Author Archives: laudyms

How to Celebrate the Fourth of July: Read Frederick Douglass

By Kai Wright
Colorlines.com

I’m content to let most holidays be just that—a time when you come off your daily grind and act up with the friends and family. July 4th—or, Independence Day—is a bit more complicated for me. It’s a celebration of the United States’ mythical founding story, an ahistorical account that was written to obscure the young nation’s many, many crimes against humanity. It never fails to surprise me how little Americans know of their real history, and thus how often we repeat its sins.

Today, Americans of all races hear about slavery, but haven’t the faculties to truly grasp it, or how crucial that brutality was to creating the wealth upon which this nation was built. Few schools teach that, in fact, trans-Atlantic slavery began as British capitalists stole their own countrymen’s common lands and forced the displaced into pressed labor on their ships. Or that it grew through their Irish conquest, where they repeated the formula, shipping forced labor to the Caribbean. Or that white supremacy was concocted by European capitalists who feared a multinational, multiracial coalition of the many hues of people they had forced to labor for them in deadly conditions in the Americas. When African slavery proved the most profitable way to extract labor, they just dehumanized the Africans from which they stole. Anybody who objected to this labor system was branded an outlaw, an illegal, as it were.

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William Engdahl, *Gods of Money: Wall Street and the Death of the American Century*

Globalization and de-industrialization were the opening moves of the trap- privatization is the trap closing on our necks.  Of course the rest of the world has been experiencing all this for a long time; but we are no longer the minor beneficiaries of American Imperialism, we have become the next course in its move to devour the world.- Claudia

Find the book at: Amazon Review of: Gods of Money: Wall Street and the Death of the American Century (Paperback) by Reg Little

William Engdahl’s latest book is another awesome exploration and explanation of the boldness and failings of Anglo-American global strategy over most of the past century and a half. Engdahl recalls in his introduction a statement from the 1970’s attributed to then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a protégé of the powerful Rockefeller circles, in which he declared, “If you control the oil, you control entire nations; if you control the food, you control the people; if you control the money, you control the entire world.”

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What’s at stake in Wisc: Public Assets No-Bid Give-Away to Koch brothers

Mike Konczal Feb 21, 2011    Rortybomb

The Less Discussed Part of Walker’s Wisconsin Plan: No-Bid Energy Assets Firesales.

Have you heard about 16.896?

The fight in Wisconsin is over Governor Walker’s 144-page Budget Repair Bill. The parts everyone is focusing on have to do with the right to collectively bargain being stripped from public sector unions (except for the unions that supported Walker running for Governor). Focusing on this misses a large part of what the bill would do. Check out this language, from the same bill (my bold):

16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

The bill would allow for the selling of state-owned heating/cooling/power plants without bids and without concern for the legally-defined public interest.   Continue reading

FDA Approves Nonexistent Product from Nonexistent Company for Human Testing

by Heidi Stevenson 10 January 2011          gaia-health

A sting nailed a company the HHS authorized to oversee human drug trials. The absurdities in the application are belly laugh funny, but in their rush to keep the money coming, they approved it.

The FDA farms out drug and medical device testing. It’s in the hands of the companies hoping to gain approval for their products, but they must first get approval before doing tests on humans. Even here, though, there’s a catch. The FDA doesn’t review the testing plans. That’s done by more for-profit companies, Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). But it gets worse. The IRBs are paid by the companies hoping to gain FDA approval for their products. So, it’s a conflict of interest on top of a conflict of interest.

The First Sting

Congress became suspicious, so they got together with the General Accountability Office (GAO) to set up a sting. They sent out an application for testing of a nonexistent product, Adhesiabloc, by a nonexistent company, Device Med-Systems.

Subtlety is apparently not one of the GAO’s strong suits. Adhesiabloc was described as a gel that would be poured into a patient’s stomach after surgery to collect the bits and pieces left over from the operation. The instructions were to pour more than a liter into the wound.

