Recently the right-wing governor of Texas, who just happens to be named Abbott, announced that the state will install a barrier made of buoys along a section of the Rio Grande to deter migrants from entering the US. As is so often the case his measures, which also included a commitment to spend $5.1b on other border security measures, was met with howls of indignation by immigration advocates who argued that this deprives migrants of the right to seek asylum from persecution. Those supporti
This news is from Forbes News via Redacted. The fact that it has taken so long for an investigation is shocking.
The lab team behind the mutant variant was accused of “playing with fire.” Scientists at Boston University claim to have created a new variant of Covid-19 with an 80% mortality rate, by combining the highly-transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus with the original Wuhan strain. The research, which echoes experiments thought to have created the virus in the first place, has caused outrage.
Nils Melzer’s book about the persecution of Julian Assange – Nils Melzer, The Trial of Julian Assange, A story of persecution, must be heeded, due to Melzer’s extraordinary position and status as an independent international investigator and legal expert in complaints of torture and ill-treatment,  which has given him access to details and documents not previously available. That is probably why it is hard to get the book in Australia.
Bizarrely, this has hardly been reported anywhere! It was Putin's initiative and Biden has signed up to it along with the other countries, excepting Israel, India, and Pakistan and North Korea.
Commentator Alexander Mercouris, who has an excellent and original grasp of foreign affairs, geography and history, talks us through Russia's Proposal for a draft treaty to curb US global aggression and NATO expansionism.
Australia cannot become a staging point for the U.S. military, we cannot abrogate our sovereignty to the U.S., we cannot encourage nuclear proliferation and risk environmental catastrophe.
Australian peace, environmental and other activists and organisations are opposed to the Morrison Government decision to join the trilateral security agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS) and the development of nuclear submarines.
This authoritarian decision, taken without consultation or engagement of the Australian public, undermines Australian sovereignty, wastes taxpayers money, damages the environment and poses a threat to peace in the region and to global peace.
With this agreement, the Australian Government can no longer claim it is remaining neutral between Beijing and Washington. Now Australia is ‘all in’ with America, regardless of the public.
This agreement also cements military dependence on the U.S. as Australia becomes unable to operate without Washington’s approval. Furthermore, the Morrison Government has also committed to allowing further U.S. military forces into Australia.
This will not only deny Australia the ability to act independently but will also make it complicit in dangerous regional tensions and conflict, undermining global cooperation to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
AUKUS is a step backwards for diplomacy, deepening a Cold War mentality, which has alienated Australia not only from France but our neighbours such as Malaysia and Indonesia.
Building nuclear submarines will impose an extraordinary economic burden on the Australian people. Funding for welfare, education, the environment and healthcare will be raided. These resources should be directed to the health, social and economic needs of workers and the Australian people.
There will also be a significant environmental cost as the presence of these vessels in our cities and harbours is a clear and present danger. There are already nine nuclear reactors on the seafloor from sunken nuclear submarines.
For these reasons and many more, we are calling on the Australian Government to fully withdraw from AUKUS and the development of nuclear submarines.
This statement was issued following an emergency meeting of over one hundred activists from around Australia.
Mike Pezzullo, Federal Government Home Affairs Department Secretary, a public servant, talked up war in an Anzac Day speech on 26 April 2021.
He was referring to China's ambitions to integrate Taiwan as a federation within mainland China government, by force or persuasion.
He cited Australia's 70 year old ANZUS alliance with the United States and New Zealand as a.
Finally, obscenely, he spoke of sending off, "yet again, our warriors to fight."
What kind of fight do a few Australian 17 or 18 year olds have with nuclear weapons and a Chinese army more than 2 million strong? What kind of war can you have to save "our precious liberty" from 'communism' [last I saw, China was a capitalist dictatorship] without simultaneously incinerating the rest of the planet, these days?
[Look up New Zealand's ideas on this]
One of Australia’s most powerful national security figures says free nations “again hear the beating drums” of war, as military tensions in the Indo-Pacific rise.
In an Anzac Day message to staff, Home Affairs Department Secretary Mike Pezzullo said Australia must strive to reduce the likelihood of war “but not at the cost of our precious liberty”.
Mr Pezzullo also invoked the memory of two United States war generals and warned this nation must be prepared “to send off, yet again, our warriors to fight”.
Amid growing military tensions between China and the US over Taiwan, the powerful bureaucrat also highlighted the “protection afforded to Australia” by its 70-year-old ANZUS military alliance with the US and New Zealand.
“Today, as free nations again hear the beating drums and watch worryingly the militarisation of issues that we had, until recent years, thought unlikely to be catalysts for war, let us continue to search unceasingly for the chance for peace while bracing again, yet again, for the curse of war,” Mr Pezzullo said on Monday.
“War might well be folly, but the greater folly is to wish away the curse by refusing to give it thought and attention, as if in so doing, war might leave us be, forgetting us perhaps.”
He drew on an address given by US Army General Douglas MacArthur at the West Point Military academy in 1962, where he reminded cadets “their mission was to train to fight and, when called upon, to win their nation’s wars – all else is entrusted to others”.
Similarly, Mr Pezzullo also invoked former Army General and US President Dwight D. Eisenhower who, he said, in 1953 “rallied his fellow Americans and its allies to the danger posed by the amassing of Soviet military power, and the new risk of militaristic aggression”.
“Throughout his presidency, Eisenhower instilled in the free nations the conviction that as long as there persists tyranny’s threat to freedom they must remain armed, strong and ready for war, even as they lament the curse of war,” he said.
“Today, free nations continue still to face this sorrowful challenge.
“In a world of perpetual tension and dread, the drums of war beat – sometimes faintly and distantly, and at other times more loudly and ever closer.”
"Key bureaucrat warns ‘drums of war are beating’ as China flexes its muscles over Taiwan," The New China Daily, , 27 April 2021. https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2021/04/27/australia-china-drums-war/?fbclid=IwAR3XSL4LRGmj_pOG5nFT5JkNLjPhrVVbaX1kmTMylQDO5uy1urwP6YE5gL4a.
|Taylor Hudak||Mrs. Christine Assange||Julian Assange|
The continued detention and torture of Julian Assange by the U.K. government has required tyranny and violations of International asylum Law, British Law, and the law of the United States. Ironically, while the Australian Government has recently apologised for shocking Australian military crimes in Afghanistan, it continues to allow a perverted legal system to punish Assange for exposing many similar crimes by the United States. In the mean time, by scrapping virtually all the nuclear weapons control treaties with Russia as well as the Open skies Treaty, Trump has made global war more likely.
The embedded 5:22 minute video, below, is of Taylor Hudak's 27 November update in the latest developments In Julian Assange's case. The full transcript, adapted from the YouTube text, is included below. In it there is a call for President Trump to salvage something of his reputation by issuing a pre-emptive pardon to Assange. Unfortunately Joe Biden is even less likely to want his own acts on policy in Iran to be exposed.
Transcript of Taylor Hudak's talk
On Thursday November 26th a mandatory 28-day hearing was scheduled at Westminster Magistrates' Court before Deputy Chief Magistrate, Tan Ikram. Like other remand prisoners, Assange must be presented before a court every 28 days so the judge can choose to either expand or terminate his detention. However, a Covid-19 outbreak in Belmarsh Prison, where Assange is being held, prevented him from attending the hearing.
It was reported that Edward Fitzgerald, speaking on behalf of the Defence, told the court that Assange has waived his right to attend the hearing in fear of contracting Covid-19. A week earlier, on November 18, a spokesperson for Her Majesty's Prison Service announced that Belmarsh Prison would implement stricter Coronavirus measures, after three inmates tested positive for the virus.
Assange and other prisoners are confined to their cell for 24 hours a day. Additionally, showers are no longer open and meals must be provided directly to the prisoners in their cell.
Days prior to the recent hearing, 56 people tested positive for Covid on Assange's house block, which holds 168 people and several were sent to the hospital, and while Covid-19 has a high survival rate for a healthy individual, Assange's chronic respiratory issues, combined with the ongoing psychological torture and years of medical neglect, put him at a greater risk of being impacted negatively by the effects of the virus.
On November 22, Doctors For Assange (https://doctorsassange.org/) issued another letter. The letter calls for the immediate end of the torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange. Additionally the letter states:
He is at a high medical risk from Covid-19 given a chronic lung condition and likely immunosuppression due to prolonged psychological torture. He meets internationally agreed criteria for release of vulnerable prisoners in light of Covid-19.
Assange's mother Christine Assange went to Twitter to state, "If my son dies from #Covid19 it will be murder!" She
cites that the UK government, the court, and the prison, have all been warned that Assange is vulnerable to the virus, that that the U.K. and U.S. government opposed emergency bail, and that Belmarsh Prison is placing all Covid-positive prisoners in Assange's wing. Because of the recent increase in Covid-positive prisoners, Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, has called for Assange's immediate release from prison.
The statement from RSF not only reflects on the potential impacts of the virus, but how new Covid safety measures in a prison including isolation could have seriously damaging effects on Assange's mental health.
With Assange's decision to not attend the hearing in fear of contracting the virus, the Defence, the Prosecution, and the Court, have scheduled for another hearing to take place on December 11th.
Meanwhile, outside the courthouse, Assange's supporters gathered for a peaceful protest ,demanding his freedom and for no U.S. extradition.
In other news, President Trump pardoned his former National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn. This prompted free press advocates and Assange supporters to amp up the pressure on the President to issue a pre-emptive pardon to Julian Assange.
His fiance and mother of his two children, Stella Morris, posted a heartfelt appeal to President Trump on Twitter asking for a pardon, including a picture with her two young children.
Morris wrote, "These are Julian's sons Max and Gabriel. They need their father. Our family needs to be whole again. I beg you, please bring him home for Christmas." And what better way for President Trump to stand up to what he calls the Deep State and the intelligence community, who have been actively working to undermine his Presidency, than to Pardon the man who exposed their corruption, Julian Assange. And, while it is the Trump Administration that has charged the Wikileaks founder, it is never too late to get on the right side of history, prevent further damage and uphold human rights.
If President Trump were to pardon Assange, it would not only be a historic move, but it would leave a lasting and positive impact on his legacy. Trump would not only be remembered favorably for preventing the destruction of the First Amendment and press freedom worldwide, he would be saving the life of Julian Assange.
Both the defense and prosecution have submitted closing arguments earlier this month and the judge (Vanessa Baraitser) is expected to make her ruling on January 4th 2010.
Demonstrations in support of Assange will be held on the 4th in London, (Washington) DC and other locations. To stay up to date on this case please, make sure that you subscribe to our YouTube channel (acTVism) and if you've missed any of our reports, go to our Julian Assange case updates playlist to get all caught up.
I'm Taylor Hudak. As always, thanks for tuning in and I'll see you in my next report
The Melbourne launch of Tony’s latest book, being held at Readings in Hawthorn Monday, 25 November 2019, is likely to attract an interesting and critical audience. This book looks at the “last two action-packed years” – which is to say “false-flag packed” years, because it’s about the way Australian media and the Australian commentariat has enabled Imperial lies to spread and take hold in the population. The key ones Tony considers are the Syrian chemical weapons stories, the Skripal poisoning hoax, and Ukraine/Crimea. He centers his study around the disinformation operations of the Institute for Statecraft and the way he thinks it is operating in Australia to counter the “Russian point of view”.
The new book is, Russia and the West – the last two action packed years 2017-19 by Tony Kevin. ISBN 9780987319029 RRP $25 in stockist bookstores, or by direct post from author. Tony is himself an entertaining, down-to-earth and informative speaker, with a background in cold-war diplomacy in Russia.
It explores two main themes.
First, the persistent but generally unsuccessful efforts by Western (mainly US and British) government-supported disinformation agencies, increasing in intensity over the past three years, to discredit Russian foreign policy in the eyes of the Western public, as seen most clearly on issues of Syrian CW, Ukraine war, the Skripals affair and Russiagate.
Second, the rather more successful local efforts here to exclude the writer and his work as a foreign policy analyst from the public space, as a writer who overstepped the ‘Chomsky envelope’ of what is permissible to advance in public discussion. The desirability and possibility of seeking relaxation of tensions with Russia is apparently a do-not-touch subject in most Australian public discourse these days. The book explores how this situation came about, and its consequences, in the context of other , more prominent, current threats to freedom of expression in Australia.
Melbourne, Readings, 701 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, 25 November, 6 for 6.30 pm with online journalist Caitlin Johnstone @caitoz (entry free)
The otherwise informative and insightful News With Rick Sanchez bulletin of 11 October trivialised attempts by the the U.S government to enforce its immigration laws. This is in contrast with the treatment of illegal immigration by Mike Papontonio, presenter of RT's America's Lawyer in Corporations defend DACA: Don’t deport our cheap labor! (10/10/19) its most recent weekly episode. (Both programs are embedded within this article.)
Near the end of RT America's News with Rick Sanchez, the usually insightful and informative presenter, Rick Sanchez, together with Lee Camp, the presenter of Redacted Tonight spoke mockingly of how the U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security Kevin MacAleenan was confronted by a group of pro-refugee protestors at Georgetown:
Lee Camp: I talk about how the Secretary for Homeland Security Kevin MacAleenan, went to speak at Georgetown and protestors stood up - protesters unhappy with the way we are treating immigrants at the border - migrants, refugees, and they shouted him down and he tried many times to speak -probably lasted about seven minutes and eventually just left. And for, that's my Super Bowl. I was sitting there with my phone there in the one hand.
Rick Sanchez: Yes!
Lee Camp: I was having a blast.
Rick Sanchez: It seemed to me when I was watching that Video that he probably could have challenged them a little bit and said "Let's talk about this." He exited real early. I think he's a bit of a wuss. I don't know.
Lee Camp: (laughs)
Rick Sanchez: Because we all know that a guy who just came to the United States not long ago and is making minimum wage. (raises his hand, shakes and points to Lee Camp) He's the problem!
Lee Camp: Yes!
Rick Sanchez: He's why America's in its downfall!
The full 28 minute episode is embedded below.
In contrast, on 10 October, one day prior to this, Mike Papantonio, presenter of America's Lawyer, presented in the episode, Corporations defend DACA: Don’t deport our cheap labor! a sober and informed discussion of how many large U.S. corporations use cheaper labour from the migrants that U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security Kevin MacAleenan was trying to stop from illegally entering the United States to undercut the wage and working conditions ofthe United States' current workforce. That video is also embedded below.
