You think that America’s corporate-owned government has its drawbacks? Wait until you hear what the corporate-owned government in Nigeria is up to! You think that the results of having corporate Big Money buying off America’s politicians has been scary and sad? Then you obviously haven’t ever been to Nigeria — where they have definitely gone way far beyond merely “scary” or “sad”.
When it comes to having a corporate-owned government, apparently Nigeria has become the prototype, the ideal, the epitome of what corporate-owned government can really achieve if it puts its mind to it. Corporations in America like Citibank and Monsanto and Georgia-Pacific and Chevron can only hope to aspire to the high levels of corporatism that have been achieved in Nigeria.
Nigeria today has broken the mold and set the bar really high.
But how do I know all this? From an interview with an expert on Nigeria that took place yesterday in a local park in Berkeley over tuna-fish sandwiches.
“So. What’s up in Nigeria?” I asked him, immediately diving right in.
“Don’t even ask,” he replied. “For one thing, our government is composed of mainly puppet thugs put into office by corporate neo-colonialists — but these office-holders have no power at all. They are only there as a showcase, an illusion, a shadow puppet show created to make it look like someone with dark skin is in charge over there and to give corporations someone to officially sign the documents that have handed Nigeria over to them.”
That’s ironic. In America, corporations try to dig up shadow puppets with light skin.
“When we were children in Nigeria,” continued the expert, “all of us wanted to go off to college because those in our villages who had gone to college would come home and everyone would honor them. But not any more. Now the children in the villages and towns of Nigeria all want to grow up to be government thugs! To drive big shiny cars and take money from oil companies and beat people up.”
“Something like that has happened in America too,” I replied. “Little kids used to want to grow up to be doctors or firefighters or scientists. High school kids wanted to go to college and become architects or engineers or Bob the Builder. Now all they want to do is study business so they can rush off to Wall Street and make a killing. Who wants to be a doctor when they can orchestrate pension-plan takeovers and outsource American jobs. Or go into politics.” Yeah. And become corporate-owned government thugs like in Nigeria.
“And it used to be that everyone in Nigeria at least had a chance of going to high school,” said the expert. “But the levels of available education there are falling fast.” Keep them barefoot and dumb? Seems to be the trend here in America too.
“Whenever we thought of America when we were children, we all wanted to be like that — democracy and all. Owning something that said ‘Made in America’ on it was a very big deal. And now it’s all made in China. But what amazes me most about Americans today is that they all sit back and take this and say nothing. They just listen to Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck and Fox News and accept their fate like lambs to the slaughter.”
I know what he means. And in my humble opinion, it all started back in 1963 when no one really questioned who shot JFK — and who benefited most. Who had the motive, means and opportunity? It surely wasn’t Cuba or even the USSR. “Who killed the Kennedys? After all it was you and me,” sang the Rolling Stones — and they nailed it. Then most Americans went on to never question the lack of preparedness before 9-11http://www.paulcraigroberts.
“Don’t Tread on Me” is now history, sent off to America’s outdated memorabilia rubbish heap.
“When the BP oil spill happened over here in the Gulf,” my expert continued, “BP spent a lot of money on maintaining their public image in America and making excuses. Well, Nigeria has a big oil spill almost every day. Oil spills like that are common in Nigeria. But the major difference between there and here is that BP doesn’t even bother to make excuses in Nigeria. They don’t even consider Nigerians important enough to even make excuses. They treat us like some kind of annoying pests that they just have to put up with while extracting our oil. Not really human.” Definitely beyond sad.
Imagine all those photos of shorebirds on the Gulf Coast covered with oil — and then imagine Nigerians covered with oil like that too. The toxic “body burden” that many Nigerian villagers are bearing these days is tragic.
“Have you ever been to Nigeria?” he asked me. “Rich people there live in securely gated communities and behind high walls. There is no walking down the streets in Nigeria for rich people. Why would anyone ever want to live like that? To always be guarded and gated and stuck behind walls? That’s no way to live. Having economic equality leads to more freedom — even for the rich.”
But as the rich become more and more separated from the poor here in America too, that’s definitely the direction we also are going in. Freedom, like money, does not trickle down.
Next we discussed a whole bunch of other reasons why having a corporate-owned government has led to a failed nation in Nigeria — and will also lead to a failed nation here. But I forgot to take notes and can’t remember the rest of what all we discussed. But you get the gist. Government of the people, by the people and for the people is good. Corporate-owned government is proving to be very very bad.
To paraphrase a recent saying that’s now making the rounds on FaceBook, “If Romney’s proposed corporatist policies actually work, then George W. Bush would have given the keynote speech at the Republican convention — and Nigeria would be a proud role model for democracy and freedom, not just another miserable failed state.”
PS: Has anyone started to miss Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi yet? If he hadn’t been brutally murdered and his corpse dragged through the streets of Sirte, Ambassador Stevens would still be alive and well too.
And does anybody but me find it ironic that the rockets used to attack the American consulate in Benghazi probably came from the same stockpile of weapons supplied to NATO’s allies, the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and paid for by America’s corporate-owned government?
Shades of Ronald Reagan’s favorite “freedom fighters” in Afghanistan — Osama bin Ladin and friends.
Two Years After The BP Oil Spill, Is The Gulf Ecosystem Collapsing?
The BP oil spill started on April 20, 2010. We’ve previously warned that the BP oil spill could severely damage the Gulf ecosystem.
Since then, there are numerous signs that the worst-case scenario may be playing out:
- New York Times: “Gulf Dolphins Exposed to Oil Are Seriously Ill, Agency Says
- Mother Jones: Eyeless shrimp are being found all over the Gulf
- Pensacola News Journal: “Sick fish” archive
- Agence France Presse: Mystery illnesses plague Louisiana oil spill crews
- MSNBC:Exclusive: Submarine Dive Finds Oil, Dead Sea Life at Bottom of Gulf of Mexico
- AP: BP oil spill the culprit for slow death of deep-sea coral, scientists say (and see theGuardian and AFP‘s write ups)
- A recent report also notes that there are flesh-eating bacteria in tar balls of BP oil washing up on Gulf beaches
- And all of that lovely Corexit dispersant sprayed on water, land and air? It inhibits the ability of microbes to break down oil, and allows oil and other chemicals to be speed past the normal barriers of human skin. Background here. NYT: Impact of Gulf Spill’s Underwater Dispersants Is Examined Speaking on the chemical ingredients of the dispersants used, “The report finds that “Of the 57 ingredients: 5 chemicals are associated with cancer; 33 are associated with skin irritation from rashes to burns; 33 are linked to eye irritation; 11 are or are suspected of being potential respiratory toxins or irritants; 10 are suspected kidney toxins; 8 are suspected or known to be toxic to aquatic organisms; and 5 are suspected to have a moderate acute toxicity to fish.”
If you still don’t have a sense of the devastation to the Gulf, American reporter Dahr Jamail lays it out pretty clearly:
“The fishermen have never seen anything like this,” Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. “And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I’ve never seen anything like this either.”
Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.
Cowan’s findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants.
Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP’s 2010 oil disaster.
Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp – and interviewees’ fingers point towards BP’s oil pollution disaster as being the cause.
Tracy Kuhns and her husband Mike Roberts, commercial fishers from Barataria, Louisiana, are finding eyeless shrimp.
“At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these,” Kuhns told Al Jazeera while showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.
According to Kuhns, at least 50 per cent of the shrimp caught in that period in Barataria Bay, a popular shrimping area that was heavily impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants, were eyeless. Kuhns added: “Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets.”
Eyeless shrimp, from a catch of 400 pounds of eyeless shrimp, said to be caught September 22, 2011, in Barataria Bay, Louisiana [Erika Blumenfeld/Al Jazeera]
“Some shrimpers are catching these out in the open Gulf [of Mexico],” she added, “They are also catching them in Alabama and Mississippi. We are also finding eyeless crabs, crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don’t have their usual spikes … they look like they’ve been burned off by chemicals.”
On April 20, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded, and began the release of at least 4.9 million barrels of oil. BP then used at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic Corexit dispersants to sink the oil.
Keath Ladner, a third generation seafood processor in Hancock County, Mississippi, is also disturbed by what he is seeing.
“I’ve seen the brown shrimp catch drop by two-thirds, and so far the white shrimp have been wiped out,” Ladner told Al Jazeera. “The shrimp are immune compromised. We are finding shrimp with tumors on their heads, and are seeing this everyday.”
While on a shrimp boat in Mobile Bay with Sidney Schwartz, the fourth-generation fisherman said that he had seen shrimp with defects on their gills, and “their shells missing around their gills and head”.
“We’ve fished here all our lives and have never seen anything like this,” he added.
Ladner has also seen crates of blue crabs, all of which were lacking at least one of their claws.
Darla Rooks, a lifelong fisherperson from Port Sulfur, Louisiana, told Al Jazeera she is finding crabs “with holes in their shells, shells with all the points burned off so all the spikes on their shells and claws are gone, misshapen shells, and crabs that are dying from within … they are still alive, but you open them up and they smell like they’ve been dead for a week”.
Rooks is also finding eyeless shrimp, shrimp with abnormal growths, female shrimp with their babies still attached to them, and shrimp with oiled gills.
“We also seeing eyeless fish, and fish lacking even eye-sockets, and fish with lesions, fish without covers over their gills, and others with large pink masses hanging off their eyes and gills.”
Rooks, who grew up fishing with her parents, said she had never seen such things in these waters, and her seafood catch last year was “ten per cent what it normally is”.
“I’ve never seen this,” he said, a statement Al Jazeera heard from every scientist, fisherman, and seafood processor we spoke with about the seafood deformities.
Given that the Gulf of Mexico provides more than 40 per cent of all the seafood caught in the continental US, this phenomenon does not bode well for the region, or the country.
“The dispersants used in BP’s draconian experiment contain solvents, such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol. Solvents dissolve oil, grease, and rubber,” Dr Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist and Exxon Valdez survivor told Al Jazeera. “It should be no surprise that solvents are also notoriously toxic to people, something the medical community has long known”.
The dispersants are known to be mutagenic, a disturbing fact that could be evidenced in the seafood deformities. Shrimp, for example, have a life-cycle short enough that two to three generations have existed since BP’s disaster began, giving the chemicals time to enter the genome.
Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts can include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. They are also teratogenic – able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or fetus – and carcinogenic.
Cowan believes chemicals named polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), released from BP’s submerged oil, are likely to blame for what he is finding, due to the fact that the fish with lesions he is finding are from “a wide spatial distribution that is spatially coordinated with oil from the Deepwater Horizon, both surface oil and subsurface oil. A lot of the oil that impacted Louisiana was also in subsurface plumes, and we think there is a lot of it remaining on the seafloor”.
Marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia published results of her submarine dives around the source area of BP’s oil disaster in the Nature Geoscience journal.
Her evidence showed massive swathes of oil covering the seafloor, including photos of oil-covered bottom dwelling sea creatures.
While showing slides at an American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Washington, Joye said: “This is Macondo oil on the bottom. These are dead organisms because of oil being deposited on their heads.”
Dr Wilma Subra, a chemist and Macarthur Fellow, has conducted tests on seafood and sediment samples along the Gulf for chemicals present in BP’s crude oil and toxic dispersants.
“Tests have shown significant levels of oil pollution in oysters and crabs along the Louisiana coastline,” Subra told Al Jazeera. “We have also found high levels of hydrocarbons in the soil and vegetation.”
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, PAHs “are a group of semi-volatile organic compounds that are present in crude oil that has spent time in the ocean and eventually reaches shore, and can be formed when oil is burned”.
“The fish are being exposed to PAHs, and I was able to find several references that list the same symptoms in fish after the Exxon Valdez spill, as well as other lab experiments,” explained Cowan. “There was also a paper published by some LSU scientists that PAH exposure has effects on the genome.”
The University of South Florida released the results of a survey whose findings corresponded with Cowan’s: a two to five per cent infection rate in the same oil impact areas, and not just with red snapper, but with more than 20 species of fish with lesions. In many locations, 20 per cent of the fish had lesions, and later sampling expeditions found areas where, alarmingly, 50 per cent of the fish had them.
“I asked a NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] sampler what percentage of fish they find with sores prior to 2010, and it’s one tenth of one percent,” Cowan said. “Which is what we found prior to 2010 as well. But nothing like we’ve seen with these secondary infections and at this high of rate since the spill.”
“What we think is that it’s attributable to chronic exposure to PAHs released in the process of weathering of oil on the seafloor,” Cowan said. “There’s no other thing we can use to explain this phenomenon. We’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Crustacean biologist Darryl Felder, in the Department of Biology with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is in a unique position.
Felder has been monitoring the vicinity of BP’s blowout Macondo well both before and after the oil disaster began, because, as he told Al Jazeera, “the National Science Foundation was interested in these areas that are vulnerable due to all the drilling”.
“So we have before and after samples to compare to,” he added. “We have found seafood with lesions, missing appendages, and other abnormalities.”
Felder also has samples of inshore crabs with lesions. “Right here in Grand Isle we see lesions that are eroding down through their shell. We just got these samples last Thursday and are studying them now, because we have no idea what else to link this to as far as a natural event.”
According to Felder, there is an even higher incidence of shell disease with crabs in deeper waters.
“My fear is that these prior incidents of lesions might be traceable to microbes, and my questions are, did we alter microbial populations in the vicinity of the well by introducing this massive amount of petroleum and in so doing cause microbes to attack things other than oil?”
One hypothesis he has is that the waxy coatings around crab shells are being impaired by anthropogenic chemicals or microbes resulting from such chemicals.
“You create a site where a lesion can occur, and microbes attack. We see them with big black lesions, around where their appendages fall off, and all that is left is a big black ring.”
Felder added that his team is continuing to document the incidents: “And from what we can tell, there is a far higher incidence we’re finding after the spill.”
“We are also seeing much lower diversity of crustaceans,” he said. “We don’t have the same number of species as we did before [the spill].”
Felder is also finding “odd staining” of animals that burrow into the mud that cause stain rings, and said: “It is consistently mineral deposits, possibly from microbial populations in [overly] high concentrations.”
Dr Andrew Whitehead, an associate professor of biology at Louisiana State University, co-authored the report Genomic and physiological footprint of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on resident marsh fishes that was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October 2011.
Whitehead’s work is of critical importance, as it shows a direct link between BP’s oil and the negative impacts on the Gulf’s food web evidenced by studies on killifish before, during and after the oil disaster.
“What we found is a very clear, genome-wide signal, a very clear signal of exposure to the toxic components of oil that coincided with the timing and the locations of the oil,” Whitehead told Al Jazeera during an interview in his lab.
According to Whitehead, the killifish is an important indicator species because they are the most abundant fish in the marshes, and are known to be the most important forage animal in their communities.
“That means that most of the large fish that we like to eat and that these are important fisheries for, actually feed on the killifish,” he explained. “So if there were to be a big impact on those animals, then there would probably be a cascading effect throughout the food web. I can’t think of a worse animal to knock out of the food chain than the killifish.”
But we may well be witnessing the beginnings of this worst-case scenario.
Whitehead is predicting that there could be reproductive impacts on the fish, and since the killifish is a “keystone” species in the food web of the marsh, “Impacts on those species are more than likely going to propagate out and effect other species. What this shows is a very direct link from exposure to DWH oil and a clear biological effect. And a clear biological effect that could translate to population level long-term consequences.”
Ed Cake, a biological oceanographer, as well as a marine and oyster biologist, has “great concern” about the hundreds of dolphin deaths he has seen in the region since BP’s disaster began, which he feels are likely directly related to the BP oil disaster.
“Adult dolphins’ systems are picking up whatever is in the system out there, and we know the oil is out there and working its way up the food chain through the food web – and dolphins are at the top of that food chain.”
Cake explained: “The chemicals then move into their lipids, fat, and then when they are pregnant, their young rely on this fat, and so it’s no wonder dolphins are having developmental issues and still births.”
Cake, who lives in Mississippi, added: “It has been more than 33 years since the 1979 Ixtoc-1 oil disaster in Mexico’s Bay of Campeche, and the oysters, clams, and mangrove forests have still not recovered in their oiled habitats in seaside estuaries of the Yucatan Peninsula. It has been 23 years since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska, and the herring fishery that failed in the wake of that disaster has still not returned.”
Cake believes we are still in the short-term impact stage of BP’s oil disaster.
“I will not be alive to see the Gulf of Mexico recover,” said Cake, who is 72 years old. “Without funding and serious commitment, these things will not come back to pre-April 2010 levels for decades.”
“We’re continuing to pull up oil in our nets,” Rooks said. “Think about losing everything that makes you happy, because that is exactly what happens when someone spills oil and sprays dispersants on it. People who live here know better than to swim in or eat what comes out of our waters.”
Khuns and her husband told Al Jazeera that fishermen continue to regularly find tar balls in their crab traps, and hundreds of pounds of tar balls continue to be found on beaches across the region on a daily basis.
Meanwhile Cowan continues his work, and remains concerned about what he is finding.
“We’ve also seen a decrease in biodiversity in fisheries in certain areas. We believe we are now seeing another outbreak of incidence increasing, and this makes sense, since waters are starting to warm again, so bacterial infections are really starting to take off again. We think this is a problem that will persist for as long as the oil is stored on the seafloor.”