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UN: Pressure Mounts on Security Council to Rein in Israel

Palestinians carry the body of Jawaher Abu Rahmah during her funeral in the West Bank village of Bilin.A report has indicated that Israeli troops are knowingly using a deadly tear gas against Palestinians who take part in peaceful demonstrations. The report followed the death of a Palestinian woman, who lost her life after inhaling gas fired by Israeli troops.

By Haider Rizvi         IPS News see UPDATE below

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 6, 2011 (IPS) – Calls are growing for a swift international response to the situation in the Middle East, as Israel continues to build new settlements in Palestinian territories with increased military actions against civilians.

However, there is no sign that the 15-member Security Council intends to take any immediate measures to rejuvenate the stalled peace process led by the U.N., the United States, the European Union and Russia.

“I don’t want to prejudge anything at this moment,” Ivan Barbalić, president of the Security Council for this month, told IPS in response to a question about whether or not the Council would soon be holding a meeting to discuss the Middle East situation.

Last week, the Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour sent a letter to U.S. ambassador Susan Rice, who was then president of the Security Council, in which he described the current situation in Palestine as “grave” and said it required “urgent attention and serious action” by the international community, including the Security Council.

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Facing the New Year and Beyond

Many people write New Year’s letters or ponder the coming year. Below are quotes and excerpts from such a New Year’s letter, written by Richard K. Moore:

Of course there is a class war, but it’s my class, the rich class, that is waging the war, and we’re winning.
— Warren Buffet

The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, pull back the curtains, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater. — Frank Zappa

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Awaiting the Storm

December 17, 2010     by Fred Reed

Flags. These are always a bad sign. Hardly a politician appears on television who doesn’t stand in front of an American flag, sometimes three American flags. A venomous nationalism now poisons the air, and grows.   We are off and rolling.

The trappings of fascism spread. General David Petraeus, commander of the Eastern Front, poses with the President in the White House in combat fatigues.  The country is now the Homeland, reminiscent of the  Nazi Fatherland and the Soviet Motherland. We hear of American Exceptionalism, the ritual self-idolizaton beloved of pathological nationalism. Blood and Soil. The American Dream. Ubermenschen. All we need is a short Austrian.

We may get one. The times ripen for a man on a horse. (Or perhaps a woman: Twitler of Alaska looms.) An ignorant population, unread, unfamiliar with the outside world, focuses its anxieties on troubling dark things lurking abroad, the brown hordes from the south, the rising Chinese, inexplicable Moslems who want to kill all Christians.  Sooner rather than later such a mob finds solace in an angry unity. From an unhappy lower middle-class spring Brown Shirts. Wait.

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Big Meat vs. Michael Pollan

A beef industry group crusades to stop the Pollan-ation of America’s college students. MotherJones.com

Nov/Dec 2010         — By Wes Enzinna

Carrin Flores is a cattle rancher’s fantasy come true: An attractive 26-year-old with stylish eyeglasses and glossy lipstick, she’s unabashed about her love of cows. “They are so cute. Their cute little tongues. Oh, and their eyelashes,” she says. “But I also friggin’ love to eat them.” She cooks beef four nights a week and can list dozens of ways she likes it: T-bone, tri-tip, boneless rump roast…Flores, a graduate student in veterinary medicine at Washington State University-Pullman, plans to work in the beef industry when she finishes. But she’s already a graduate of the Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA), an industry-funded program that trains college students to fight back against critics of big agribusiness, like Michael Pollan.

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Canada: Usage-based internet billing approved

Richard Moore comments:

Usage-based doesn’t sound so bad, when you get lots of gigabytes at a fixed  price as a starting point, as is the case below. But this is a precedent, the camel getting its nose in the tent. If it gets to the point where we’re charged for each message sent, for example, email lists will become prohibitively expensive.

October 28, 2010

CRTC green lights usage-based internet billing

By Peter Nowak,  CBC News
Metered internet usage is on the way, with the CRTC handing down its final decision on how wholesale customers can be billed by large network owners.