#leeCampApplaudsCensorship" id="leeCampApplaudsCensorship">Appendix: Lee Camp applauds the silencing of a differing point of view
RT's Redacted Tonight, hosted by Lee Camp, has, for years effectively spoken up against the crimes and lies of the ruling elites of the United States and its allies, with parody, humour as well as sound and insightful reporting. One exception to this is Redacted Tonight's ill-considered and strident advocacy for immigrant rights. In the latest episode of 12 October 2019, Lee Camp has taken this much further and has clearly violated one basic principle of investigative journalism. He has unashamedly applauded the censorship of view opposed to mass immigration and the enforcement of the United States' immigration laws. As he explains in the video, he considers this view to be so odious that 'refugee rights' advocates are entitled to silence them at public meetings such as Secretary for Homeland Security Kevin MacAleenan was, as shown in the video footage of the meeting at Georgetown University. As far as I am aware, MacAleenan's 'repugnant' views are supported by the overwhelming majority of United Staes' citizens.
The following is Trump official shut down, class solidarity from the rich, attack drones the 12 October episode of RT's Redacted Tonight.
The episode starts off with the host Lee Camp celebrating the way that Secretary for Homeland Security Kevin MacAleenan was shouted down by crown of refugee and immigrant advocates at a public meeting at Georgetown University. Camp describes Kevin MacAleenan as "a piece of shit" and a "sack of garbage".
Later on, he says, "I think it's very important that we as citizens of this fine nation give him a chance to tell us about all the wonderful things he does you know maybe he'll tell us how he he can fit a child in a small Tupperware container and maybe maybe he'll let us know how to best teach he'll let us know how to best teach Border Patrol agents to be so very racist …"
However MacAleen was not given a chance to explain the U.S. government's immigration laws, border control policies and why the government felt them to be necessary. Each time he tried to speak, he was shouted down by the crowd.
Eventually, Kevin MacAleenan gave up and left without being able to put his case to the meeting - an outcome which Lee Camp applauded.
United States immigration officials raided numerous Mississippi food processing plants Wednesday, arresting 680 workers in what marked the largest workplace sting in at least a decade. As reported by USA Today, the raids were planned months ago, and the largest took place at a Koch Foods Inc. plant in Morton, 40 miles east of Jackson. Workers who were confirmed to have legal status were allowed to leave the plant. Other linked operations were executed in Bay Springs, Carthage, Canton, Pelahatchie, and Sebastapol Mississippi.
Article first published at Numbers USA on Thu, Aug 8th 2019 @ 9:20 am EDT.
Matthew Albence, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Acting Director, told The Associated Press that the raids could be the largest such operation thus far in any single state. When Acting Director Albence was asked to comment on the fact that the raid was happening on the same day as Trump’s El Paso visit, Albence responded,
This is a long-term operation that’s been going on. Our enforcement operations are being done on a racially neutral basis. Investigations are based on evidence.
The sting was one of the most blatant demonstrations of Trump’s signature domestic priority to crack down on illegal immigration, and one of his first notable actions to crack-down on illegal hiring, one of the most prominent incentives to illegally enter the United States. “HSI’s [Homeland Security Investigations] worksite enforcement efforts are equally focused on aliens who unlawfully seek work in the U.S. as well as the employers who knowingly hire them,” HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge, Jere Miles said in a statement. Many are speculating that these ICE operations are part of the promised operations that were hinted at last month but suspended after President Trump gave House Democrats two weeks to produce legislative action to stem the crisis at the southern border as well as the loopholes of the current U.S. asylum policy.
According to federal officials, some of the hundreds of illegal aliens arrested on Wednesday have already been given orders of removal by an immigration judge and have refused to self-deport. Those illegal aliens will be quickly removed. Other illegal aliens have yet to go through the immigration courts and will be afforded a review process where they will make a case to remain in the U.S.
Such large shows of immigration enforcement were common under President George W. Bush, most notably at a kosher meatpacking plant in tiny Postville, Iowa, in 2008, the largest immigration operation before President Trump's most recent operation in Mississippi, netting 595 arrests. President Barack Obama avoided them, limiting his workplace immigration efforts to low-profile audits that were done outside of public view. President Trump resumed workplace raids, but the months of preparation and hefty resources they require make them rare. Last year, the administration hit a landscaping company near Toledo, Ohio, and a meatpacking plant in eastern Tennessee. The former owner of the Tennessee plant was sentenced to 18 months in prison last month.
In preparation for the arrests, a hangar at the Mississippi National Guard in Flowood, near Jackson, was set up with 2,000 meals to process employees for immigration violations on Wednesday. There were seven lines, one for each location that was hit. Buses had been lined up since early in the day to be dispatched to the plants. “I’ve never done anything like this,” Chris Heck, resident agent in charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit in Jackson, told The Associated Press inside the hangar. “This is a very large worksite operation.”
Koch Foods, based in Park Ridge, Illinois, is one of the largest poultry producers in the U.S. and employs about 13,000 people, with operations in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio and Tennessee. Forbes ranks it as the 135th largest privately held company in the U.S., with an estimated $3.2 billion in annual revenue. The company has no relation to prominent conservative political donors and activists Charles and David Koch.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi Mike Hurst, who was present at the facilities, told the media at a press conference:
We are first and foremost a nation of laws and the Rule of Law is the bedrock, the very foundation, of our great country. I heard someone say that a country without borders is not a country at all and while I agree with that, I would also add that without law there is no order. Without the enforcement of law, there is no justice.
May 28, 2019 U.S. Government Seeks NGO Help For Removing Iran From Syria. The U.S.Department of State is offering a grant of $75,000,000 to non-government-organizations to help it to further meddle in Syria. The grant SFOP0005916 - Supporting Local Governance and Civil Society in Syria will go to "Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education".
The task description is quite interesting as the NGOs which will eventually get the grant will have to commit to counter one of Syria's military allies:
The purpose of this notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) is to advance the following U.S. Government policy objectives in Syria:
Ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS and counter violent extremism, including other extremist groups in Syria;
Achieve a political solution to the Syrian conflict under the auspices of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2254; and,
End the presence of Iranian forces and proxies in Syria.
The Department of State's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Office of Assistance Coordination (NEA/AC) aims to advance these policy objectives by supporting the following assistance objectives:
Strengthen responsive and credible governance and civil society entities to capably serve and represent communities liberated from ISIS.
Advance a political solution to the Syrian conflict under the auspices of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2254; and,
Counter extremism and disinformation perpetuated by Iranian forces, designated terrorist organizations, and other malign actors through support for local governance actors and civil society organizations.
The operational field for the grant is not only the Syrian northeast which U.S. troops currently occupy, but also the al-Qaeda infested Idleb governorate as well as all government controlled areas.
The related Funding Opportunity Description (available through the above link) does not explain what an NGO could do to advance the highlighted U.S. government goals.
Work on the three year project is supposed to start on January 1 2020. It must be applied for by August 2 2019.
The crisis in Venezuela will not be solved by sanctions that “can lead to starvation”, a UN-appointed rights expert said on Thursday. Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy, who reports to the Human Rights Council, issued the warning against the background of widespread suffering in the South American country, linked to spiralling economic woes and deep political uncertainty. (Article first published at United Nations site 31 January 2019.)
An estimated three million people have left the oil-rich country since 2015, while supporters of self-appointed interim President Juan Guaidó, continue to demonstrate against the government of the incumbent, Nicolás Maduro, who was re-elected last May amidst allegations of electoral irregularities and a widespread opposition boycott.
“Sanctions which can lead to starvation and medical shortages are not the answer to the crisis in Venezuela,” Mr. Jazairy said in a statement, prompted by the imposition of sanctions on Venezuela’s national oil company by the United States.
Precipitating an economic and humanitarian crisis…is not a foundation for the peaceful settlement of disputes - UN independent rights expert, Idriss Jazairy
“I am especially concerned to hear reports that these sanctions are aimed at changing the government of Venezuela,” he added, while also noting his concern about reports of serious rights violations that include “the growing risk of violence and implicit threats of international violence”.
In a call for “compassion” for the people of Venezuela, Mr. Jazairy, who is UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures, insisted that “precipitating an economic and humanitarian crisis…is not a foundation for the peaceful settlement of disputes”.
Such “coercion” by outside powers “is in violation of all norms of international law”, the rights expert maintained, before calling on the international community to engage in constructive dialogue with Venezuela to find solutions to problems that include hyperinflation and the fall in oil prices.
In a recent statement issued by the office of António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General urged parties to “lower tensions” in Venezuela and called for all relevant actors to commit to inclusive and credible political dialogue.
Concerned by reports of casualties during demonstrations and unrest in and around the capital, Caracas, the UN chief also called for a transparent and independent investigation of those incidents.
The meeting was requested late last week by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo following days of political unrest and deadly clashes in Venezuela between protesters and security forces.
The UN human rights office OHCHR reported on Tuesday, that at least 40 had been killed in the unrest, including 26 shot by pro-Government forces. More than 850 were detained following demonstrations in the past week, including 77 children.
“We must try to help bring about a political solution that will allow the country’s citizens to enjoy peace, prosperity and all their human rights,” Rosemary DiCarlo, the UN Under Secretary-General of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, urged the 15-member body.
Nearly all 30 million Venezuelans are affected by hyperinflation and a collapse of real salaries, Ms. DiCarlo warned, citing shortages of food, medicine and basic supplies, along with a deterioration of health and education services and basic infrastructure such as water and electricity.
Mr. Jazairy, urged all countries to avoid applying sanctions unless approved by the Security Council, as required by the UN Charter.
Ami Horowitz journeys to Mexico to find out the real reason why there is a caravan of migrants on its way to the United States’ border with its southern neighbor. The caravan is being orchestrated and logistically supplied like a military operation by some very wealthy people and the UN. This looks like an invasion, organised by members of the US power elite, under a thin pretense of humanitarian aid. Some interesting comments under the video, including about how Venezuelans are crossing the border to Brazil to escape famine, but there is no sign of the UN or other AID programs there.
The National Council of Churches called for the withdrawal of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination on Wednesday, citing his behavior during last week’s Senate hearing and his “political record.” “We believe he has disqualified himself from this lifetime appointment and must step aside immediately,” the Washington-based council said in a statement.
In its statement on Wednesday, the National Council of Churches also mentioned Kavanaugh’s professional history as a worry.
“Judge Kavanaugh’s extensive judicial and political record is troubling with regard to issues of voting rights, racial and gender justice, health care, the rights of people with disabilities, and environmental protections,” the council said. “This leads us to believe that he cannot be an impartial justice in cases that are sure to come before him at the [Supreme] Court.”
Kavanagh's political record is disturbing to anyone who cares about the environment, but to judge him on his performance when he was defending himself against unsubstantiated allegations of the most serious nature, takes us back to witch trials which, come to think of it, the church used to do so efficiently.
U.S. imperialism’s deteriorating position in the Middle East was confirmed on Jan. 17, by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s bold assertion for U.S. plans in Syria. The arrogant statement was followed, within hours, by almost immediate backpedaling.
Tillerson’s talk at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University confirmed that the only hope of maintaining U.S. domination is another desperate attempt to close all borders and dismember the entire region. But the latest plan has also created a rupture in NATO, the oldest and largest U.S.-commanded military alliance. [Article first published on Global Research at https://www.globalresearch.ca/war-in-syria-the-us-a-wounded-predator-spreads-chaos-in-middle-east/5627212]
Meanwhile, Turkish planes bombed 100 positions in Syria of U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG forces (the Kurdish acronym for People’s Protection Units) on Jan. 21.
As the war in Syria stretches into the seventh year, Tillerson grandly announced the U.S. military will remain in Syria indefinitely. The newest U.S. plan is to create and train a military border force of 30,000 soldiers. The Secretary of State also arrogantly restated the U.S. demand that has met with failure for seven years: the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the overthrow of the Syrian Arab Republic government.
This was not the first mention of new U.S. plans there. General Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, said on Dec. 24 that a training program was being established for Kurdish and Arab fighters to become a permanent U.S. occupying force in Syria. Votel declared, “What we don’t want to do is leave a mess.” (us.pressfrom.com, Dec. 24)
In fact, U.S. long-term plans are to permanently divide Syria and Iraq and expand their imperialist “mess” into Iran.
Since Jan. 14, news reports around the world reported U.S. plans to create a new “border force” in Syria on the borders of Turkey and Iraq. This U.S. plan would separate the oil-rich northern region from the rest of Syria, create a mini-state and close the borders.
Washington said it would help Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of militias in northern and eastern Syria led by Kurdish YPG militias, to set up a new 30,000-strong border force.
A flurry of other U.S. statements drew out this plan more explicitly.
The coalition’s Public Affairs Office said: “The base of the new force is essentially a realignment of approximately 15,000 members of the SDF to a new mission in the Border Security Force as their actions against ISIS [the Islamic State group, IS] draw to a close.” (Reuters, Jan. 14)
Before the announcement of a new U.S. plan to occupy and divide the region, numerous commentators described an unprecedented development with the defeat of IS – open borders among Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey. The whole region has been divided since the 1991 U.S. war to recolonize and divide Iraq.
Turkey immediately slammed this new plan of a permanent U.S. occupation through an alliance with YPG Kurdish forces in Syria. Turkey warned of military action against the U.S.-armed and -protected YPG forces.
In the face of Turkey’s fierce opposition, Tillerson claimed, “That entire situation has been misportrayed, misdescribed, some people misspoke. We are not creating a border security force at all.” (aljazeera, Jan. 18)
The Kurdish Nation
Turkey’s great fear is that a “border force” of U.S.-armed Kurdish militias will siphon off advanced U.S.-supplied weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, to Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) forces in Turkey.
Although there are 1.5 to 2 million Kurds in Syria, there are almost 20 million nationally oppressed Kurds in Turkey. Making up 20 percent of population, they are the majority population in southern Turkey, bordering northern Syria, Iraq and Iran.
For decades the Pentagon has armed Turkey and aided in the brutal repression of the Kurds, who resisted under the leadership of the PKK.
But imperialism sees an opportunity to use the smaller Kurdish population in Syria, where they are 5 percent to 8 percent of the Syrian population, as a way to divide Syria. The Kurds in Syria are under the leadership of the Democratic Union Party (PYD); their armed units are the YPG. These are the main units of the U.S.-armed Syrian Democratic Forces.
U.S. imperialism used a similar scenario to impose a division on Iraq. This is imperialism’s divide-and-rule strategy for the entire region. Using the Kurds’ national aspirations for a temporary U.S. military or political advantage, and then cynically dropping them, dates back to Henry Kissinger.
The Kurds are a historically oppressed nation with a distinct language and culture, numbering over 30 million people. They are the largest nation without a state. They live in the underdeveloped, mountainous region spanning four countries: southern Turkey and northern Iraq, Iran and Syria.
Some 72 Turkish jets bombed U.S.-backed Kurdish militias in Syria on Jan. 21. The Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that jets bombed more than 100 targets, including an air base, in the first day of air operations against YPG militias. The operation targeted YPG barracks, shelters, positions, weapons, vehicles and equipment.
