-efficiency standards, saying both were ultimately about "saving...

Team Player?

K udos to Dana Milbank for cataloging the rash of Bush administration family hirings in his recent Washington Post column (and he had the deftness not to even mention George W.'s own political head start). The inventory reads a bit like a scatterbrained rendition of "Dem Bones," with brothers and daughters and sons-in-law all connected in a government body united almost as much by DNA as by political ties. Milbank balked, however, at making any weighty accusations, preferring to allow the officials in question to joke nervously -- or complacently, it's sometimes hard to tell -- about their paths to power. Heidi Cruz, a senior official in the U.S. Trade Representative's office, says being married to the FTC's director of policy planning is "a bit like having adjoining booths in the county fair." How very cozy. Does she give family discounts on the pumpkin pies, one wonders? Only once does Milbank mention the "N" word, pointing out that public officials are prohibited by federal law...

Dem Relatives:

K udos to Dana Milbank for cataloging the rash of Bush administration family hirings in his recent Washington Post column (and he had the deftness not to even mention George W.'s own political head start). The inventory reads a bit like a scatterbrained rendition of "Dem Bones," with brothers and daughters and sons-in-law all connected in a government body united almost as much by DNA as by political ties. Milbank balked, however, at making any weighty accusations, preferring to allow the officials in question to joke nervously -- or complacently, it's sometimes hard to tell -- about their paths to power. Heidi Cruz, a senior official in the U.S. Trade Representative's office, says being married to the FTC's director of policy planning is "a bit like having adjoining booths in the county fair." How very cozy. Does she give family discounts on the pumpkin pies, one wonders? Only once does Milbank mention the "N" word, pointing out that public officials are prohibited by federal law...

Fast Track and the Loss of Popular Sovereignty

"Unprecedented" is a word being thrown around in discussion of the Fast Track bill, scheduled for what now looks to be a cliff-hanger vote in the House on Thursday. But as several lawmakers and watchdog groups have pointed out, one need look no further than NAFTA Chapter 11 for some ugly forecasts of what's to come if the fast-track legislation -- H.R. 3005 -- is passed. NAFTA's Chapter 11 investment rules have allowed the Canadian-based Methanex corporation, for instance, to sue the United States for $1 billion because of a California law that phases out MTBE, a gas additive and carcinogen found to be contaminating the state's water. And this is only one of 15 cases that companies in the three NAFTA countries have pursued, with claims totaling over $13 billion. NAFTA panels settle Chapter 11 disputes behind closed doors; even the judge's identity may be withheld. Losers have no recourse to appeal or consideration in U.S. courts, so that foreign investors may circumvent state and even...

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