Did the BP Spill Ever Really Stop?
We’ve repeatedly documented that BP’s gulf Mocando well is still leaking.
Stuart Smith – a successful trial lawyer who won a billion dollar verdict against Exxon Mobil –noted recently:
New sampling data from the nonprofit Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) provide confirmation that not only is BP’s oil still very much present in the water in Bayou La Batre, but that it still exists in a highly toxic state nearly two years after the spill.
Here are photos of brown oily foam washing ashore in Bayou La Batre (just west of Mobile Bay) on February 27, 2012:
Water samples were taken by Dennis and Lori Bosarge, LEAN members from Coden, Alabama. The lab-certified test results are in (see full lab report at bottom), and they are startling in that they suggest that oil is still leaking from the Macondo reservoir – most likely from cracks and fissures in the seafloor around the plugged wellhead. Scientists believe the cracks were caused by BP’s heavy-handed “kill” efforts.
Despite numerous opportunities to do so, the U.S. Coast Guard has never publicly denied that the Macondo field is still leaking. And these latest sampling results out of Bayou La Batre provide damning new evidence that the BP oil spill never really ended.
Government Sits On Its Hands …
The New York Times notes today:
Congress’s response to the spill has been truly pathetic. It has not passed a single bill to prevent another catastrophe, according to a report issued Tuesday by former members of a presidential commission that investigated the spill. Congress has failed even to codify the Interior Department’s sound regulatory reforms, which could be undone by a future administration.
The administration has developed new standards for each stage of the drilling process — from rig design to spill response — insisting that operators fully prepare for worst-case scenarios. But the commissioners’ report notes that the new equipment systems have not yet been tested in deep-water conditions.
Indeed, Mother Jones points out that the White House pressured scientists to underestimate BP spill size. And see this Forbes write up, and our previous reporting on the topic.
This is exactly like Fukushima and the financial mess, because government’s approach to crises is consistent, no matter what area we are talking about: let the giant companies which fund political campaigns do whatever they want … and then help them cover up the extent of the crisis once it inevitably hits.
Source: Washington’s Blog
As the world begins to digest the implications of intellectual property for online censorship, another IP issue threatens an even more fundamental part of our daily lives: our food supply. Backed by legal precedent and armed with seemingly inexhaustible lobbying funds, a handful of multinationals are attempting to use patents on life itself to monopolize the biosphere.
Find out more about the process of patenting life and what it means for the food supply on this week’s GRTV Backgrounder.
Transcript and sources:
The oft-neglected legal minefield of intellectual property rights has seen a surge in public interest in recent months due to the storm of protest over proposed legislation and treaties related to online censorship. One of the effects of such legislation as SOPA and PIPA and such international treaties as ACTA is to have drawn attention to the grave implications that intellectual property arguments can have on the everyday lives of the average citizen.
As important as the protection of online freedoms is, however, an even more fundamental part of our lives has come under the purview of the multinational corporations that are seeking to patent the world around us for their own gain. Unknown to a large section of the public, a single US Supreme Court ruling in 1980 made it possible for the first time to patent life itself for the profit of the patent holder.
The decision, known as Diamond v. Chakrabarty, centered on a genetic engineer working for General Electric who created a bacterium that could break down crude oil, which could be used in the clean-up of oil spills. In its decision, Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger ruled that:
“A live, human-made micro-organism is patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101”
With this ruling, the ability to patent living organisms, so long as they had been genetically altered in some novel way, was established in legal precedent.
The implications of such a monumental ruling are understandably wide-reaching, touching on all sorts of issues that have the potential to change the world around us. But it did not take long at all for this decision’s effects to make itself felt in one of the most basic parts of the biosphere: our food supply.
In the years following the Diamond v. Chakrabarty decision, an entire industry rose up around the idea that these new patent protections could foster the economic incentive for major corporations to develop a new class of genetically engineered foods to help increase crop yields and reduce world hunger.
The first commercially available genetically modified food, Calgene’s “Flavr Savr” tomato, was approved for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration in the US in 1992 and was on the market in 1994. Since then, adoption of GM foods has proceeded swiftly, especially in the US where the vast majority of soybeans, corn and cotton have been genetically altered.
By 1997, the problems inherent in the patenting of these GM crops had already begun to surface in Saskatchewan, Canada. It was in the sleepy town of Bruno that a canola farmer, Percy Schmeiser, found that a variety of GM canola known as “Roundup Ready” had infected his fields, mixing with his non-GM crop. Amazingly, Monsanto, the agrichemical company that owned the Roundup Ready patent, sued Schmeiser for infringing their patent. After a years-long legal battle against the multinational that threatened to bankrupt his small farming operation, Schmeiser finally won an out-of-court settlement with Monsanto that saw the company agree to pay for the clean-up costs associated with the contamination of his field.
In India, tens of thousands of farmers per year commited suicide in an epidemic labeled the GM genocide. Sold a story of “magic seeds” that would produce immense yields, farmers around the country were driven into ruinous debt by a combination of high-priced seeds, high-priced pesticides, and crop failure. Worst of all, the GM seeds had been engineered with so-called “terminator technology,” meaning that seeds from one harvest could not be re-planted the following year. Instead, farmers were forced to buy seeds at the same exorbitant prices from the biotech giants every year, insuring a debt spiral that was impossible to escape. As a result, hundreds of thousands of farmers have committed suicide in the Indian countryside since the introduction of GM crops in 1997.
As philosopher, quantum physicist and activist Vandana Shiva has detailed at great length, the effect of the invocation of intellectual property in enabling the monopolization of the world’s most fundamental resources was not accidental or contingent. On the contrary, this is something that has been self-consciously designed by the heads of the very corporations who now seek to reap the benefit of this monopolization, and the monumental nature of their achievement has been obscured behind bureaucratic institutions like the WTO and innocuous sounding agreements like the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
Although the deck appears to be stacked in favour of the giant multinationals and their practically inexhaustible access to lobbying and legal funds, the people are by no means incapable of fighting back against this patenting of the biosphere.
In India itself, where so much devestation has been wrought by the introduction of genetically engineered crops, the people are fighting back against the world’s most well-known purveyor of GMO foods, Monsanto. The country’s National Biodiversity Diversity Authority has enabled the government to proceed with legal action against the company for so-called biopiracy, or attempting to develop a GM crop derived from local varieties of eggplant, without the appropriate licences.
Although resistance to the patenting of the world’s food supply should be applauded in all its forms, what is needed is a fundamental transformation in our understanding of life itself from a patentable organism to the common property of all of the peoples who have developed the seeds from which these novel GM crops are derived.
This concept, known as open seeds, is being promoted by organizations around the globe, including Dr. Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya organization.
To be sure, it will be a long and arduous uphill battle to bring this issue to the attention of a public that seems to be but dimly aware of what genetically modified foods are, let alone the legal ramifications of the ability to patent life, but as the work of such organizations as Navdanya continues to educate people about the issues involved, the numbers of those opposed to the patenting of the biosphere likewise increases.
From seed-saving and preservation projects to an increased awareness of and interest in organic foods, people around the globe are beginning to take the issue of the food supply as seriously as the companies that are quite literally attempting to ram their products down the consumers’ throats.
As always, the power lies with the consumers, who can win the battle simply by asserting their right to choose where and how they purchase the food, a lesson that was demonstrated once again earlier this month in Germany.
Source: James Corbett and Vandana Shiva | GlobalResearch.ca
The Lord High Almighty Pooh-Bah of Threats…
As we all know only too well, the United States and Israel would hate to see Iran possessing nuclear weapons. Being “the only nuclear power in the Middle East” is a great card for Israel to have in its hand. But — in the real, non-propaganda world — is USrael actually fearful of an attack from a nuclear-armed Iran? In case you’ve forgotten …
In 2007, in a closed discussion, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that in her opinion “Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel.” She “also criticized the exaggerated use that [Israeli] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears.” 1
2009: “A senior Israeli official in Washington” asserted that “Iran would be unlikely to use its missiles in an attack [against Israel] because of the certainty of retaliation.” 2
In 2010 the Sunday Times of London (January 10) reported that Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam, war hero, pillar of the Israeli defense establishment, and former director-general of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, “believes it will probably take Iran seven years to make nuclear weapons.”
Early last month, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a television audience: “Are they [Iran] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No, but we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability.” 3
A week later we could read in the New York Times (January 15) that “three leading Israeli security experts — the Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, a former Mossad chief, Efraim Halevy, and a former military chief of staff, Dan Halutz — all recently declared that a nuclear Iran would not pose an existential threat to Israel.”
Then, a few days afterward, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in an interview with Israeli Army Radio (January 18), had this exchange:
Question: Is it Israel’s judgment that Iran has not yet decided to turn its nuclear potential into weapons of mass destruction?
Barak: People ask whether Iran is determined to break out from the control [inspection] regime right now … in an attempt to obtain nuclear weapons or an operable installation as quickly as possible. Apparently that is not the case.
Lastly, we have the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in a report to Congress: “We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons. … There are “certain things [the Iranians] have not done” that would be necessary to build a warhead. 4
Admissions like the above — and there are others — are never put into headlines by the American mass media; indeed, only very lightly reported at all; and sometimes distorted — On the Public Broadcasting System (PBS News Hour, January 9), the non-commercial network much beloved by American liberals, the Panetta quote above was reported as: “But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that’s what concerns us.” Flagrantly omitted were the preceding words: “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No …” 5
One of Israel’s leading military historians, Martin van Creveld, was interviewed by Playboy magazine in June 2007:
Playboy: Can the World live with a nuclear Iran?
Van Creveld: The U.S. has lived with a nuclear Soviet Union and a nuclear China, so why not a nuclear Iran? I’ve researched how the U.S. opposed nuclear proliferation in the past, and each time a country was about to proliferate, the U.S. expressed its opposition in terms of why this other country was very dangerous and didn’t deserve to have nuclear weapons. Americans believe they’re the only people who deserve to have nuclear weapons, because they are good and democratic and they like Mother and apple pie and the flag. But Americans are the only ones who have used them. … We are in no danger at all of having an Iranian nuclear weapon dropped on us. We cannot say so too openly, however, because we have a history of using any threat in order to get weapons … thanks to the Iranian threat, we are getting weapons from the U.S. and Germany.”
And throughout these years, regularly, Israeli and American officials have been assuring us that Iran is World Nuclear Threat Number One, that we can’t relax our guard against them, that there should be no limit to the ultra-tough sanctions we impose upon the Iranian people and their government. Repeated murder and attempted murder of Iranian nuclear scientists, sabotage of Iranian nuclear equipment with computer viruses, the sale of faulty parts and raw materials, unexplained plane crashes, explosions at Iranian facilities … Who can be behind this but USrael? How do we know? It’s called “plain common sense”. Or do you think it was Costa Rica? Or perhaps South Africa? Or maybe Thailand?
Defense Secretary Panetta recently commented on one of the assassinations of an Iranian scientist. He put it succinctly: “That’s not what the United States does.” 6
Does anyone know Leon Panetta’s email address? I’d like to send him my list of United States assassination plots. More than 50 foreign leaders were targeted over the years, many successfully. 7
Not long ago, Iraq and Iran were regarded by USrael as the most significant threats to Israeli Middle-East hegemony. Thus was born the myth of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the United States proceeded to turn Iraq into a basket case. That left Iran, and thus was born the myth of the Iranian Nuclear Threat. As it began to sink in that Iran was not really that much of a nuclear threat, or that this “threat” was becoming too difficult to sell to the rest of the world, USrael decided that, at a minimum, it wanted regime change. The next step may be to block Iran’s lifeline — oil sales using the Strait of Hormuz. Ergo, the recent US and EU naval buildup near the Persian Gulf, an act of war trying to goad Iran into firing the first shot. If Iran tries to counter this blockade it could be the signal for another US Basket Case, the fourth in a decade, with the devastated people of Libya and Afghanistan, along with Iraq, currently enjoying America’s unique gift of freedom and democracy.
On January 11, the Washington Post reported: “In addition to influencing Iranian leaders directly, [a US intelligence official] says another option here is that [sanctions] will create hate and discontent at the street level so that the Iranian leaders realize that they need to change their ways.”
How utterly charming, these tactics and goals for the 21st century by the leader of “The Free World”. (Is that expression still used?)
The neo-conservative thinking (and Barack Obama can be regarded as often being a fellow traveler of such) is even more charming than that. Listen to Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at America’s most prominent neo-con think tank, American Enterprise Institute:
The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it, it’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it. Because the second that they have one and they don’t do anything bad, all of the naysayers are going to come back and say, “See, we told you Iran is a responsible power. We told you Iran wasn’t getting nuclear weapons in order to use them immediately.” … And they will eventually define Iran with nuclear weapons as not a problem. 8
What are we to make of that and all the other quotations above? I think it gets back to my opening statement: Being “the only nuclear power in the Middle East” is a great card for Israel to have in its hand. Is USrael willing to go to war to hold on to that card?
Please tell me again … What is the war in Afghanistan about?
With the US war in Iraq supposedly having reached a good conclusion (or halfway decent … or better than nothing … or let’s get the hell out of here while some of us are still in one piece and there are some Iraqis we haven’t yet killed), the best and the brightest in our government and media turn their thoughts to what to do about Afghanistan. It appears that no one seems to remember, if they ever knew, that Afghanistan was not really about 9-11 or fighting terrorists (except the many the US has created by its invasion and occupation), but was about pipelines.
President Obama declared in August 2009: “But we must never forget this is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans.” 9
Never mind that out of the tens of thousands of people the United States and its NATO front have killed in Afghanistan not one has been identified as having had anything to do with the events of September 11, 2001.
Never mind that the “plotting to attack America” in 2001 was devised in Germany and Spain and the United States more than in Afghanistan. Why hasn’t the United States bombed those countries?
Indeed, what actually was needed to plot to buy airline tickets and take flying lessons in the United States? A room with some chairs? What does “an even larger safe haven” mean? A larger room with more chairs? Perhaps a blackboard? Terrorists intent upon attacking the United States can meet almost anywhere, with Afghanistan probably being one of the worst places for them, given the American occupation.
The only “necessity” that drew the United States to Afghanistan was the desire to establish a military presence in this land that is next door to the Caspian Sea region of Central Asia — which reportedly contains the second largest proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world — and build oil and gas pipelines from that region running through Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is well situated for oil and gas pipelines to serve much of south Asia, pipelines that can bypass those not-yet Washington clients, Iran and Russia. If only the Taliban would not attack the lines. Here’s Richard Boucher, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, in 2007: “One of our goals is to stabilize Afghanistan, so it can become a conduit and a hub between South and Central Asia so that energy can flow to the south.” 10
Since the 1980s all kinds of pipelines have been planned for the area, only to be delayed or canceled by one military, financial or political problem or another. For example, the so-called TAPI pipeline (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) had strong support from Washington, which was eager to block a competing pipeline that would bring gas to Pakistan and India from Iran. TAPI goes back to the late 1990s, when the Taliban government held talks with the California-based oil company Unocal Corporation. These talks were conducted with the full knowledge of the Clinton administration, and were undeterred by the extreme repression of Taliban society. Taliban officials even made trips to the United States for discussions. 11 Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on February 12, 1998, Unocal representative John Maresca discussed the importance of the pipeline project and the increasing difficulties in dealing with the Taliban:
The region’s total oil reserves may well reach more than 60 billion barrels of oil. Some estimates are as high as 200 billion barrels … From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of the pipeline we have proposed across Afghanistan could not begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, leaders, and our company.
When those talks stalled in July, 2001 the Bush administration threatened the Taliban with military reprisals if the government did not go along with American demands. The talks finally broke down for good the following month, a month before 9-11.
The United States has been serious indeed about the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf oil and gas areas. Through one war or another beginning with the Gulf War of 1990-1, the US has managed to establish military bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.
The war against the Taliban can’t be “won” short of killing everyone in Afghanistan. The United States may well try again to negotiate some form of pipeline security with the Taliban, then get out, and declare “victory”. Barack Obama can surely deliver an eloquent victory speech from his teleprompter. It might even include the words “freedom” and “democracy”, but certainly not “pipeline”.
Love me, love me, love me, I’m a Liberal (Thank you, Phil Ochs. We miss you.)
Angela Davis, star of the 1960s, like most members of the Communist Party, was/is no more radical than the average American liberal. Here she is recently addressing Occupy Wall Street: “When I said that we need a third party, a radical party, I was projecting toward the future. We cannot allow a Republican to take office. … Don’t we remember what it was like when Bush was president?” 12
Yes, Angela, we remember that time well. How can we forget it since Bush, by all important standards, is still in the White House? Waging perpetual war, relentless surveillance of the citizenry, kissing the corporate ass, police brutality? … What’s changed? Except for the worse. Where’s our single-payer national health insurance? Nothing even close. Where’s our affordable university education? Still the most backward in the “developed” world. Where’s our legalized marijuana — I mean really legalized? If you think that’s changed, you must be stoned. Where’s our abortion on demand? What does your guy Barack think about that? Are the indispensable labor unions being rescued from oblivion? Ha! The ultra-important minimum wage? Inflation adjusted, equal to the mid-1950s.