Each U.S. maneuver has created greater destruction, but the U.S. has been unable to consolidate its position in the region or gain stable allies.
U.S. divide-and-destroy tactics
Since 2011 the U.S. has covertly armed a whole series of conflicting militias and mercenaries.
With a wink and a nod from U.S. forces in the region, which were arming numerous extremist militias, Saudi Arabia and Turkey armed the fanatical IS army. This became an excuse for open U.S. bombing of Syrian infrastructure.
The U.S. military command pulled 19 other NATO and Gulf countries into the war in Syria. This military onslaught was totally uninvited by the Syrian government.
The Syrian government appealed to Iran, Russia and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon to aid them in defeating IS and the Pentagon-funded militias and mercenaries. This forced Washington to change tactics, but not its objective -- the recolonization of the region.
U.S.-imposed sanctions against Iraq and then Syria were an effort to destroy all forms of normal economic exchange and to shut down all commercial and social life. The U.S. occupation of Iraq divided the country into walled-off mini-states with checkpoints and inspections. All borders were closed. U.S. intervention in Syria was designed to do the same thing.
U.S. wars in the region have displaced more than 10 million people and decimated the region. They have created animosity and suspicion on every side, divided the corrupt and a brutal feudal Gulf state regime aligned with imperialism, and are now dividing the oldest U.S. military alliance -- NATO.
But after seven years of war and 15 years of sanctions, U.S. imperialism has still not succeeded in destroying the sovereign government of the Syrian Arab Republic.
About Sara Flounders: Sara Flounders is an American political writer who has been active in anti-war organizing since the 1960s. Flounders sits on the board of directors for the International Anti-imperialist Coordinating Committee, is founder and an organizer with United National Antiwar Coalition, and is Secretary of the National Board of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms.
US Fiscal Cliff
Friday 4th January 2012/ac
In November 2012 an astonishing 47.7 million Americans were receiving taxpayer funded food stamps but the United States government still imports over 1million immigrants a year - and those are the legal ones.
Comments can be made on the original blog which was republished here from http://kelvinthomson.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/us-fiscal-cliff.html
The US fiscal cliff has been avoided, but the fundamental problems are alive and well. The US Budget continues to go deeper and deeper into unsustainable debt, and US society has a depressing level of real poverty and inequality.
As of November 2012 an astonishing 47.7 million Americans were receiving taxpayer funded food stamps. One in four American children is on food stamps, and it is projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18.
The US Census Bureau says the number of Americans living in poverty increased to a record high of 49.7 million last year- an increase of about 6 million in just the past 4 years.
Remarkably, instead of prioritising finding jobs and opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds who are living in poverty, the US Congress imports 100,000 migrants into the US every 30 days- over 1 million a year. It is a recipe for ongoing misery, poverty, and a massive infrastructure- driven national debt which continues to be a burden to both the US and the global economy.
Kelvin Thomson MP
Federal Labor Member for Wills
Robert Bowman writes about the need to restore the Constitutional rights of American citizens, enhance their national security through a return to Constitutional foreign and military policies, and rebuild their economy by providing financial security to American families. None of these things can be accomplished so long as the giant multinational corporations, the banks and financial service companies, the insurance industry, the fossil fuel conglomerates, the weapons manufacturers, and the billionaires are running the US government. Therefore the first priority of American patriots, he says, has to be separating big money and political power.
by Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret.
National Commander, “The Patriots”
Since we Patriots are both liberal and conservative, we won’t all agree on every policy issue. But there are core issues that devolve from our basic mission statement: “Follow the Constitution, Honor the Truth, Serve the People.” We seem to all agree that we need to restore the Constitutional rights of American citizens, enhance our national security through a return to Constitutional foreign and military policies, and rebuild our economy by providing financial security to American families. We also agree that none of these things can be accomplished so long as the giant multinational corporations, the banks and financial service companies, the insurance industry, the fossil fuel conglomerates, the weapons manufacturers, and the billionaires are running the government. Therefore our first priority has to be separating big money and political power. Once we do that, we can then accomplish the rest of our agenda.
So let’s define our core agenda as follows:
(1) End big money control of government.
(2) Restore Constitutional rights.
(3) Enhance Constitutional National Security.
(4) Rebuild Economy & family security.
Now you may note that there is nothing in there about the size of government or about raising or lowering of taxes. Those are strategies for accomplishing the agenda, and are subject to debate. My personal belief is that we need a government big enough and strong enough and (most importantly) independent enough to protect the American people from the global corporations, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Bilderbergers, the Trilateral Commission, the Federal Reserve, and the for-profit disease treatment industry. Compared to this central task, the job of protecting the American people from foreign invasion is duck soup.
Let’s now flesh out the above four core agenda items, for each one listing specific actions needed and recommending concrete pieces of legislation required.
1. End big money control of government.
1.1 End corporate “personhood”. The absolute first necessary requirement is to reverse the Supreme Court’s erroneous decision that says that corporations have a constitutional first amendment free speech right to spend as much money as they want buying up elections, voters, and legislators. To accomplish this, we must amend the Constitution, restoring its original meaning. The required amendment (which I call the “Granny D Amendment” in honor of Doris Haddock, who worked tirelessly against corporate control) reads as follows: “Corporations and other fictitious entities are not ‘persons’ under this Constitution, and shall have none of the rights and privileges thereof.”
1.2 Revise electoral system to exclude big money and empower the people. The required reforms include (1.2.1) prohibiting private money (including the candidate’s own funds) in campaigns, funding them instead with public money and free TV and radio time to qualified candidates. (1.2.2) abolition of burdensome petition requirements for independents and third parties. (1.2.3) adopting preference voting (sometimes called instant runoff voting) so that nobody is forced to choose between the lesser of two evils or risk “throwing away” their vote. (1.2.4) outlawing any method of voting that does not produce a paper ballot that can be counted, recounted, and audited as necessary. Paper ballots should be counted by hand in public. This is the only way to prevent corporate programmers or partisan hackers from stealing elections.
1.3 Reform corporate law so that boards and CEOs are not only responsible to maximize profits to shareholders, but also have responsibilities to their employees, their community, and the environment.
1.4 Mandate open, truthful, and accountable government. (1.4.1) Pass a federal sunshine law similar to that of the State of Florida, allowing the public an insight into how Congressional and administrative branch decisions are made. (1.4.2) Require identification of all those proposing “earmarks.” (1.4.3) Prohibit secret meetings such as those between Vice President Dick Cheney and oil company executives to draft energy policy. (1.4.4) Repeal and prohibit unfunded mandates to state and local governments (such as “No child left behind”). (1.4.5) Revoke presidential “Fast Track” authority and reclaim the Constitutional right and duty of Congress to regulate trade. (1.4.6) Pass a bill stating that no agreement such as the Strategic Partnership for Prosperity (SPP) or North American Union (NAU) which diminish American sovereignty or give up territory can take effect without the full participation and approval of both houses of Congress, and that no funds may be expended for studies relating to such agreements without the approval of Congress after consultation with the American people. (1.4.7) Establish truly independent investigative commissions to study controversial historical events such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the murders of soldiers like Pat Tillman and LaVena Johnson. These commissions should have significant input from those who are critical of the official stories, and should have a co-chair from among their ranks.
1.5 Re-regulate the media. Return to the pre-Reagan prohibition on ownership of multiple media outlets. Family-owned newspapers and radio and television stations will prevent corporate monopoly media from brainwashing the public and censoring facts which expose government lies.
2. Restore Constitutional Rights for Americans
2.1 Abolish the Department of Homeland Security. We don’t need an agency whose mission is to protect the government from the American people.
2.2 Repeal the misnamed “Patriot Act,” the Military Commissions Act, and any other act which attempts to take away rights guaranteed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
2.3 End the threat of martial law. The President should revoke Presidential Directives 20 and 51 which give him dictatorial powers, and should close the concentration camps Halliburton has built or refurbished around the country.
2.4 Release political prisoners like Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier, and all those being detained without charge. End torture and rendition, and prosecute those who authorized and carried out these illegal and immoral practices. Pardon all those incarcerated for possession or use of marijuana and end the failed “war on drugs.” Repeal federal laws against marijuana and hemp.
2.5 Pass a Congressional resolution stating that the separation of Church and State means that no government at any level may interfere with churches in setting requirements for receiving sacraments. Every denomination has the right to decide whether or not to grant the sacrament of matrimony to same-sex couples. At the same time, no governmental body may discriminate on the basis of gender by refusing adult couples wishing to enter into a civil union.
3. Rebuild Constitutional National Security
3.1 End the phony war on terror. Pass a resolution stating that terrorist attacks like that on 9/11 are criminal acts and will be investigated and prosecuted as such. The perpetrators do not deserve the exalted status of “warrior.”
3.2 End the illegal occupations. (3.2.1) Pass an authorization bill stating that no funds may be used for military activities in Iraq or Afghanistan, except for carrying out an orderly and rapid withdrawal. (3.2.2) Declare that it is US policy to vacate military bases in occupied nations such as Afghanistan and Iraq, and to give up oil and mineral rights and pipeline routes. If corporate entities wish to retain these rights, they must negotiate directly with the sovereign governments involved.
3.3 Return to Constitutional foreign and military policies. (3.3.1) Declare that the Armed Forces of the United States will be used only for the protection of our borders and our people, not the global financial interests of multinational corporations. The only exceptions will be for voluntary participation in UN peacekeeping forces or humanitarian missions such as natural disasters. Declare that any attack on Iran or any other country not specifically authorized by Congress with a Declaration of War is an impeachable offense. (3.3.2) Except for small Marine detachments guarding our embassies, bring home all our troops from around the world, returning all foreign bases to the host countries. (3.3.3) Cancel all contracts with mercenaries such as Blackwater (or Xe as they call themselves now). (3.3.4) Cancel all weapons development and procurement contracts not required for the Constitutional mission of national defense. Tell the contractors there must be no layoffs. If we can pay farmers not to grow crops, we can pay engineers and machinists not to build weapons. (3.3.5) Return all National Guard units to the control of the governors of the states. (3.3.6) Release Reserve units and excess personnel for transfer to alternative duties such as border patrol, disaster relief and cleanup, and rebuilding infrastructure. (There should be no forced separations.) The personnel and the budget to support them can eventually be transferred to other agencies. (3.3.7) Reorganize the Department of Defense and adjust the Defense budget to reflect the new mission. Once the transition is complete, the DoD budget should be around 20% of its current level. (3.3.8) End the embargo of Cuba and begin establishing normalized relations. (3.3.9) Terminate all covert actions and propaganda campaigns attempting to undermine other countries such as Iran and Venezuela. The fact that a country chooses not to cooperate with multinational corporations is no business of our government.
3.4 Abolish the CIA. Presidents Kennedy and Carter learned that it was impossible to get rid of the “dirty tricks” side of the CIA while retaining the intelligence gathering and analysis function. The CIA has continued to foster instability, insurrection, tyranny, torture, terrorism, murder, and war around the world, causing millions of deaths and creating millions of enemies for the United States through fear and hatred. We must drive a stake through its heart. The many good analysts may transfer to the DIA.
3.5 Honor and care for our Veterans. The fact that current and past wars are Unconstitutional, illegal, and destructive of our national security does not diminish the dedication, bravery, and sacrifices of our veterans who were lied to. They served in the belief that they were protecting our freedoms. We must see that they are cared for. The care of our soldiers wounded in action, suffering from PTSD, and poisoned by Depleted Uranium (DU) is not a discretionary expenditure to be avoided by delay, denial, and bureaucratic red tape. It is a solemn obligation of our government, and it must be met. (3.5.1) Fully fund the VA. (3.5.2) Direct the VA to recognize Gulf War Syndrome as a service-connected disability. (3.5.3) Direct the Department of Defense to root out prejudice against soldiers seeking help for PTSD, and to halt the practice of giving them drugs and returning them to service. (3.5.4) Direct the VA to halt the practice of some examiners who routinely deny benefits for PTSD claims because they “don’t believe in it.” (3.5.5) Direct the DoD and the VA to strengthen programs to ease the transition from combat to civilian life. There have been too many cases of domestic violence, murder, and suicide by veterans unable to make the transition. (3.5.6) Order a permanent halt to the use of DU munitions and armor. Destroy all existing supplies and store it as radioactive waste.
4. Rebuild Economy & Family Security
4.1 Expose the trickle-down myth. Both political parties promote the myth that the way to build the economy and jobs is to reduce taxes and regulations on businesses. The Republicans add a related myth that reducing taxes on millionaires will cause them to create jobs. All these myths are false. Neither businesses nor millionaires create jobs. CONSUMERS create jobs! Government can totally eliminate taxes on businesses and the super-wealthy, banks can offer business loans at zero interest. Yet not a single job will be created unless there are consumers willing and able to purchase the products and services offered. Businesses and millionaires will only create new jobs when the DEMAND can’t be met without them. At present, the demand isn’t there, because workers and the middle class can’t afford to buy. Those who still have jobs are afraid to buy because they may either lose their job or have unforeseen medical expenses. Job loss and medical bills are the leading causes of personal bankruptcy and home foreclosure, and most of us are subject to be impoverished by either one … or both. So we don’t spend our meager savings (if any) unless we have to, and we are afraid to go further in debt. The gap between the rich and the workers has gotten so big that there’s precious little left to pump to the top, and whatever goes to the top never trickles down. So the gap gets bigger. In spite of soaring productivity, real wages today are a third of what they were in the 1950s. This is unsustainable. Henry Ford used to pay his workers well, because he wanted them to be able to buy the cars they built. And both he and his workers thrived. He understood that economics was not trickle-down, but bubble-up. The only way to rescue the economy and guarantee jobs for those who want them is to make every American family financially secure, eliminating the worry that either the paychecks will stop or that medical bills will swamp them. Then people will buy things and businesses will hire more people to meet the demand. Everyone will prosper, including the rich, but only when every family gets an adequate, regular paycheck and health care when they need it.
It is here that those of us who are libertarian in ideology will diverge from those of us who are progressive. We will not agree on how to go about providing every family with paychecks and health care. But however we do it, it must be done. My prescription is outlined below in Sections 4.2 and 4.3. Those of us on the left and right come back together again on Banking Reform and Tax Reform, covered in 4.4 and 4.5. These are also vital to our economic development and to financial security.