The federal regulator on Thursday gave Bell Canada the approval to implement so-called usage-based billing to wholesale customers – usually smaller internet service providers that rent portions of its network – within 90 days. Under the plan, Bell will charge wholesale service providers a flat monthly fee to connect to its network, and for a set monthly usage limit per each ISP customer the ISP has.

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America’s Middle Class is dying and the stats prove it

Irish Central July 24, 2010            By CAHIR O’DOHERTY                                                 BUZZ!

Take off your hats and bow to your betters. It’s over – the noble American experiment I mean.

The American middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer here at a historically unprecedented rate.

Once the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but that’s ending at a blinding pace.

The new ‘global economy’ means that middle class American workers have to directly compete for jobs with people on the other side of the world where there is no minimum wage and practically no regulations.

If the socialism the Tea Party is shouting about means anything in the U.S. anymore it refers to the golden circle of the super rich, who are profiting at unheard of rates whilst the rest of this nation suffers.

U.S. Corporations have grown massively rich exploiting third world labor pools, but middle class American workers have increasingly lost out.

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One Year After Coup, Honduras Still in Crisis; Is the US Enabling?

Pro-democracy demonstrators clash with police on September 23, 2009, in the capital of Tegucigalpa.

A year after a military coup toppled the democratically-elected government, a “horrifying” human rights crisis continues amidst economic and environmental decay. Is the U.S. enabling this repression with taxpayer dollars?

One year ago last week, on June 28, 2009, the Honduran special forces – led by U.S.-trained officers, wearing U.S.-issue uniforms and armed with U.S.-made M16s – attacked the home of president Manuel Zelaya, kidnapped him in his pajamas, and after a quick stop at the local U.S. airbase, flew him off to Costa Rica in exile. Honduras hasn’t been the same since.

“[It’s] a totally different country since the coup,” says Dr. Adrienne Pine, a Central American expert at American University in Washington, D.C. In an exclusive interview, Dr. Pine, who was in the capital of Tegucigalpa as an international observer last week, described conditions in the new Honduras as being “horrifying.”

“We’ve now reached a point where it’s like we’ve returned to the 1980’s, when death squads killed several hundred people and effectively ended the Leftist movement in Honduras at the time,” says Pine, who spent Monday marching with about 200,000 pro-democracy demonstrators in the capital. She believes a heavy presence of foreign observers and reporters was the only reason the police and soldiers, who shadowed the marchers at all times, did not attack as they have in the past. “What we’re seeing now is that they’re using the same repressive strategies [as in the ’80’s],” she says. “Even the same people are in charge.”

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“No Fly List” Blocks People From Flying without Explanation or Due Process

ACLU July 8, 2010    Late last month, the ACLU filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit on behalf of 10 U.S. citizens and lawful residents who are prohibited from flying to or from the United States—or over U.S. airspace—because they are on the government’s “No Fly List.”

None of the individuals in the lawsuit, including a disabled U.S. Marine Corps veteran stranded in Egypt and a U.S. Army veteran stuck in Colombia, have been told why they are on the list or given a chance to clear their names.

Thousands of people have been added to the “No Fly List” and barred from commercial air travel without any opportunity to learn about or refute the basis for their inclusion on the list. The result is a vast and growing list of individuals who, on the basis of error or innuendo, have been deemed too dangerous to fly but who are too harmless to arrest.

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UN Expert: Agroecology Outperforms Large-Scale Industrial Farming for Global Food Security

  • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – United Nations, June 22, 2010
    OHCHR

BRUSSELS (22 June 2010) – “Governments and international agencies urgently need to boost ecological farming techniques to increase food production and save the climate,” said UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, while presenting the findings at an international meeting on agroecology held in Brussels on 21 and 22 June.

Along with 25 of the world’s most renowned experts on agroecology, the UN expert urged the international community to re-think current agricultural policies and build on the potential of agroecology.

“One year ago, Heads of States at the G20 gathering in Italy committed to mobilizing $22 billion over a period of three years to improve global food security. This was welcome news, but the most pressing issue regarding reinvestment in agriculture is not how much, but how,” Olivier De Schutter said .