Has the American threat to the environment and the world environmental movement ceased? Tell that to a dedicated activist-internationalist. Has the 50-year-old embargo against Cuba finally ended? It has not, and I can still not go there legally. The police-state War on Terror at home? Scarcely a month goes by without the FBI entrapping some young “terrorists”. Are more Banksters and Wall Street Society-Screwers (except for the harmless insider-traders) being imprisoned? Name one. The really tough regulations of the financial area so badly needed? Keep waiting. How about executives of the BP Oil Spill Company being arrested? Or war criminals, mass murderers, and torturers with names like … Oh, I don’t know, let’s see … maybe like Cheney or Bush or Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz or someone with a crazy name like Condoleezza? All walking completely free, all celebrated.
“A major decline of progressive America occurred during the Clinton years as many liberals and their organizations accepted the presence of a Democratic president as an adequate substitute for the things liberals once believed in. Liberalism and a social democratic spirit painfully grown over the previous 60 years withered during the Clinton administration.” — Sam Smith13
“A change of Presidents is like a change of advertising campaigns for a soft drink; the product itself still tastes the same, but it now has a new ‘image’.” — Richard K. Moore
- Haaretz.com (Israel), October 25, 2007; print edition October 26
- Washington Post, March 5, 2009
- “Face the Nation”, CBS, January 8, 2012; see video
- The Guardian (London), January 31, 2012″
- “PBS’s Dishonest Iran Edit”, FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), January 10, 2012
- Reuters, January 12, 2012
- Video of Pletka making these remarks
- Talk given by the president at Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, August 17, 2009
- Talk at the Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies, Washington, DC, September 20, 2007
- See, for example, the December 17, 1997 article in the British newspaper, The Telegraph, “Oil barons court Taliban in Texas“. For further discussion of the TAPI pipeline and related issues, see this article by international petroleum engineer John Foster.
- Washington Post, January 15, 2012
- Sam Smith was a longtime publisher and journalist in Washington, DC, now living in Maine. Subscribe to his marvelous newsletter, the Progressive Review.
Since BP’s catastrophic Macondo Blowout in the Gulf of Mexico last year, the Obama Administration has granted nearly 300 new drilling permits  and shirked plans to plug 3,600 of more than 28,000 abandoned wells, which pose significant threats to the severely damaged sea.
Among those granted new permits for drilling in the Gulf, on Friday Obama granted BP permission to explore for oil in the Gulf, allowing it to bid on new leases that will be sold at auction in December.
Reports Dow Jones:
“The upcoming lease sale, scheduled for Dec. 14 in New Orleans, involves leases in the western Gulf of Mexico. The leases cover about 21 million acres, in water depths of up to 11,000 feet. It will be the first lease auction since the Deepwater Horizon spill.” 
Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey objected to BP’s participation in the upcoming lease sale, pointing out that:
“Comprehensive safety legislation hasn’t passed Congress, and BP hasn’t paid the fines they owe for their spill, yet BP is being given back the keys to drill in the Gulf.”
Environmental watchdog, Oceana, added its objection to the new permits, saying that none of the new rules implemented since April 2010 would have prevented the BP disaster.
“Our analysis shows that while the new rules may increase safety to some degree, they likely would not have prevented the last major oil spill, and similarly do not adequately protect against future ones.” 
Detailing the failure of the Dept. of Interior’s safety management systems, Oceana summarizes:
- Regulation exemptions (“departures”) are often granted, including one that arguably led to the BP blowout;
- Economic incentives make violating rules lucrative because penalties are ridiculously small;
- Blowout preventers continue to have critical deficiencies; and
- Oversight and inspection levels are paltry relative to the scale of drilling operation.
Nor have any drilling permits been denied  since the BP catastrophe on April 20, 2010, which still spews oil today .
28,079 Abandoned Wells in Gulf of Mexico
In an explosive report at Sky Truth, John Amos reveals from government data that “there are currently 24,486 known permanently abandoned wells in the Gulf of Mexico,and 3,593 ‘temporarily’ abandoned wells, as of October 2011.” 
TA wells are those temporarily sealed so that future drilling can be re-started. Both TA wells and “permanently abandoned” (PA) wells endure no inspections.
Over a year ago, the Dept. of Interior promised to plug the “temporarily abandoned” (TA) wells, and dismantle another 650 production platforms no longer in use.  At an estimated decommissioning cost of $1-3 billion , none of this work has been started, though Feds have approved 912 permanent abandonment plans and 214 temporary abandonment plans submitted since its September 2010 rule. 
Over 600 of those abandoned wells belong to BP, reported the Associated Press last year, adding that some of the permanently abandoned wells date back to the 1940s . Amos advises that some of the “temporarily abandoned” wells date back to the 1950s.
“Experts say abandoned wells can repressurize, much like a dormant volcano can awaken. And years of exposure to sea water and underground pressure can cause cementing and piping to corrode and weaken,” reports AP.
Leaking abandoned wells pose a significant environmental and economic threat. A three-month EcoHearth investigation revealed that a minimum of 2.5 million abandoned wells in the US and 20-30 million worldwide receive no follow up inspections to ensure they are not leaking. Worse:
“There is no known technology for securely sealing these tens of millions of abandoned wells. Many—likely hundreds of thousands—are already hemorrhaging oil, brine and greenhouse gases into the environment. Habitats are being fundamentally altered. Aquifers are being destroyed. Some of these abandoned wells are explosive, capable of building-leveling, toxin-spreading detonations. And thanks to primitive capping technologies, virtually all are leaking now—or will be.” 
Sealed with cement, adds EcoHearth, “Each abandoned well is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. The triggers include accidents, earthquakes, natural erosion, re-pressurization (either spontaneous or precipitated by fracking) and, simply, time.”
As far back as 1994, the Government Accountability Office warned that there was no effective strategy in place to inspect abandoned wells, nor were bonds sufficient to cover the cost of abandonment. Lease abandonment costs estimated at “$4.4 billion in current dollars … were covered by only $68 million in bonds.” 
The GAO concluded that “leaks can occur… causing serious damage to the environment and marine life,” adding that “MMS has not encouraged the development of nonexplosive structure removal technologies that would eliminate or minimize environmental damage.”
Not only cement, but seals, valves and gaskets can deteriorate over time. A 2000 report by C-FER Technologies to the Dept. of Interior identified several different points where well leaks can occur, as this image (p. 26) reveals. To date, no regulations prescribe a maximum time wells may remain inactive before being permanently abandoned. 
“The most common failure mechanisms (corrosion, deterioration, and malfunction) cause mainly small leaks [up to 49 barrels, or 2,058 gallons]. Corrosion is historically known to cause 85% to 90% of small leaks.”
Depending on various factors, C-FER concludes that “Shut-In” wells reach an environmental risk threshhold in six months, TA wells in about 10-12 years, and PA wells in 25 years. Some of these abandoned wells are 63 years old.
The AP noted that none of the 1994 GAO recommendations have been implemented. Abandoned wells remain uninspected and pose a threat which the government continues to ignore.
The Minerals Management Service (MMS) was renamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) last May after MMS drew heavy fire for malfeasance, including allowing exemptions to safety rules it granted to BP. An Office of Inspector General investigation revealed that MMS employees accepted gifts from the oil and gas industry, including sex, drugs and trips, and falsified inspection reports. 
Not only was nothing was done with the 1994 GAO recommendations to protect the environment from abandoned wells, its 2003 reorganization recommendations  were likewise ignored. In a June 2011 report on agency reorganization in the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, the GAO reports that “as of December 2010,” the DOI “had not implemented many recommendations we made to address numerous weaknesses and challenges.” 
Reorganization proceeded. Effective October 1, 2011, the Dept. of the Interior split BOEMRE into three new federal agencies: the Office of Natural Resources Revenue to collect mineral leasing fees, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) “to carry out the offshore energy management and safety and environmental oversight missions.” The DOI admits:
“The Deepwater Horizon blowout and resulting oil spill shed light on weaknesses in the federal offshore energy regulatory system, including the overly broad mandate and inherently conflicted missions of MMS which was charged with resource management, safety and environmental protection, and revenue collection.” 
BOEM essentially manages the development of offshore drilling, while BSEE oversees environmental protection, with some eco-protection overlap between the two agencies. 
Early this month, BSEE Director Michael R. Bromwich spoke at the Global Offshore Safety Summit Conference in Stavanger, Norway, sponsored by the International Regulators Forum. He announced a new position, Chief Environmental Officer of the BOEM:
“This person will be empowered, at the national level, to make decisions and final recommendations when leasing and environmental program heads cannot reach agreement. This individual will also be a major participant in setting the scientific agenda for the United States’ oceans.” 
Bromwich failed to mention anything about the abandoned wells under his purview. Out of sight, out of mind.
Cost of the Macondo Blowout
On Monday, the GAO published its final report of a three-part series on the Gulf oil disaster.  Focused on federal financial exposure to oil spill claims, the accountants nevertheless point out that, as of May 2011, BP paid $700 million toward those spill claims out of its $20 billion Trust established to cover that deadly accident. BP and Oxford Economics estimate the total cost for eco-cleanup and compensatory economic damages will run to the “tens of billions of dollars.” 
On the taxpayer side, the GAO estimates the federal government’s costs will exceed the billion dollar incident cap set by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (as amended). As of May 2011, agency costs reached past $626 million.
The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund’s income is generated from an oil barrel tax that is set to expire in 2017, notes GAO.
With Monday’s District Court decision in Louisiana, BP also faces punitive damages on “thousands of thousands of thousands of claims.” U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier denied BP’s appeal that might have killed several hundred thousand claims, among them that clean up workers have still not been fully paid by BP. 
Meanwhile, destroying the planet for profit continues unabated. It’s time to Occupy the Gulf of Mexico: No more oil drilling in our food source.
 U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, “Status of Gulf of Mexico Well Permits,” n.d. http://www.bsee.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Permits/Status-of-Gulf-of-Mexico-Well-Permits.aspx
 Tennille Tracy, “US Govt Approves First BP Deepwater Exploration Plan in US Gulf Under New Rules,” Dow Jones News Wire, 24 Oct. 2011. Reproduced athttp://www.firstenercastfinancial.com/news/story/45441-us-govt-approves-first-bp-deepwater-exploration-plan-us-gulf-under-new-rules
 Michael Craig and Jacqueline Savitz, “False Sense of Safety: Safety Measures Will Not Make Offshore Drilling Safe,” Oceana, 20 Oct. 2011http://na.oceana.org/sites/default/files/reports/OffshoreSafetyReport_Oceana_10-18-11.pdf
Also see Oceana’s online appendix showing an analysis of each new safety measure’s effect on safety.http://na.oceana.org/sites/default/files/OnlineAppendix_SafetyReport_Oceana_10-19-11.pdf
 U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, “Application for Permit to Drill (APD) Approval Process and Definitions,” n.d.http://www.bsee.gov/uploadedFiles/APD_Facts_and_Definitions_BSEE.pdf
 See, e.g.:
David Edwards, “New evidence of a massive oil slick near Deepwater Horizon site,” Raw Story, 1 Sept. 2011. http://www.rawstory.com/rawreplay/2011/09/new-evidence-of-a-massive-oil-slick-near-deepwater-horizon-site/
Frank Whalen, “Oil Still Gushing from Bp Well in Gulf,” American Free Press, 2 Sept. 2011. http://americanfreepress.net/?p=341
Dahr Jamail, “Environmental Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico: The Escalation of BP’s Liability,” Global Research, 5 Oct. 2011.http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=26947
Luis R. Miranda, “Gulf of Mexico Sea Floor Unstable, Fractured, Spilling Hydrocarbons,” The Real Agenda, 10 Oct. 2011. http://real-agenda.com/2011/10/10/gulf-of-mexico-sea-floor-unstable-fractured-spilling-hydrocarbons/
 John Amos, “Over 28,000 Abandoned Wells in the Gulf of Mexico,” 18 Oct. 2011.http://blog.skytruth.org/2011/10/abandoned-wells-in-gulf-of-mexico.html
 U.S. Dept. of the Interior, “Interior Department Issues ‘Idle Iron’ Guidance,” 15 Sept. 2010. http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Interior-Department-Issues-Idle-Iron-Guidance.cfm
 Siobhan Hughes, “Plugs Ordered on Idle Wells: Move to Permanently Seal Sites in Gulf Could Cost Billions but Create New Work,” Wall Street Journal, 16 Sept. 2010.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703743504575493782591743858.html
 U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, “Idle Iron Update,” n.d. (pp. 9-16) https://www.noia.org/website/download.asp?id=47290
 Jeff Donn and Mitch Weiss, “Gulf of Mexico hides 27,000 abandoned wells,” Associated Press, 7 July 2010.http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20100707-Gulf-of-Mexico-hides-27-000-1068.ece
 Steven Kotler, “Planet Sludge: Millions of Abandoned, Leaking Oil Wells and Natural-Gas Wells Destined to Foul Our Future,” EcoHearth, 17 Aug. 2011.http://ecohearth.com/eco-zine/green-issues/1609-abandoned-leaking-oil-wells-natural-gas-well-leaks-disaster.html
 U.S. Government Accounting Office, “Offshore Oil and Gas Resources: Interior Can Improve its Management of Lease Abandonment,” (GAO/RCED-94-82) May 1994.http://archive.gao.gov/t2pbat3/151878.pdf
 J.R. Nichols and S.N. Kariyawasam, “Risk Assessment of Temporarily Abandoned or Shut-in Wells,” C-FER Technologies, Oct. 2000.http://www.boemre.gov/tarprojects/329/329AA.pdf
 U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Office of Inspector General, “Investigative Report – Island Operating Company, et al.,” 31 March 2010.http://www.govexec.com/pdfs/052510ts1.pdf
 U.S. Government Accounting Office, “Results-Oriented Cultures: Implementation Steps to Assist Mergers and Organizational Transformations,” (GAO-03-669) 2 July 2003. http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-669
 U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Oil and Gas: Interior’s Restructuring Challenges in the Aftermath of the Gulf Oil Spill,” (GAO-11-734T) 2 June 2011.http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11734t.pdf
 U.S. Dept. of the Interior, “Interior Department Completes Reorganization of the Former MMS,” 30 Sept. 2011. http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Interior-Department-Completes-Reorganization-of-the-Former-MMS.cfm#
 U.S. Dept. of the Interior, untitled document distinguishing the areas of responsibility between the BOEM and the BSEE. n.d.http://www.bsee.gov/uploadedFiles/A%20to%20Z%20Guide%20web%20version%281%29.pdf
 U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, “BSEE Director Delivers Remarks at the International Regulators Forum 2011 Global Offshore Safety Summit Conference,” 4 Oct. 2011. http://www.boemre.gov/ooc/press/2011/press1004.htm
 U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Actions Needed to Reduce Evolving but Uncertain Federal Financial Risks,” (GAO-12-86), 24 Oct. 2011. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d1286.pdf
 U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Preliminary Assessment of Federal Financial Risks and Cost Reimbursement and Notification Policies and Procedures,” 9 Nov. 2010. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d1190r.pdf
 Sabrina Canfield, “Judge Denies BP Appeal That Might Have Killed Thousands of Claims,” Courthouse News Service, 24 Oct. 2011.http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/10/24/40864.htm
When there are zero jobs available, any job will do. This fact has been exploited by corporations now re-labeling themselves “job creators,” since being a job creator in a time of depression brings a religious status similar to a rain god during a drought. Democrats and Republicans have lavished eternal praise on the “job creators” and in consequence have created a political atmosphere that is rabidly pro-corporate “job creators” and anti-everything else.
In practice this means that ANY new law or regulation that hinders the power or profits of “job creating” corporations is instantly attacked as a “job killer.” This type of logic is good for bumper stickers and Tea Parties but bad for those who suffer under the giant power of corporations, including working people, the unemployed, the self-employed, and the environment.
For example, in Oregon a statewide measure was passed to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy to deal with the state’s budget deficit. The tax money was to be used to save social services and prevent layoffs. Before it became law the measure was attacked viciously by a newborn, well-funded group calling itself “Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes.” The message was simple: if you tax the wealthy and corporations, they will punish you by leaving the state and taking their jobs with them; better to simply accept their absolute power and sing their praises while reducing their taxes and destroying environmental regulations that impede their profits.
Obama recently surrendered to this philosophy when he reneged on a promise to adopt stricter air quality standards around ozone pollution (against the recommendations of scientists from his own Environmental Protection Agency). Less ground-level smog would prevent thousands of deaths while reducing lung and health issues in general, cutting health care costs by billions. But the interests of the corporate “job creators” won out in the end. The Huffington Post reports:
“The White House has been under heavy pressure from GOP lawmakers and major industries, which have slammed the stricter standard as an unnecessary jobs killer…Obama said his decision was made in part to reduce regulatory burdens [on corporations] and uncertainty [for corporations] at a time of rampant questions about the strength of the U.S. economy.”
How did corporate America react?
“Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce [a giant corporate lobby group] said the move was “an enormous victory for America’s job creators, the right decision by the president and one that will help reduce the uncertainty facing businesses.” (September 2nd, 2011).
This dynamic is now the new normal. The same logic was used after the Gulf Coast BP disaster, when Obama temporarily banned offshore drilling in response. But this practical and necessary measure was instantly attacked as a “job killer” and Obama quickly changed his tune and ended the ban. Dangerous deep-sea drilling continues and politicians and the media alike have hushed-over the issues until the next disaster occurs. The incredible shock and outrage that working people voiced over the BP oil spill has been ignored in favor of the interests of the “Job Creators.”