4.2 Guarantee paychecks for all. (Don’t worry. I’ll discuss how to pay for all this in Section 4.5.) (4.2.1) The simplest solution would be to send every American family, rich or poor, a paycheck every month. Call it “Social Security for all.” Start with $800 for each adult and $200 for each child, with the amount indexed for inflation, just like Social Security. Like Social Security, it would be taxable after your other income rose above a certain level. (4.2.2) A more modest (perhaps interim) proposal is to extend unemployment benefits indefinitely — no maximum number of weeks, no expiration date. (4.2.3) The most satisfying way to provide paychecks, of course, is through jobs. I am convinced that if you provide the regular paychecks first, the jobs will follow (because paychecks will create demand). But there are other steps we should take as well. Until the demand creates sufficient private sector jobs, the government should offer jobs to anyone wanting one. Let the WPA live again. (4.2.4) In order to reinvigorate our manufacturing capability, the government should end subsidies to companies moving jobs out of the country and should use tariffs to level the playing field. Suspend NAFTA and all other “free trade” agreements (they are really free investment agreements) until our trade partners extend the same benefits, union rights, protections for health, safety, and the environment, and wages as we require of businesses here. It should be no cheaper to build widgets in Mexico or China and import them than to build them in Scranton or Detroit or Oshkosh. (4.2.5) Make it just as expensive for companies to hire undocumented workers as American citizens. Use a non-forgeable ID card with Social security number and status. Require non-citizen workers be given minimum wage and other protections accorded citizens. Offending employers would be jailed. (4.2.6) Index the Minimum Wage for inflation and gradually raise it to what it would have been had it been indexed for inflation when it was created at a dollar an hour. (That would currently be about $16 an hour.)
4.3 Health Care for all. (4.3.1) As a conservative, I believe that the only fiscally-responsible way to provide health care is to eliminate the profit, the overhead, the red tape, the interference between doctor and patient, and the interference in our political system of the insurance companies by kicking them out of health care altogether. We must finally join the rest of the civilized world and adopt a single-payer national health system. (4.3.2) A modest proposal to achieve such a single-payer system is Medicare For All. We can start with a bill expanding Medicare to cover pregnant women, infants up to age six, and seniors starting at age sixty. Include pre-natal care, well baby care, and preventive care with no co-pay. The bill should state that it is our policy to gradually expand and improve Medicare until it covers all Americans for medical , dental, vision, hearing, mental health, home health, and long-term care, with deductibles and co-pays limited to what is affordable to families on minimum wage. (4.3.3) Medicare Part D should be repealed, and prescription drugs should be covered as a standard part of Medicare Part B, just like x-rays or doctor visits.
4.4 Banking Reform. The banks take high-risk gambles with our money and lose. Then they go to the federal government for a bail-out. The government goes to the Federal Reserve (which is about as federal as Federal Express) to borrow the money. The Fed then creates the money out of thin air and loans it to the government (at interest which we taxpayers have to pay). The government then gives it to the banks, who are supposed to loan it to us (again at interest, so we’re paying double interest on the same money). The banks then use the money to buy up other banks (including foreign banks) and to pay themselves huge bonuses. The stockholders of the Federal Reserve make hundreds of billions of dollars on money which was never theirs in the first place. They never have a penny of their own at risk! Some sweet deal, isn’t it? But not for us. In this system, all money is created as debt. But where does the money come from to pay the interest? More loans. They can never be paid off. It is a huge pump, pumping money from workers to the ultra-wealthy who own the banks. Both conservatives and liberals agree that this must end. (4.4.1) Pass legislation abolishing the Federal Reserve and eliminating our debt to it. (4.4.2) Pass legislation ending the debt-based monetary system and returning to Congress its Constitutional responsibility for creating money … without debt. The government should print greenbacks and use it for government purposes — including building roads and bridges, caring for disabled veterans, and providing universal health care. (4.4.3) Audit the big banks and financial service companies and nationalize those who are insolvent. They can then be run as non-profit government banks, providing low-interest loans to individuals and small businesses.
4.5 Tax Reform. We have proposed significant government expenditures for guaranteed paychecks and health care for Americans. It is fair to ask where the money is going to come from. For centuries, governments have been using taxes to control behavior. They tax what they want to discourage (like smoking, for example). So why do we tax employers for providing jobs? Payroll taxes are counter-productive. They are especially burdensome on small businesses. The minute you hire one person, you have to hire another to figure out income tax withholding, FICA taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, workers comp taxes, ad infinitum. It’s no wonder most new businesses fail before they ever make a profit. Businesses should only be taxed on profits.
Similarly, we discourage those on welfare from taking a job, because we tax them so highly. If you find a job that pays the same as welfare, and you take the job and the welfare is stopped, you have in essence been taxed 100% on your new job. Even if your new job pays twice what you got on welfare, the effective tax on it is 50% — and that’s before you pay any income tax. Then there’s the FICA (Social Security) tax, the most regressive tax of all. A minimum wage earner pays about 8%. The owner of a Mom & Pop business pays 16%. But a basketball player or CEO making $40 million a year only pays 0.02%. We’re supposed to have a graduated income tax. Yet because of the tax break on unearned income (like dividends and capital gains), the wealthy pay a much smaller percentage of their income than low-wage workers. Someone once challenged corporate executives to find one who paid a higher income tax rate than their secretary. None were found. All this suggests several ways to reform the tax system. (4.5.1) Remove the cap on earnings subject to Social Security tax. This would make it a flat tax, and would keep Social Security solvent forever. Better yet, do away with the FICA tax (and all payroll taxes) completely, compensating by increasing income tax rates or with new taxes (like the tariffs and Tobin tax discussed below). (4.5.2) Restructure the income tax to incorporate a negative income tax (similar to the guaranteed paychecks discussed in 4.2.1) and slowly rising tax rates, with a top rate (probably around 70%) sufficient to make the whole thing revenue neutral. No one with an income of less than $500,000 per year would have a tax increase. (4.5.3) Remove the favored treatment of unearned income, but index the cost basis of property subject to capital gains for inflation, so that only real gains are taxed. (4.5.4) The cost of universal health care will be much less than the current cost, since the roughly 30% skimmed off by the insurance companies will be eliminated. There will be considerable savings because conflicting and overlapping coverages (like Medicaid and VA) will be eliminated. Individuals will be relieved of the expense of private insurance policies and supplements. Businesses of all sizes will be relieved of the burden of supplying health coverage for their employees and (most importantly for companies like General Motors) for their retirees. Yet the cost to the government will rise, and must be offset by taxes. An increased tax rate on corporate profit is reasonable, especially since they will benefit so much. (4.5.5) Introduce the Tobin tax on financial transactions. There is so much gambling going on in the currency markets and stock markets that the total amount of trades is truly staggering. A tax of even a tenth of one percent would bring in enough money to pay for the new programs we have proposed and (quite possibly) make the income tax unnecessary. Such a tiny tax would not deter legitimate investment, but might put a brake on some of the lightning computer trading which goes on today. So the actual revenue created will not be known until it is implemented. (4.5.6) Go back to using tariffs (one of the few types of tax authorized in the Constitution) to level the playing field with trading partners who welcome our investments, but put up barriers to the sale of our goods in their country. Tariffs can halt the flight of jobs from our country, as discussed in 4.2.4. (4.5.7) Pass legislation limiting the corporate income tax deduction for executive compensation to twenty times the salary of their lowest paid worker (legal or illegal). The ratio between CEO pay and worker pay used to be 20 to 1. It is now over 600 to 1. This is a free country. Corporations can pay their executives whatever they wish. But we don’t have to give them a tax deduction for it.
There are countless important issues we haven’t dealt with in this Patriots’ Agenda (like education, the environment, etc.). You can see my position on every conceivable issue on the web site www.thepatriots.us . What we have done here is to identify four core agenda items that are absolutely critical to our future as a nation. We’d love to see them taken up in the lame duck session this month. But I’m not holding my breath. My hope is that millions of Americans across the political spectrum (and perhaps a few Patriots in a future Congress) will take up an agenda like this and, one of these days, force our government to honestly deal with it. Until then, hang in there, keep the faith, and may God help us all.
(NOTE: This article is a slightly updated version of the Legislative Agenda I submitted to Congress when I was running for Congress in 2006. It resulted in me being invited to join the Veterans Affairs Committee “when you’re elected.” Although exit polls had me winning the election by 12 points, the electronic voting machines said otherwise.)
Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret.
National Commander, “The Patriots”
1494 Patriot Dr, Melbourne, FL 32940
Home: (321) 752-5955
Cell: (321) 258-0582
Email: [email protected]
Alt: [email protected]
France is about to debate a law to totally ban fracking for gas. Australia has allowed the practice with problems quickly developing. Mexico has no defenses. The United States is deeply affected. "Fracking" was developed by Halliburton, the second largest oilfield services corporation in the world. The term comes from the extraction method of hydraulic fracturing of shale beds to access "unconventional gas" i.e. gas that comes out of wells other than classic oil-wells. Under President Bush, the fracking industry was exempted from environmental laws, including clean water protection. As many of us have come to understand, when you take away environmental protection, you take away almost all human rights to object to big business, even if citizens lives are obviously threatened. We also mention the Australian film made by Four Corners investigating the impacts of the industry in Australia.
France is about to debate a law to totally ban fracking for gas. Australia has allowed the practice with problems quickly developing. Mexico has no defenses. The United States is deeply affected. "Fracking" was developed by Halliburton, the second largest oilfield services corporation in the world. The term comes from the extraction method of hydraulic fracturing of shale beds to access "unconventional gas" i.e. gas that comes out of wells other than classic oil-wells. Under President Bush, the fracking industry was exempted from environmental laws, including clean water protection. As many of us have come to understand, when you take away environmental protection, you take away almost all human rights to object to big business, even if citizens lives and livelihoods, notably through their clean water supply, are obviously threatened. We also mention the Australian film made by Four Corners investigating the impacts of the industry in Australia.
Winter is cold in America
Years ago I spent a couple of months travelling between Colorado and White Sulphur Springs, Montana, in the US with a friend in the petroleum business, who looking into purchasing mineral rights on behalf of some organisations. It was the middle of winter and a blizzard accompanied us the whole way. Our vehicle, an old Lincoln Continental, developed defective wiring so the heaters and de-misters didn't work and the windows wouldn't wind down. As we left Cheyanne, Wyoming, we were wearing ski outfits and using an icescraper on the inside of the windows, wondering just how long we could survive this. When we got to the town of White Sulphur Springs, the main street looked like a bob-sleigh course. The town lacked the money to clear the ice and the only warm place, as I recollect, was under the motel, in a glaucous grotto whence issued the sulphurous springs which apparently gave the town its name.
From this picture I found on the internet, I see that it hasn't changed all that much, except that they are now fracking for gas in Montana.
Why should I mention this?
Well, perhaps to give you an idea of how cold it gets in North America in winter, and just what film-activists like Josh Fox are up against from the general public as well as those who live in warm climates and own shares in gas exploration. Further down we mention the Australian investigation of this industry on Four Corners: See "The Gas Rush," 21 February 2011.
Gaslands, the movie
Candobetter.net is a website for reform in democracy, environment, population, land use planning and energy policy. These topics go together naturally, but few single productions bring them together as effectively as Gaslands, a movie made and lived by Josh Fox (no relation to Fox-news, of course!)
Watch this movie and, if you still believe in benign government and that capitalism is the same thing as democracy, please write up your case to amaze us here.
It is really hard to do a review of Gaslands, because even if it were a terrible production, the material raises it to magnificent and frightening heights. The maker of this movie, Josh Fox, was offered a paltry $100,000 for the woods and fields he has lived in all his life, in exchange for mineral exploration rights.
He loved his landscape, which he had grown up with, and he had heard some rumours that fracking sometimes went wrong and cracked water table rock layers, releasing into the water, as well as natural gas and other petroleum by-products, some heavy-duty chemicals used to make water more slippery.
Here is an mp3 about Fracking Fracking: Implications for Human and Environmental Health, Nov 9, 2010 More information here.
Gaslands, the industry
Energy in Depth, "Debunking Gasland," is an industry group site containing a response to the movie, Gaslands.
Click here to see a movie which the industry has made in response to the film. The pro-fracking campaign is just as fear-driven as the anti-gas fracking campaign.
Unfortunately the industry insists, oilily, that if we want our lifestyles to continue, we have to find more and more fuel to allow our economies to continue to grow. "The world's dependency on oil and gas is a given. Without these fuels, life as we know it, would grind to a stop. " They show a snowbound house with cheery lighted windows, a masked medical team at a patient's bed, a plane taking off, and traffic-laden highways. There is no acknowledgement of the benefits of simplicity, the wholesomeness of nature, the disbenefits of consumerism and growth, or the impact on democracy of capitalism gone mad. This film, however, has a nice animated model of how to drill a well and what fracking entails. The model idealises and simplifies the situation, but it educates on the engineering.
The page associated with this movie is called "Debunking Gasland" and comes from a chapter entitled, "The Energy you need, the Facts you demand." Under, "Who we are," you can read that,
America’s natural gas and oil producers – the majority of which are small, independent businesses with less than 12 employees- are committed to strengthening America through the safe, responsible and environmentally-friendly development of domestic energy resources. Together, we’re working to keep energy affordable here at home, creating new jobs and minimizing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.
Thanks to new innovations and the hard work of the hundreds of thousands of Americans in the petroleum industry, we’re doing just that. Spread throughout small towns and communities across the country, our companies keep local economies moving by providing goods and generating tax revenues through lease payments and production royalties"
Why the unconventional gas-rush?
Petroleum depletion trends have galvanised governments and industry to find new reservoir sources of fuel in order to maintain our crazy growth economies. This has placed pressure on environmental standards and laws. Under President Bush environmental protection was apparently shunted aside in order to allow brutal technologies to be used to get coal from sites previously abandoned as too difficult or unrewarding or damaging to the environment, and oil from arctic wilderness. These are desperate and predictable measures. Tarsands - once ignored due to their extremely low return on energy invested and the very high pollution involved - are also now being massively exploited in Canada. As we know deep-sea drilling for oil, with all its risks, resulted in - among other tragedies - the Deepwater Horizon oil-well blow-out of 2010 in the gulf of Mexico.
Fracking and concerns about water supplies and safety
Fracking gets natural gas from shale formations at very deep underground levels. People are very worried that, whilst shattering these shale formations, underground water tables will also be shattered, ground around the wells will be polluted, and wide open landscapes will take on the appearance of outdoor factories. The industry insists that the shale formations are much lower than the water tables humans access, but there have been several cases where water tables have been proven to have been contaminated. The fracking industry uses huge amounts of fluid - usually water, which is then largely lost to the water cycle. The water is also 'slicked' using various chemicals, many of which are poisonous. (The industry explanation cited above says that many of these chemicals are used in household products, which is true, but these are not generally poured down drinking wells in large quantities.) The slicked water is forced at huge pressures down vertical pipes and then via pipes which penetrate laterally. The aim is to crack and break up the shale formations enough to release gas in large quantities from its multi-chambered underground stores. In Gaslands it has been suggested that, if completely developed, the huge Marcellus shale formation in the United states, under the current very poorly regulated, chaotically individual and uncoordinated system of drilling, could permit as many as 400,000 new wells. This might endanger the supply of water to New York, which would be catastrophic.
