“The trade in derivatives, using home notes, was designed as a Ponzi scheme. Excel knew it. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft (CWT), knew it. My fellow junior associates laughed at me, senior associates got mad at me, and the senior partners ultimately asked me to resign or be fired when I wrote repeated lengthy memoranda explaining this out to them.” – Charles Lincoln, III, PH.D., Harvard, J.D., University of Chicago, School of Law
Who is Charles Lincoln, III?
In October, 1993, Charles Lincoln, III began work as an associate at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft (CWT). He had just completed a judicial clerkship for Kenneth L. Ryskamp, U. S. District Judge, Southern District of Florida. During his clerkship with Judge Ryskamp, Lincoln had planned, coordinated, and framed the jury questions for a very large securities fraud trial in Palm Beach against Alan B. Levan’s Florida-based BankAtlantic Bancorp and Subsidiary Bank Atlantic Financial Company (BAFCO), which were heavily involved in Florida Real Estate from 1952-2011.
What he was about to learn, and challenge, would change the course of his life, from one of privilege to destitution.
In many ways, Lincoln might have appeared exactly the kind of associate who could be expected to make partner rapidly. Ambitious, bright, and energetic, CWT hired him because he received top law school grades in Securities, Antitrust, and Banking Law, as well as for his clerkship experience in Securities & Banking cases in the post-S & L Collapse period in Florida. He had also been President of the Environmental Law Society at University of Chicago, School of Law.
In law school, he had become intrigued by the role of securities in establishing, maintaining, and shaping the global-elites of the 20th century. The complexities of hierarchical and socio-political structures had been his greatest interest in Anthropology & History at Harvard.
In his first month at CWT he turned in 393 billable hours wildly exceeding any expectations. First year associates are expected to bill at least 2000 hours per year, Lincoln managed to do this in less than six months. At Cadwalader, Lincoln aspired to a professional specialization in securities litigation, fraud, shareholder’s and directors’ relations, rights and obligations, general agency and relationships of fiduciary duty.
Lincoln had taken up law as a second career after a decade as a working archeologist in Mexico & Central America, during which time he wrote a doctoral dissertation “Ethnicity & Social Organization at Chichen Itza, Yucatan” at Harvard’s Peabody Museum. His dissertation resulted from a project he directed in his 20s, funded by the National Geographic Society, Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, and private donors such as Doris Zemurray Stone and novelist James A. Michener.
As an archaeologist, Lincoln had become frustrated, acutely aware of problems mounting in the world, which originated in finance. Determined to use law creatively as a force for positive change, he enrolled at the University of Chicago, School of Law. At the school, he served as President of the Environmental Law Society (ELS), presiding on a year-long symposium at the Law School in 1990-1991, concerning oil spills in the immediate wake of the Exxon Valdez disaster of March 24, 1989.
Raised as the grandson, and effectively adopted son, of a wealthy petro-chemical engineer & military supplier in Highland Park, Dallas, Texas, Lincoln was not a stranger to the better addresses in New York. The welcome dinner held at the Waldorf Astoria for the twenty associates hired at the same time, of which he was one, did not impress him. Cadwalader, Wickersham, & Taft, though claiming to be the oldest, founded in 1792, the same year as the New York Stock Exchange, was by no means the largest.
Lincoln knew Cadwalader’s history and greatest claim to fame and power. This is its status as primary law firm to the Bank of New York (BNY), now BNY-Mellon, founded in 1784 by Alexander Hamilton, 8 years before Cadwalader opened its doors under a different name.
The long relationship between the oldest bank and the oldest Wall Street Law Firm include Cadwalader’s role in setting up BNY to be the very first law firm to be traded on the NYSE. Cadwalader’s historical policies have consistently, matched and supported those of the BNY and the thinking of Alexander Hamilton.
Cadwalader’s flagship office was then at 100 Maiden Lane, in New York 10038, close to the heart of the financial district in New York.
Having been hired on for Cadwalader’s litigation department, Lincoln encountered a department which was essentially inactive in 1993. The only the only active cases involved municipal defense to voting rights act cases in California.
Even the litigators, in 1993, were all working on one project, one particular project which was shrouded in great mystery and secrecy.
The Excel Mortgage Project
Instead of litigation, Lincoln along with all other first year associates, were temporarily to work with the “Structured Finance Department” on preparing the registration statement of Excel Mortgage. Lincoln’s role was to review and assess a series of some 1500 Arizona residential properties in relationship to state and federal environmental law and geographic issues, such as cultural resource management, and other points relating to the entire history and possible condition and liabilities of these properties.
The 1500 or so properties, subject of his study, were earmarked as assets being “deposited” into the Excel Mortgage Bond Fund, along with promissory notes originated by a number of creditors on homes conforming to a certain size and value profile, but having no other relationship. These were not part of the same communities, not part of a single development project, not built by a common builder, or anything else. This struck Lincoln as strange. Why “pool” all these unrelated properties together? And would be in the completed “pool?” Why was the Bank of New York underwriting this project?
Enter the Securitized Derivative
Excel Mortgage, a highly valued client of CWT was about to become part of history, doing something that had never been done before: registering a bond for sale to the public, which bond was based on pooled notes, a hybrid of debt and equity interests in and contingent claims to realty. This type of financial instrument had never before been sold to the public, though it had existed for about 25 years in the “private placement” market.
Lincoln was unwittingly participating in the first initial public offering (IPO) of a bond, a debt instrument, derived in part from promissory notes, ‘debts,’ and in part from contingent pledges of title, ‘secured equity,’ in residential real estate.
