Tuesday, December 28, 2010

David DeGraw: You Go!!!!

David DeGraw refuses to participate in the journalism of appeasement. Good for him! He refuses to temper truth. He refuses to bow to power. He speaks truth to power.

Thank you!

Here are a few stats from his article. These data points demonstrate why he refused to be complicit with a media-propaganda complex that has become completely corrupted:
DeGraw writes: "Here’s a list of stats that I am sure you are already extremely sick of hearing, what we have already passively accepted as “the new normal,” some new ALL-TIME RECORDS for you:

3 million families foreclosed upon;
30 million people in need of employment;
43 million people on food stamps;
52 million people in poverty;
59 million people without healthcare;
239 million living paycheck to paycheck;
$144 billion in Wall Street bonuses;
$13 Trillion in investible wealth within 1% of US population.
Ask yourself this question: How sick and depraved of a society do you have to live in to get an outcome like this?

We now have the highest and most severe inequality of wealth in the history of the United States. We have witnessed an economic shock and awe campaign, acts of financial terrorism have impoverished tens of millions of people and put our future prospects in an urgently dire situation. We know who is responsible for it, yet nothing is done to hold them accountable, and most astounding of all, the people responsible for this (a financial terrorism network) are still in power!

Majia here: I'm a regular follower of his Amped Status site. I very much admire his work and style!

America Primed for Fascism

Paul Craig Roberts writes:

"If not already obvious, 2010 has made clear that the US government does not care a whit for the opinions of citizens. The TSA is unequivocal that it will reach no accommodation with Americans other than the violations of their persons that it imposes by its unaccountable power. As for public opposition to war, the Associated Press reported on December 16 that "Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. can't let public opinion sway its commitment to Afghanistan." Gates stated bluntly what has been known for some time: the idea is passe that government in a democracy serves the will of the people. If this quaint notion is still found in civics books, it will soon be edited out."

Read the entire essay

Thursday, December 23, 2010

U.S. Military Spending at Highest Level Since WWII


The blog "Stop Nato" has an article by Rick Rozoff. Here is an excerpt:

"On December 22 both houses of the U.S. Congress unanimously passed a bill authorizing $725 billion for next year’s Defense Department budget.

"The bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, was approved by all 100 senators as required and by a voice vote in the House.

"The House had approved the bill, now sent to President Barack Obama to sign into law, five days earlier in a 341-48 roll call, but needed to vote on it again after the Senate altered it in the interim.

"The proposed figure for the Pentagon’s 2011 war chest includes, in addition to the base budget, $158.7 billion for what are now euphemistically referred to as overseas contingency operations: The military occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.

"The $725 billion figure, although $17 billion more than the White House had requested, is not the final word on the subject, however, as supplements could be demanded as early as the beginning of next year, especially in regard to the Afghan war that will then be in its eleventh calendar year.

"Even as it currently is, the amount is the highest in constant dollars (pegged at any given year’s dollar and adjusted for inflation) since 1945, the final year of the Second World War...."

Majia here: This is a good summary article. Meanwhile, there exists a gap in funding and a future funding crisis for Pell Grants

Simultaneously, financially strapped states are gauging education at all levels and dramatically cutting social services for the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and anyone else who is "at risk" for utter impoverishment.

Where are you oh three ghosts of Christmas??

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Arends: "Wall Street Wins, Main Street Pays"


Brett Arends' ROI Dec. 21, 2010, 12:01 a.m. EST titled: "The great bank heist of 2010
Commentary: Wall Street wins, Main Street pays — again"

Some excerpts from Arends' article:

"Look at the chaos and catastrophe these guys have left in their wake. One middle-aged man in five is out of work. Tens of millions of families have been financially wiped out. The national debt has nearly doubled.

If inner-city gangs had done this to America, we’d have martial law. If Arabs had done it, we’d have launched another war.

Wall Street bankers? They’ve walked away scot free. And they’re actually being rewarded....

...And in a perfect circle of cynicism, the beneficiaries of bailouts are now spending some of their loot lobbying our Congress to overrule us on reform.

The commercial banks and investment firms spent a total of $118 million lobbying just in 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics....

...Most Americans don’t realize it, but this talk of a “grassroots” and “anti-establishment” election was a bunch of hooey. What really happened was that Wall Street has just bought itself a new, even more compliant Congress.

The new Republicans are already fawning over the bankers. They’re promising to stop the restrictions on (ahem) “financial innovation.”...