It is of concern that similar projects are proceeding in Australia and ABC Australia's 4Corners recently did a very good documentary on this problem. See "The Gas Rush," 21 February 2011. (Video still available on line.) Shown in this documentary was a case of serious contamination of the underground artesian basin, which is Australia's most massive and ancient naturally stored water-source and the main source of water to many inland farmers in the Eastern states.
Fracking is going to be a problem for any country with shale-oil as long as big transnationals make rules for the rest of us. One such country is Mexico, and here is an interesting article, "Fracking in the Four Corners."
France close to banning Fracking on its territories
In applying the precautionary principle elaborated in Clause 5 of the Environmental Charter, exploration and exploitation of unconventional hydrocarbon liquids or gases, using vertical and horizontal drills, followed by hydraulic fracturing of rock, is forbidden on National [French] territory.
En application du principe de précaution prévu à l’article 5 de la Charte de l’environnement, l’exploration et l’exploitation des mines d’hydrocarbures liquides ou gazeux non conventionnels, par des forages verticaux comme par des forages horizontaux suivis de fracturation hydraulique de la roche, sont interdites sur le territoire national.
Exclusive exploration licences to mine unconventional hydrocarbon liquids or gases are now revoked.
Les permis exclusifs de recherches de mines d’hydrocarbures liquides ou gazeux non conventionnels sont abrogés.
One of the French ministers involved in drafting this law originally permitted early exploration for fracking. He says that he failed to adequately research the practice and its consequences at the time and is now keen to rectify his mistake.
Why fracking 'Democracy'?
When I first looked into this matter, I thought that it would take me some time to understand the technology involved and the truth of the complaints against it. But what was not hard to see was that the industry could not proceed as it does if there were any democratic regulation in the interests of citizens. The rate and amount of fracking going on in the United States, and the trends in Australia, go on against major and constant protest in countries which lack adequate processes to allow citizens to decide what happens to their country. Whilst these weaknesses in the Anglophone democratic systems have been apparent for some time, the activities of the fracking industry are so obvious and so flagrant, that they actually dramatise our need for entirely new systems of government, with real local powers.
Unstoppable waves of migrants, overcrowding, displaced workers
uncontrollable crime, an alienated youth culture without hope and "one of the most divided and unequal ... countries in Europe", ---is this portrait of contemporary Britain a picture of our own future?
Let the British Poor Eat Cake
Wendy Kellett has a vision of what is to come. And it is a nightmare.
Speaking of her native land, the United Kingdom, she writes that:
“This is now one of the most divided and unequal-and overcrowded-countries in Europe. Unemployment amongst the young is rising; poverty amongst childless adults of working age is rising; immigration continues unabated-driving down wages at the bottom. The real value of incomes has fallen steadily in the past couple of decades, primarily affecting those with the least. Property values have soared, driven by speculation, a deregulated financial sector and increasing pressure on land from development and population growth.
The ‘toffs’ have no idea, or no concern, for what the less fortunate are experiencing. (They will find out, sooner or later.) Their attitude was typified by the chief executive of the Barclay group, Bob (deep-pockets-my-bonus-is-bigger-than-yours) Diamond when he defended the remuneration culture of the UK financial sector before the Commons Treasury Select Committee on bank bonuses. Diamond declared that ‘There was a period of remorse and apology; that period needs to be over.’ I must have missed the remorse and the apology. Diamond rejected the demands of MPs that he forgo his 2010 bonus, which could amount to $8 million.
So it’s business as usual for the greedsters, able to continue unabashed-- courtesy of the publicly funded rescue package---all gain, no pain. The pain is borne by the young, the unemployed, the sick, the disabled, the impoverished, the homeless and the millions of workers who are seeing the value of their wages plummet.”
An Archipelago Of Rich Enclaves In A Sea Of Crime And Poverty
The UK has become what John Kenneth Galbraith said of America, a nation where “private affluence co-exists with public squalor”. By 2015, she predicts, we will see a UK where
“Rising inequality, matched by population growth, will exacerbate the divide between rich and poor and a demoralised and resentful public will be increasingly numbed by diversions like sporting events, celebrity television and political messages which skilfully demonise the poor and needy. Entrepreneurial types will no doubt turn in ever greater numbers to drug dealing, people smuggling and black market supply of now-unaffordable goods beyond the reach of many. Mass migration from Africa and the Middle East will continue , driven by climate change, poverty and population growth. The rich will continue to move into gated enclaves and religious groups will fill the gaps left by vapourised public services : I suspect that ,increasingly, we shall see whole areas dominated by different faith groups.”
Canadian Youth Alienated And Embittered
I replied that this unfolding tragedy sounds very much like what is occurring in North America.
“Sounds a lot like Canada. The United States is even worse. The gap between rich and poor has grown dramatically since the 80s. Now Canadian cities are being to resemble American cities as they were 20 years ago. We have a social safety net that they don't, but the level of services are dropping like a stone. What Galbraith said of America is now true of Canada. The working class has been pauperized, caught in a squeeze play between the outsourcing of good-paying manufacturing jobs and the "in-sourcing" of cheap imported labour which has driven down the wages of displaced blue collar workers and their children, who must compete for the McJobs of a growing low-wage service sector.
Many of these kids have degrees and are trying to work off student debts in the five figures flipping burgers or selling cars for chump change while politicians bemoan the plight of immigrants with degrees who can’t find employment relevant to their field of study. No wonder that so many young people are still living with their parents. The more removed the wealthy become from the masses, the less empathy they have. But incivility, hostility, rudeness, and hostility are bubbling up among the young. In the 60s our fault was our naive idealism. Theirs is their unapologetic cynicism. On the CBC today, I heard the testimony of a bus driver who saw five black female teens on his bus threaten an elderly white lady because she was "looking at them". This kind of incident was unknown in Canada in my time. But it is common now. People are alienated and angry and they are lashing out at the wrong targets.”
The Lost Generation
Wendy also observes the same youth alienation in the United Kingdom.
“I see blank ,sullen incivility on the faces of many of the young : disturbing but explainable. They are fed a diet of, to quote REM : 'shiny, happy people' on the telly, who are famous for being famous, and whose fatuous remarks beggar belief. I suspect that the young know, perhaps subliminally, that they have no stake in the present and no expectations of the future : nihilism; anomie and disengagement are the result.”
It is clear that what we are witnessing--- in the so-called affluent societies---- is the emergence of a Lost Generation----alienated, hostile and withdrawn---immersed in a digital technology that has become both their defining trademark and their sanctuary from a world beyond their control. We are witnessing a systems collapse and the unravelling of Euro-American civilization. As Yeats said in his epic poem, “The Second Coming”, the centre cannot hold.
January 26, 2011
The Second Coming
TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
What is not widely known is the role of supposedly Trotskyist left wing parties in propping up the rule of the Mullahs in 1980. Whether this was decisive I cannot say, but in 1980, one of the major Trotskyist Parties, affiliated with the Trotskyist Fourth International, made a surprising turn and, instead of being a left-wing opponent of the government and the mullahs, began to whitewash the mullahs and to smear political opponents of that government, including feminists and left-wing University students at the University of Tehran.
This article started out as a comment in reply to the comment entitled "Stoning of Women in Iran."
This article started out as a comment in reply to the comment entitled "Stoning of Women in Iran."
What is not widely known is the role of supposedly Trotskyist left wing parties in propping up the rule of the Mullahs in 1980. Whether this was decisive I cannot say, but in 1980, one of the major Trotskyist Parties, affiliated with the Trotskyist Fourth International, made a surprising turn and, instead of being a left-wing opponent of the government and the mullahs, began to whitewash the mullahs and to smear political opponents of that government, including feminists and left-wing University students at the University of Tehran.
What is not widely known is the role of supposedly Trotskyist left wing parties in propping up the rule of the Mullahs in 1980. Whether this was decisive I cannot say, but in 1980, one of the major Trotskyist Parties, affiliated with the Trotskyist Fourth International, made a surprising turn and, instead of being a left-wing opponent of the government and the mullahs, began to whitewash the mullahs and to smear political opponents of that government, including feminists and left-wing University students at the University of Tehran.
The Iranian Islamist fundamentalist mullahs, from which the current Iranian government inherited power, won government in 1979, after a prolonged popular struggle against the dictatorship of the Shah of Iran, who was imposed upon the Iranians by a CIA sponsored coup in 1953.
The mullahs were only one of a number of political forces opposed to the rule of the Shah. Others included socialist groups, liberal democratic groups, and groups representing the non-Persian oppressed nations within Iran, including the Kurds, Azeris, Arabs, Baluchis, etc.
The consolidation of the dictatorial power of the mullahs after 1979 was far from inevitable. During the early months after the collapse of the Shah's regime, the dynamic of the Iranian revolution seemed to match that of the dynamic of the Russian revolution, with the transitional bourgeois democratic government of Mehdi Barzagan atop vast rival mass movements vying with each other and with the government for political power.
Eventually the Iranian mullahs overpowered their more left wing rivals as well as the Iranian transitional government with terrible consequences which included the mas-murder of political opponents and the pointless prolongation of the Iraq-Iran war of 1980-1985. Whilst guilt for starting the war can rightly be attributed to the then dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, the prolongation of that war from 1981, when Hussein tried to sue for peace, until 1985, cost the lives of perhaps half a million more on both sides and, indirectly, made possible the even more terrible first and second U.S. wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003.
The University of Tehran was smashed as strongpoint of political opposition to the Mullah government, when the Mullahs invaded the campus and forcibly dispersed left wing students on the pretext that they were to teach literacy to Iranian peasants. No subsequent reports of the impact of the Mullah's claimed literacy drive were heard which would confirm that the supposed literacy drive was no more than a pretext of the Mullahs to break up and smash an opposition political force.
In 1980 or 1981, Fatima Fallahi, a female member of the abovementioned Trotskyist Party, was arrested by the Mullahs and apparently threatened with execution. (I recommend against googling her name because it seems to return a large number of hits not related to the Fatima Fallahi I am discussing.) Despite remembering her name, other details such as dates, places and other names may be less clear to me after all this time.
At any rate, an energetic and sizable international political campaign apparently succeeded in preventing Fatima's execution and she was released. In 1981, she toured Australia as a guest of the then Socialist Workers Party, which was the fore-runner of today's Democratic Socialist Party which publishes Green Left Weekly.
At the time I was a committed member of the SWP and looked forward to hearing a sophisticated analysis of the Iranian Revolution at Fatima's public meetings in Australia. Fatima Fallahi was a member of the revolutionary left. I hoped to learn from her speeches about the prospects of the revolutionary left establishing a socialist government that would set an example to the rest of the region and to the rest of the world and how we could help them from Australia.
Instead, Fatima's speeches turned out to be shameful and embarrassing apologies for the Mullah's rule. She smeared political oponents of the Iranian mullahs as mentioned above.
Just possibly, Fatima could be excused for her deception, because she may have feared for her own life or for the lives of friends and family still in Iran. But there can be no such excuse for the Socialist Workers Party of Australia, nor its then US equivalent (also known as the Socialist Workers Party) for helping her to spread those lies. In the coming months and years, Socialist Workers Party newspapers essentially peddled justifications for the Iranian Mullah regime. On the Iranian regime's prolongation of the Iraq-Iran war they were silent. Privately they excused it. On one occasion a leading member of the SWP told me that a defeat of the supposedly revolutionary Iranian army then attempting to invade Iraq with waves of sacrificial child soldiers, being thrown across minefields and into barbed wire, would be a defeat for revolutionaries everywhere.
A more objective analysis of the situation would surely have concluded that the accession of such a government to power represented a defeat of the revolution. Excusing that regime's crimes against its own people would surely only compound the consequences of that defeat both in Iran and internationally.
How is it that the successors of those who denied and covered up for the crimes of Iranian Islamic fundamentalists over a generation ago, are now silent about the wrongful blaming of Islamic peoples for the crime of 9/11, 7/7, the Bali bombings, the Madrid train bombings or else actively promote those lies?
The enemies of my enemy are not necessarily my friends.
Whilst I believe that the United States has committed more evil than any other single country since the end of the Second World War, this doesn't mean that I will defend the indefensible actions of the Iranian government, who are in opposition to the United States. By the way, the reason that I believe that the United States is evil is based on their record in the Vietnam war, their CIA meddling in other countries, what they have done in Europe, such as helping form Nazi collaborators to reestablish their power and influence in Italy and Germany, by failing to fully prosecute war criminals, despite some spectacular show trials. (A lot go off because they were considered reliable enemies of communism.) The CIA also organised the mass murder of at least a hundred thousand members of the communist party of Indonesia in 1965. The death toll of its war against IndoChinese people from 1954-1975 exceeds 3 million (and may be more according to some sources.)
Editor's note: The full original title by Wei Ling Chua of www.outcastjournalist.com was "Democracy needs reform - Australia, China and USA: A Tale of three Natural Disasters." As discussed below, an inference that could be made is that Australian and US "democracy" should be "reformed" to be like the Chinese dictatorship. This we emphatically reject. The article, whilst rightly showing up the scandalous failure of the Australian and American governments to deal with catastrophic natural disasters on their respective territories, paints China's response to a natural disaster on its territory in a comparatively positive light. Whilst the article is backed by quotes of sources, seemingly independent of the Chinese Government, we should bear in mind that China does not allow a free and independent news service to operate on its territory. For all the serious flaws and limitations of the newsmedia in Australia and the United States, their relative independence from their respective governments is why the scandalous mishandling of those countries' natural disasters have seen the light of day. If there were any similar mishandling by the Chinese Government, it is not hard to see how such news could have been suppressed. A consequence of this style of argument, if unintended, is a conclusion that Australia and the United States would be better governed if they had the Chinese system of government. So, we at candobetter are reluctant to unreservedly endorse the author's implicitly favourable judgement of the Chinese Government. Some syntactical and stylistic details show that English is not the writer's first language, but we haven't made many changes, since the language is effective.
August 2010 marked the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, USA (29 August 2005). I am reminded of the second anniversary of the Earthquake in Sichuan, China (12 May 2008) three months ago, and of the first anniversary of the Black Saturday (Bush fire) in Victoria, earlier this year in Australia (7 February 2009).
The similarity of these three events is that they were natural disasters with many deaths and many more left homeless. However, for those who lost their home in these large scale natural disasters, which government do you think did more and cared more for their citizens in need? The so-called “autocratic” regime in Beijing, China or the so-called “democratic” and “human right” governments in USA and Australia?
