Austin KVUE: here.
Austin Fox 7: here.
Waco KWTX: here.
Dallas Morning News video/photo essay: here.
Link to London Telegraph article here. Palestine-Herald article & link below.
Texans fear US sovereignty will disappear down superhighway
If it were built, the road would be one of the engineering wonders of the 21st century -a trade route a quarter of a mile wide, carving a path from Mexico through the heart of America to Canada.
In its most radical form, it would allow lorry drivers to travel hundreds of miles from the Mexican border deep into the US before reaching customs and immigration controls in Kansas.
Backers of the idea, labelled the “Nafta Superhighway”, after the North American trade pact, say it would revolutionise patterns of commerce across the continent and enhance the economic prospects of millions. But its critics say it could spell the end of US sovereignty. In arguments akin to those deployed by critics of the European Union, opponents say that opening borders will hit businesses, create a terrorist threat and allow illegal immigrants and drugs to flood in.
Opposition is strongest in Texas, where the state’s plans for a vast road project, known as the Trans-Texas Corridor, are well advanced. Once complete, the corridor could become the first leg of a Nafta Superhighway, crossing the Mexican border at the Rio Grande, near Laredo, and then pushing north to Kansas. It would include a toll road with 10 lorry and car lanes, a high-speed railway, and oil, gas and water pipelines.
With costs estimated at $183 billion (£94 billion), the 1,200 ft wide road would consume one million acres in Texas alone. Construction could take up to 50 years.
Many of those fighting the project are conservative farmers who would normally be supporters of President George W Bush but who are suspicious of his support for more free trade. At a meeting in the Texas town of Temple last week, more than 100 people gathered to hear news from Corridor Watch, a group fighting the road.
At a community hall built by Slovak immigrants nearly a century ago, many of the men wore cowboy hats, while their wives arrived with casseroles to sustain the gathering. Despite bowing heads for the Pledge of Allegiance, the meeting expressed anger at what the road would mean.
Hank Gilbert, a rancher, said: “At the Battle of the Alamo people came from all over the US to fight for our sovereignty. Now we are giving it away to the very people we fought.” Like many protesters, he believes the link will make it easier for cheap goods to flood into the US. “Farmers fear that this kind of globalisation will put them out of business,” he said.
In Texas, the superhighway would be so wide that critics say it would be too expensive to construct overpasses except in the cities, severing tight-knit rural communities.
The superhighway is being promoted by a pressure group, the North America’s Supercorridor Coalition, which includes business leaders, trade groups and government officials from Canada, Mexico and the US.
However, officials of the federal government in Washington deny that there is any transnational plan. A member of the Department of Transport told a congressional committee this month that all the government wanted to was improve existing roads.
Many conservatives disagree. They link the highway to agreements being negotiated behind closed doors between the Mexican, American and Canadian governments that they believe will transform the North American Free Trade Association into an EU-style superstate. They point to an agreement signed by Mr Bush, Vicente Fox, then president of Mexico, and Paul Martin, then Canada’s prime minister, in Waco, Texas, in March 2005.
The Security and Prosperity Partnership is intended to promote co-operation on security and boost economic opportunities. But it set alarm bells ringing on the Right because it formed working parties that fall outside the control of Congress.
Republican Ron Paul, a Texas congressman, says it is part of a drive for “an integrated North American Union” - complete with a currency, a cross-national bureaucracy and borderless travel. “It would represent another step toward the abolition of national sovereignty,” he said.
Protestors rally over threats to farmland
By WAYNE STEWART
The Palestine Herald
March 3, 2007
— AUSTIN — With the shout, “Texas is not for sale,” thousands of people from across the state made their way up Congress Avenue to the Texas Capitol to tell lawmakers to stop the Trans Texas Corridor and the National Animal Identification System.
The rally was set up by the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, a grass roots organization dedicated to fighting the implementation of NAIS. For Texas Independence Day, the group joined forces with Texans fighting the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) which carries the possibility of losing thousands of farm and ranch acres to eminent domain for the construction of the 1,200-foot wide corridor.
Harris County Republican Precinct Chairman Stuart Mayper, who spoke at a Senate Transportation Committee meeting on Thursday, was at Friday’s rally to reinforce his opposition to the corridor. The corridor, Mayper said, will not only confiscate a large amount of property from private individuals, but he also believes it will end up costing Texas’ taxpayers millions, maybe billions, of dollars.