Not only was the BP disaster ignored, but some corporations used it to their benefit. Since deep sea drilling was dangerous, some corporations admitted, better to focus on the ever-expanding realm of land drilling for natural gas. As the excellent documentary Gasland shows, drilling for natural gas (also called Liquefied natural gas, or LNG) is causing catastrophic environmental damage while the Obama administration has repeatedly encouraged its expansion as an alternative to “foreign oil.” The Environmental Protection Agency has virtually ignored this now-gigantic industry as corporations like Halliburton pump hundreds of poisonous chemicals into the ground and air for their personal profit.
Corporations also won out when it came to environmentally-sane logging strategies in the Pacific Northwest and the horrifically-destructive act of Mountain Removal for the mining industries. Yet another recent victim was the Canadian Tar Sands pipeline that Obama agreed to, which will run from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, carrying oil that was especially destructive to mine. In all these cases the corporate “Job Creators” attacked the so-called “Job Killers” for wanting to impose regulations that would help prevent environmental disasters.
In addition, corporations quietly sidelined Obama’s campaign promise to set the first-ever limits on the specific pollution blamed for global warming. At a time when most working people are educated and deathly afraid of the near-term effects of global warming, the President has simply stopped talking about the issue. Any respectable climate scientist will tell you that unless massive environmental changes are made very soon there will be unstoppable climate change that will have dire consequences for all humans, not just the ones most immediately effected in areas devastated by droughts, flooding, and other extreme weather patterns.
All working people have an interest in ensuring that their children and grandchildren can live a life without such carnage. Some, however, are tricked into thinking that the immediate need for jobs overrules any consideration for the environment, since not eating today is more important than a global environmental crisis that will strike tomorrow. In reality there is no such contradiction. Now is actually the perfect time to brush this corporate-created myth aside and demand what is sorely over-due for both working people and the environment.
It should be painfully clear to even the most reality-blind politicians that the private sector has no interest in creating jobs; they are quite content sitting on their mountains of cash until wages fall low enough — due to massive unemployment — for them to hire more labor. Working people cannot afford the patience or the low wages. The jobs’ crisis demands that governments on the city, state, and federal level create jobs’ programs similar to the programs enacted during the last great depression. But not just any jobs will do.
Given that our society is facing an energy crisis and a related environmental crisis, only a green job program will do. This means not only fixing dilapidated bridges and roads, but investing massive amounts of money in alternative energy — solar, wind, hydro, etc. — while improving and expanding alternative forms of transportation — high speed trains, buses, electric cars, etc. It also means massive investments in home and building weatherization, recycling infrastructure, public education campaigns, research and development for alternative energy, and a variety of other measures that will help fundamentally change our culture’s relation to the environment, all of which will create massive amounts of jobs.
Obama’s stubborn refusal to do anything of substance for labor, the unemployed, and environmentalists creates an opportunity for these groups to work closely together for a better world. Because politicians are refusing to respond to society’s most pressing needs, new tactics need to be employed. Lobbying politicians and organizing small rallies cannot have the same effects they once did.
Only a sustained campaign with massive mobilizations has the possibility of achieving the united goals of the labor and environmental movements. The demand for a federal jobs program that builds an alternative energy infrastructure and other green public works has the ability to inspire millions of people to act. To fund such a program demands must be made to drastically increase taxes on the wealthy and corporations, since they now have all the money, thanks to the expanding tax breaks for the rich and corporations over the past thirty years. The era of issue-based activism has come to a disappointing end. To properly address either the jobs or environmental crisis all working people must unite in huge numbers with inspiring demands.
Online newspaper The Daily on Wednesday refused to comply with a federal judge’s order to remove from its website video clips of former BP CEO Tony Hayward’s deposition in the ongoing litigation related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year. That decision may prove to be vindicated, as the judge today indicated an intent to withdraw the order.
“We have not removed the clips . . . and have no intention of doing so until we’ve had the opportunity to present our case to the court,” The Daily said in a statement, as reported on the organization’s website. The Daily reported that it has published Hayward’s deposition on its website and its iPad app.
“The Deepwater Horizon disaster is one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history and there is tremendous public interest in the complete disclosure of all of the surrounding facts,” the statement continued.
Source: YouTube — The Daily
Right now, we are witnessing a truly historic collapse of the economy, and yet most Americans do not understand what is going on. One of the biggest reasons why the American people do not understand what is happening to the economy is because our politicians and the mainstream media are not telling the truth. Barack Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke keep repeating the phrase “economic recovery” over and over, and this is really confusing for most Americans because things sure don’t seem to be getting much better where they live.
There are millions upon millions of Americans that are sitting at home on their couches right now wondering why they lost their jobs and why nobody will hire them. Millions of others are wondering why the only jobs they can get are jobs that a high school student could do. Families all across America are wondering why it seems like their wages never go up but the price of food and the price of gas continue to skyrocket. We are facing some very serious long-term economic problems in this country, and we need to educate the American people about why the collapse of the economy is happening. If the American people don’t understand why they are losing their jobs, why they are losing their homes and why they are drowning in debt then they are going to keep on doing all of the same things that they have been doing. They will also keep sending the same idiot politicians back to Washington to represent us. There are some fundamental things about the economy that every American should know. The American people need to be shocked out of their entertainment-induced stupor long enough to understand what is really going on and what needs to be done to solve our nightmarish economic problems. If we do not wake up enough Americans in time, the economic collapse that is coming could tear this nation to shreds.
The U.S. economy was once the greatest economic machine in modern world history. It was truly a wonder to behold. It worked so well that entire generations of Americans came to believe that America would enjoy boundless prosperity indefinitely.
But sadly, prosperity is not guaranteed for any nation. Over the past several decades, some very alarming long-term economic trends have developed that are absolutely destroying the economy. If dramatic changes are not made soon, a complete and total economic collapse will be unavoidable.
Unfortunately, the American people will never agree to fundamental changes to our economic and financial systems unless they are fully educated about what is causing our problems. We have turned our backs on the principles of our forefathers and the principles of those that founded this nation. We have rejected the ancient wisdom that was handed down to us.
It has been said that those that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind.
We are about to experience the consequences of decades of really bad decisions.
Hopefully we can get the American people to wake up.
The following are 50 things that every American should know about the collapse of the economy….
#1 Do you remember how much was made of the “Misery Index” during the presidency of Jimmy Carter? At that time, the “Misery Index” was constantly making headlines in newspapers all across the country. Well, according to John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics, if we calculated unemployment and inflation the same way that we did back during the Carter administration, then the Misery Index today would actually be higher than at any point during the presidency of Jimmy Carter.
#2 According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of about 5 million Americans were being hired every single month during 2006. Today, an average of about 3.5 million Americans are being hired every single month.
#3 According to the Wall Street Journal, there are 5.5 million Americans that are currently unemployed and yet are not receiving unemployment benefits.
#4 All over America, state and local governments are selling off buildings just to pay the bills. Investors can now buy up government-owned power plants, prisons and municipal buildings from coast to coast. For example, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey recently sold off 16 government buildings (including the police and fire headquarters) just to pay some bills.
#5 When Americans think of “government debt”, most of them only think of the federal government, but it is not just the federal government that has a massive debt problem. State and local government debt has reached an all-time high of22 percent of U.S. GDP.
#6 If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.
#7 Credit card usage in the United States is on the increase once again. During the month of March, revolving consumer credit jumped 2.9%. Sadly, it looks like Americans have not learned their lessons about the dangers of credit card debt.
#8 Last year, Social Security ran a deficit for the first time since 1983, and the “Social Security deficits” in future years are projected to be absolutely horrific.
#9 The U.S. government now says that the Medicare trust fund will run out five years faster than they were projecting just last year.
#10 Right now we are watching what could potentially be the worst Mississippi River flood ever recorded play out right in front of our eyes. One agricultural economist at Mississippi State University believes that this disaster could do 2 billion dollars of damage just to farms alone.
#11 The “tornadoes of 2011” that we just saw in the southeast United States are being called the worst natural disaster that the U.S. has seen since Hurricane Katrina. It has been estimated that up to 25 percent of all of the poultry houses in Alabama were either significantly damaged or destroyed. It is also believed that millions of birds were killed.
#12 The economic effects of the BP oil spill just seem to go on and on and on. The number of very sick fish in the Gulf of Mexico is really starting to alarm scientists. The following is how one local newspaper recently described the situation….
Scientists are alarmed by the discovery of unusual numbers of fish in the Gulf of Mexico and inland waterways with skin lesions, fin rot, spots, liver blood clots and other health problems.
#13 The number of “low income jobs” in the U.S. has risen steadily over the past 30 years and they now account for 41 percent of all jobs in the United States.
#14 All over America, hospitals that care for the poor and needy are so overwhelmed and are so broke that they are being forced to shut down. Recently, a local newspaper in Florida ran an article about two prominent charity hospitals in Illinois that have served the poor for more than 100 years but are now asking for permission to shut down….
Two charity hospitals in Illinois are facing a life-or-death decision. There’s not much left of either of them – one in Chicago’s south suburbs, the other in impoverished East St. Louis – aside from emergency rooms crowded with patients seeking free care. Now they would like the state’s permission to shut down.
#15 The U.S. dollar is in such bad shape that now even Steve Forbes is predicting that the U.S. is “likely” to go back to a gold standard within the next five years.
#16 Most Americans don’t realize how much the U.S. dollar has been devalued over the years. An item that cost $20.00 in 1970 would cost you $115.93today. An item that cost $20.00 in 1913 would cost you $454.36 today.
#17 Over the past 12 months the average price of gasoline in the United States has gone up by about 30%.
#18 U.S. oil companies will bring in about $200 billion in pre-tax profits this year. They will also receive about $4.4 billion in specialized tax breaks from the U.S. government.
#19 It is being projected that for the first time ever, the OPEC nations are going to bring in over a trillion dollars from exporting oil this year. Their biggest customer is the United States.
#20 According to the Pentagon, there are minerals worth over a trillion dollars under the ground in Afghanistan. Now, J.P. Morgan is starting to tap those riches with the help of the U.S. military.
#21 Speaking of J.P. Morgan, most Americans don’t realize that they are actually the largest processor of food stamp benefits in the United States. In fact, the more Americans that go on food stamps the more money that J.P. Morgan makes.
#23 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.
#24 Only 66.8% of American men had a job last year. That was the lowest level that has ever been recorded in all of U.S. history.
#25 The financial system is more vulnerable today than it was back in 2008 before the financial panic. Today, the world financial system has been turned into a giant financial casino where bets are made on just about anything you can possibly imagine, and the major Wall Street banks make a ton of money from this betting system. The system is largely unregulated (the new “Wall Street reform” law has only changed this slightly) and it is totally dominated by the big international banks. The danger from derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet once called them “financial weapons of mass destruction”. It is estimated that the “derivatives bubble” is somewhere in the neighborhood of a quadrillion dollars, and once it pops there isn’t going to be enough money in the entire world to bail everyone out.
#26 Between December 2000 and December 2010, the United States ran a total trade deficit of 6.1 trillion dollars with the rest of the world, and the U.S. has had a negative trade balance every single year since 1976.
#27 The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, and the U.S. trade deficit with China is now 27 times larger than it was back in 1990.
#28 In 2010, the number one U.S. export to China was “scrap and trash”.
#29 All over the United States, many of our once great manufacturing cities are being transformed into hellholes. In the city of Detroit today, there are over 33,000 abandoned houses, 70 schools are being permanently closed down, the mayor wants to bulldoze one-fourth of the city and you can literally buy a house for one dollar in the worst areas.
#30 During the first three months of this year, less new homes were sold in the U.S. than in any three month period ever recorded.
#31 New home sales in the United States are now down 80% from the peak in July 2005.
#33 According to a new report from the AFL-CIO, the average CEO made 343 times more money than the average American did last year.
#34 The European debt crisis could cause a global financial collapse like the one that we saw in 2008 at any time. The world economy is incredibly interconnected today, and the United States would not be immune. A recent IMF report stated the following about the growing sovereign debt crisis in Europe….
Strong policy responses have successfully contained the sovereign debt and financial-sector troubles in the euro area periphery so far. But contagion to the core euro area and then onward to emerging Europe remains a tangible risk.
#35 According to one study, the 50 U.S. state governments are collectively 3.2 trillion dollars short of what they need to meet their pension obligations.
#36 A different study has shown that individual Americans are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.
#37 The cost of college tuition in the United States has gone up by over 900 percent since 1978.
#38 According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980. Today they account for approximately 16.3%.
#39 One study found that approximately 41 percent of working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.
#40 The combined debt of the major GSEs (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Sallie Mae) has increased from 3.2 trillion in 2008 to 6.4 trillion in 2011. Thanks to our politicians, U.S. taxpayers are standing behind that debt.
#41 The U.S. government is over 14 trillion dollars in debt and the budget deficit for this year is projected to be about 1.5 trillion dollars. However, if the U.S. government was forced to use GAAP accounting principles (like all publicly-traded corporations must), the U.S. government budget deficit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 trillion to $5 trillion each and every year.
#42 Most Americans don’t understand that the Federal Reserve and the debt-based monetary system that it runs are at the very heart of our economic problems. All of this debt is absolutely crushing us. The U.S. government spentover 413 billion dollars on interest on the national debt during fiscal 2010, and it is being projected that the U.S. government will be shelling out 900 billion dollars just in interest on the national debt by the year 2019.
#43 Standard & Poor’s has altered its outlook on U.S. government debt from “stable” to “negative” and is warning that the U.S. could soon lose its AAA rating.
#44 In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7% of all income. Today, government transfer payments account for 18.4% of all income.
#45 U.S. households are now receiving more income from the U.S. governmentthan they are paying to the government in taxes.
#46 59 percent of all Americans now receive money from the federal government in one form or another.
#47 According to Gallup, 41 percent of Americans believed that the economy was “getting better” at this time last year. Today, that number is at just 27 percent.
#48 The wealthiest 1% of all Americans now own more than a third of all the wealth in the United States.
#49 The poorest 50% of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.
#50 The percentage of millionaires in Congress is more than 50 times higher than the percentage of millionaires in the general population.
Source: The Economic Collapse
From: The Economic Collapse…
The U.S. economy is dying and we are heading for the next Great Depression. The talking heads in the mainstream media love to spin the economic numbers around and around and they love to make it sound like the economy is improving, but the truth is that it doesn’t take a genius to see what is happening to the U.S. economic system. All over the nation many of our greatest cities are being slowly but surely transformed into post-apocalyptic wastelands. All over the mid-Atlantic, all along the Gulf coast, all throughout the “rust belt” and all over the entire state of California cities that once had incredibly vibrant economies are being turned into rotting, post-industrial hellholes. In many U.S. cities, the “real” rate of unemployment is over 30 percent. There are some communities that will start depressing you almost the moment that you drive into them. It is almost as if all of the hope has been sucked right out of those communities. If you live in one of those American hellholes you know what I am talking about. Sadly, it is not just a few cities that are becoming hellholes. This is happening in the east, in the west, in the north and in the south. America is literally being transformed right in front of our eyes.
If you still live in an area of the United States that is prosperous, do not mock the cities that you are about to read about. The cold, hard reality of the matter is that economic decline and economic despair are spreading rapidly and they will come to your area soon enough. Right now we are still talking about “American hellholes”, but if the long-term economic trends that are destroying this nation are not turned around eventually we will just be talking about one gigantic “American hellhole”. In the end, no area of the country will completely escape the economic hell that is coming.
Let’s take a closer look at what is currently happening in some of the worst areas of the country….
In the city of Detroit today, there are over 33,000 abandoned houses, 70 schools are being permanently closed down, the mayor wants to bulldoze one-fourth of the city and you can literally buy a house for one dollar in the worst areas.
During the boom days of the 1950s, Detroit was a teeming metropolis of approximately 2 million people, but today the current population is less than half that. The city of Detroit, once a shining example of middle class America, is now a rotting cesspool of economic decline and it actually saw its population decline by 25 percent during the decade that recently ended. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Detroit lost a resident every 22 minutes between the years of 2000 and 2010.
So why are people leaving Detroit so rapidly?
There simply are no jobs.
At the height of the economic downturn, the mayor of Detroit admitted that while the “official” unemployment rate in Detroit was about 27 percent, the “real” unemployment rate in his city was actually somewhere around 50 percent.
Since there are not enough jobs, that also means that not enough tax money is coming in. Detroit is essentially insolvent at this point.
Detroit officials are trying to implement some austerity measures in a desperate attempt to get city finances under control.
For example, the state of Michigan recently granted approval to a plan that would shut down nearly half of the public schools in Detroit. Under the plan, 70 schools will be closed and 72 will continue operating.
It has been estimated that the remaining public schools will have class sizes of up to 60 students.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing also wants to cut off 20 percent of the entire city from police and trash services in order to save money.
Essentially that would mean abandoning 20 percent of the city of Detroit to the gangs and to the homeless.
The mayor of Detroit has also discussed a plan in which authorities would bulldoze one-fourth of the city in order to save money on services.
So with all of this going on, is Detroit a pleasant place to live at this point?