...It was the greatest heist in history. The bankers pulled it off under everyone’s nose..."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why Shale Gas is Not the Solution to Our Energy Problems


here is an excerpt from Kurt Cobb writing at the Energy Bulletin:

"Drillers are exempt from federal clean air and water regulations under a bill shepherded through Congress in 2005 by none other former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney in his capacity as the then vice president of the United States. (Halliburton is one of the world's largest providers of drilling fluids for shale gas drilling and other oil and gas drilling operations.) That means the drillers can externalize the environmental costs of these hazardous fluids and other materials needed to fracture the shale and thereby free the natural gas. They can foist those costs on nearby residents in the form of ruined water supplies, toxic air pollution, poisoned land, and health problems for humans and animals.

"The environmental and health horrors associated with shale gas drilling are now in the news on a daily basis. But I have begun to think about the issue in another way. All of these externalized costs have an energy cost. And, the toxic fracturing fluid--millions of gallons of which are pumped into each and every shale gas well--will stretch out the time frame during which such costs are borne. No one knows what will happen to the half of that fluid which never returns to the surface during operations. There is concern that it could migrate to drinking water aquifers and destroy the drinking water not just for the few who happen to live near a drilling site, but for people living in huge swaths of the United States by polluting water sources for large cities such as New York....

read the whole story

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

EPA ALLOWS Bee Massacre

This makes me so @#$%^&* ANGRY because the EPA is supposed to PROTECT the environment, not conspire in its destruction!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is an excerpt from the story found at fast.company.com: Wik-Bee Leaks: EPA Document Shows It Knowingly Allowed Pesticide That Kills Honey Bees
BY Ariel SchwartzFri Dec 10, 2010

"Now a leaked EPA document reveals that the agency allowed the widespread use of a bee-toxic pesticide, despite warnings from EPA scientists.

The document, which was leaked to a Colorado beekeeper, shows that the EPA has ignored warnings about the use of clothianidin, a pesticide produced by Bayer that mainly is used to pre-treat corn seeds. The pesticide scooped up $262 million in sales in 2009 by farmers, who also use the substance on canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers, and wheat, according to Grist.

The leaked document (PDF) was put out in response to Bayer's request to approve use of the pesticide on cotton and mustard. The document invalidates a prior Bayer study that justified the registration of clothianidin on the basis of its safety to honeybees:

Clothianidin’s major risk concern is to nontarget insects (that is, honey bees). Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid insecticide that is both persistent and systemic. Acute toxicity studies to honey bees show that clothianidin is highly toxic on both a contact and an oral basis. Although EFED does not conduct RQ based risk assessments on non-target insects, information from standard tests and field studies, as well as incident reports involving other neonicotinoids insecticides (e.g., imidacloprid) suggest the potential for long-term toxic risk to honey bees and other beneficial insects.
The entire 101-page memo is damning (and worth a read).

Majia here: here is the link to the EPA document. I plan on reading it.

Several weeks back I posted about a propagandistic New York Times article on the bee demise.

Below is the text of the blog post on this bias and the back story at the time. Now, of course, we have the real backstory--the EPA was involved in a @#$%^&* Cover-Up

Bias in Bee Study?
A New York Times article described the ongoing bee collapse mystery as solved by the collaboration between a university scientist and the U.S. Military.

Since I love honey I follow "bee" news carefully. This story was interesting but it didn't answer a few critical questions.

The story attributes the colony collapse to the combined force of a fungus and a virus. However, the article notes that neither of these two agents alone is capable of killing bees. Here is how the article phrases it:

NYT: "It’s chicken and egg in a sense — we don’t know which came first,” Dr. Bromenshenk said of the virus-fungus combo — nor is it clear, he added, whether one malady weakens the bees enough to be finished off by the second, or whether they somehow compound the other’s destructive power. “They’re co-factors, that’s all we can say at the moment,” he said. “They’re both present in all these collapsed colonies.”

Yet the chicken or the egg conundrum actually simplifies the story inappropriately because, as the article points out, some 3rd factor plays a role because the bees were only vulnerable to the combined impact of the virus and the fungus because their nutrition had been compromised. As the article explains:

NYT "both the virus and the fungus proliferate in cool, damp weather, and both do their dirty work in the bee gut, suggesting that insect nutrition is somehow compromised."

So, what might have compromised the bees' nutrition. The article suggests

NYT: "Scientists in the project emphasize that their conclusions are not the final word. The pattern, they say, seems clear, but more research is needed to determine, for example, how further outbreaks might be prevented, and how much environmental factors like heat, cold or drought might play a role."