“What a lot of people don’t know is that there has already been a private road constructed in Texas,” Mayper said. “The Camino-Colombia Toll Road was a private road constructed for $75 million and was opened in 2000 in Laredo.”
Laredo, Maypers noted, is the largest inland port in the United States. Forty percent of the goods that enter the United States from Mexico come through Laredo.
Even with that high concentration of traffic, Mayper said the road was not a success.
“After three years the 22-mile road was sold at auction for $12.1 million at the Webb County Courthouse,” Maypers said. “The bond failed and then the bondholders foreclosed on the $75 million road.”
In the end, taxpayers were left having to pay for the road nobody traveled, which caused Maypers to ask, “If a private road fails in a high-density traffic area then how will a larger one work going through mostly rural areas?”
Along with the problems presented to rural land owners by the TTC, NAIS, which originally was scheduled to become mandatory in 2007 but because of public backlash has become a voluntary project, would have forced ranchers to register their property or premises; assign individual identification numbers to their livestock; and eventually report all animal movements. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the information would be held in private databases and only available to government entities in the event of a disease outbreak.
While the program is currently voluntary, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance organizer Judith McGeary said the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) was given the power by the state legislature to make the program mandatory at the TAHC’s discretion.
Rallies, such as the one held at the capital on Friday, are what it takes to make legislators take action.
“Officials say (NAIS) protects us from terrorism,” McGeary said. “Does al-Qaeda really care about grandma’s chickens?”
When pressed for the real reason behind NAIS, McGeary said officials said it is needed for the country’s export markets. In the end, McGeary said it came back to money.
Currently, there are two pieces of legislation in the Texas House that would take away TAHC’s authority to make NAIS mandatory. The bills are HB 461 and 637. They are not perfect, McGeary said, but they will help.
“This is more than about food,” McGeary said. “It’s about our way of life.”
As Charlie Tomlin, an ag teacher and rancher from George West, sees it, both the proposed corridor and NAIS will have drastic effects on the state’s agriculture industry.
“None of this is set up (to help) agriculture,” Tomlin said. “With the corridor there’s only going to be stuff coming in and nothing going out.
“NAIS is also going to hurt a lot of people with livestock,” Tomlin continued. “Who’s going to regulate it, who’s going to do it (manage information databases), and what kind of security we as landowners are going to have?”
When looking at both measures, Tomlin said he can’t see anything good for Texas producers.
“Right now there is a lot of Mexican traffic going out (into the U.S.),” Tomlin explained. “Their trucks don’t have good brakes, no safety inspections, they don’t have to abide by our safety laws. That road with Mexico is a one-way street.
“They (politicians) are just trying to put a job on us. There’s a lot going on under the sheets here,” Tomlin added. State Rep. Garnett Coleman, D-Houston, said every Texas taxpayer is going to have to pay for the corridor when the bond paying for it has been defaulted.
“Then, Cintra (the company from Spain contracted to build the transportation corridor) will go back to Spain with all of our money,” Coleman said, who added the project has to be stopped. One state lawmaker said she recognized the significance of Friday, and said she is working through her position as a legislator to look to the future of the state and its people.
“(Trans Texas Corridor) is one of many things that threaten our freedom,” State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst said. “This is not a Republican or Democrat issue, this is a Texas issue…We’re going to take our roads, our state and our nation back.”
To help do that, Kolkhorst has introduced legislation that will stop the corridor. To go along with that, Coleman has filed HB 998 that will put a moratorium on any toll road in Texas that hasn’t been built.
The first corridor to be built would start in the Rio Grande valley, run parallel to Interstate 35 and Interstate 37 north to Denison. There also are three more priority corridors that, if all were built, would span approximately 4,000 miles across Texas and use about a half-million acres of land.
If built, the TTC, according to the Trans Texas Corridor Web site, would feature separate lanes for passenger vehicles and large trucks; freight railways; high-speed commuter railways; and infrastructure for utilities including broadband and telecommunications services.
For more on the Trans Texas Corridor visit www.keeptexasmoving.com or visit these other Web sites concerning the massive transportation plan at www.corridorwatch.com; www.satollparty.com; www.truthbetolled.com; or www.texastollparty.com.