Scale of property damage and human cost in three natural disasters:
- Australia: Black Saturday (Bush fire) in Victoria 2009:
The fires killed 173 people, injured 414 with 7,562 people displaced. The list of damage to property are as follows:
· 450,000 ha (1,100,000 acres) burnt
· Over 3,500 structures destroyed, including 2,029+ houses, 59 commercial properties (shops, pubs, service stations, golf clubs, etc), 12 community buildings (including 2 police stations, 3 schools, 3 churches, 1 fire station), 399 machinery sheds, 729 other farm buildings, 363 hay sheds, 19 dairies, 26 woolsheds.
To learn more: Wikipedia.
- USA: Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans 2005
The flood killed 1,464 people, and an approximately 200,000 people were evacuated from the Gulf Coast Region to Texas, Florida, Georgia and Washington, D.C. Of the more than 400,000 residents who lived in New Orleans prior to Katrina, approximately 350,000 lived in areas that were damaged by the storm.
Again, please click on Wikipedia, and Amnesty International to learn more.
- China: Sichuan earthquake in 2008:
Approximately 15 million people lived in the quake affected area. More than 90,000 people in total were dead or missing in the earthquake and 374,176 injured. The quake left at least 5 million people without housing. The area affected by earthquakes exceeding liedu VI totals 440,442 km2, occupying an oval 936 km long and 596 km wide, spanning three provinces and one autonomous region.
Again, to learn more, click on Wikipedia.
Which governments do you think do more and care more for their citizens in need?
Editorial comment: The implicit conclusion of the following text is that the Chinese Government cares more for its citizens in need. This depends upon accepting the premise that all important news of the Chinese Government's handling of the event in question has been reported. As we have commented earlier, there are good reasons to fear that this may not have happened.
- Australian government
Out of the above three named natural disasters, Australia suffered the least in term of the scale and human cost of the disaster. Besides damages to a total of 3,500 structures including 2,029 + houses, the basic infrastructure such as road and other transport system were fully in tact. However, at the first anniversary of the disaster, let’s examine the governments performance during and after the disaster:
The disaster begin on 7 Feb 2009, the then Prime Minister ‘Rudd activates disaster plan’ (Brisbane Time, 9 Feb 2009) and announced a “$10 million in federal and Victorian government funds to help victims and emergency workers.”
Two days later, Mr Rudd told Parliament: "Hear this from the Government and the Parliament of the nation. Together we will rebuild each of these communities — brick by brick, school by school, community hall by community hall." (Brisbane Time, 11 Feb 2009 - ‘We'll rebuild: Rudd’)
However, he then begin to play politics with the well being of the disaster victims by “linking government relief for Victoria's bushfire victims to its $42 billion economic stimulus package,” (Canberra Times, 11 Feb 2009 - ‘Opposition blasts bushfire, stimulus 'link'.)
Our media begin to compare Australia handling of the Victoria’s Bushfires with the American during the Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This is how the contributing editor of the Age, Russell Skelton wrote: “Where the Bush administration dithered for 48 hours after hurricane Katrina, leaving the flooded city of New Orleans without help, in Victoria, government and non-government agencies such as the Red Cross were on the ground from first light. Within days a reconstruction authority was set up along with a royal commission.” (The Age, 31 March 2009 - Out of the fire)
As usual in this country, the words of the politicians always sound louder than action. The actual outcome to the victims of the fires was: ‘Australia, Survivors of Victorian bushfires receive minimal compensation’ (wsws.org, 28 April 2009). One should note that: “More than 2020 homes were destroyed in the “Black Saturday” fires; 700 or just under a third of these had no insurance. Nevertheless, Victorian fire survivors have only received token government support. Small farmers unable to prove that over 51 percent of their income is derived from their properties will receive nothing from the official public bushfire appeal fund.”
Despite the fact that: “Victorian Labor Premier John Brumby has granted a one-off $50,000 grant for owner-occupiers whose homes were destroyed and the possibility of an additional $40,000 for some victims, subject to government approval” The arrangement was : “according to the premier, $35,000 of this amount can be used for building expenses and the remaining $15,000 for restoration of home contents. Those with homes partially destroyed by the fires and those who were renting will receive $15,000. The state government is charging survivors who have been forced into temporary accommodation a “maintenance” fee of up to $100 per week “.
The reality was: “These paltry grants will not even cover the cost of repairs, let alone fully replace homes and contents. They amount to a fraction of the cost of a home in the fire affected areas.” (Full report by wsws.org)
14 months on, our Reconstruction Authority which was set up within days of the bush fire seems to have done a “great” job? Frankly speaking, as someone who read dozen of Australian Newspapers every day, I have no idea what our “Reconstruction Authority” done so far for the bushfire victims? This was how the Herald Sun reported on the 4 April 2010 (without mentioning the Reconstruction Authority) - ‘Slow and steady but no promise of winning race’. The reality on the ground after one year are:
“HUNDREDS of people in the worst-affected zones are committing to rebuild after Black Saturday,” “But progress is patchy in some areas, and statistics reinforce that it will be many years before the destruction is close to being repaired.”
“Just under 300 rebuilding permits have been issued for houses, sheds and commercial properties in Marysville and the surrounding triangle,” “Locals believe as few as 50 houses are actually being rebuilt in Marysville while many permits are probably for sheds.”
“In the Kinglake Ranges, taking in Kinglake, Pheasant Creek and Toolangi, 361 building permits have been sought. There were 505 properties destroyed there on February 7.” and again: “There were 117 permits sought for Flowerdale and its sister hamlet, Hazeldene, compared with the 225 properties destroyed.”
The progress for reconstruction has been very slow, part of the reason mentioned by Herald Sun report was: “with the rebuilding process arduous for many - particularly those who lost family or can't decide whether to face the risk of any disaster.”
However, I believe that among those 700 who were not insured, there must be people who do not have the financial ability to rebuilt but not mentioned by the media. The major reason for the “slow in progress” is actually due to bureaucratic red tape. I read a report about this aspect of the delay in building approval few months back, but unable to find back the link. However, one of the NSW’s local council has this statement in their website under the title: Rebuilding after a bush fire pointing out that: “When bushfire events do occur, Council’s ability to help in terms of the approval process is limited because State planning and building laws continue to apply as they would in normal circumstances, and Council is not at liberty to alter or ignore them.”
15 months on, a Royal Commission of Inquiry set up more than a year ago to investigate into the Victoria’s Bush Fire has the following finding:
“The tragically high death toll was caused by grossly inadequate emergency services, lack of fire warnings and the absence of any centralised evacuation plan.” The individual homeowners were left to decide by themselves whether they should “stay or go”. (WSWS, 28 May 2009 - ‘Australian bushfire royal commission: Survivors expose “stay or go” policy’)
The enquiry also find that: “None of those in command showed any real leadership” (News Limited, 28 May 2010 - ‘Black Saturday - Leaders faltered as Victoria burned’). The situation were:
“VICTORIA'S police minister and the state's three most senior police officers were all absent from the emergency nerve centre when most of the deaths occurred on Black Saturday” (Herald Sun, 7 May 2010).
“The uncoordinated and chaotic division of responsibilities and functions of senior police and emergency services leadership points to the negligence of the state government of Premier John Brumby. It made no serious attempt to establish clear lines of command and communication inside the IECC prior to the devastating fires.” (WSWS, 17 May 2010 - ‘Australia: Government culpability in 2009 Victorian bushfires’)
As for the Federal Government, beside making some grand statements and posting for photo opportunities with the media at the beginning of the Bushfires and on its anniversary seems to disappear from the radar screen throughout the very slow rebuilding process. At the anniversary this year, the state government of Victoria was left alone to defend the delays in rebuilding including the rebuilding of schools in the bushfire-hit towns of Marysville and Strathewen (Herald Sun, 7 Feb 2010 - ‘Brumby defends bushfire rebuilding delays’)
- US government
Comparing to the Bush administration, Australian media did has the right to feel good about ourselves.
President Bush has been warned on the eve of Hurricane Katrina that New Orleans' flood defences could be overcome” and “the risk to evacuees in the Superdome. However, “Mr Bush does not ask any questions as the situation is outlined to him.” (BBC, 2 March 2006 - ‘Video shows Bush Katrina warning’) That is, no action being taken by the President to do anything to the anticipated disaster.
During the disaster, a well research website in the US with links to its sources showing photos of the President enjoying himself - “playing Guitar While New Orleans Drowned”.
The research also show that: “Vice President Dick Cheney continued to enjoy his vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming during the whole debacle,” while “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice bought $3000 worth of shoes at the exclusive NYC boutique Ferragamo.”
“Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert called for the bulldozing of New Orleans, saying that it didn't make sense to spend the money to rebuild the city; he also initially refused to call a special session of Congress to appropriate emergency relief funds for the Gulf Coast, saying that FEMA was handling the situation perfectly well. Hastert capitulated to pressure from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to allow the vote, then tried to take credit for the funding.”
At the 4th anniversary of the disaster last year, reality on the ground of New Orleans indicated that, not much being done by the US government to rebuilt the flood affected areas. Amnesty International released a report with title: ‘The Facts: The Right to Return—Rebuilding the Gulf through the Framework of International Human Right.’ indicated that:
“Despite the passage of almost four years, thousands of those internally displaced as a result of Hurricane Katrina who want to return to New Orleans are unable to do so.”
“More than 14,000 families living in metropolitan New Orleans are still receiving Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) vouchers which help them pay rent. These vouchers come with an expiration date, which was recently changed from March 2009 to September 2009. Only approximately 7,500 of these families may be eligible for Housing Choice vouchers, which gives them access to Section 8 housing. Once the DHAP vouchers expire, the remaining families face potential homelessness. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) acknowledges that at least 4,000 of those who do not qualify for Section 8 housing will have difficulty finding affordable housing.”
The report further explained the situation: “After Katrina, the federal government placed tens of thousands of families in trailers which were meant to provide temporary shelter. Today, there are approximately 3,400 families still living in trailers in Louisiana and Mississippi, 760 of which are in New Orleans. After being told that they would be evicted if they did not vacate their trailers by May 30, 2009, the trailer residents will now be given the option to purchase their trailers for $5 or less. Many of the FEMA trailers contain levels of formaldehyde, a carcinogenic toxin, which are 75 times the recommended maximum for U.S. workers. The federal government has indicated that trailers with elevated levels of formaldehyde will not be available for purchase. As a result, only 1,160 of the trailers currently being used qualify for purchase by these IDPs. HUD has not yet provided a clear indication of how it will supply the remaining trailers.”
Here is the full Amnesty International Report in 2009
The mainstream cooperate media in US were basically silence on the problem in New Orleans. This is how AlterNet, an independent website reported the situation on 10 September 2009: ‘How Corporate Media Are Washing Away Katrina From America's Mind’.
This year, on the March 2010, a blogger by the name of Douglas Brown has this personal account of what he watched first hand in New Orleans: “This week, I drove to New Orleans as part of a Mission Trip to help rebuild homes that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After five years, there are still literally thousands of people who are still homeless or living in trailers that FEMA provided in 2005. Most of these people are people who have little or no income, have lost family, often the main income earner, are elderly, widowed or disabled. There is no funding that these people can get to rebuild. They have nowhere to go, and in the richest nation in the world, the shame we saw when the poor were left behind when Katrina hit is still here, albeit not on National TV, since it is not a current story anymore.”
For your info, a US federal judge ruled in November 2009 that the Army Corps of Engineers' failure to properly maintain a navigation channel led to massive flooding in Hurricane Katrina in 2005. (Brisbane Time, 20 Nov 2010 - ‘Corps' negligence caused Katrina flooding’).
- Chinese Government
Editorial comment: See comment above under the heading "Which governments do you think do more and care more for their citizens in need?"
Sharply contrary to the performance of the Australia and US’s governments during a major natural disaster, Chinese leadership responded to the 2008 earthquake in a professional manner characterised by its high efficiency and comprehensiveness:
The military formed the key elements in the rescue process and its response to the earthquake was rapid with “the first Chinese military rescue team reportedly headed for the disaster area within 14 minutes after the strong earthquake began” (Hoover Institute Research: China Leadership Monitor - 2008 No 25 - ‘The Chinese Military’s Earthquake Response Leadership Team’).
The research also find that within days, “China’s armed forces dispatched more than 100,000 soldiers and armed police to help with rescue operations in earthquake-hit areas, dividing their units into three geographical rescue zones.”
“Military transport aircraft and helicopters had made 1,069 flights during the first week of operations, supplemented by 92 military trains and about 110,000 military vehicles, cranes, rubber boats, portable communication devices, and power generators. The military units had pulled 21,566 people both dead and alive from the debris, treated 34,051 injured people and transferred 205,370 people to safety”.
“115 medical teams were sent to the disaster zone, and quilts, food, medicine, and tents weighing 780,000 tons were distributed. The armed forces also airdropped 307 tons of relief supplies and repaired 557 kilometers of damaged roads.”
There are 9 working groups involved in the rescue mission:
“Emergency Management and Relief Provision Group, Masses’ Livelihood Group, Seismic Monitoring Group, Sanitation and Epidemic Prevention Group, Propaganda Group, Production Restoration Group, Safeguarding Infrastructure and Post-Disaster Reconstruction Group, Water Resources Group, and the Public Order Group.”
The Times (14 May 2008 - ‘China Races to Save Quake Victims’) also has this account of the military involvement in the rescue mission:
“On the streets of Dujiangyan the rescue troops are ubiquitous. Military vehicles are lined up, and People's Armed Police and People's Liberation Army soldiers, kitted out in crisp, matching green camouflage, are battling rain and rubble as they try to reach trapped survivors and control emotional crowds.”
The response from the top leadership in Beijing were also sweep and decisive. This is how Wikipedia described the rescue effort:
“President Hu Jintao announced that the disaster response would be rapid. Just 90 minutes after the earthquake, Premier Wen Jiabao, who has an academic background in geomechanics, flew to the earthquake area to oversee the rescue work. Soon afterward, China's Health Ministry said that it had sent ten emergency medical teams to Wenchuan County in southwest China's Sichuan Province. On the same day, China's Chengdu Military Area Command dispatched 50,000 troops and armed police to help with disaster relief work in Wenchuan County.”
Not long after the quake, the Chinese government begin to announce an eight-year reconstruction plan, which targets 2008-2010 for immediate recovery and 2011-2015 for long-term economic reconstruction. (International labour Organisation, 12 Oct 2009)
Within 16 months of the massive earthquake, Premier Wen Jiabao already re-visited the quake zone 8 times (This is the report of his 8th visit by the Hong Kong’s media, Ifeng news, 27 Sept 2009 in Chinese language).
A year later, China government released a report in regards to the progress of the rebuilding effort covering a wide range of issues and statistics including the reconstruction of schools, hospitals and residential building; the variety of assistance given to the farmer who lost their land, people who lost their home, old people who lost their children, children who lost their parents and people who became handicap; and the issue with employment, etc. (Detail in Ifeng News in Chinese language, 7 May 2009).