Today, Detroit is considered to be the third most violent city in the United States.
In fact, crime has gotten so bad and the citizens are so frustrated by the lack of police assistance that they have resorted to forming their own organizations to fight back. One group, known as “Detroit 300″, was formed after a 90-year-old woman on Detroit’s northwest side was brutally raped in August.
If you want to see what the future of America looks like, just take a few hours and go driving through Detroit some time. But please only do this during the day. Do not do this at night. Detroit is not a safe place anymore, and you cannot count on the police to help you in a timely manner.
Detroit was once one of the greatest cities in the world.
But today it is an absolute hellhole.
Camden, New Jersey
So is there any place in America that is worse than Detroit?
Well, many would nominate Camden, New Jersey.
Many years ago, Camden was actually thriving and prosperous. But today the city of Camden is known as “the second most dangerous city in America”.
In a recent article entitled “City of Ruins“, Chris Hedges did an amazing job of documenting the horrific decline of Camden. Hedges estimates that the real rate of unemployment in Camden is somewhere around 30 to 40 percent, and he makes it sound like nobody in their right mind would want to live there now….
Camden is where those discarded as human refuse are dumped, along with the physical refuse of postindustrial America. A sprawling sewage treatment plant on forty acres of riverfront land processes 58 million gallons of wastewater a day for Camden County. The stench of sewage lingers in the streets. There is a huge trash-burning plant that releases noxious clouds, a prison, a massive cement plant and mountains of scrap metal feeding into a giant shredder. The city is scarred with several thousand decaying abandoned row houses; the skeletal remains of windowless brick factories and gutted gas stations; overgrown vacant lots filled with garbage and old tires; neglected, weed-filled cemeteries; and boarded-up store fronts.
Gangs have stepped into the gaping void left by industry. In Camden today, drugs and prostitution are two of the only viable businesses left – especially for those who cannot find employment anywhere else. The following is how Hedges describes the current state of affairs….
There are perhaps a hundred open-air drug markets, most run by gangs like the Bloods, the Latin Kings, Los Nietos and MS-13. Knots of young men in black leather jackets and baggy sweatshirts sell weed and crack to clients, many of whom drive in from the suburbs. The drug trade is one of the city’s few thriving businesses. A weapon, police say, is never more than a few feet away, usually stashed behind a trash can, in the grass or on a porch.
But before we all start judging Camden for being such a horrible place to live, it is important to realize that this is happening in communities from coast to coast. All over the United States industries are leaving and deep social decay is setting in.
Even the criminals in Camden are struggling. Things have gotten so bad in Camden, New Jersey that not even the drug dealers are spending their money anymore.
So where are the police?
Unfortunately, there is very little money for police. Authorities in Camden recently decided to lay off half of the city police force.
So now the gangs and the drug dealers have more room to operate.
Sadly, this is not just happening in Camden. It is happening all over New Jersey.
Of 315 municipalities the New Jersey State Police union recently surveyed,more than half indicated that they were planning to lay off police officers.
So why doesn’t the state government step in and help out?
Well, the state of New Jersey is in such bad shape that they still are facing a $10 billion budget deficit for this year even after cutting a billion dollars from the education budget and laying off thousands of teachers.
New Jersey also has $46 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $65 billion in unfunded health care liabilities. Nobody is quite sure how New Jersey is even going to come close to meeting those obligations.
Meanwhile, cities like Camden are rotting a little bit more every single day.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans had a struggling economy even before Hurricane Katrina struck back in 2005. But that event changed everything. It is now almost 6 years later and virtually the entire region is still a disaster zone.
New Orleans permanently lost 29% of its population after Hurricane Katrina. There are many areas of New Orleans that still look as if they have just been bombed.
21.5 percent of all houses in New Orleans, Louisiana are currently standing vacant. Many of those homes will never be inhabited again.
What made things even worse for New Orleans (and for residents all along the Gulf coast) was the horrific BP oil spill last year. The mainstream news does not talk about the oil spill much anymore, but those living in the area have to deal with the effects every single day.
Some of the industries in the Gulf region were really starting to recover from Hurricane Katrina but the BP oil spill put a stop to that.
Before the oil spill, Louisiana produced more fish and seafood than anywhere in the United States except for Alaska. But now the seafood industry has been absolutely devastated. It has been estimated that the cost of the BP oil spill to the fishing industry in Louisiana alone could top 3 billion dollars.
Some local shrimpers in the region are projecting that it will be about seven years before they can set to sea again.
New Orleans keeps trying to bounce back from all of these disasters, but times are tough down there.
Today, New Orleans is the 13th most violent city in America. That is actually an improvement. Before Katrina New Orleans had even more violent crime.
The truth is that other areas along the Gulf coast are doing a lot worse than New Orleans is doing. A ton of big corporate money has flowed into New Orleans. Officials are trying to clean up the city and make it a huge tourist destination once again.
But in the surrounding areas things are not looking so bright. There are areas along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the panhandle of Florida that are some of the most depressing places in the nation.
It is almost as if there are hundreds of thousands of people that time forgot. In some rural areas along the Gulf coast the poverty is absolutely mind blowing. There are very few jobs and there is very little hope. Meanwhile, large numbers of people in the region continue to get sick from the toxic dispersants used to clean up the oil spill.
Let us hope that we don’t see another major disaster in the Gulf of Mexico any time soon. As it is, it is going to take decades for that region to fully recover. There are a lot of really good people that live down there, and they deserve our prayers.
Vallejo, California (And Virtually The Rest Of The State Of California)
Almost the entire state of California is an economic disaster zone. Austerity measures are being implemented in city after city as tax revenues have nosedived.
The following is an excerpt from a recent New York Times article that describes the brutal austerity that has been implemented in Vallejo, California….
Vallejo is still in bankruptcy. The police force has shrunk from 153 officers to 92. Calls for any but the most serious crimes go unanswered. Residents who complain about prostitutes or vandals are told to fill out a form. Three of the city’s firehouses were closed. Last summer, a fire ravaged a house in one of the city’s better neighborhoods; one of the firetrucks came from another town, 15 miles away. Is this America’s future?
Sadly, that is what the future of America is going to look like. Public services are being slashed all over the nation due to budget crunches.
Unless there is a major jobs recovery, the situation in California is going to continue to degenerate. The truth is that the state of California needs millions and millions of new jobs just to get back to “normal”. For example, near the end of last year it was reported that 24.3 percent of the residents of El Centro, California were unemployed. Not only that, as of the end of last year the number of people unemployed in the state of California was approximately equivalent to the entire populations of Nevada, New Hampshire and Vermontcombined.
Businesses are closing in California at an astounding pace. At one point last year it was reported that in the area around Sacramento, California there wasone closed business for every six that were still open.
As a result of all of this, home prices in many areas of California have completely fallen off a cliff. For example, the average home in Merced, California has declined in value by 63 percent over the past four years.
California also had more foreclosure filings that any other U.S. state in 2010. The 546,669 total foreclosure filings during the year means that over 4 percent of all the housing units in the state of California received a foreclosure filing at some point during 2010.
Sadly, things don’t look like they are going to turn around in California any time soon. Forbes recently compiled a list entitled “Cities Where The Economy May Get Worse“.
Six of the top seven spots were held by cities in California.
California is becoming a very frightening place. When you combine high unemployment with unchecked illegal immigration what you get is rampant poverty.
20 percent of the residents of Los Angeles County are now receiving public aid of one form or another.
In particular, the number of children that are considered to be in need of public assistance is truly scary.
Incredibly, 60 percent of all the students attending California public schools now qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches.
Poverty and illegal immigration have also caused a tremendous health care crisis in the state. The hordes of illegal aliens taking advantage of “free” medical care at hospital emergency rooms have caused dozens of hospitals across the state of California to completely shut down. As a result, the state of California now ranks dead last out of all 50 states in the number of emergency rooms per million people.
The bozos in Sacramento keep passing hundreds of new laws in an attempt to “fix” the state, but the truth is that for the poorest residents of the state all of those new laws don’t make a shred of difference.
The following is how Victor Davis Hansen describes what he saw during his recent tour of the “forgotten areas of central California”….
Many of the rural trailer-house compounds I saw appear to the naked eye no different from what I have seen in the Third World . There is a Caribbean look to the junked cars, electric wires crisscrossing between various outbuildings, plastic tarps substituting for replacement shingles, lean-tos cobbled together as auxiliary housing, pit bulls unleashed, and geese, goats, and chickens roaming around the yards. The public hears about all sorts of tough California regulations that stymie business – rigid zoning laws, strict building codes, constant inspections – but apparently none of that applies out here.
Hansen also says that he observed that people in these areas are doing whatever they can to get by….
At crossroads, peddlers in a counter-California economy sell almost anything. Here is what I noticed at an intersection on the west side last week: shovels, rakes, hoes, gas pumps, lawnmowers, edgers, blowers, jackets, gloves, and caps. The merchandise was all new. I doubt whether in high-tax California sales taxes or income taxes were paid on any of these stop-and-go transactions.
In two supermarkets 50 miles apart, I was the only one in line who did not pay with a social-service plastic card (gone are the days when “food stamps” were embarrassing bulky coupons).
Are you frightened yet?
You know what they say – “as goes California, so goes the nation”.
What is happening in California now is eventually going to come to your area.
Right now California is also having a huge problem with gangs. Gang violence in America is getting totally out of control. According to authorities, there are now over 1 million members of criminal gangs operating inside the country, and those gangs are responsible for up to 80% of the violent crimes committed in the U.S. each year.
But instead of ramping up to fight crime and fight illegal immigration, police forces all over California are being cut back.
For example, because of extreme budget cuts and police layoffs, Oakland, California Police Chief Anthony Batts has announced that there are a number of crimes that his department simply will no longer respond to due to a lack of resources. The following is a partial list of the crimes that police officers in Oakland will no longer be responding to….
- grand theft
- grand theft: dog
- identity theft
- false information to peace officer
- required to register as sex or arson offender
- dump waste or offensive matter
- loud music
- possess forged notes
- pass fictitious check
- obtain money by false voucher
- fraudulent use of access cards
- stolen license plate
- embezzlement by an employee
- attempted extortion
- false personification of other
- injure telephone/power line
- interfere with power line
- unauthorized cable tv connection
Not that Oakland wasn’t already a mess before all this, but now how long do you think it will be before total chaos and anarchy reigns on the streets of Oakland?
Today, Oakland is considered the 5th most violent city in the United States.
Will it soon become the most violent?
But Oakland is not the only major California city that is facing these kinds of issues.
Things have gotten so bad in Stockton, California that the police union put up a billboard with the following message: “Welcome to the 2nd most dangerous city in California. Stop laying off cops.”
Already the police force in Stockton has been stripped down to almost nothing.
A while back, the Stockton Police Department dropped this bombshell….
“We absolutely do not have any narcotics officers, narcotics sergeants working any kind of investigative narcotics type cases at this point in time.”
Do you think drug dealers will be flocking to Stockton after they hear that?
California was once the envy of the world.
Now it is becoming one gigantic hellhole.
During one recent 23 year period, the state of California built 23 prisons but just one university.
So is there any hope for California?
No, unfortunately there is not.
In another article, I wrote about some of the reasons why millions of peoplehave been leaving California for good….
Meanwhile, the standard of living in California is going right into the toilet. Housing values are plummeting. Unemployment has risen above 20 percent in many areas of the state. Crime and gang activity is on the rise even as police budgets are being hacked to the bone. The health care system is an absolute disaster. At this point California has the fewest emergency rooms per million people out of all 50 states. While all of this has been going on, the state legislature in Sacramento has been very busy passing hundreds of new laws that are mostly about promoting one radical agenda or another. The state government has become so radically anti-business that it is a wonder that any businesses have remained in the state. It seems like the moving vans never stop as an endless parade of businesses and families leave California as quickly as they can.
But this is not just a “California thing”. The truth is that what is happening in California, in Detroit, in Camden and in hundreds of other communities is also going to happen where you live.
The U.S. economy is slowly dying. Only 66.8% of American men had a job last year. That was the lowest level that has ever been recorded in U.S. history.
People are getting desperate. There are ten percent fewer middle class jobs than there were a decade ago and the competition for good jobs has become insane. More than 44 million Americans are now on food stamps and that number grows every single month. Millions more American families fall into poverty every single year.
It is time to face the truth about what is happening to America. Our economy is not growing and becoming stronger. Rather, the cold, hard reality of the matter is that our economy is very sick and it is dying. The seemingly boundless prosperity that we have enjoyed for decade after decade is coming to an end. Our communities are being transformed into absolute hellholes.
Those that are telling you that the U.S. economy will soon be better than ever are lying to you. The U.S. economy is going to go down and it is going to go down hard.
You better get ready.
On Earth Day 2011, not too many people get it that “human overpopulation” tops the list of America’s greatest predicaments in the 21st century. Not one single talking head in the major media will touch the subject. That includes Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric, Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, David Muir, Charlie Rose, Glenn Beck, Matt Lauer, Bill Moyers, Sean Hannity, Wolf Blitzer, Anne Thompson, Harry Smith, Meredith Vieira, Anne Curry and David Gregory. National Public Radio sprints away from the issue like it’s being chased by the Tasmanian Devil.
Journalists like Thomas Friedman, Eugene Robinson, George Will, E.J. Dionne, Kathleen Parker and Anne Applebaum refuse to write about America’s overpopulation predicament.
In 2010, America reached 312 million. America grows 8,100 people net gain per day and over 3.1 million added annually—on our way to adding 100 million people by 2035 and 138 million by 2050. Those projections will manifest in America as 438 million within 40 years. Further projections show us doubling US population to 600 million by 2075 give or take a few years. (Sources: PEW report, Fogel/Martin “US Population Projections, US Census Bureau)
Nevertheless, American media pundits report on the symptoms of human overpopulation such as oil spills, climate destabilization, species extinction, the Great Pacific Garbage patch, gridlocked traffic, toxic air pollution, chemical spills, gas prices and the like—but they will not mention overpopulation. It remains the last sacred taboo of modern America.
While America’s leaders and media diddle-daddle and dunk their heads into their morning coffee, our planet Earth staggers at the enormity of the human herd poisoning the oceans, toxifying the biosphere, mass murdering tens of thousands of species, laying waste to the ocean fisheries, injecting 80,000 chemicals into the land and clearing millions of acres of land for human habitation.
A little known Michigan country physician, Dr. John Tanton spearheaded the modern day population issue to the front of America’s consciousness. He and his wife Marylou Tanton spearheaded www.TheSocicalContract.com in order to educate Americans as the peril of mass immigration causing overpopulation in America.
Yet he faces the same challenges as Galileo when the pope crushed any idea that might be based on science. The pope’s power remained absolute, but today, the fact that the Earth revolves around the sun is self-evident. Tanton’s charge that mass immigration causing overpopulation is self-evident. But the pope-like media ignores it at all costs. Instead, religious organizations and talking heads rain down attacks on Tanton just like the pope did to Galileo.
“Dr. John Tanton deserves a Nobel Prize for the stupendous work that he has done to try to arrest the environmental ruin that has befallen America from runaway immigration-driven population growth,” said Canadian environmentalist Tim Murray. “He is the Johnny Appleseed of the sustainability movement, planting organizational seeds everywhere to grow a network of vehicles through which people of similar aspirations can work.
“His life should be an inspiration to everyone, including those of us who face similar challenges outside of the United States. To be named by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as a “Puppeteer of hate” is a badge of honor and a bench mark of environmental service equivalent to a knighthood. If you haven’t made the SPLC list of “nativists” and haters, you haven’t yet fulfilled your potential. So let that be your goal. Keep pushing until you are smeared, then you know you have arrived. You have touched a nerve, and have hit them where it hurts. You have spoken the truth. A revolutionary act in a deceitful age!
“The real puppeteers of hate are found on Wall Street. They have tamed and manipulated the environmental movement by funding it, even to the point of gaining representation on the boards of directors of environmental NGOs. Big Green is now Big Business, customizing their agenda to secure their donor base rather than challenging the corporate bottom line, which requires a continual and massive infusion of cheap labor to the detriment of the vanishing middle class and the natural environment.
“The SPLC and their clones have served the vital purpose of dressing up this mercenary project as a quest for tolerance and diversity, while silencing its critics by a McCarthyist campaign of smear and innuendo. In so doing, they have demonstrated a hate for what America once stood for: Intellectual diversity and freedom of expression, a heritage as precious as the land itself, which they would see despoiled by growth in the service of profit.
“Equally culpable are the editors, journalists and broadcasters who accept their credentials as arbiters of “hate” uncritically—- the graduates of the “One Party Classroom” which David Horowitz, Roger Kimball and Alan Bloom have variously described. Ironically then, the corporate agenda has been cloaked by a social justice agenda born by four decades of “cultural Marxism” in the colleges, universities and journalism schools. Mass immigration, then, can be seen as a right wing project that enjoys left wing collusion, with middle class academics, “The Tenured Radicals”, fulfilling the role of Wall Street’s useful idiots. Gone is the “P” in the “IPAT” equation— the foundational formula of the environmental movement– where “P” (the population level) was perceived as an essential variable in environmental degradation.”