Securitized derivatives were being born at 100 Maiden Lane.
Bernard Madoff, who founded the NASDAQ when he was 33, was a prominent client of CWT, walking the floors of Cadwalader late at night.
The entire staff of CWT, underwritten by the Bank of New York, supporting Excel, were charged getting these new-fangled “derivative” instruments past examination by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).
This was an arduous, and expensive task, necessitating a “lint-picking” review, before these ‘derivative instruments’ could be packaged under the name of Excel Mortgage and offered both on the NYSE and NASDAQ. An SEC Registration Statement is an application for Federal Blessings affirming investing in a certain stock, bond, or “other instrument or obligation” is a reasonable investment for an average investor to make.
Supposedly “sophisticated investors” can do whatever they want to do, so long as it’s not expressly fraudulent or otherwise illegal. But the average grandmother investing for her grandkids’ college needs Federal Protection. Like “Social Security”, the concept of “Security” in the “Securities and Exchange Commission” is essentially a matter of “Trust us, We’re the Government.”
SEC Registration Statements require, prior to sale of any debt or equity instrument to the public, disclosure of all a companies’ assets and liabilities along with the qualifications of its officers and directors, and more.
Nobody outside of the law firms who prepare such things and SEC staff, would ever read this, but preparing the registration would bring CWT millions of dollars.
Excel Mortgage, however, was not selling stock in itself as an enterprise or an entity: it was selling a pooled collection of utterly unrelated and unconnected and barely similar promissory notes with contingent interests in, and access to, equity ownership of real property owned by 1500 different people and subject to 1500 separate notes and mortgages.
1993 – Anomalies, and Questions, Emerge
Who was to supervise its operation after “Registration”? What coherence did this “enterprise” have ASIDE FROM the Registration Statement? Would anyone ever recognize it as a “business?” If so, how and why? Lincoln was puzzled and perplexed, and not satisfied with any of the answers he was getting.
The SEC did not appear to inquire into post-issuance management or maintenance of the pool of assets. Once “securitized” the notes would still be handled by individual originators or assigned to servicers. Lincoln asked “what was there left to be assigned or handled once the notes and mortgages were pooled?”
The SEC is charged with protecting small individuals and the corporate investor.
The SEC is expected to be involved in examining and making inquiries about a company’s claims for potential and predictions of earnings or profitability.
On what opinion or data would these be based for the Excel Mortgage Pool, since there weren’t any?
The opinions used were based on the “normal statistical performance of similarly credit rated and similarly valued mortgages in similar markets from studies of a group at MIT Sloan School of Management headed by a then no-name professor Frank J. Fabozzi. Fabozzi, with close ties to the Bank of New York, was also among the occasional Night walkers at Cadwalader.
The process of preparing an SEC registration statement is a gold-mine for lawyers inclined to highly detailed work. Such a process for registration can normally require Lincoln said, over a thousand individual revisions. The Excel Mortgage registration would be subject to over 2,000 revisions, but in all this there was still no attention given to claims of ownership, transfer of title, the laws of agency and fiduciary duty of managers, any of the concerns which normally plague the corporate world and frame the concern of SEC examiners and securities lawyers.
What’s In It for CWT?
The careers of young associates, and even older partners, at firms such as Cadwalader, Wickersham, & Taft, Chadbourne & Park, Sullivan & Cromwell, or Skadden, Arps, depend upon work measured in billable hours. Cadwalader had a “billing goal” of multiple millions of dollars for the Excel Mortgage registration project.
Lincoln recalls three relevant details:
First, the firm was never able to reach it’s own goal of billable hours by the time the project was complete.
Second, the firm sent constant “internal memoranda” by e-mail to all employees, down to the lowliest legal secretaries and paralegals, to work harder and BILL MORE HOURS. It was simply inconceivable that Cadwalader might have to refund any part of enormous retainer paid for the Excel Mortgage, SEC Registration Statement project. The money for this had all been advanced by BNY, who counted on Cadwalader to do the job which needed to be done.
Third, the practical purpose of any billable hours stood quite above and beyond any possibility of doubt or question. In fact, any and all billings, however described, so long as they were assigned to the Excel Mortgage Registration Statement Account, were welcomed.
Lincoln was therefore able to unleash his curiosity, delving late at night after hours into issues which ranged far, far afield from the environmental history, condition, and culturally or historically significant use or contents of the subject properties.
Despite some losses during the 2007-2008, CWT was in 1993-1994, and remains today, the top firm representing the creators and implementing the designs of “structure finance and derivative securitization” world wide. Lincoln wanted to understand what he was doing, and what he was involved in creating. The more he found out, the more troubled he became.
As an entry-level associate at Cadwalader Lincoln received his own office and secretary and paralegal. Little time was spent interacting with others in the office. A quick question might be asked but friends did not come quickly. Each associate knew what mattered was the hours billed, and friendly socialization was hard to itemize even on the Cadwalader charts. Hanging over the heads of all new associates was the goal of “making partner.”
As an anthropologist, Lincoln saw immediately the subculture of the law firm had its own standards, values, and mandates. The firm had high standards for dress which included ties which remained in place all day, regulations for tie clips or tie pins and cufflinks and belts and, of course, shoes, whether white or “normal.”
Standards for women included skirts below the knee and mandated the length for sleeves and the height of necklines and collars. Even the length of hair, for women, was described and outlined in the firm guide, although one paralegal from the litigation department was granted a special exemption, for cause. Known to and noted by everyone in the firm, for his ponytail and paisley shirts, the associate was hired from SDS in California as “our eyes and ears to the lower classes,” as the senior partners consistently and uniformly described him.