The Time’s journalist, Austin Ramzy has a personal account of the quake zone after 6 months as follows (The Time, 19 January 2010) :
“I went back to Sichuan six months after the catastrophe and was amazed at the speed of physical and economic recovery. In Dujiangyan, the largest city in the quake zone, the rubble and tent cities had disappeared. The jumble of debris was replaced by piles of new bricks, lumber and other construction materials. There was a building boom across the region, and dozens of temporary villages were erected to house the 5 million people who were rendered homeless by the quake. The prefab housing was made out of blue aluminum siding lined with Styrofoam insulation. It had concrete floors and was arranged in neat rows in flat spots at the bases of the mountains. Conditions weren't luxurious, but the camps were clean and the housing dry and fairly warm.”
“I found no evidence of homelessness, though there were reports of people in the mountains who refused to spend their rebuilding funds and chose to remain in tents.”
“In 2008 the government said it would spend $176 billion on reconstruction by 2011. (The total recovery cost is estimated at $250 billion.) As of last June it had already spent more than $50 billion. Some of the expenses have been shouldered by other parts of China. Twenty provinces have set aside 1% of fiscal revenues for two years to help rebuild Sichuan.”
In fact, the kind of care the Chinese government extended to its citizens in needs has gone beyond financial aids and the reconstruction of buildings and infrastructures, their care for the people has extended to areas such as: “paid for group weddings and plan to hold a matchmaking fair.” (The Guardian, 11 May 2009 - A year on from the Chinese earthquake, love flourishes amid ruins of Sichuan)
In fact, the center of the quake begin from a village where the Tibetan’s live, and what the Australian media did not tell us, is how China assisted their minority to rebuilt their lives. I will have a special article on this issue at an appropriate time with the title: “Minority Policy—China Vs. Australia”.
Editorial comment: The above is not a definition of democracy. Although democratic governments are more likely to listen to and care for citizens in need, there is no reason, in principle, why undemocratic governments, such as the Chinese Government can't do the same on occasions.
Purpose of this article
The purpose of writing this article is to use actual examples of how the three governments (US, Australia and China) handled a major natural disaster to demonstrate one fundamental truth: That is, the world has yet to find a perfect political system. All forms of government have their strengths and weaknesses. For the sake of humanity, countries should learn from each other's successful experience to improve.
Unfortunately, in Australia, despite the fact that we have daily news about China, our media failed to tell the Australian public of the massive human rights achievement China made to the more than 5 million people who lost their home in the 2008 Earthquake.]
Conclusion: Democracy Needs Reform
Editorial comment: Yes, 'democracy' such as it exists in the USA and Australia is in bad need of reform, but it needs to e reformed to make it truly open and accountable. To, instead, 'reform' 'democracy' in the way that the author seems to be imply that it should be is only likely to make the consequences of any future natural disasters in either of those two countries even worse.
Theoretically, democracy is supposed to bring about caring leaderships with the assumption of “from the people, by the people and for the people”. In practice, this may not be the case as the above three examples demonstrated. Why?
Have we become complacent and obsessed with Winston Churchill's assessment of democracy in 1947?
“Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
Is there any room for improvement? For examples, I believe it is fair to ask the following questions:
1) Has our current form of democratic process produced leaders with the right attitude, mindset and ability to care for people in need?
2) If not, what should we do to overcome those system deficiencies?
3) Would it be a good idea to introduce the element of socialist philosophy into our democratic process? How?
4) Should we regard the inability of a government to care for their citizens in need as a human rights issue?
The 2009 International Monetary Fund (IMF) report rank China 98 (USD3,678) out of 180 countries based on its per capital GDP, Australia ranked 11 (USD45,587) and USA 9 (USD46,381). However, why did China out-perform the two much richer countries in terms of caring for their citizens in need?
If democracy is defined as government ‘listening and caring for their citizens in need’, I believe, China has no doubt achieved this goal. How?
I will continue to write a series of articles using the heading ‘Democracy Needs Reform’ before moving into the area of analysing the solutions. Unfortunately, I was banned by the Australian Media as an accredited Journalist from enjoying my membership due to my political view, so I reckon, most Australians would have to be happy with The Age contributing editor assessment that: “Australia is better than USA.”
However, my up coming article, ‘Democracy Needs Reform—Australia Voters Facing a Basket of Rotten Apples’ may provide some insight into why both Australia and US’s governments failed to care for their people in needs during the Bush Fires in Victoria and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
Editorial comment: The above is true of Australia and the US, but, even if the Chinese Government handled its natural disaster better than did those two 'democracies' handle theirs, not a good enough reason to 'reform' their systems of government to be like the even less democratic Chinese system.
Written by www.outcastjournalist.com
Fri 7 May 2010
By Frosty Wooldridge
You may join the discussion and debate around the world on overpopulation!
Australia heats up by the day as it overpopulates itself into demographic consequences that grow irreversible and unsolvable. No rational country wants to follow in the footsteps of China, India, Bangladesh or Mexico. But the USA, Canada, Great Britain and Australia follow in the same tracks!
After having cycled the entire perimeter of Australia, I can tell you firsthand that it contains 96 percent desert. It lacks carrying capacity for the 21 million living there today. Yet, Kevin Rudd and other ‘growthist’ continue to immigrate Australia into a demographic nightmare. What few understand but must come to terms with: the third world grows by 77 million people net gain annually. No matter how many flee those countries to first world countries, the line never ends, and in fact, grows beyond solving. At some point soon, as Roy Beck of www.NumbersUSA.com said, “Human beings must live where they are planted and change their societies for the better where they were born.”
Thankfully, more and more Australians speak up. This past year, they launched Population Speak-outs. Tim Murray in Canada along with Madeline Weld work for the same speak-outs:www.immigrationwatchcanada.org. In this country, Bill Ryerson at www.populationmedia.org and Dave Paxson at www.worldpopulationbalance.org give you the power to make your voices heard. In California see
“The debate on population growth in Australia is really taking off,” said Tim Murray. “Thanks to the efforts of grass roots activists like Sheila Newman, Jill Quirk, James Sinnammon, Mary Drost, Mark O'Connor and several others, luminaries in academia and politics have been able to step forward and make the case to stabilize and reverse runaway growth. Finally the media, most especially ABC radio, has to acknowledge the groundswell and open doors. One must envy the array of talent available to the population stabilization movement in Australia, and marvel at their progress. They are showing us the way. Take a look at this: candobetter.org/node/1995.
Lesson: We can make it happen here too. But it takes a lot of spade work and persistence.”
“The raging monster upon the land is population growth. In its presence, sustainability is but a fragile theoretical construct. To say, as many do, that the difficulties of nations are not due to people but to poor ideology and land-use management is sophistic.”
If you have further questions, please ask at my personal email:frostyw[AT]juno.com
If any of us, no matter what our race, creed or color might be, refuse to engage our U.S. Congress as we have not for 30 years as to the population/immigration equation—our children will find themselves living in a terribly degraded America where the American Dream will be described by the history books as a ‘fleeting fantasy’ from the era of 1950 to 2010.
These are several of the top organizations where you can take collective action to change the course of American history as well as in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Take collective action at
www.numbersusa.com ; www.fairus.org ; www.capsweb.org ; www.thesocialcontract.com ; www.populationmedia.org ; www.worldpopulationbalance.org ; www.populationconnection.org ; www.quinacrine.com ; www.familyplanning.org/ , www.skil.org ; www.growthbusters.com ; www.populationpress.org ; www.thinkpopulation.org ; www.carryingcapacity.org ; www.balance.org ; www.controlgrowth.org ; in Canada www.immigrationwatchcanada.org ; in Australia www.population.org.au and [email protected] ; in Great Britain www.optimumpopulation.org ; and dozens of other sites accessed at www.frostywooldridge.com.
At www.numbers.com"> download “Immigration by the Numbers” by Roy Beck for a succinct look at our future and how to change course.
Must see DVD: “Blind Spot” , This movie illustrates America’s future without oil, water and other resources to keep this civilization functioning. It’s a brilliant educational movie! www.blindspotdoc.com
Must see and funny: www.growthbusters.org ; www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXSTrW_dARc
Dave Gardner’s Polar Bear in Bedroom: growthbusters.org/2010/03/save-the-polar-bear-in-your-bedroom ; Dave Gardner, President, Citizen-Powered Media ; Producing the Documentary, GROWTH BUSTERS; presents Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity, Join the cause at www .growthbusters.org ;760 Wycliffe Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80906 USA; +1 719-576-5565
Check out this link with Wooldridge on bicycle and Lester Brown and panel discussion
Email: [email protected]
In "Hissing in the Grass," Steve Green writes that
S 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, may be the most dangerous bill in the history of the US. It is to our food what the bailout was to our economy, only we can live without money.
“If accepted [S 510] would preclude the public’s right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes. It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one’s choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law or, if you like, the will of God.” ~Dr. Shiv Chopra, Canada Health whistleblower
It is similar to what India faced with imposition of the salt tax during British rule, only S 510 extends control over all food in the US, violating the fundamental human right to food.
Monsanto says it has no interest in the bill and would not benefit from it, but Monsanto’s Michael Taylor who gave us rBGH and unregulated genetically modified (GM) organisms, appears to have designed it and is waiting as an appointed Food Czar to the FDA (a position unapproved by Congress) to administer the agency it would create — without judicial review — if it passes. S 510 would give Monsanto unlimited power over all US seed, food supplements, food and farming.
In the 1990s, Bill Clinton introduced HACCP (Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Points) purportedly to deal with contamination in the meat industry. Clinton’s HACCP delighted the offending corporate (World Trade Organization “WTO”) meat packers since it allowed them to inspect themselves, eliminated thousands of local food processors (with no history of contamination), and centralized meat into their control. Monsanto promoted HACCP.
In 2008, Hillary Clinton, urged a powerful centralized food safety agency as part of her campaign for president. Her advisor was Mark Penn, CEO of Burson Marsteller*, a giant PR firm representing Monsanto. Clinton lost, but Clinton friends such as Rosa DeLauro, whose husband’s firm lists Monsanto as a progressive client and globalization as an area of expertise, introduced early versions of S 510.
S 510 fails on moral, social, economic, political, constitutional, and human survival grounds.
1. It puts all US food and all US farms under Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, in the event of contamination or an ill-defined emergency. It resembles the Kissinger Plan.
2. It would end US sovereignty over its own food supply by insisting on compliance with the WTO, thus threatening national security. It would end the Uruguay Round Agreement Act of 1994, which put US sovereignty and US law under perfect protection. Instead, S 510 says:
COMPLIANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS.
Nothing in this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) shall be construed in a manner inconsistent with the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization or any other treaty or international agreement to which the United States is a party.
3. It would allow the government, under Maritime Law, to define the introduction of any food into commerce (even direct sales between individuals) as smuggling into “the United States.” Since under that law, the US is a corporate entity and not a location, “entry of food into the US” covers food produced anywhere within the land mass of this country and “entering into” it by virtue of being produced.
4. It imposes Codex Alimentarius on the US, a global system of control over food. It allows the United Nations (UN), World Health Organization (WHO), UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the WTO to take control of every food on earth and remove access to natural food supplements. Its bizarre history and its expected impact in limiting access to adequate nutrition (while mandating GM food, GM animals, pesticides, hormones, irradiation of food, etc.) threatens all safe and organic food and health itself, since the world knows now it needs vitamins to survive, not just to treat illnesses.
5. It would remove the right to clean, store and thus own seed in the US, putting control of seeds in the hands of Monsanto and other multinationals, threatening US security. See Seeds – How to criminalize them, for more details.
6. It includes NAIS, an animal traceability program that threatens all small farmers and ranchers raising animals. The UN is participating through the WHO, FAO, WTO, and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in allowing mass slaughter of even heritage breeds of animals and without proof of disease. Biodiversity in farm animals is being wiped out to substitute genetically engineered animals on which corporations hold patents. Animal diseases can be falsely declared. S 510 includes the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), despite its corrupt involvement in the H1N1 scandal, which is now said to have been concocted by the corporations.
7. It extends a failed and destructive HACCP to all food, thus threatening to do to all local food production and farming what HACCP did to meat production – put it in corporate hands and worsen food safety.
8. It deconstructs what is left of the American economy. It takes agriculture and food, which are the cornerstone of all economies, out of the hands of the citizenry, and puts them under the total control of multinational corporations influencing the UN, WHO, FAO and WTO, with HHS, and CDC, acting as agents, with Homeland Security as the enforcer. The chance to rebuild the economy based on farming, ranching, gardens, food production, natural health, and all the jobs, tools and connected occupations would be eliminated.
9. It would allow the government to mandate antibiotics, hormones, slaughterhouse waste, pesticides and GMOs. This would industrialize every farm in the US, eliminate local organic farming, greatly increase global warming from increased use of oil-based products and long-distance delivery of foods, and make food even more unsafe. The five items listed — the Five Pillars of Food Safety — are precisely the items in the food supply which are the primary source of its danger.
10. It uses food crimes as the entry into police state power and control. The bill postpones defining all the regulations to be imposed; postpones defining crimes to be punished, postpones defining penalties to be applied. It removes fundamental constitutional protections from all citizens in the country, making them subject to a corporate tribunal with unlimited power and penalties, and without judicial review. It is (similar to C-6 in Canada) the end of Rule of Law in the US.
For further information, watch these videos:
Food Laws – Forcing people to globalize
State Imposed Violence … to snatch resources of ordinary people
Oak snake image at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, Florida
Original story from Beverley Hills observer
The footage here and the story below were posted on January 18, 2010 by Geekylie. Editorial comments, contact details of people responsible, and links to sites and films where you may learn useful things about kangaroos and see lovely photos are below her story.
"Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 January, 2010 Venue: The Paley Center for Media, Beverly Hills:
Tourism Australia had a huge kangaroo on the concrete - on a busy busy footpath, it even started raining. The kangaroo was next to (8 to 10 feet away) from a busy busy street and was so traumatized it was rocking back and forth over and over again. On Saturday it was running around and round in circles, chasing its tail in a craze.
Sunday (when a friend and I took the pics & video) a Tourism Australia Employee just stood around rolling their eyes while bystanders were clearly disturbed.
I am not affiliated with any activist groups, I am just someone who works in Beverly Hills,and had to walk past this atrocity two days in a row. At one point one of the Australian Tourism worker rolled her eyes and called me 'pathetic' for caring about the animal that was clearly in distress.
I have contacted all local & Australian media and US Animal right groups, including PETA, SPCA, The Humane Society and Animal Liberation. The Police, Fire Dept, and Animal Control are also aware of this disgusting act of cruelty in the name of Tourism Australia. I am also sending all this media to Travel Agencies, Hotel Chains, and also NZ Media outlets, who I know will love to get some bad press on terrible Aussie tourism PR practices.