While the pundits and leaders maintain their “pope-like” power, the planet continues to fight back against the human onslaught. And, in the end, the planet will win, hands down. It will take its revenge on humanity via the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Famine, war, pestilence and disease will take their toll. As oil runs out, humans will not possess the gasoline to power the tractors to plant and harvest the food that will not be available to feed 10 billion humans on an ecologically devastated planet.
Is Nobel peace prize winner Obama even worse?
Many governments, U.S. congressmen and other individuals have demanded that Obama return his Nobel peace prize for bombing Libya without congressional approval.
Bush got us into 2 wars to protect our strategic national interests in … er … broccoli. Obama just got us into a third war for the same reason. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq was met with large protests. Similarly, most Americans didn’t want Obama to get involved in Libya.
The Bush administration funded terrorist groups (and see confirming articles hereand here). Obama is allegedly funding terrorist groups in Iran, and is now aiding the Libyan “rebels”, even though there are allegations that 1,000 of them are Al Qaeda radicals (and there are some indications that their leader is a CIA asset).
Obama has increased the number of drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemenand elsewhere. Indeed, most people who have looked at the numbers believe that Obama has killed many more civilians with drone attacks than Bush did using the same method.
The Brookings Institution noted in 2009:
Critics correctly find many problems with this program, most of all the number of civilian casualties the strikes have incurred. Sourcing on civilian deaths is weak and the numbers are often exaggerated, but more than 600 civilians are likely to have died from the attacks. That number suggests thatfor every militant killed, 10 or so civilians also died.
Former constitutional law teacher Glenn Greenwald says that – in his defense of state secrecy, illegal spying, preventative detention, harassment of whistleblowers and other issues of civil liberties – Obama is even worse than Bush.
Indeed, Obama has authorized “targeted assassinations” against U.S. citizens. Even Bush didn’t openly do something so abhorrent to the rule of law.
Obama is trying to expand spying well beyond the Bush administration’s programs. Indeed, the Obama administration is arguing that citizens should never be able to sue the government for illegal spying.
And as I noted in 2009, in a post entitled “Can Nobel Prize Winner Obama At LEAST Stop the Torture?”:
You may assume that things have changed after President Obama was sworn in.
However, the Obama Department of Justice is trying to protect torture memo writer John Yoo. As constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley notes:
The president literally has gotten onto a plane this evening to go to Norway to accept the Nobel Prize, while his Justice Department is effectively gutting a major part of Nuremberg.
The Obama administration is arguing not only that they shouldn’t be prosecuted, but it’s now saying that you shouldn’t even be able to sue them civilly …. It’s an international disgrace.
Well, it may be a disgrace, but at least torture isn’t continuing under the Obama administration, right?
In fact, many reporters have said that the Bagram prison facility in Afghanistan is worse than Guantanamo ever was. Moreover, abuse is apparently still occurring there.
As Spiegel wrote on September 21, 2009, in an article entitled “Prisoner Abuse Continues at Bagram Prison in Afghanistan”:
US President Barack Obama has spoken out against CIA prisoner abuse and wants to close Guantanamo. But he tolerates the existence of Bagram military prison in Afghanistan, where more than 600 people are being held without charge. The facility makes Guantanamo look like a “nice hotel,” in the words of one military prosecutor…
Bagram is “the forgotten second Guantanamo,” says American military law expert Eugene Fidell, a professor at Yale Law School. “But apparently there is a continuing need for this sort of place even under the Obama administration.
“From the beginning, “Bagram was worse than Guantanamo,” says New York-based attorney Tina Foster, who has argued several cases on behalf of detainee rights in US courts. “Bagram has always been a torture chamber.”
And what does Obama say? Nothing. He never so much as mentions Bagram in any of his speeches. When discussing America’s mistreatment of detainees, he only refers to Guantanamo.
Obama still never mentions Bagram.
From the beginning, Bagram was notorious for the brutal forms of torture employed there. Former inmates report incidents of sleep deprivation, beatings and various forms of sexual humiliation [and rape with sticks]…
At least two men died during imprisonment. One of them, a 22-year-old taxi driver named Dilawar, was suspended by his hands from the ceiling for four days, during which US military personnel repeatedly beat his legs. Dilawar died on Dec. 10, 2002. In the autopsy report, a military doctor wrote that the tissue on his legs had basically been “pulpified.” As it happens, his interrogators had already known — and later testified — that there was no evidence against Dilawar…
However attorney Tina Foster feels that the new initiative is just a cosmetic measure. “There is absolutely no difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration’s position with respect to Bagram detainees’ rights,” she says during an interview with SPIEGEL in her office in the New York borough of Queens.
And see this.
Moreover, Obama is still apparently allowing “rendition flights” – where prisoners are flown to countries which freely torture – to continue. This itself violates the Geneva Convention and the War Crimes Act of 1996.
Specifically, to the extent that the U.S. is sending prisoners to other countries for the express purpose of being tortured are true, violation of the war crimes act by the highest officials of our country would be probable. For who else but Obama, Gates and other top officials would have the ability to authorize such flights? How could such a program be undertaken without their knowledge? And how could such a program be anything but the intentional “ordering” of torture, or at least “knowing about it” and “failing to take steps to stop it”?
Finally, Jeremy Scahill – the reporter who broke most of the stories on Blackwater - says that some forms of torture at Guantanamo have continued under Obama, and may even have gotten worse. For example, Scahill points out that:
The Center for Constitutional Rights released a report titled “Conditions of Confinement at Guantánamo: Still In Violation of the Law,” which found that abuses continued. In fact, one Guantanamo lawyer, Ahmed Ghappour, said that his clients were reporting “a ramping up in abuse” since Obama was elected.
As Marjorie Cohen – professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, past president of the National Lawyers Guild - writes at the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy:
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is facing court-martial for leaking military reports and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, is being held in solitary confinement in Quantico brig in Virginia. Each night, he is forced to strip naked and sleep in a gown made of coarse material. He has been made to stand naked in the morning as other inmates walked by and looked. As journalist Lance Tapley documents in his chapter on torture in the supermax prisons in The United States and Torture, solitary confinement can lead to hallucinations and suicide; it is considered to be torture. Manning’s forced nudity amounts to humiliating and degrading treatment, in violation of U.S. and international law.
Nevertheless, President Barack Obama defended Manning’s treatment, saying, “I’ve actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures . . . are appropriate. They assured me they are.” Obama’s deference is reminiscent of President George W. Bush, who asked “the most senior legal officers in the U.S. government” to review the interrogation techniques. “They assured me they did not constitute torture,” Bush said.
After State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley criticized Manning’s conditions of confinement, the White House forced him to resign. Crowley had said the restrictions were “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.” It appears that Washington is more intent on sending a message to would-be whistleblowers than on upholding the laws that prohibit torture and abuse.
Torture is commonplace in countries strongly allied with the United States. Vice President Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s intelligence chief, was the lynchpin for Egyptian torture when the CIA sent prisoners to Egypt in its extraordinary rendition program. A former CIA agent observed, “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear – never to see them again – you send them to Egypt.” In her chapter in The United States and Torture, New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer cites Egypt as the most common destination for suspects rendered by the United States.
Whether or not Obama is worse than Bush, he’s just as bad.
While we had Bush’s “heck of a job” response to Katrina, we had Obama’s equally inept response and false assurances in connection with the Gulf oil spill, and Obama’sfalse assurances in connection with the Japanese nuclear crisis.
And Bush and Obama’s response to the financial crisis are virtually identical: bail out the giant banks, let Wall Street do whatever it wants, and forget the little guy.
The American voters asked for change. Instead, we got a different branch of the exact same Wall Street/military-industrial complex/Big Energy (BP, GE)/Big Pharma party.
Libya is engaged in a civil war. The United States and the European Union and NATO — The Holy Triumvirate — are intervening, bloodily, in a civil war. To overthrow Moammar Gaddafi. First The Holy Triumvirate spoke only of imposing a no-fly zone. After getting support from international bodies on that understanding they immediately began to wage war against Libyan military forces, and whoever was nearby, on a daily basis. In the world of commerce this is called “bait and switch”.
Gaddafi’s crime? He was never respectful enough of The Holy Triumvirate, which recognizes no higher power, and maneuvers the United Nations for its own purposes, depending on China and Russia to be as spineless and hypocritical as Barack Obama. The man the Triumvirate allows to replace Gaddafi will be more respectful.
So who are the good guys? The Libyan rebels, we’re told. The ones who go around murdering and raping African blacks on the supposition that they’re all mercenaries for Gaddafi. One or more of the victims may indeed have been members of a Libyan government military battalion; or may not have been. During the 1990s, in the name of pan-African unity, Gaddafi opened the borders to tens of thousands of sub-Saharan Africans to live and work in Libya. That, along with his earlier pan-Arab vision, did not win him points with The Holy Triumvirate. Corporate bosses have the same problem about their employees forming unions. Oh, and did I mention that Gaddafi is strongly anti-Zionist?
Does anyone know what kind of government the rebels would create? The Triumvirate has no idea. To what extent will the new government embody an Islamic influence as opposed to the present secular government? What jihadi forces might they unleash? (And these forces do indeed exist in eastern Libya, where the rebels are concentrated.) Will they do away with much of the welfare state that Gaddafi used his oil money to create? Will the state-dominated economy be privatized? Who will wind up owning Libya’s oil? Will the new regime continue to invest Libyan oil revenues in sub-Saharan African development projects? Will they allow a US military base and NATO exercises? Will we find out before long that the “rebels” were instigated and armed by Holy Triumvirate intelligence services?
In the 1990s, Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia was guilty of “crimes” similar to Gaddafi’s. His country was commonly referred to as “the last communists of Europe”. The Holy Triumvirate bombed him, arrested him, and let him die in prison. The Libyan government, it should be noted, refers to itself as the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. American foreign policy is never far removed from the Cold War.
We must look closely at the no-fly zone set up for Iraq by the US and the UK (falsely claimed by them as being authorized by the United Nations) beginning in the early 1990s and lasting more than a decade. It was in actuality a license for very frequent bombing and killing of Iraqi citizens; softening up the country for the coming invasion. The no-fly zone-cum invasion force in Libya is killing people every day with no end in sight, softening up the country for regime change. Who in the universe can stand up to The Holy Triumvirate? Has the entire history of the world ever seen such power and such arrogance?
And by the way, for the 10th time, Gaddafi did not carry out the bombing of PanAm Flight 103 in 1988.1 Please enlighten your favorite progressive writers on this.
Barack “I’d kill for a peace prize” Obama
Is anyone keeping count?
I am. Libya makes six.
Six countries that Barack H. Obama has waged war against in his 26 months in office. (To anyone who disputes that dropping bombs on a populated land is act of war, I would ask what they think of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.)
America’s first black president now invades Africa.
Is there anyone left who still thinks that Barack Obama is some kind of improvement over George W. Bush?
Probably two types still think so. 1) Those to whom color matters a lot; 2) Those who are very impressed by the ability to put together grammatically correct sentences.
It certainly can’t have much otherwise to do with intellect or intelligence. Obama has said numerous things, which if uttered by Bush would have inspired lots of rolled eyeballs, snickers, and chuckling reports in the columns and broadcasts of mainstream media. Like the one the president has repeated on a number of occasions when pressed to investigate Bush and Cheney for war crimes, along the lines of “I prefer to look forward rather than backwards”. Picture a defendant before a judge asking to be found innocent on such grounds. It simply makes laws, law enforcement, crime, justice, and facts irrelevant.
There’s also the excuse given by Obama to not prosecute those engaged in torture: because they were following orders. Has this “educated” man never heard of the Nuremberg Trials, where this defense was summarily rejected? Forever, it was assumed.
Just 18 days before the Gulf oil spill Obama said: “It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced.” (Washington Post, May 27, 2010) Picture George W. having said this, and the later reaction.
“All the forces that we’re seeing at work in Egypt are forces that naturally should be aligned with us, should be aligned with Israel,” Obama said in early March.2 Imagine if Bush had implied this — that the Arab protesters in Egypt against a man receiving billions in US aid including the means to repress and torture them, should “naturally” be aligned with the United States and — God help us — Israel.
A week later, on March 10, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told a forum in Cambridge, Mass. that Wikileaks hero Bradley Manning’s treatment by the Defense Department in a Marine prison was “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.” The next day our “brainy” president was asked about Crowley’s comment. Replied the Great Black Hope: “I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are.”
Right, George. I mean Barack. Bush should have asked Donald Rumsfeld whether anyone in US custody was being tortured anywhere in the world. He could then have held a news conference like Obama did to announce the happy news — “No torture by America!” We would still be chortling at that one.
Obama closed his remark with: “I can’t go into details about some of their concerns, but some of this has to do with Pvt. Manning’s safety as well.” 3
Ah yes, of course, Manning is being tortured for his own good. Someone please remind me — Did Georgieboy ever stoop to using that particular absurdity to excuse prisoner hell at Guantanamo?
Is it that Barack Obama is not bothered by the insult to Bradley Manning’s human rights, the daily wearing away of this brave young man’s mental stability?
The answer to the question is No. The president is not bothered by these things.
How do I know? Because Barack Obama is not bothered by anything as long as he can exult in being the president of the United States, eat his hamburgers, and play his basketball. Let me repeat once again what I first wrote in May 2009:
The problem, I’m increasingly afraid, is that the man doesn’t really believe strongly in anything, certainly not in controversial areas. He learned a long time ago how to take positions that avoid controversy, how to express opinions without clearly taking sides, how to talk eloquently without actually saying anything, how to leave his listeners’ heads filled with stirring clichés, platitudes, and slogans. And it worked. Oh how it worked! What could happen now, having reached the presidency of the United States, to induce him to change his style?
Remember that in his own book, “The Audacity of Hope”, Obama wrote: “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”
Obama is a product of marketing. He is the prime example of the product “As seen on TV”.
Writer Sam Smith recently wrote that Obama is the most conservative Democratic president we’ve ever had. “In an earlier time, there would have been a name for him: Republican.”
Indeed, if John McCain had won the 2008 election, and then done everything that Obama has done in exactly the same way, liberals would be raging about such awful policies.
I believe that Barack Obama is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the American left. The millions of young people who jubilantly supported him in 2008, and numerous older supporters, will need a long recovery period before they’re ready to once again offer their idealism and their passion on the altar of political activism.
If you don’t like how things have turned out, next time find out exactly what your candidate means when he talks of “change”.
Dear Lord, please save us from the Holy Republican Empire
Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, John Boehner, and many other Republicans often find it difficult to speak about domestic or foreign issues without bringing religion into the picture. Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, for example, in a recent talk at the National Religious Broadcasters conference stated that America’s national debt is a “moral hazard.” The Washington Post (March 5, 2011) reported that “Boehner made clear that this fiscal crisis requires people to get on their knees.”
Rep. Joe Barton of Texas justified his opposition to controlling greenhouse gases because “you can’t regulate God.”
Arizona Senator Jon Kyl accused Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid of “disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians” for considering keeping Congress in session during Christmas.
Rep. Steve King of Iowa compared Democrats to Pontius Pilate, the ancient Roman official who sentenced Jesus to be crucified.4
And South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint recently declared that “the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets. … America works, freedom works, when people have that internal gyroscope that comes from a belief in God and Biblical faith. Once we push that out, you no longer have the capacity to live as a free person without the external controls of an authoritarian government. I’ve said it often and I believe it –– the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets. As people become more dependent on government, less dependent on God.” 5
So, in a futile attempt to enlighten the likes of these esteemed Republican members of Congress, I feel obliged to point out the following:
On the 4th day of November 1796, a “Treaty of peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary” was concluded at Tripoli [Libya]. Article 11 of the treaty begins: “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion … ” Be it further noted: Article VI, Section II, of the United States Constitution states: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
The creed of America’s founders was neither Christianity nor secularism, but religious liberty.
After the terrorist attacks of 9-11, a Taliban leader declared that “God is on our side, and if the world’s people try to set fire to Afghanistan, God will protect us and help us.” 6
“With or without religion, good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things — that takes religion.” — Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize-winning physicist
The Bad Guys
I’ve written on many occasions about America’s ODE — Officially Designated Enemies: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Hasan Nasrallah, Moammar Gaddafi, and others. Once the government of the United States of America makes it clear that an individual foreign leader is not one of the Good Guys, that he doesn’t believe that America is God’s gift to humankind, and that he is not willing to allow his country to become an obedient client state, the US mainstream media invariably picks up on this and goes out of its way to denigrate the individual at every opportunity. (If any reader knows of any exceptions to this rule I’d be interested in hearing from them.)
Juan Forero has long been a Latin American correspondent for the Washington Post. He’s also the same for National Public Radio. I used to send letters to the Post pointing out how Forero was distorting the facts each time he wrote about Hugo Chávez, errors of omission compounded with errors of commission. None were printed, so I began to send my missives directly to Forero. He once actually replied saying that he (sort of) agreed with me on the point I had raised and implied that he would try to avoid similar errors in the future. I actually detected some improvement after that for a short period, then it was back to usual. During the current unrest in Libya he wrote: “Chavez said it ‘was a great lie’ that Gaddafi’s forces had attacked civilians.” 7
Well, how stupid can Hugo Chávez think the world is? We’ve all seen and read of Gaddafi’s attacks on civilians.