Lincoln, as an undergraduate, had twice been voted, “best dressed man on campus”, but the whole Cadwalader atmospheric ethos of bloodless conformity, as noted above, was for him one of stifling suffocation.
The anomalies which began to intrude on Lincoln’s consciousness during his late hours trying to understand the “entity” being sold almost as if it were a company or entity, without actually being one, became an obsession. At first, this lead only to more billable hours, but the trip down the rabbit hole became increasingly disconcerting.
All questions of real value or reasonable expectations, lead the inquirer to the Bank of New York’s Heart, ending any questions.
The Disconnect between Law and Derivatives
Lincoln’s law school classes, under the University of Chicago’s Andrew M. Rosenfield, William Landes, Geoffrey Parsons Miller, and Richard A. Posner, and from his further and ongoing research as a Law Clerk with Ryskamp and now at Cadwalader, had considered the question of real value and reasonable expectations.
Issuing and selling securities, debt or equity, takes place when a company, or group of people who have control over assets they planned to use to make money, or with which they were already doing something generally profitable, or wanted to raise new capital and/or liquidate their ownership and interests in an ongoing and successful venture.
This did not come close to describing what Bank of New York had underwritten for Cadwalader to prepare for Excel Mortgage.
This SEC Registration Statement gave birth to new type of “debt-equity-derivative debt instrument” which had none of the elements or characteristics of a traditional enterprise at all. It was PAPER MADE FROM PAPER, SECURED BY PAPER.
Indeed, the Excel Mortgage Bond, which was soon to be popped onto the market with an SEC certification of Federal conformity was a creation of the lawyers, by the lawyers, for the lawyers.
As one of the most senior associates, now firm Chairman, Christopher White explained to Lincoln when he asked him, “Who will own the interests in these notes once they are securitized?” He grinned boyishly from ear-to-ear and said, “we will, because everyone will have to pay us to tell them.”
Without any unifying manager or common owner for these properties, the pool of notes struck Lincoln as like nothing so much as “res nullius” in Ancient Roman Law—the legal category of “property belonging to no one”, e.g. virgin forests, wild beasts and undomesticated fur and game animals of every kind, the un-owned and un-ownable creatures of the deep.
Excel Mortgage was going to pool all these “derivative” real estate mortgage interests, whose only commonalities marking them as similar were the price, promissory note, range, size and “single-family home-residential” nature of the properties, and the credit or FICO scores of the owners.
Having “pooled” these “cherry picked” assets, Excel was going to create a strange creature without an owner until either default or foreclosure moved someone to homestead these unownable notes back to control and “ownership” again.
In essence, the concept was, “everything belongs to everyone in common” and “debt is not individual but collective.”No one owes his or her debt to any person, but everyone owes it to everyone to pay. This concept seemed, even to Lincoln in 1994, strangely reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”
The Excel Mortgage Bond to be securitized reflected an artificial “derivative” interests in a non-coherent, uncontrolled mass of wealth, which could and would have to be tamed individually, just like hunting the wild game of the woods.
There would be only a pretense of relationship between the notes originated and the notes collected upon.
There was no one to oversee the transfers, no one to audit the exchanges of values; there were quite simply no responsible parties anymore than anyone can take charge of wheat chaff thrown into the wind or the by-products of a paper mill dumped into a river, yet these “derivative by-products” were being STRUCTURED into something said to have value.
Around 1500 or 2000 properties had been collected together and placed in a basket or pool. But no single plan of real estate development or construction or sales was involved, nor was any contemplated. Nothing joined these properties as a class. Most were not new, but merely resales.
Raising the Issues
Lincoln dug in further, producing and circulating to all his fellow associates and the senior partners at Cadwalader his own memoranda: lengthy studies and analysis on issues such as the fiduciary obligations in the Law of Agency.
Fiduciary responsibility of issuers of securities to purchasers, holder in due course doctrine, implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing between parties to a contract, privity of contract itself, and commercial paper doctrines such as endorsement and ownership as holder, and the comparative rights and priorities of “naked” holders vs. “perfected” holders.
As Lincoln’s months stretched out among the whirring circular brushes which polished the green and white marble floors of CWT, he spent more-and-more time with the partners of real estate department, which seemed to understand his worries and concerns better than others, certainly better than the Fourth or Fifth year associate in charge of coordinating the Excel Mortgage Project who kept explaining “this is my road to partner; if I can finish this and make it happen, I won’t have to worry about how to live on these lousy six figure salaries anymore, I’ll finally be making millions, and that’s why we all came here, isn’t it?”
Questions Find Answers
Since it was not why Lincoln had arrived at 100 Maiden Lane this presented a dead end for him.
The real estate connection, and an aborted plan to open a CWT office in California, permitted him to compare the Excel Mortgage project with another, more traditional real estate development Sacramento, California.
An extremely prominent CWT client based in Los Angeles was complaining and encountering major problems because of a parallel but separate and distinct set of misapplications of the law of agency, fiduciary duty, and obligation, also originating from the same historical “Cadwalader Memorandum” on transfer of interests which had triggered the explosion of derivative innovations in the securities realm.
With CWT acting as counsel for an old and distinguished California family and collection of enterprises, the Ahmansons, tracts totaling several dozen suburban “townships” in El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba Counties had sold by the Ahmanson family to a Japanese firm and retained an “Ahmanson Construction Group.”
The intention was to build a resort in the area for the benefit of the Japanese owners acting as “construction agents.”
Normally construction is performed pursuant to agreements with “independent contractors” who make estimates but are not obligated to continue working if their estimated budgets prove insufficient to complete a project. The Japanese investors were seeking to securitize all the sales in this immense, almost unimaginable project.
Involved, were the Bank of New York, with Cadwalader’s long-time California based H.F. Ahmanson holding Company, parent company both to Ahmanson Construction and the since failed Home Savings of America Bank.
The “construction agency relationship” which Cadwalader had created imposed devastating duties and obligations on Ahmanson. As agents, Ahmanson Construction was obligated to use its own money to achieve the ends of the principal, in this case the Japanese company which had purchased the real estate but woefully underfunded the construction of the vast tracts of homes. Ahmanson could not make a profit or even break even. In effect, they had become slaves to the Japanese and might never be compensated.
Lincoln, having reviewed the facts, pointed out to Stephen Meyer, Richard C. Field, and John McDermott, the partners most closely associated with Ahmanson, that by not only failing to protect Ahmanson, but in fact, selling them into quasi-slavery as agents under a contract without guarantees of adequate funding to execute agency obligations, the firm had made a ghastly mistake amounting to nothing less than legal malpractice. This was a breach of fiduciary duty in and of itself.
Lincoln was told, “This firm has a policy of doing no wrong. Therefore, you are wrong. The firm is never wrong. You should reevaluate your conclusions.”
This happened in 1994, only two and a half years after the sensational October 1991 confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas. The Paula Jones allegations against the new President Clinton, were beginning. “Sexual harassment” became a great boogie-man haunting law firms all over America.
Consequences are Clarified
After reading his memorandum on the Ahmanson project, these senior partners asked Lincoln to leave the room.
When they called Lincoln back in, they told him, very solemnly,
“you know you need to keep your nose clean around here. We have all received reports that you have taken your secretary Alex to lunch more than once and what’s more you gave Holly, the Senior Secretary in recruitment & personnel, flowers for her birthday and Valentines Day. So just remember: never ever do anything, anything at all, that you would not want to see published on the front page of the New York Times. Anything here can be, you know, and anything will be, at the drop of a pin, because everyone is very sensitive to questions of decorum these days, and, after all, you are a married man.”
Lincoln reports he did not even bother to ask how they happened to think of this only after a three hour meeting concerning the Ahmanson contract of construction agency, when he had never heard about any concerns of this nature before.
At work, Lincoln continued to pile up daunting billable hours doing research on a growing list of issues, each going back to the dissection of the elements of value, which were being “deposited” into the derivative pool. He was determined to understand what was really happening. Why were they doing this?
Confirming what Christopher White had told him before, a Properties Department attorney named Stephen Meyer, advised Lincoln to keep his mouth shut, this happening shortly before Lincoln was asked to resign. Both men had made it clear, in nearly the same words, that Lincoln should be careful about questioning or criticizing firm’s plan for transforming the economy of the Western World, “this is how things are being done these days. We do because we get to charge everybody. This is how the whole world will be managed by 2020, we have a plan.”
As Lincoln was to discover, there was a plan. A book called “Cadwalader 2020” contained a comprehensive manifesto of how the world would be changed by the year 2020. Unsecuritized individual debt would no longer exist.
During Lincoln’s entire time at CWT, the firm maintained a high level of security over the Excel Mortgage work, work which finally involved everyone at the firm. All who worked at the firm had to submit to a frisk on leaving work. No papers or laptop computers or diskettes, this still the era of 3.5 inch diskettes, were to be taken home or removed from the premises, and no external e-mail was allowed connecting to firm e-mail. All firm e-mail was in fact carefully monitored.
To entirely use up the retainer on the Excel work, Lincoln and all the other first and second year associates found themselves in a large conference room supervised by some of the partners pasting labels on files.
The partners had to review the signature pages before officers of Excel would sign the documents, and the associates were there to prepare and affix signature tabs, saying “sign here, Mr. So-and-So, on to the final pages of Statement before final submission.
Lincoln said it seemed odd to use attorney billable time to prepare, double-check, and verify signature tabs, even on a super important document until you considered the driving desire of CWT to maximize their billable hours.
Billing rates were $150.00 an hour for new associates, $60 – 80 an hour for paralegals, and $40 – 50 an hour for secretaries. On being told that he had failed to bill his secretary’s and paralegals’ time for bringing him after hours meals and snacks, Lincoln asked the senior associate in charge of organizing the Excel Mortgage Project how much the firm billed out for the hourly operators of the automated circular marble floor polishers which whirred seemingly ceaselessly day and night throughout the offices. Epstein just glared at Lincoln silently. Those hours were not billable.
CWT was determined to drain every possible penny from the work done for Excel Mortgage, and did. This appeared to be consistent with the Bank of New York’s plan in financing the project in the first place.
As Lincoln’s research continued, the business plan being followed by Excel Mortgage also emerged, in all of its complexity and disturbing detail. The company had seen the potential to redefine a debt, recreating it as equity, and equity can be used as collateral for originating and extending more debt, which can be hybridized with contingent interests in an ever expanding pyramid of debt, doubled into equity, doubled into debt…. And again, this was the CWT-BNY plan for perpetual inflation.
There was quite simply no plan other than to pool and securitize the notes to issue X millions of dollars in bonds. These would be sold on the major stock exchanges, generating equity. The equity would be used to extend or originate more money to the borrowing public who then “sell” or give their new notes. This then generates more equity through debt, a constantly pooling and production of derivatives then sell to continue the cycle.