NOWHERE in the article is it mentioned that PESTICIDES may play a role. Guess why? The bee study's lead author received money from the manufacturer of the pesticide implicated by other scientists and bee keepers in the demise of bees

Here is what the common dreams article by K. Eban reports:

"What the Times article did not explore -- nor did the study disclose -- was the relationship between the study's lead author, Montana bee researcher Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk, and Bayer Crop Science. In recent years Bromenshenk has received a significant research grant from Bayer to study bee pollination. Indeed, before receiving the Bayer funding, Bromenshenk was lined up on the opposite side: He had signed on to serve as an expert witness for beekeepers who brought a class-action lawsuit against Bayer in 2003. He then dropped out and received the grant."

The common dreams article goes on to cite the concerns of other bee scientists who have studied bees and pesticides and found conclusive evidence that pesticides do impact bees adversely.

If we put both stories together we get a clearer understanding of what may be happening. Bees weakened by pesticides are succumbing to fungi and viruses.

The New York Times was once again remiss for biased reporting

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The blogger at the Burning Platform describes himself as a conservative but I find myself usually in strong agreement with his analyses. His most recent post is no exception. I find his analysis right on. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the article:

"Have you noticed the latest sound bites coming from the punditry in the corporate mainstream media? Here is the latest wisdom flowing from the lying mouthpieces of the ruling oligarchy (Wall Street, Washington DC, Mega-corporations):

'The economy is recovering and employment is growing.'

'Consumers are deleveraging, saving and using cash for purchases.'

'Retailers are doing fantastic as consumers increase spending.'

"These are the three themes being proclaimed simultaneously by the mainstream media. Every time I hear these themes proclaimed, I want to shout out like Joe Wilson – “YOU LIE!!!”

"How can consumers be deleveraging, saving and increasing spending at the same time? Let’s examine the facts to see who is lying...."

Majia here: His analysis is worth reading.

Also worth reading is John Pilger's debunking of war mythology


It is clear that the mainstream press is incapable of reporting objectively or without hidden agendas on any important issue anymore. War reporting has always been propagandistic, as Pilger demonstrates, but the lies about the economy seem to have reached new heights...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

US Houses Set to Drop in Value and Chemical Contamination in the Gulf

"U.S. Home Values to Drop by $1.7 Trillion This Year, Zillow Says"


"Widespread Contamination of the US Gulf Coast . Illnesses related to the Oil Disaster Environmental Protection Agency Turns a Blind Eye"
by Dahr Jamail
Jamail writes:
"Most of the people tested had these toxic chemicals present in their blood at levels several times higher than the national average. "Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene and Hexane are volatile organic chemicals that are present in the BP Crude Oil. The blood of all three females and five males had chemicals that are found in the BP Crude Oil," according to Subra’s report.

"Ethylbenzene is a form of benzene present in the body when it begins to be broken down. m,p-Xylene is a clear, colorless, sweet-smelling, flammable liquid that is refined from crude oil and is primarily used as a solvent.

These chemicals in BP's oil are extremely hazardous to humans. They can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, kidney damage, altered renal functions, irritation of the digestive tract, lung damage, burning pain in nose and throat, coughing, wheezing, skin problems and cancers..."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Using Mace Against "Disobedient" High School Student


John Swaine writes on December 6, 2010 at The Telegraph:

"Alabama students sue authorities over alleged police brutality
A group of school pupils in Alabama is suing the local education authority for running a "police state" in which officers are allegedly using "chemical weapons" to enforce discipline.

"Seven students in Birmingham, Alabama, have filed a class action lawsuit against the city's education board and the local police force over the frequent use of Mace, or pepper spray, in schools.

"The spray is readily used to "enforce basic school discipline", the lawsuit claims, and "school personnel not only watch, but sometimes even celebrate when schoolchildren are maced".

" The city has police officers in every school under a scheme designed to ensure the safety of pupils, the lawsuit states. But 'officers have abandoned their primary mission', the pupils allege, 'in order to become stools of school personnel who have abdicated their disciplinary responsibilities'"

Majia here: Puting police in schools and making them the "disciplinarians" for every "incident" is a formula for disaster. Too many cops relish their weapons.

Using mace and pepper spray against students at school is appalling and sickening but demonstrates once again the lapse of the US into what Max Keiser describes as a "neo-feudal gulag" economy/society.

Welcome to the gulag....

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Era of Cheap Oil is Over: Our Future Security Demands Action NOW!

International Energy Agency Chief Economist Fatih Birol tells MarketWatch's Steve Goldstein that the era of cheap oil is OVER and that we are close to the dangerous 2 degree temperature increase point, at which erratic weather, with unpredictable synergistic effects, occurs...

The environmental challenges we face--scarce oil, scarce fresh water, and erratic weather--could destroy our civilizations (if we can call them that). Jared Diamond's Collapse documents previous societies fatal over-reach and subsequent decay and deterioration...