But it turns out that if you find the original Spanish you get a fuller and different picture. According to the United Press International (UPI) Spanish-language report, Chávez said that the fighting in Libya was a civil war and those who were attacked were thus not simply protestors or civilians; they were on the other side of the civil war; i.e., combatants. 8
Al Jazeera in America
The uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have given a great boost to al Jazeera, the television network based in Doha, Qatar. Until recently Americans shied away from the station; it was just too easily associated with the Middle East and Muslims, which of course leads easily to thinking about terrorists and “terrorists”; and certainly any well-brought-up American knew that the station could not be as unbiased as CBS, CNN, NPR or Fox News. The station had reason to be paranoid about its office in the United States, land of ten million crazies (more than a few of them holding public office). It occupies six floors in a downtown Washington, DC office building, but its name doesn’t appear on the building directory.
But US mainstream media now quote al Jazeera English and show their news footage. Many progressives, including myself, have taken to watching the station in preference to US mainstream media. In general, the news is of more substance, the guests are mainly more or less progressive, and there are no commercials. However, the more I watch it the more I realize that the station’s presenters and correspondents are not necessarily as well imbued with the progressive perspective as they should be.
One case in point of many I could give: On March 12 al Jazeera correspondent Roger Wilkinson was reporting about the trial in Cuba of Alan Gross, the American arrested after he dispensed electronic equipment to Cuban citizens. Gross entered Cuba as a tourist but was actually there in behalf of Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a private contractor working for the Agency for International Development (AID), a division of the State Department. Gross was thus a covert unregistered agent of a foreign government. Wilkinson reported this very controversial story with all the innocence and distortion of the US mainstream media. He mentioned in passing that the Cuban government tries to control the Internet. What can one conclude from that other than that Cuban officials want to hide certain information from its citizens? Just like the US mainstream media, Wilkinson gave no examples of any Internet sites blocked by the Cuban government; for the simple reason, perhaps, that there aren’t any. What is the terrible truth that Cubans might learn if they had full access to the Internet? Ironically, it’s the US government and US multinationals who impinge upon this access, for political reasons and by pricing their services beyond Cuba’s means. This is why Cuba and Venezuela are building their own undersea cable connection.
Wilkinson spoke of AID’s program of “democracy promotion”, but gave no hint that in the world of AID and the private organizations that contract with it — including Gross’s employer — this term is code for “regime change”. AID has long played a subversive role in world affairs. Here is John Gilligan, Director of AID during the Carter administration:
“At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.” 9
AID has been but one of many institutions employed by the United States for more than 50 years to subvert the Cuban revolution. It is because of this that we can formulate this equation: The United States is to the Cuban government like al Qaeda is to American government. Cuba’s laws dealing with activities typically carried out by the likes of AID and DAI reflect this history. It’s not paranoia. It’s self-preservation. In discussing a case like Alan Gross without considering this equation is a serious defect in journalism and political analysis.
Hopefully the Gross case will serve to temper the nature of US “democracy promotion” efforts in Cuba.
Washington’s policy — and therefore Britain’s policy — toward Cuba has always stemmed mainly from a desire to keep the island from becoming a good example for the Third World of an alternative to capitalism. But Western leaders actually do not, or do not dare, understand what can motivate people like the Cuban leaders and their followers. Here’s one of the Wikileaks US-Embassy cables, March 25, 2009 — William Hague, then-British Conservative MP and Shadow Foreign Secretary, giving the US embassy in London a report on his recent visit to Cuba: Hague “said that he was slightly surprised that the Cuban leadership did not appear to be moving toward more of a Chinese model of economic opening, but were rather still ‘romantic revolutionaries’.” In his conversation with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez “the discussion turned to political ideology, during which Hague commented that people in Britain were more interested in shopping than ideology.” [Oh dear, what a jolly good defense of the Western way of life. Rule Britannia! God Bless America!] Hague then reported that “Rodriguez appeared disdainful of the notion and said one needed shopping only to buy food and a few good books.”
Japan devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. America devastated by the profit motive.
Christine Todd Whitman, George W. Bush’s first Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, speaking of how the nuclear industry has learned from every previous nuclear accident or disaster: “It’s safer than working in a grocery store,” she said.
Whitman is now co-chairwoman of the nuclear industry’s Clean and Safe Energy Coalition. 10
Upcoming talks by William Blum
Saturday, April 2, 7:00 pm
University of Pittsburgh at Titusville, PA
504 East Main Street
Titusville is about 2 hours by car from Pittsburgh and 2 1/2 hours from Cleveland.
For further information call 888-878-0462
Or email Mary Ann Caton: email@example.com
Thursday, May 19
Conference: “Ethics and US Foreign Policy in the 21st Century”
Université de Paris Ouest-Nanterre-La Défense, Amphi B-2
All day, beginning at 9 am
Email me for full schedule
- killinghope.org/bblum6/panam.htm ↩
- March 4, 2011, Democratic Party function, Miami, FL, CQ Transcriptions ↩
- Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2011 ↩
- For this and the previous two examples, see “Jim DeMint’s Theory Of Relativity: ‘The Bigger Government Gets, The Smaller God Gets’“, Think Progress, March 15, 2011↩
- Fox News Sunday, December 19, 2010 ↩
- Washington Post, September 19, 2001 ↩
- Washington Post, March 7, 2011 ↩
- UPI Reporte LatAm, March 4, 2011 (email me for the text) ↩
- George Cotter, “Spies, strings and missionaries”, The Christian Century (Chicago), March 25, 1981, p.321 ↩
- “Former EPA chief: Nuke crisis ‘a very good lesson’“, Politico, March 14, 2011
Conditions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are deteriorating and the doomsday scenario is beginning to unfold. On Sunday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) officials reported that the levels of radiation leaking into seawater at the Unit 2 reactor were 100,000 times above normal, and the airborne radiation measured 4-times higher than government limits. As a result, emergency workers were evacuated from the plant and rushed to safe location. The prospect of a full-core meltdown or an environmental catastrophe of incalculable magnitude now looms larger than ever. The crisis is getting worse.
If spent fuel rods catch fire from lack of coolant, the intense heat will lift radiation plumes high into the atmosphere that will drift around the world. That’s the nightmare scenario, clouds of radioactive material showering the planet with lethal toxins for months on end. And, according to the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics of Vienna, that deadly process has already begun. The group told New Scientist that:
“Japan’s damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and caesium at levels approaching those seen in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Austrian researchers have used a worldwide network of radiation detectors – designed to spot clandestine nuclear bomb tests – to show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl. (“New Scientist”, March 24 —thanks to Michael Collins “They said it wasn’t like Chernobyl and they were wrong”)
So, volatile radioactive elements are already being lofted into the jet stream and spread across continents. What’s different here is that the quantities are much larger than they were at Chernobyl, thus, the dangers are far greater. According to the same group of scientists “the Fukushima plant has around 1760 tonnes of fresh and used nuclear fuel on site” (while) “the Chernobyl reactor had only 180 tonnes.” The troubles at one nuclear facility now pose a direct threat to humans and other species everywhere. Is this what Obama meant when he called nuclear power, “Safe and green?”
This from CNN:
“Authorities in Japan raised the prospect Friday of a likely breach in the all-important containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a potentially ominous development in the race to prevent a large-scale release of radiation.”
And this from the New York Times:
“A senior nuclear executive who insisted on anonymity but has broad contacts in Japan said that there was a long vertical crack running down the side of the reactor vessel itself. The crack runs down below the water level in the reactor and has been leaking fluids and gases, he said….
“There is a definite, definite crack in the vessel — it’s up and down and it’s large,” he said. “The problem with cracks is they do not get smaller.” (Thanks to Washington’s Blog)
The media has switched into full “BP Oil Spill-mode”, making every effort to minimize the disaster and to soothe the public with half-truths and disinformation. The goal is to conceal the scale of the catastrophe and protect the nuclear industry. It’s another case of profits over people. Still, the truth is available for those who are willing to sift through the lies. Radiation has turned up in the Tokyo water supply, imports of milk, vegetable and fruit from four prefectures in the vicinity of Fukushima have been banned, and the evacuation zone around the plant has widened to an 18 mile radius.
Also, monitors have detected tiny radioactive particles which have spread from the reactor site across the Pacific to North America, the Atlantic and Europe…According to Reuters: “It’s only a matter of days before it disperses in the entire northern hemisphere,” said Andrea Stahl, a senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research.”
Here’s more from Brian Moench, MD:
“Administration spokespeople continuously claim “no threat” from the radiation reaching the US from Japan, just as they did with oil hemorrhaging into the Gulf. Perhaps we should all whistle “Don’t worry, be happy” in unison. A thorough review of the science, however, begs a second opinion.
That the radiation is being released 5,000 miles away isn’t as comforting as it seems…. Every day, the jet stream carries pollution from Asian smoke stacks and dust from the Gobi Desert to our West Coast, contributing 10 to 60 percent of the total pollution breathed by Californians, depending on the time of year. Mercury is probably the second most toxic substance known after plutonium. Half the mercury in the atmosphere over the entire US originates in China. It, too, is 5,000 miles away. A week after a nuclear weapons test in China, iodine 131 could be detected in the thyroid glands of deer in Colorado, although it could not be detected in the air or in nearby vegetation.” (Washington’s Blog)
The smoldering Fukushima hulk is a perpetual death machine poisoning everything around it–sea, sky and soil. Here’s a clip from the Collin’s article:
“…The soil contamination is really high. Soil found 40 kilometers away…. the levels on the soil were very high—in fact, a thousand times iodine, 4,000 times the cesium standard. And we just got a report from the Kyoto Research Reactor Institute, Dr. Tetsuji Imanaka, that said that—he had to look a little bit more into the sampling of the Japanese government, but depending on how the sampling was done, this level of contamination in the soil could be twice the amount that was compulsory evacuation for Chernobyl. Aileen Mioko Smith, March 24 (thanks to Michael Collins “They said it wasn’t like Chernobyl and they were wrong”)
Twice as high as Chernobyl already, and the disaster is likely to persist for months to come. Things are getting worse, much worse.
The Japanese government has been downplaying the crisis to make it look like they have matters under control, but it’s all a sham. They control nothing. The rescue mission has been a flop from the get-go and now things are at a boiling point. The emergency effort has been overtaken by events and now it’s a matter of “wait and see”. We’re approaching zero hour.
So why the cover up? Why is the media trying to soft-peddle the real effects of a nuclear cataclysm? Does the Japanese government really believe they can make things better by tweaking their public relations strategy? They should focus on saving lives and abandon “perception management” altogether. This is from the Union of Concerned Scientists website:
“Our assessment is that the Japanese government is squandering the opportunity to initiate an orderly evacuation from larger areas around the site–especially of sensitive populations, like children and pregnant women. It is potentially wasting valuable time by not undertaking a larger scale evacuation at this time.”
The Japanese government is trying to protect the powerful nuclear lobby. The same is true of Obama, who continues to promote nuclear energy even while radiation belches from battered Fukushima. He’s not thinking about the public; he’s thinking about the deep pocket constituents who fill his campaign coffers.
Japanese workers are putting their lives on the line to regain control of the broken facility, but with little success. The probability of another fire, another monstrous explosion, or a full-core meltdown increases by the day. The Fukushima fiasco is gaining pace putting tens of thousands of people at risk of thyroid cancer, childhood leukemia and other life-threatening ailments.
On Saturday, Japan’s prime minister, Naoto Kan, said the situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant was ”serious”. That might be the understatement of the century.
We are SO unprepared for our future!
As I noticed with over 300 emails responding to Part 1 of this series, old paradigms die hard. Most readers ‘saw’ what I wrote about because they could see it occurring in their own communities and across America. Others ‘balked’ because they couldn’t imagine the ‘change’ coming. Others live in denial of our shifting world.
Whether we like it or not, history sweeps us into its vice-like grip like a Florida alligator. Sometimes it hits unexpectedly like an Oklahoma tornado—no warning! At other times, a society can unravel like Charlie Sheen this week! If you look around the United States, the warnings and symptoms of our future—hit us over the head daily.
- Rising gas prices
- Cost of food rising
- Home heating costs rising
- Mercantile goods rising costs
- Wages dead or lowering
- Unions losing clout
- Poverty growing
- 43 million Americans subsisting on food stamps
- 15 to 22 million Americans unemployed, underemployed
- No chance to ever regain full employment as we add 3.1 million immigrants annually
While I present solutions at the end of each column, it won’t do any good if we fail to implement them. Our own Congress languishes in bed with those that hire, work, feed, house and support endless legal and illegal immigration—the main driver for our overloaded civilization.
If you watched Diane Sawyer and David Muir on ABC this week, you observed in amazement that the average American home features just about everything “Made in China” or some other country. We shut down our own manufacturing to disable our ability to produce products. Who did that? Answer: U.S. Congress and presidents for the past 30 years that could not see past their noses.
However, on Wednesday night’s broadcast, David Muir and his team discovered that we can furnish a home entirely with American products when we take the time to shop! And, just as inexpensively—and better quality!
Folks! We drown in $14 trillion of debt and another $1.3 trillion in trade deficits to China! Any way to dig out of it? Any way to pay it back? How can we when we don’t manufacture anything to sell? Result: we will continue to become poorer as the Middle Class degrades.
WORLD ON EDGE; AMERICA ON THE ROPES
“World on the Edge” by Lester Brown: “One thing is certain—we are facing greater change than any generation in history. How did we get into this mess? Our market-based global economy as currently managed is in trouble. The market does many things well. It allocates resources with an efficiency that no central planner could even imagine. But as the world economy expanded some 20-fold over the last century it has revealed a flaw—a flaw so serious that if it is not corrected it will spell the end of civilization as we know it.”
ENERGY, POLLUTION, ENVIRONMENT
“The indirect costs, including climate change, treatment of respiratory illnesses, oil spills, and the U.S. military presence in the Middle East to ensure access to the oil to grow to a cost of $12 per gallon. Similar calculations can be done for coal,” said Brown. “We delude ourselves. Leaving such huge costs off the books is a formula for bankruptcy. Environmental trends are the lead indicators telling us what lies ahead for the economy and ultimately for society itself. Falling water tables today signal rising food prices tomorrow. Shrinking polar ice sheets are a prelude to falling coastal real estate values.”
These observations come from THE top experts in the world. We ignore these realities at our peril. Yet, we avoid them, like we languish with the immigration invasion. At some point, it becomes bigger than we can solve—and our civilization degrades with it.
WE FEED ON THE ENVIORNMENT LIKE A RABID DOG
“Modern economic thinking and policymaking have created an economy that is so out of sync with the ecosystem on which it depends that it is approaching collapse,” said Brown. “How can we assume that the growth of an economic system that is shrinking the earth’s forests, eroding its soils, depleting its aquifers, collapsing its fisheries, elevating its temperature, and melting its ice sheets can simply be projected into the long-term future? What is the intellectual process underpinning these extrapolations?”
How about a bunch of intellectual innumerates leading us in the White House and Congress?
One look at California illustrates our failing economic systems. Gaze upon Wisconsin’s demonstrations. Same with Colorado, New York, Massachusetts and many more! Our states cannot pay their bills! They’re broke! In debt! And, millions of citizens cannot secure a job.
Dr. Albert Bartlett, www.albartlett.org , talks about the dilemma of ‘exponential growth’. “It’s time to educate the educationally credentialed but innumerate experts, (innumeracy is the mathematical equivalent of illiteracy), who say that growth is inevitable. They fail to recognize that after maturity for any entity, continued growth is either obesity or cancer.”
Do you think California, now at 38 million, will become more viable with its projected addition of 20 million more people by 2040? Exactly how will they water, feed, transport and warm themselves? How about their quality of life? Standard of living?
With continued growth, Dr. Bartlett said, “Growth will produce more well-to-do people, more homeless, more unemployed, more people living below the poverty level, more traffic congestion, higher parking fees ($5.00 an hour already on East Coast, Source: CNN 3/2/11), more school crowding, more crime, more unhappy neighborhoods, more expensive government, more taxes, higher taxes, more air and water pollution, higher utility rates, more crowded highways, less democracy, higher food costs and more destruction of the environment.”
What’s good about any of that my friends and why am I one of the few addressing it?
Like two boys playing catch perpendicular to the glass door of their house, hopefully, a parent walks out and advises them, “Boys, play catch parallel to the glass so it won’t get broken.” They respond, “Okay dad!”
Solutions to our situation by a reader:
- Change ‘Free Trade’ to ‘Fair Trade’
- Term limits with teeth for Congress
- Two party system is totally corrupted by corporate money, and we must create a viable 3rd party
- Real access laws and the denial of free access to corporate interests
- Denial of corporate interests their current 10,000 votes to a citizen’s 1 vote
- A return to Constitutional Law and the de-establishment of precedent law
- A return to a genuinely independent judiciary
- A return of sovereignty to citizens instead of to a state bureaucracy to which ordinary citizens have no genuine access
- The end of secrecy as a form of government
- Stop creating wars around the world where we have no business
- Moratorium on all immigration
His enemies call him a tyrant and a dictator, but he is neither. Hugo Chavez is a tireless champion of the poor and a committed Christian socialist. The only difference between Chavez’s type of Christianity and Barack Obama’s, is that Chavez walks the walk.