Ponzi Scheme Emerges
After his first month of painful research, it took Charles an additional 6 weeks to figure out and map the nature of the pyramid, another 6 weeks to check his work and accept the results, and then he started writing memoranda, one after the other, each one critiqued by other associates or the senior partners and getting longer and longer.
His first memorandum was entitled “The Law of Fiduciary Duty in Agency.”
His second was “Transfer and acceptance of instruments by endorsement and receipt: who is responsible?”
There were at least four others, the longest of which was over 500 pages.
Lincoln’s conclusion was breathtakingly simple: “merger of identities destroys the identities merged, there is no individual liability for debt in the absence of privity of contract, and no privity of contract without individual identity of contracting parties.”
It was clear from the elated attitude of the Senior Partners that designing and implementing the Excel Registration Statement, as the first IPO of its kind, stood in their minds as their most important contribution to western civilization, as envisioned through the world of “Cadwalader 2020”.
Finally, Lincoln was asked to resign, about six weeks shy of his first anniversary. His questions and concerns had not ended and the Partners were becoming hostile.
Leaving with a not quite “Golden Parachute” consisting of a $50,000 severance payment, he had vocally identified a series of challenges which the management of Cadwalader had no intention of addressing. It was now clear to Lincoln these were not any kind of mistake or oversight.
Lincoln’s final memorandum at Cadwalader opined, perhaps overestimating general knowledge of the law, “no mortgage note included in the Excel mortgage pool will ever be lawfully collected in the event of borrower/credit-debtor default, because the pooling of identities obliterates individual obligations and rights, and discrete transactions lie at the foundation of our system of contract and debt.”
At the meeting where he finally resigned, the Senior partners, perhaps understanding the American public better than Lincoln, said to him, “Who is ever going to notice lack of privity of contract besides you? They teach you all those archaic “Elements of Law” at the University of Chicago, we know all about it, but nobody does business that way anymore. The economy of the future is now, nobody cares about endorsements and signatures anymore, it’s all going to be electronic, anyhow.”
Lincoln responded, “well, then, you’re going to have to change the law.” And the masters of the CWT universe said, “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out, we write the law, we interpret the law, we tell everyone in America what the law means, that’s what we do.
The Price Paid
The next nineteen years of Lincoln’s life have been filled with constant attacks from the legal establishment from directions and in ways which exacted a hideous toll on him and those he loves. He has repeatedly learned what it is to be hated, rejected, despised, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. In those two decades he lost his wife, his birth family, and his son, all his inherited property, including several homes and a gigantic private library and personal collections of fossils, numismatic, painted, and sculptural art, his law licenses in three states and even his own not-at-all-insubstantial investments.
Lincoln notes that, after what can only be called a blessed beginning in life with his loving grandparents supporting him, an exceptional education, and basically a privileged and charmed first three decades of life, his consistent pattern of loss only began when he was 33-34 years with his entry into private law practice at Cadwalader, in what, quite simply should have been “the best of all possible worlds.”
Left with nothing, he refused to quit.
All of these events began after those critical months, less than a year, that he had spent at Cadwalader, Wickersham, & Taft.
As historical events unfolded, parallel to his own life, his worst projections regarding the impact of the new market in mortgage derivatives proved to be frighteningly accurate. Lincoln began to research how the runaway Ponzi Scheme could be halted, and reversed.
According to Lincoln, for the past ten years, his life has been entirely shaped by the mortgage crisis and its origin in securitization. The question which, he says, drove him is how private property and integrity of contract could restored in the face of the “New World Order” Plan. This is the plan Lincoln first became aware from the internal firm booklet “Cadwalader 2020,” while he was working at CWT in 1993-1994.
Lincoln believes such restoration is possible. The systemic fraud has not gone unnoticed, as CWT and BNY clearly thought would be the case. Their concern is registering through the rising wave of settlements which are now extinguishing the cases they deem most threatening. These cases are now settling on the courthouse steps for significant amounts and return of the real estate, free and clear of mortgage related liens.
Banks understand the ominous possibilities they face if juries realize what really happened. And today, it is not just Cadwalader. Nearly every major financial law firm in the United States who is involved, directly or indirectly, in the implementation, defense, or coverup of securitization is potentially liable.
This potential for liability makes the settlements paid out by cigarette companies seem like chump change.
As long as such settlements are few and remain outside the view of the courts, the banks are safe. But the moment juries hear the facts, and see the reality, the banks are toast, and they know it.
And here, Lincoln said, is the leverage point from which change can be enacted. More cases must be litigated using the facts so cases won in the light of day can become case law and precedent. The war can be won, but will be costly. This challange requires, along with several lines of attack, the means for funding litigation.
One possible solution is to solicit private direct investment in litigation for individual cases in exchange for a share of the awards by the jury. Another is to design an “anti-derivative derivative” plan which bundles and pools both investments and potential awards, allowing Americans at all income levels to invest in the effort.
For this derivative, investors would understand both the risk and the benefits of investing.
Lincoln’s team, they know, cannot fund its efforts as the banks do, by an out of control pyramid scheme piling debt on equity to create more debt, but Lincoln sees a certain symmatry achieved by using the weapons created by the originators of the problem against them.
Either solution, Lincoln says, lies directly in the hands of Americans. If the money is available, litigation can go forward. He and the team see a build out across the country, with litigation taking place in every state as attorneys sign on and funds are available.
They have already begun. Lincoln’s team is now working with homeowners and the currently small number of attorneys willing to litigate. They have no illusions. They are aware they are going up against the most powerful institutions in the world. But they also know that, if they are successful, the crack now forming in the protections constructed by CWT, BNY, and so many others, makes it possible to reverse the ominous trends in the American housing market while proving it is possible to enact accountability for a corrupt establishment and good for the people.
If houses now held by banks go on the market, or are returned to their owners, the heavily inflated prices of homes will drop to its natural market level based on supply and demand. Communities will stabilize, as will the lives of Americans.
The America which emerges from this crisis can be very different. No stability will ever result from the current expectations of perpetual economic growth relying on perpetual inflation and perpetual motion in the market place, and the resultant social instability.
The 99% need to bring the 1% home to live with the rest of us in peace, Lincoln says.
Given the propensity of the legal establishment to go after activist attorneys, Lincoln admits this will not be without risk, but public involvement can help here, too. He remains confident, many will step forward. They did so in 1775 and in other times of crisis in America.
Failing to act, he said, means abandoning Americans to the cartels and monopolies who are responsible for what has happened to our country.
Lincoln and other members of the team believe strongly most attorneys and judges, when asked to make a choice in the light of day, will do the right thing.
The effort has already begin in New Jersey. Right now he has a case in motion in the Garden State, just across the river from Manhattan, where Cadwalader still holds sway at the ominously named “One World Financial Center.”
Now, they are looking for more attorneys who love and respect the law, and investors who know what matters most and want to make a difference. His website is, homeownersjustice.com.
Goldman Sachs is the epitome of the word “evil.” If one wants to know what the evil central bankers are up to, one only needs to pay attention to the actions of Goldman Sachs. The power elite residing inside of this country does not begin and end with the Federal Reserve, that privilege is reserved for the interrelationship between Goldman Sachs, the Federal Reserve, the corrupt World Bank and the IMF. And now, Goldman Sachs is running the European financial system into the ground as another Goldman Sachs boy, “Super” Mario Monti, has taken over Italy to finish off what is left of the Italian financial system. Monti is also the head of the European Trilateral Commission as well as a Bilderberg member. And yet another Goldman Sachs boy is finishing off the job in Greece. It is the mission of Goldman Sachs to implode the global economy with massive debt arising from the failed derivatives market, in which the debt totals 16 times the total GDP of the planet and that debt has been passed on to the governments of the world. There is no way that any country will ever pay off this debt. The world’s financial system will be collapsed and then reorganized under the Bank of International Settlement. Goldman Sachs is merely the grim reaper in this unholy process.
The Goals of Goldman Sachs
The purpose of this article is to expose the three pronged attack, directed at the American people, by Goldman Sachs, and its partners at the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury Department, the IMF and the World Bank. These central banker controlled institutions are engaged in a plot which is designed to accomplish the following:
- The destruction of America’s domestic economy through the introduction of derivative debt which is 16 times greater than the world’s GDP. This goal has been accomplished as evidenced by the fact that America now has more workers on welfare (101 million) as opposed to actual full time workers (97 million).
- Setting the chessboard in such a way that WWIII is a foregone conclusion. This is near completion as the US and Israel are poised to go to war with China and Russia, over Syria and Iran, in order to preserve the Petrodollar.
- Initiating a false flag event which will culminate in martial law and the elimination to all opposition to both the coming WWIII and the imposition of a tyrannical world government as well as a one world economic system.
It is no secret that Goldman Sachs runs Wall Street. After the first bail out, Goldman Sachs cut the head off of Shearson Lehman and several other Wall Street competitors when they used their undue influence to determine winners and losers after the first round of TARP. Even Ray Charles could see that Goldman Sachs is in near complete control of our government as evidenced by the former Goldman Sachs gangsters who have run our economy into the ground (e.g., Clinton’s Secretary of Treasury Goldman Sachs’ Rubin, Bush’s Secretary of Treasury Goldman Sachs’ “too big to fail” Hank Paulson, etc.). Make no mistake about it, the introduction of the massive derivatives debt was a power consolidation move designed to collapse the economy and hand over essential control to Goldman Sachs and its partners.
History Repeats Itself
Today’s events parallel the imperialists of the early 2oth Century which resulted in World War I. The Wall Street led depression of the 1930’s led to the rise of political extremism and ultimately to World War II. Today, Goldman Sachs and their fellow Wall Street cronies are currently running, or dare I say ruining the global economy and the consequences are going to result in the culmination of World War III from which these same gangster bankster’s will profit from the buildup, the death and destruction of billions of innocent people as well as profiting from the lucrative clean up which follows every war.
The ultimate prize for the coming war will be the ruination of the planet in order that the power structure of the earth can be reinvented in a manner that not even George Orwell could imagine. Remember, as the globalists like to say in reference to their favorite Hegelian Dialectic quote, “Out of chaos comes order.” Of course, it won’t be Goldman Sachs’ money that pays for the destruction of humanity in the coming world war. This coming war and its subsequent blood money will be your money and my money. It goes without saying that it won’t be the executives of Goldman Sachs children who are pressed into military service and will be eventually sacrificed on the battlefields of WWIII. It will be your children and my children who will be sacrificed in the name of furthering the bottom line of the Goldman Sachs Mafia and their masters at the Bank of International Settlement. Meanwhile, the Goldman Sachs children who will be safely tucked away as the world’s final chapter plays out as we know it.
Goldman Sachs Destroying the American Middle Class
This swath of international destruction being promulgated by Goldman Sachs is also being visited upon the daily lives of the American public here at home. Courtesy of the Goldman Sachs gangsters, there are no more safe financial havens for American citizens. Your bank account, your pension fund, your investment accounts and your home mortgages are no longer safe. These collective funds are not in jeopardy because of the risk of falling victim to the failing economy as much as these funds are subject to confiscation by Goldman Sachs and its shell corporations along with the complicit support of the federal government. Most of these public officials are former Goldman Sachs employees. A clear case in point lies in what happened with MF Global.