Is this REALLY going to get people to go to Australia?
It REALLY gives new meaning to the lyrics "Tie me kangaroo down Sport" doesn't it?
To express your disgust, please contact: MHatch[at]tourism.australia.com or email or call any of the numbers at tourism.australia.com. This is a very busy footpath, and the HUGE ADULT kangaroo was there for over 5 hours, running around and round in circles, chasing its tail - it was sooo traumatized that people were leaving in tears."
Official description of the 'event':
"Angelenos are invited to experience a little slice of Australia in the heart of Beverly Hills. A program of multimedia events from wildlife and music to "walkabout" travelogues and cultural performances will ensure that there is something for everyone. Visitors will take a journey through some of Australia's iconic landscapes as well as its undiscovered gems with interactive displays and destination showcases. Visitors can also hear from special speakers, including National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths Belts. Sunday will feature a special wine tasting event with Wine Australia, open to the public.
The event is open to the public from 10.30 am to 3.00 pm with ticketed KCRW events following each day:
KCRW Music Showcase with DJ Jason Bentley will take place Saturday January, 16 at 3.00 pm.
KCRW's Good Food Live event featuring KCRW's own Evan Kleiman will take place Sunday January, 17 at 3.00 pm. The event will feature Australian celebrity chefs including Curtis Stone and Pete Evans."
Thank you Geekylie for exposing the bear-baiting mentality of ?official representatives for our country. They deserve to be exposed in the same way as the kangaroo, which did not, of course.
This is unfortunately a really good example of how governments and commerce in Australia regard kangaroos and other wildlife - as unfeeling novelties to be used, abused and make money out of. These people do not represent thinking Australians and one hopes that Americans will realise this.
Only people truly deprived of knowledge, joy and empathy would find this kind of thing acceptable. That people 'marketing' Australia should be so unaware of the impact of their 'event' shows that 'enlightenment' is really just an illusion still in some quite influential circles, notably the commercial ones.
The kangaroo is an animal that lives in families and clans, associated with larger mobs. They have strong family hierarchies and take comfort and joy from each other. Whoever put this animal by itself in this situation - which would threaten a domestic dog or a child - needs to leave the city and go and learn about the natural world and the sentient creatures that inhabit it. The best film we have ever seen about kangaroos is called Faces in the Mob. After you have seen it you will understand and know many more things about kangaroos and ourselves than most people ever realise. You can buy it in NTSC and Pal format here.
If you want to support Australian Wildlife, here is a place to start: The Australian Wildlife Protection Council. Note also that a new political party has just formed to defend wildlife and domestic animals in Australia. It is called The Animal Justice Party.
Please let us know what happens to the kangaroo
We would like to hear about where the kangaroo went from here and whether it has companions of its own species. How did Australia allow a kangaroo to be exported to the US in such circumstances anyway? One assumes that kangaroos sometimes go to zoos in the US (even though this is a horrible fate for a wild social animal), but how do they get from the zoos to Tourism Australia?
Who is responsible?
Who is responsible for this kind of attitude? Martin Ferguson (Email: Martin.Ferguson.MP[AT]aph.gov.au ) is the Federal Minister with the Tourism Portfolio, which Tourism Australia, reports to. Tell him what you think and get him to investigate this situation where kangaroos are manhandled, isolated and exposed in another country.
"Tourism Australia is a statutory authority of the Australian Government, which promotes Australia as a tourism destination internationally and domestically and delivers research and forecasts for the sector. Tourism Australia reports to the Cabinet Minister with responsibility for tourism, the Hon Martin Ferguson AM, MP.
Established on 1 July 2004, Tourism Australia brings together the collective skills and knowledge of four separate organisations: the Australian Tourist Commission; See Australia; the Bureau of Tourism Research and Tourism Forecasting Council. The main objectives of Tourism Australia under the Tourism Australia Act 2004 are to: * Influence people to travel to Australia, including for events; * Influence people travelling to Australia to also travel throughout Australia; * Influence Australians to travel throughout Australia, including for events; * Help foster a sustainable tourism industry in Australia; and * Help increase the economic benefits to Australia from tourism.
Tourism Australia is a statutory body subject to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (CAC Act). This recognises the commercial focus of the new body and the need for it to operate flexibly in a commercial environment."
Personally I thought Steve Irwin did it much better.
The kangaroo does need help, like wildlife everywhere. In Australia kangaroos are victims of developers(film) and our development and population growth mad and corrupt governments. There are some sick sectors in our society and it seems that Tourism Australia may be right up there among them.
Friends interacting - photo by Brett Clifton
Sane Australians, however, want to cherish these amazing creatures. Have a look at Brett Clifton's photographs of generations of kangaroos on his land, which he sends out daily to people all over the world.
You can read a lot more about kangaroos here.
There are also nine ten-minute documentaries on kangaroos - mostly interviews with ex-butcher, Pat O'Brien on the roo meat industry, the problem of human expansion for kangaroos, the way that statistics are collected about them, and of how Steve Irwin found Pat O'Brien and funded his life-long work of kangaroo protection. Pat O'Brien's site is http://www.kangaroo-protection-coalition.com/index.html.
Haiti: There's no such thing as a curse
First published, in French at Mondialisation.ca, 15 January 2010
Translated by Sheila Newman
How often do we hear the expression "cursed" in conjunction with Haiti's situation? As if, rather than consider the real political causes, we would rather trust in God. It's easier. Less dangerous.
God doesn't send accounts, after all. God cannot be reelected or not reelected after 4 years. The recent history of Haiti is largely that of a dispossessed country, broken, a country that liberal economics has demolished.
US abolished law stopping foreign-ownership
It wasn't God that landed on the island in 1915 and occupied it for 20 years; it was American marines that allowed Washington to abolish the clause in the Constitution that prevented foreigners from owning businesses in the country. Thousands of inhabitants were dispossessed. Giant plantations were created. Because of an army that was busier fighting its own people than anything else, it was permitted for 1% of the population to own 50% of the resources of the country.
It wasn't God either that supported Duvalier's terrible dictatorship for decades, Duvalier who was more interested in enriching himself than in building a country worthy of the name. It was France and the United States.
Political and Economic interference disastrous
And it wasn't God who overthrew Aristide, in 2004, after he had again abolished the army (as he had done in the 1990s, but was then overthrown by a coup d'Etat) and after he tried to oppose the privatisations and the external control of the country, but clearly and simply the United States, Canada and France, who replaced Aristide with the neo-liberal economist, Gérard Latortue.
It wasn't God who destroyed this country; it was Men of flesh and blood, Men who preferred to fill their pockets rather than to fight against poverty, to support a central government capable of applying stricter standards of housing or of fighting the deforestation that makes cyclones so much more dangerous.
Many other countries are hit by natural disasters. How many times has Cuba been touched by cyclones as strong as those that have hit Haiti? How many times has Japan been the victim of earthquakes just as violent as those which hit Haiti yesterday? It wasn't God that destroyed Haiti; it was Men. It wasn't God that protected the other countries; it was Men who decided it should be that way.
Sending a few dollars to Haiti is good, but that won't change the system. No-one is against charity, but you don't build a society on charity.
We could bury Haiti under thousands of millions of million billion dollars and the problem wouldn't be fixed. Haiti is the failure of a country without a strong central state, corrupted to the marrow, dispossessed of itself by ideological choices made by foreign countries.
Haiti is the result of a catastrophic history to which have been added the catastrophe of economic reforms that have diluted the power of the State, whilst creating a de facto libertarian paradise built on luck and make-do, where the lack of any social cohesion gives rise to the worst aberrations.
The best way to help the Haitians isn't to send them money. It is by demanding that each of our governments but out so that, finally, once and for all, the Haitians can be responsible for their bad luck and their good luck.
So that, finally, we stop blaming God and instead we look at what we Men can do for this destroyed land.
And perhaps, also, remembering that our governments have Haitian blood on their hands and that they are directly responsible for that unspeakable catastrope because of their persistent interference to stop Haiti developing.
We can add these tens of thousands of deaths to the tragic total of savage capitalism; they are less visible than the victims of 'communism', but just as dead!
Maybe that's another advantage of having God at your sides ...
Source: Louis Préfontaine's blog.
French version here
The 23 October 2009 Guillaume Durand, presenter of the program, l’Objet du scandale on France2 television, had as his guests the comedian, Jean-Marie Bigard and the director Mattieu Kassovitz, purportedly to give them the opportunity to express their doubts about the official explanation of the events of 11 September 2001 (“9/11”) in New York and Washington, where two towers collapsed after non-accidental collisions with two airplanes and a third tower fell for reasons not known and another plane may have penetrated a wall of the Pentagon.
Initially l’Object du scandale promoted an interview with Bigard and Kassovitz, plus Éric Laurent – French author specializing in “9/11”, skilled at performing on television – and Niels Harrit, Danish scientist, professor of chemistry at the University of Copenhagen, who has written a paper asserting that the rubble from the third tower contained thermite. He has appeared on the Danish news.
For reasons that remain a mystery, hardly elucidated by compere Durand at the end of his program, invitations to Laurent and Harrit were cancelled. [Durand said that if he had had four people on each side of the debate (instead of two people on each side) the numbers would have caused chaos.]
Commentary on the debate.
I thought that Bigard and Kassovitz were cut off by interruptions from or were drowned out by the noise from Bonnaud, Gattegno and Durand. Several times Bigard and Kassovitz were begged ‘just to’ allow a question to be asked or an argument to be put, but, when they then tried to reply, they were made to shut up again, as if they themselves had just spoken. They were addressed like unreasonable children: “Jean-Marie, oh, Jean-Marie, please…”. It was shameful.
Towards the end of the program, Guillaume Durand asked Bigard to give him an opportunity to speak, promising to allow Bigard to respond after Durand had said what he wanted to say. But subsequently Durand ended the program dishonestly without giving Bigard the opportunity to respond.
Bigard and Kassovitz were provoked by Frédéric Bonnaud and Hervé Gattegno who seemed not to reply to the few words Bigard and Kassovitz were allowed to say, but who replied rather to commentaries in extracts from films that were played during the show.
Why invite Bigard and Kassovitz if the program intended to concentrate on film extracts ?
The program would have been much more worthwhile if Jean-Marie Bigard and Mattieu Kassovitz had been able to say why they thought that a new, deeper enquiry into 9/11 is necessary. Instead there were attempts to ridicule them without allowing them to defend themselves properly. It all seemed very cowardly.
Frédéric Bonnaud and Hervé Gattegno did not seem to know the subject because they relied on hurling accusations and on trying to make so much noise and cause so many interruptions that you could hear almost nothing coherently from Kassovitz and Bigard as they attempted to respond. Bonnaud and Gattegno seemed to want to drown out what the others had to say.
For example, when Bigard or Kassovitz asked why, of all the video cameras positioned to film around the Pentagon, not one single useful piece of film of the attack was available, Bonnaud and Gattegno screamed that only idiots needed photos! But the question was why hadn’t the US government made all the films from all the video cameras operating at the Pentagon on that day available to the public?
Also, the explanation that Bonnaud or Gattegno furnished for the failure by the FBI to label bin Laden as ‘wanted’ for 9/11 crimes might be true according to North American law (I don’t know) but it didn’t explain why the US had pursued bin Laden by making war in Afghanistan and Iraq, if the US was not sure that he was responsible.  [The explanation that Bonnaud and Gattegno gave (Bonnaud mainly) was that, since bin Laden had not been tried for 9/11 crimes he could not be labeled guilty for them and that his photo was nevertheless up there in the FBI wanted list for crimes he had been tried for and found guilty of by other countries.]
Bonnaud and Gattegno did not succeed, however, in silencing Bigard and Kassovitz on this : Why was Harrit, the scientist who had written the article that the ‘Truthers’ cite on thermite, not invited? It is true that if the co-author – Steven E. Jones – of the paper on thermite has written an article defending the idea that Jesus had appeared in America, that is disquieting. Nonetheless, referring to the article on Jesus is not the way to respond to the scientific argument. A man may believe in fairies, but if he advances a scientific theory, then his theory needs to be criticized and analysed on the basis of the science it relies on; it isn’t valid to refute it by changing the subject to fairies.
After all, mormon scientists – similarly to islamic and christian scientists – manage to construct bridges, buildings, bombs and aeroplances just as well as non-religious scientists. The United States is full of believers in bizarre religions but it is also full of technical masterworks.
In conclusion, I found that l’Objet du scandale owes Jean-Marie Bigard and Mattieu Kassovitz a new session with the guests who had originally been invited – Harrit and Laurent. This time perhaps they should use an on-screen stopwatch to exert some control over how much time is allocated to each person.
If the French media is not able to conduct itself fairly towards J-M Bigard and M. Kassovitz, it only gives strength to theories of official conspiracy.
Finally, thanks to France2 for having tried, nonetheless. It is obviously difficult for the official media to question official explanations. This is the reason for the existence of the non-official media.
 “The Federal Bureau of Investigation has stated that evidence linking Al-Qaeda and bin Laden to the attacks of September 11 is clear and irrefutable. The Government of the United Kingdom reached the same conclusion regarding Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden's culpability for the September 11, 2001, attacks. Bin Laden initially denied involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks. On 16 September 2001, bin Laden read a statement later broadcast by Qatar's Al Jazeera satellite channel denying responsibility for the attack.”
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation has stated that evidence linking Al-Qaeda and bin Laden to the attacks of September 11 is clear and irrefutable. The Government of the United Kingdom reached the same conclusion regarding Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden's culpability for the September 11, 2001, attacks. Bin Laden initially denied involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks. On 16 September 2001, bin Laden read a statement later broadcast by Qatar's Al Jazeera satellite channel denying responsibility for the attack.”
“In a videotape recovered by US forces in November 2001 in Jalalabad, bin Laden was seen discussing the attack with Khaled al-Harbi in a way that indicates foreknowledge. The tape was broadcast on various news networks on 13 December 2001. The merits of this translation have been disputed. Arabist Dr. Abdel El M. Husseini stated: "This translation is very problematic. At the most important places where it is held to prove the guilt of bin Laden, it is not identical with the Arabic."
“In the 2004 Osama bin Laden video, bin Laden abandoned his denials without retracting past statements. In it he stated he had personally directed the nineteen hijackers. In the 18-minute tape, played on Al-Jazeera, four days before the American presidential election, bin Laden accused U.S. President George W. Bush of negligence on the hijacking of the planes on September 11.” Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osama_bin_Laden
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_E._Jones On dit qu’il a interprété des pistes archéologiques des Mayenne préhistoriques comme témoignant que Jésus Christ aurait visité en Amérique.