For example, on Tuesday, Chavez used his powers under the new “enabling laws” to enact the “Law for Dignified Refuge” a presidential decree that mandates “dignified and humane” housing for all Venezuelans. The Venezuelan parliament approved the controversial (and temporary) enabling laws because the country faced an unprecedented housing crisis due to the massive floods in December.
More than 125,000 people lost their homes in the disaster requiring a speedy response from the government. Chavez swung into action immediately turning the presidential palace into a homeless shelter and initiating a campaign to construct permanent housing for the victims. Now he has pushed through landmark legislation that will legally require the government to help the homeless.
Contrast Chavez’s response to Obama’s during the BP oil spill. BP was allowed to wreak havoc on the environment and destroy people’s livelihood without any consequences. In fact, Obama even provided cover for the oil giant by appearing in public relations “I feel your pain” photo-ops on a beach in Louisiana that were intended to divert public rage away from BP. So, now the fishing and shrimping industries are devastated, sensitive estuaries and ecosystems have been destroyed, and the level of toxins in the bloodstreams of people living in the region have skyrocketed. And, worst of all, BP has gotten off Scot-free. Thanks, Barack.
Now imagine what would have happened if Chavez had been in charge. BP’s stateside operations would have been shut down, their assets would have been seized, and Tony Hayward and his buddies would have been thrown in the hoosegow. Got a problem with that?
Last week, while Obama was singing the praises of “deregulation” on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal (“.. the rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business—burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.”) and first lady, Michelle Obama was hawking “healthy foods” for food behemoth Walmart in the national media, Chavez was busy transforming shelters into “institutions of the state” to make sure that people had a place to stay while they get back on their feet again.
The new law stipulates that these people be provided with food and medical assistance (Venezuela has universal health care) as well as “scholarships, pensions and special allotments of resources” depending on their needs.
The new state facilities that are being set up by Chavez will focus primarily on “the most vulnerable population; the children, adolescents, seniors, people with disabilities, and pregnant women.”
“It’s not a question of the government wanting to do this or not,” said Chavez. “It is now a legal obligation.” (venezuelanalysis.com)
Right on. And how has Washington reacted to Chavez’s emergency programs and new laws? Here’s an excerpt from a recent article by ex-pat Eva Golinger that sums it up pretty well:
“This week, (Venezuelan) opposition leaders will meet with their counterparts in Washington. They have already said their mission is to seek more aid to help remove President Chavez from power. Unfortunately, their undemocratic actions have already been welcomed in the US Capitol. Representative Connie Mack (R-FL), now head of the House Sub-Committte on Foreign Relations for the Western Hemisphere, announced on the first day of Congress that his one goal this year is to place Venezuela on the list of “state sponsors of terrorism”. And Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), now head of the House Foreign Relations Committee, has backed that objective, even going as far as to publicly state she would welcome the “assassination of Fidel Castro or any other repressive leader” such as Hugo Chavez.” (“Setting the Record Straight on Venezuela and Hugo Chavez”, Eva Golinger, Global Research)
Surprised? Don’t be. Any foreign leader who attempts to control his country’s resources, improve human rights, or distribute the nation’s wealth more equally among its people, is the de facto enemy of the United States. People thought that things might change under Obama, but they were wrong. He’s as bad as Bush.
If the house where Julian Assange of Wikileaks is staying is destroyed by a Predator drone, and the United States denies any involvement … Well, I’ll believe them.
One of the most common threads running through the Wikileaks papers is Washington’s manic obsession with Iran. In country after country the United States exerts unceasing pressure on the government to tighten the noose around Iran’s neck, to make the American sanctions as extensive and as painful as can be, to inflate the alleged Iranian nuclear threat, to discourage normal contact as if Iran were a leper.
“Fear of ‘different world’ if Iran gets nuclear weapons. Embassy cables reveal how US relentlessly cajoles and bullies governments not to give succour to Tehran,” read a Guardian of London headline on November 28. And we’re told that Arab governments support the United States in this endeavor, that fear of Iran is widespread. John Kerry, the Democratic head of the Senate foreign relations committee, jumped on this bandwagon. “Things that I have heard from the mouths of King Abdullah [of Saudi Arabia] and Hosni Mubarak [Egyptian president] and others are now quite public,” he said. He went on to say there was a “consensus on Iran”. (Guardian, December 2) If all this is to have real meaning, the implication must be that the Arab people feel this way, and not just their dictator leaders. So let us look at some numbers.
The annual “Arab Public Opinion Poll”, was conducted this past summer by Zogby International and the University of Maryland, in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. A sample of the results:
- “If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, which of the following is the likely outcome for the Middle East region?” More positive 57%, Would not matter 20, More negative 21.
- Amongst those who believe that Iran seeks nuclear weapons, 70% believe that Iran has the right to its nuclear program.
- “In a world where there is only one superpower, which of the following countries would you prefer to be that superpower?”
France 35%, China 16, Germany 13, Britain 9, Russia 8, United States 7, Pakistan 6.
- “Name TWO countries that you think pose the biggest threat to you.” Israel 88%, US 77, Algeria 10, Iran 10, UK 8, China 3, Syria 1.
- “Which world leader (outside your own country) do you admire most?” (partial list) Recep Erdogan [Turkey] 20%, Hugo Chavez 13, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 12, Hassan Nasrallah [Hezbollah/Lebanon] 9, Osama bin Laden 6, Saddam Hussein 2. (Barack Obama not mentioned) 1
Also in Wikileaks: ” … during a meeting of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (an) enraged Revolutionary Guard Chief of Staff Mohammed Ali Jafari allegedly got into a heated argument with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and slapped him in the face because the generally conservative president had, surprisingly, advocated freedom of the press.”
How will the White House and Israeli propaganda machines and the US media deal with this? Their favorite whipping boy, President Ahmadinejad — oppressive dictator, stager of fraudulent elections, “Holocaust denier”, nuclear threat to all that is decent and holy — a champion of press freedom? And how powerful can he be? It’s not mentioned whether the man who slapped him suffered any punishment.
What will we learn next from Wikileaks? That Hugo Chávez doesn’t really eat babies?
“Will that be naked pictures, or being fondled, with your flight ticket, miss?”
We’ve all heard about it of course, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) x-raying under people’s clothes or groping them like on a clumsy second date. Maybe the new security procedures will finally disturb enough people enough times so that they’ll start to raise the issue that dare not speak its name: What can we do to stop creating all the anti-American terrorists we’re now engaged full time in protecting ourselves from?
As despicable as their philosophy and actions are, anti-American terrorists are not just mindless, evil madmen from another planet. They are not motivated by hatred or envy of American freedom or democracy (as George W. liked to tell us), or of American wealth, secular government, or culture. They are instead motivated by decades of terrible things done to their homelands by US foreign policy. There should be no doubt of this, for there are numerous examples of terrorists explicitly citing American policies as the prime motivation behind their acts.2 It works the same all over the world. In the period of the 1950s to the 1980s in Latin America, in response to a long string of hateful Washington policies, there were countless acts of terrorism against US diplomatic and military targets as well as the offices of US corporations. 9/11 was a globalized version of the Columbine High School disaster. When you bully people long enough they are going to strike back.
The US bombing, invasion, occupation and/or torture in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia in recent years, as well as the eternal Israeli-US genocide against the Palestinian people, have created countless new anti-American terrorists. We’ll be hearing from them for an awfully long time.
Following an act of terrorism, we rarely receive from our officials and media even a slightly serious discussion of the terrorists’ motivation. Was there any kind of deep-seated grievance or resentment with anything or anyone American being expressed? Any perceived wrong they wished to make right? Anything they sought to obtain revenge for? And why is the United States the most common target of terrorists?
But such questions are virtually forbidden in the mainstream world. At a White House press briefing in January concerning an attempt to blow up a US airliner on Christmas day 2009, conducted by Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan, veteran reporter Helen Thomas raised a question:
Thomas: “What is really lacking always for us is you don’t give the motivation of why they want to do us harm. … What is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why.”
Brennan: “Al Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents. … [They] attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that [they're] able to attract these individuals. But al Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death.”
Thomas: “And you’re saying it’s because of religion?”
Brennan: “I’m saying it’s because of an al Qaeda organization that uses the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way.”
Brennan: “I think … this is a long issue, but al Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland.”
Thomas: “But you haven’t explained why.” 3
Osama bin Laden, in an audiotape, also commented about the Christmas Day would-be bomber: “The message we wanted you to receive through him is that America shall not dream about security until we witness it in Palestine.” 4
We have as well the case of Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian doctor-turned-suicide bomber, who killed seven CIA employees at a base in Afghanistan last December 30. His widow later declared: “I am proud of him. … My husband did this against the U.S. invasion.” Balawi himself had written on the Internet: “I have never wished to be in Gaza, but now I wish to be a … car bomb that takes the lives of the biggest number of Jews to hell.” 5
It should be noted that the CIA base attacked by Balawi was heavily involved in the selection of targets for the Agency’s remote-controlled aircraft along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, a program that killed more than 300 people in the previous year. 6
So, feel-ups of our private parts and involuntary disrobing are the price we pay for waging war against the world. We get our cavities probed because our victims get predator drones up their asses. 7
“Thank you for not putting a bomb in your luggage.”
“Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear — kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor — with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.”
– General Douglas MacArthur, 1957 8
Do you remember the “shoe bomber”? Richard Reid was his name and he was aboard an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami on December 22, 2001; he tried to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes, didn’t succeed, and was overpowered by attendants and passengers. It’s because of him that we have to take our shoes off at the airport.
There was also “the underwear bomber”, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, referred to above. On Christmas Day, 2009, he tried to set off plastic explosives sewn in his underwear while aboard a Northwest Airlines flight as the plane approached the Detroit airport. But he failed to detonate them properly, producing only some popping noises and a flame; another passenger jumped him and restrained him as others put out the fire. It’s because of him that we now have to, virtually, take our underwear off at airports.
Then there was Faisal Shahzad, the “Times Square bomber”, who on May 1 of this year parked his car in the heart of New York City, tried to detonate various explosive devices in the car, but succeeded in producing only smoke. He then walked away from the car, leaving it to lead to his arrest. It’s because of him that cars are no longer permitted in Times Square. (No, that’s a joke, but maybe not for long.)
The incompetence of these three men in being unable to detonate their explosives is remarkable. You’d think they could have easily gotten that critical and relatively simple part of the operation down pat beforehand. What I find even more remarkable is that neither of the two men aboard airplanes thought of going into the bathroom, closing the door, and then trying to detonate the explosives. An eight-year-old child would have thought of that. Are we supposed to take these guys and these incidents seriously? Are we supposed to take the “threat” posed by such men seriously? A month before the Christmas incident Abdulmutallab’s father had gone to the US embassy in Nigeria to express concern that his son was in Yemen and had fallen under the influence of religious extremists.9 Moreover, the New York Times later reported: “In early November, American intelligence authorities say they learned from a communications intercept of Qaeda followers in Yemen that a man named ‘Umar Farouk’ … had volunteered for a coming operation.” 10
And yet Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had no problem getting on an American airplane in Amsterdam and flying to the United States.
The latest example of the terrible terrorist threat was in late October when we were told that two packages addressed to Chicago had been found aboard American cargo planes, one in Dubai, the other in England, containing what might, or might not, be an explosive device; which might, or might not, have exploded. Authorities said it was not known if the intent was to detonate the packages in flight or in Chicago.
Now get this. Terrorists, we are told, are shipping bombs in packages to the United States. They of course would want to make the packages as innocuous looking as can be, right? Nothing that would provoke any suspicion in the mind of an already very suspicious American security establishment, right? So what do we have? The packages were mailed from YEMEN … and addressed to JEWISH SYNAGOGUES in Chicago. … Well folks, nothing to see here, just keep moving.
Is it also perhaps of interest that L’Affaire Package Bombs took place less than a week before election day, perchance focusing the American public’s mind away from things economic?
Some questions to ask our quaint little Teaparty friends
The Teaparty folks never tire of calling for “smaller government”. How sweet. Most other Republicans repeat the same mantra ad nauseam as well, as do many liberals (not to be confused with progressives). So for all these individuals I have some questions:
- When there’s a plane crash the government sends investigators to the crash site to try to determine the cause of the accident; this is information that can be used to make air travel safer. But it’s really BIG GOVERNMENT, forcing the airlines to fully cooperate, provide all relevant information, secrecy is not permitted, and make changes or face severe penalties. Do you think the government should stop doing this?
- Following this year’s BP oil spill do you think the government was right to bully and threaten the company for an explanation and solution for the catastrophe, or should it have been “hands off” for the sake of small government?
- Following a major earthquake there’s usually a cry from many quarters: Stores should not be raising prices for basic necessities like water, generators, batteries, tree-removal services, diapers, etc. More grievances soon arise because landlords raise rents on vacant apartments after many dwellings in the city have been rendered uninhabitable. How dare they do that? people wail. Following the 1994 earthquake in Los Angeles the California Assembly proceeded to make it a crime for merchants to increase prices for vital goods and services by more than ten percent after a natural disaster.11 Following the destruction caused by Hurricane Isabel in September 2003, the governor and attorney general of Virginia called on the legislature to pass the state’s first anti-price-gouging law after receiving about 100 complaints from residents. North Carolina had enacted an anti-gouging law just shortly before.12 Does such blatant big-government interference in our God-given Supply-and-Demand system bother you? Do you think that our legislators should simply allow “the magic of the marketplace” to do its magic?
- Do you think that the government should continue waging war against what they call “terrorists” abroad, since there’s no bigger or more expensive big-government action than this?
- Do you think the government should continue with its electronic strip searches and body feel-ups at airports or should we allow the risk of bombs being brought on board airplanes? (Or — as an alternative to either — do you think the government should cease its bombing, invading, occupying, overthrowing, killing and torturing around the world so as to put an end to its creating anti-American terrorists?)
- If your bank fails — and hundreds have done so in recent years — are you willing to accept the loss of your life’s savings? Or are you thankful that big, big government steps in, takes over the bank, and protects every penny of your savings?
- Do you think that big government — federal, state or local — should stop haranguing the citizenry about the environment: recycling, air pollution, water pollution, soil runoff, etc., etc., or that people should simply be allowed to do what is most convenient for them, their families, and their businesses?
- Do you think that manufacturers should have the right to run their factories à la a sweatshop in a Bangkok alley 50 years ago or that big government should throw its weight around to assure modern working conditions, with worker health and safety standards?
- When a prescription drug starts to kill or harm more and more people, who should decide when to pull it off the market: Big Government or the drug’s manufacturer?
- Are you glad that food packages list the details of ingredients and nutrition? Who do you think is responsible for that?
- A huge number of Americans would be facing serious hunger if not for their food stamps; more than 40 million receive them. Where do you think food stamps come from? No, not from Sarah Palin.
- And where, pray tell, do you think unemployment insurance, housing subsidies, and Medicare come from? (There were of course, lord help us, the Teaparty signs: “Keep your government hands off my Medicare,”13 while simultaneously ridiculing Obama’s push for “socialized medicine”.) Some of you would probably rather see widespread hunger, poverty, homelessness, and illness in America than have people dependent upon the BigGovernmentMonster.
- Do you think that big government is no match for the private sector in efficiently getting large and important projects done? Big government in the United States has created great dams, marvelous national parks, an interstate highway system, the peace corps, social security, the National Institutes of Health, and the Smithsonian Institution; it’s also landed men on the moon, wiped out polio, and built up an incredible military machine (ignoring for the moment what it’s used for), and much more.
- Do you know that twice in recent years the federal government undertook major studies of many thousands of federal jobs to determine whether they could be done more efficiently by private contractors? On one occasion the federal employees won more than 80% of the time; on the other occasion 91%. Both studies took place under the Bush administration, which was hoping for different results. 14
We have to remind the American people of what they once knew but seem to have forgotten: that they don’t want BIG government, or SMALL government; they don’t want MORE government, or LESS government; they want government ON THEIR SIDE.
I think the Teapartyers are motivated primarily by two factors: 1) they don’t have the intellectual competence or ideological independence to place the blame for the sick economy where it belongs: the recklessness and greed of Wall Street, the banks, and other financial corporations; and so they blame the president and his “socialist” policies; 2) the president is black.
Mark Brzezinski, son of Zbigniew, was a post-Cold War Fulbright Scholar in Poland: “I asked my students to define democracy. Expecting a discussion on individual liberties and authentically elected institutions, I was surprised to hear my students respond that to them, democracy means a government obligation to maintain a certain standard of living and to provide health care, education and housing for all. In other words, socialism.” 15
- 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll
- William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, chapter 1, “Why do terrorists keep picking on the United States?”; this chapter ends in 2005; there are many more later examples, including the ones below in this report.↩
- White House press briefing, January 7, 2010
- ABC News, January 25, 2010
- Associated Press, January 7, 2010
- Washington Post, January 1, 2010
- Thanks to writer Gary Corseri for this last line.
- Vorin Whan, ed. “A Soldier Speaks: Public Papers and Speeches of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur” (1965)
- Associated Press, December 28, 2009
- New York Times, January 18, 2010
- Los Angeles Times, January 2, 1995
- Washington Post, September 24, 2003
- New York Times, November 3, 2010
- Washington Post, June 8, 2005 and March 23, 2006
- Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1994