MF Global, a shell corporation beholding to Goldman Sachs, was led to the slaughter by the former Goldman Sachs executive and former New Jersey Governor and senator, John Corzine. Corzine’s criminal actions directly victimized 150,000 Americans by stealing an estimated $900 million dollars of his clients’ money from their supposedly secure private accounts. There is also another $600 million missing dollars from MF Global which is still unaccounted for today. Meanwhile, Corzine avoids sharing a prison cell with Bernie Madoff by purchasing a “get-out-of-jail card” through the sponsorship of a $35,000 per plate fundraiser for that great Wall Street puppet, Barack Hussein Obama. And what are the government watch dogs doing to protect our money from this new generation of robber barons? The short answer is that key federal officials are actually partners with Goldman Sachs in this monumental violation of the public trust. Take Gary Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs executive partner, who like so many other Goldman Sachs gangsters, have been placed into key governmental oversight positions in order to protect the Goldman Sachs co-conspirators from prosecution as they continue their reign of terror upon the global economy.
…but a Goldman Sachs cop on the take.
Gary “the gangster” Gensler is the former Undersecretary of the Treasury(1999-2001) and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (1997-1999) and the current director of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. In his position at the time of the MF Global debacle, Gensler had the authority to go after Corzine for his role in the MF Global theft of customer funds and order restitution. However, Gensler has decided to protect a fellow member of the Goldman Sachs Mafia by not looking into the massive fraud and theft by Corzine and his cronies. Your tax dollars, paying the salary of federal officials, are overseeing the most massive illegal private transfer of wealth in the history of the planet. And this debt is payable to Goldman Sachs and their criminal enterprise partners.
You may not be one of the current 150,000 Goldman Sachs/MF Global victims. However, this Robin Hood-in-reverse-scenario, in which the rich are plundering what’s left of the middle class, will soon be visited upon your bank account, your home mortgages and your pensions. Whether it is the MERS mortgage fraud or the theft being perpetrated upon Federal employee retirement accounts, these criminal banksters are in the process of stealing it all and what are you going to do about it? Our nation of entrenched sheep will do nothing. The American citizens are going to lie down and take their beating in the face of the largest unfolding criminal syndicate in human history.
While you and the rest of America are trying to collectively remove your “deer in the headlight” glaze, you, as an American, have far more serious issues to concern yourself with and you are not going to have to wait long to have your worst fears to be born out.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Some, who have heard my expressed sense of outrage, have asked me if I favor a violent overthrow the United States Government. To that question, I answer in the negative. However, show me a way to be involved in the overthrow of the gangsters who have hijacked my country’s government, and I will be the first in line. However, before that day arrives, we have some very formidable obstacles to face with regard to what is looming just around the corner.
Goldman Sachs Is the Financial Kingpin of False Flag Attacks
If one wants to predict the next false flag attack, one merely has to watch the actions and the money movements of Goldman Sachs.
In the days leading up to the attacks on 9/11, Goldman Sachs “shorted” the sale of airline stocks which plummeted in the aftermath of the attacks. Just a coincidence you say?
In the days leading up to the housing bubble, Goldman Sachs shorted housing stocks which ignited the bubble. The Federal government fined Goldman Sachs, but in typical fashion, nobody went to jail. Just another coincidence you say?
As I documented in my seven part series, The Great Gulf Coast Holocaust, Goldman Sachs executed a “put option” for preferred insiders invested in Transocean stock, thus protecting the profits of these preferred insiders on the morning of the explosion. Transocean was the owner of the ill-fated oil rig. Goldman Sachs also sold the lion’s share of its stock less than two weeks before that fateful day on April 20, 2010. Nalco was the subsidiary of Goldman Sachs and BP at the time of the explosion. Who is Nalco? Nalco was the exclusive manufacturer of the deadly oil dispersant, Corexit. Corexit has done more to wreck the ecology of the Gulf as well as the health of the Gulf Coast residents than the oil spill itself. Again, this is all documented in my seven part series. By the way, I count another three coincidences in this paragraph alone and if you are keeping score, we are looking at a total of five amazing coincidences. But wait, there is more!
The moral of this story is clear, if there is to be a significant false flag event, the financial actions of Goldman Sachs will prove to be the key. And Goldman Sachs’ actions have signaled yet another oncoming false flag. As I reported on in April, Goldman Sachs instructed its brokers to sell short on gold stocks. And then after the bulk of the gold market panicked and the price of gold plummeted in a massive sell off, the Goldman Sachs boys did it again. The Goldman Sachs brokers began to purchase gold in massive amounts, for its elite clients, at a greatly depressed price. By the way, Goldman Sachs employed the EXACT same strategy with regard to the Gulf Oil tragedy. When Goldman Sachs sold off BP stock in the days before the explosion, they purchased massive amounts of BP stock at a greatly reduced price in June of 2010. The coincidence meter is now up to seven.
Why Goldman Sachs Cornered the Gold Market
The global elite would only want massive amounts of gold because something bad is about to happen to the dollar. When the dollar collapses, the elite, courtesy of the Goldman Sachs brokers will be sitting in a great position in which they hold the only sustainable medium of exchange following the collapse. But when will the collapse come? What form will it take?