“Today, most efforts are made towards large-scale investments in land – including many instances of land grabbing – and towards a ‘Green Revolution’ model to boost food production: improved seeds, chemical fertilisers and machines,” the Special Rapporteur remarked. “But scant attention has been paid to agroecological methods that have been shown to improve food production and farmers’ incomes, while at the same time protecting the soil, water, and climate.”

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Is BP Hiding Seriously Ill Clean-Up Workers?

by Steven D Booman Tribune July 1, 2010

A philosophical question for you. If no reporter is ever allowed to speak or meet with any of the many oil spill clean-up workers about the medical treatment they may or may not be receiving at a Federal Clinic, much less visit said clinic, do they really exist? And by that I mean oil spill clean-up workers in general, sick or not:

The latest chapter in the media’s ongoing struggle to cover the Gulf Oil Spill comes courtesy of PBS Newshour’s Bridget Desimone, who has been working with her colleague, Betty Ann Bowser, in “reporting the health impact of the oil spill in Plaquemines Parish.” Desimone reports that on the ground, officials are generally doing a better job answering inquiries and granting access to the clean-up efforts.But Desimone and Bowser have encountered one “roadblock” that they’ve struggled to overcome: access to a “federal mobile medical unit” in Venice, Louisiana: “The glorified double-wide trailer sits on a spit of newly graveled land known to some as the “BP compound.” Ringed with barbed wire-topped chain link fencing, it’s tightly restricted by police and private security guards.”

Ever hear of an American medical treatment facility masquerading as Stalag 17 before (I mean other than the one in the movie “Shutter Island“)? Of course, in Shutter Island the facility was an asylum for the criminally insane. I don’t think that’s the excuse the Feds and BP can use for the Venice, La. facility unless the toxic chemicals to which the workers have been exposed have turned them into raving zombies or serial killers. So, what gives? Continue reading

Adapt and Survive: A Final Warning by James Lovelock

The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning

James Lovelock Allen Lane, UK, 2009, ISBN 9781846141850

By Stephan Harding

June 29, 2010 “Resurgence” — It is often said that it takes great ideas in science some forty years to gain widespread acceptance. Sadly for us all, James Lovelock’s concept of a self-regulating Earth has fitted this mould with a frustrating and yet thoroughly predictable punctuality: had acceptance come sooner we would by now have been much further advanced in our understanding of the dangers of climate change.

It was in 1965, whilst thinking of a workable life-detection experiment for a NASA mission to Mars, that Lovelock received a “flash of enlightenment” which would lead him to overturn a notion widely held by scientists at the time: that living beings are merely passive passengers on an Earth governed mostly by geological, chemical and physical processes. Not so, said Lovelock – life’s tightly coupled feedbacks with the abiotic domains of atmosphere, rocks and water configure the Earth into a dynamic, evolving planet that has actively maintained its surface in a state suitable for life over thousands of millions of years despite the vagaries of plate tectonics and an ever-brightening sun.

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Film Challenges Safety Of U.S. Shale Gas Drilling

Edith Honan   Reuters June 18. 2010

A new documentary purporting to expose the hazards of onshore natural gas drilling illustrates its point with startling images of people setting fire to water flowing from faucets in their homes.

“GasLand,” which premiers on cable’s HBO on June 21, fuels the debate over shale gas and the extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, which involves blasting millions of gallons of water, sand and diluted chemicals into shale rock, breaking it apart to free the gas.

It comes at a time of heightened environmental awareness and scrutiny of the energy industry due to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Advocates promote shale gas as an abundant and relatively clean source of energy within the United States but critics including “GasLand” director Josh Fox assert there are environmental and health risks.

Fox, a Pennsylvania playwright, calls the industry’s contention that such drilling is harmless too good to be true. He started asking questions about when his family was offered $100,000 plus royalties to allow hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” on their property.

“I don’t think it’s a gold mine. I think it’s a trap,” Fox said. He turned down the offer but many neighbors took the money.

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America leaves Iraq a toxic legacy of dumped hazardous materials

Oliver August, Baghdad TheTimes June 14, 2010

American troops going home from Iraq after seven painful years are leaving behind a legacy that is literally toxic.