On the job's front, see Washington's Blog, which comments on David Stockman's recent short, but important, interview. Stockman claims the jobs situation is much worse than publicly acknowledged and that 2/3 of the few jobs created in the last year make $20,000 on average. This is no recipe for recovery...

Of course, if you look at the environmental picture you realize that a recovery of the recent past is probably not possible and surely not sustainable.

What we need to do is redirect societal resources away from war (1/3 or more of federal resources) and corrupt banks/corporations (e.g., Ethanol subsidies) towards providing public transport, health and basic assistance, and local agricultural capacity-building so that our transition to what is coming doesn't destroy lives and whole communities...

Friday, December 3, 2010

On Why Free Speech is a Necessary, but NOT Sufficient Mechanism for Democracy

In a transcript of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's public, on-line interview, Julian Writes:

Julian Assange:
"The west has fiscalised its basic power relationships through a web of contracts, loans, shareholdings, bank holdings and so on. In such an environment it is easy for speech to be "free" because a change in political will rarely leads to any change in these basic instruments. Western speech, as something that rarely has any effect on power, is, like badgers and birds, free. In states like China, there is pervasive censorship, because speech still has power and power is scared of it. We should always look at censorship as an economic signal that reveals the potential power of speech in that jurisdiction. The attacks against us by the US point to a great hope, speech powerful enough to break the fiscal blockade..."

I'm Tired of Propaganda and Public Apathy

The mainstream news media is full of propaganda again. A friend said to me, "the U.S. economy is looking up!" I said, what numbers are you looking at?

She is following mainstream headlines like those in the Washington Post, NPR, and NYT.

Let us consider for a moment real economic data.

The National Association of Realtor's index is up slightly for November, but remains "more than 20% below its October 2009 mark" (Reddy, WSJ, 12/3/2010 p. 2).

Unemployment is up. The official number announced today is 9.8% but that number vastly understates the true scope of the problem (see John Williams' Shadow Stats for details).

2 million Americans are about to lose unemployment benefits.

Home foreclosures, personal bankruptcies, and credit card write-offs continue to remain at extremely high levels and are anticipated NOT to level off anytime soon.

Public employers including firefighters, police officers, and university faculty are facing massive layoffs. These layoffs will increase unemployment, foreclosures, and personal bankruptcies.

There is no recovery.

The sheeple need to get active demanding public works programs that truly build infrastructure and sustainable economies.

And the theatre surrounding US deficits needs to be cast aside for a real discussion of what is driving our deficits: bailouts for wealthy banksters, out-of-control military spending, and destitute populations dispossessed by industry in America.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Robert Reich's Important Post


Daily I am saddened by news reports of deficit commissions that want to "cut" the deficit by attacking the middle and working classes by cutting mortgage tax deductions and by raising the retirement age to 69. Simultaneously, unemployment benefits are cut, while the Fed names the bank recipients of the $3 trillion in bailouts given to the banksters...

Robert Reich explains very clearly how it is that the banksters are absolved of responsibility for our financial crisis (he doesn't address military spending) while the public is directly and implicitly told that government waste is the culprit.

Yet, outside of the military, most government programs benefit the public directly--such as social security, medicare, and federal disability insurance (which is very tough to get).

Here is what Reich writes:

The Big Economic Story, and Why Obama Isn’t Telling It
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Quiz: What’s responsible for the lousy economy most Americans continue to wallow in?

A. Big government, bureaucrats, and the cultural and intellectual elites who back them.

B. Big business, Wall Street, and the powerful and privileged who represent them.

These are the two competing stories Americans are telling one...

B is closer to the truth.

But A is the story Republicans and right-wingers tell. It’s a dangerous story because it deflects attention from the real problem and makes it harder for America to focus on the real solution – which is more widely shared prosperity. (I get into how we might do this in my new book, Aftershock.)

A is also the story President Obama is telling, indirectly, through his deficit commission, his freeze on federal pay, his freeze on discretionary spending, and his waivering on extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich...

If Obama and the Democrats were serious about story B they’d at least mention it. They’d tell the nation that income and wealth haven’t been this concentrated at the top since 1928, the year before the Great Crash...

They’d introduce legislation to curb Wall Street bonuses – exactly what European leaders are doing with their financial firms. They’d demand that the big banks, now profitable after taxpayer bailouts, reorganize the mortgage debt of distressed homeowners. They’d call for a new WPA to put the unemployed back to work, and pay for it with a tax surcharge on incomes over $1 million.

They’d insist on extended unemployment benefits for long-term jobless who are now exhausting their benefits. And they’d hang tough on the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy – daring Republicans to vote against extending the cuts for everyone else...