As I reported, less than two weeks ago, the Bank of International Settlement ordered the central banks, including the Federal Reserve, to greatly decrease loans as a protection to the coming bad financial times. So, now we are getting warned and the narrowing down of where this is leading, is getting easier to predict.
It is important to remember that Goldman Sachs and the rest of the international banking community desperately want to wage war in Syria and eventually Iran over the demise of the Petrodollar caused by Iran in which they are selling oil for gold to India, China and Russia. There is also big money to be made by the banks in an upcoming global conflict. More importantly, and just as the world witnessed in the aftermath of WWII, consolidation of power can be achieved following a major war. Additionally, Goldman Sachs and the rest of the international bankers are not about to let China and Russia thumb their noses at the prevailing economic system. Gold will not be allowed to be used as a medium of exchange for nation states, because a nation on the gold standard, is a nation that controls its debt levels and financial security. This is unacceptable to the central bankers who kill national leaders, such as Gadaffi and Sadam Hussein, for daring to break from the plan and achieve financial independence. What the globalists also need is a game changing event which will destroy all opposition to the coming war. And the financial intentions of Goldman Sachs clearly speaks to the fact that a false flag attack is imminent which will implicate Syria and Iran and provide the pretext for the US and Israel to attack.
The Nature of the Coming False Flag Attack
The coming false flag attack which will plunge America into martial law, for our own protection of course, will result in WWIII. The false flag event could take two forms. It was reported two weeks ago, that the US was missing a nuclear weapon from a military base in Texas. This prompted Senator Lindsay Graham to state that the harbor in Charleston, SC. would be nuked if the US did not attack Syria. This is the first scenario.
The other scenario, and the far more likely one, has the power grid going down on November 13th. The Grid Ex II drill being conducted by DHS, FEMA, 150 corporations and the 50 governors, will simulate a power grid take down by terrorists on that same date. How many times have we witnessed a drill which turns into a false flag attack? This happened with 9/11, the 7/7 bombings and the Boston Marathon. There is a good chance it is going to happen here
In this scenario, once the grid is taken down, a banking collapse can be instituted and most will not notice because by the third day of a blackout, total chaos will ensue and nobody will be paying attention to the banks. Martial law will be imposed and Syria and Iran will be blamed.
The CEO of Goldman Sachs, Llloyd Blankfein, is on the record stating that an economic collapse is imminent. Need I say more?
Regardless of the form that an upcoming false flag event will follow, Goldman Sachs has tipped their false flag hand. A false flag event is coming and it is a safe bet that it will culminate in martial law. This would certainly explain DHS’ collecting of 2.6 billion rounds of ammunition and 2700 armored personnel carriers. There is also going to be a resulting third world war. The globalists know humanity is waking up. They are running out time and they are desperate. This could all be over in a few months. Do you not feel the collective sense of dreaded anticipation that has overtaken the country? At the unconscious level, we all know what is coming.
The November power grid drill is worth watching and I predict in the upcoming weeks, there will be many articles written about how to survive the coming events. I would advise all to pay attention, but most of all, I would advise people to get their spiritual affairs in order. We come into the world with nothing and all we leave with is the sum total of our spiritual experiences. It is time to attend to that detail in the present time frame.
Source: The Common Sense Show
More than two years after the catastrophe, Japanese officialdom has raised the severity of the calamity from one to three (on a scale of seven). The threat elevation is due to massive amounts of radioactive water leaking out of the site.
“The quantities of water they are dealing with are absolutely gigantic,” nuclear consultant Mycle Schneider told the BBC. “It is much worse than we have been led to believe, much worse.”
This is having an impact on everything from the water supply to the surrounding oceans.
“Our biggest concern right now is if some of the other isotopes such as Strontium-90, which tend to be more mobile, get through these sediments in the groundwater,” scientist Ken Buesseler said. “They are entering the oceans at levels that then will accumulate in seafood and will cause new health concerns.”
The horror stories just keep on accumulating, as Harvey Wasserman documents for The Progressive.
“A plague of damaged thyroids has already been reported among as many as 40 percent of the children in the Fukushima area,” he writes. “Cesium-137 from Fukushima has been found in fish caught as far away as California.”
It’s not shocking, then, that Fukushima is causing the world to take a long, hard look at nuclear energy.
“It has profoundly shaken confidence in the future of nuclear power, from Taiwan—where earlier this month MPs resorted to fisticuffs as they debated a referendum on a new nuclear power station—to Berlin,” The Guardian notes.
“The kind of cascade of devastating events that hit Fukushima hadn’t previously been factored into risk probability assessments,” the paper says. “Now regulatory authorities all over the world have been forced to consider whether, however unlikely, more than one accident could happen in quick succession, and what the consequences would be.”
The continuing calamity has put a crimp in Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s grandiose plans to go in for a full-scale nuclear revival.
“Even before news of the new leak, a majority of the public was against restarts, according to a Kyodo News poll taken July 13-14, with 51 percent opposing and 40 percent in favor of reviving Japan’s nuclear program,” Bloomberg News reports. “The latest revelation could further sway sentiment against nuclear power, according to Koichi Nakano, professor of politics at Sophia University in Tokyo.”
However, for something that has such ongoing significance, there’s comparatively little current coverage of Fukushima in the American media.
“Unlike other environmental catastrophes like BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Fukushima crisis offers little to film,” Eric Ozawa writes for The Nation. “And so the story, when it gets reported, rarely gets the attention it deserves.”
Don’t let that fool you, though. Fukushima is one of the most consequential events of recent years and has huge implications for the types of energy sources we choose—and the type of world we’d like to live in.
Source: Amitabh Pal | The Progressive
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.