An investigation by The Times in five Iraqi provinces has found that hazardous material from US bases is being dumped locally rather than sent back to America, in clear breach of Pentagon rules.

North and west of Baghdad, engine oil is leaking from 55-gallon drums into dusty ground, open acid canisters sit within easy reach of children, and discarded batteries lie close to irrigated farmland. A 2009 Pentagon document shown to The Times by a private contractor working with US soldiers mentions “an estimated 11 million pounds [5,000 tonnes] of hazardous waste” produced by American troops.

But even this figure appears to be only a partial estimate. BrigadierGeneral Kendall Cox, who is responsible for engineering and infrastructure in Iraq, told The Times yesterday that he was in the process of disposing of 14,500 tonnes of oil and soil contaminated with oil. “This has accumulated over seven years,” he said.

Iraqis who have come into contact with some of the material suffer from rashes and blistering on their hands and feet. They also complain of gagging and coughing. Rats near sites where waste was dumped have died and lie next to soiled containers.   Continue reading

Nigeria’s agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore it

A man washed soot from his face in Lagos, Nigeria, after a gas pipeline ruptured in 2006.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster caused headlines around the world, yet the people who live in the Niger delta have had to live with environmental catastrophes for decades

John Vidal  The Observer May 30, 2010

We reached the edge of the oil spill near the Nigerian village of Otuegwe after a long hike through cassava plantations. Ahead of us lay swamp. We waded into the warm tropical water and began swimming, cameras and notebooks held above our heads. We could smell the oil long before we saw it – the stench of garage forecourts and rotting vegetation hanging thickly in the air.

The farther we travelled, the more nauseous it became. Soon we were swimming in pools of light Nigerian crude, the best-quality oil in the world. One of the many hundreds of 40-year-old pipelines that crisscross the Niger delta had corroded and spewed oil for several months.

Forest and farmland were now covered in a sheen of greasy oil. Drinking wells were polluted and people were distraught. No one knew how much oil had leaked. “We lost our nets, huts and fishing pots,” said Chief Promise, village leader of Otuegwe and our guide. “This is where we fished and farmed. We have lost our forest. We told Shell of the spill within days, but they did nothing for six months.”

That was the Niger delta a few years ago, where, according to Nigerian academics, writers and environment groups, oil companies have acted with such impunity and recklessness that much of the region has been devastated by leaks.

In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta’s network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico, the site of a major ecological catastrophe caused by oil that has poured from a leak triggered by the explosion that wrecked BP‘s Deepwater Horizon rig last month.

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Congress just sold you out to Comcast, Verizon and ATT

Free Press Action Fund

74 House Democrats and 37 Senate Republicans have signed industry-written letters telling the FCC to abandon efforts to protect Internet users and stop big companies from blocking Internet traffic.

It’s yet another example of dirty politics destroying our democracy, and it has to stop.

Tell Washington: Congress Doesn’t Speak for Me

The nasty little secret that everybody knows? Almost every one of these representatives has accepted massive contributions from the phone and cable lobby. Now the industry is demanding a return on its investment.

By signing the industry letter, these members of Congress have drastically undercut the FCC’s ability to get a fast, affordable and open Internet to everyone in America. They are actually taking a position against the interests of rural and low-income communities.

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Congress, Get To Work: America Needs Jobs!

By Terrance Heath May 25, 2010   OurFuture.org

“I have worked all my life.”

It’s something that’s true of many Americans, whether employed or unemployed. But it has a special resonance for Americans who have worked hard, and are wiling to work, but face a jobless recovery. These are Americans whose needs and concerns will get special attention during a jobs plenary at America’s Future Now! in Washington starting June 7.

“I have worked all my life.”

That was the phrase most often repeated by the seven citizens who testified at the “Putting America Back To Work: Direct Job Creation in Local Communities” forum, sponsored by Campaign for Community Change and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. The forum was intended to rally support for the Local Jobs For America Act (HR 4812)which would: