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Archive for August 2009

History’s greatest Ponzi scheme

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scavengerPost Carbon Institute’s Richard Heinberg writes about our ailing economy and alternative solutions in this article: Temporary Recession or the End of Growth?

“…Given that growth cannot continue on a finite planet, this wager, and its embodiment in the institutions of finance, can be said to constitute history’s greatest Ponzi scheme.

 We have justified present borrowing with the irrational belief that perpetual growth is possible, necessary, and inevitable. In effect we have borrowed from future generations so that we could gamble away their capital today.

Until recently, the Peak Oil argument has been framed as a forecast: the inevitable decline in world petroleum production, whenever it occurs, will kill growth. But here is where forecast becomes diagnosis: during the period from 2005 to 2008, energy stopped growing and oil prices rose to record levels. By July of 2008, the price of a barrel of oil was nudging close to $150—half again higher than any previous petroleum price in inflation-adjusted terms—and the global economy was beginning to topple……

……..a good argument can be made that speculation in oil futures was merely magnifying price moves that were inevitable on the basis of the fundamentals of supply and demand……

About 85 percent of our current energy is derived from three primary sources—oil, natural gas, and coal—that are non-renewable, whose price is likely to trend sharply higher over the next years and decades leading to severe shortages, and whose environmental impacts are unacceptable. While these sources historically have had very high economic value, we cannot rely on them in the future; indeed, the longer the transition to alternative energy sources is delayed, the more difficult that transition will be unless some practical mix of alternative energy systems can be identified that will have superior economic and environmental characteristics.”

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The real pandemic: willful suspension of disbelief

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Lone Ranger 2Americans always expect a “savior” to show up at the last minute to save the day.  Generations of  movies with happy endings, soppy political speeches and focused advertising pitches have not been wasted: Americans’ rose-colored glasses make the targets painted on their chests quite invisible.

Paul Street of ZNet recently commented on a Frank Rich column about the Corporatist “Punking” of America:

In an opinion-editorial bearing the provocative title “Is Obama Punking Us?” Rich notes the absurdity of Republican efforts to frighten the electorate by claiming that Obama is a socialist. “They have it backward,” Frank observes (without bothering to explain what would be wrong with having a socialist president). “The larger fear is that Obama might be just another corporatist, punking voters much as the Republicans do when they claim to be all for the common guy.”  ……

Rich is on to something, no doubt about it. But isn’t a little late in the game for the Sunday Times’ reigning “left liberal” to be figuring this basic sort of stuff out? When exactly did he wake up to the discomfiting but elementary and long-understood fact that American “representative democracy” is crippled by “too much [corporate and military] representation” and “too little [actual popular] democracy” (Arundhati Roy)? It’s more than a century past the time when the prolific American philosopher John Dewey darkly noted (in the age of U.S. Steel. JP Morgan, Social Darwinism, and the Billion Dollar Congress) that “politics is the shadow cast on American society by big business.” ……

….what has U.S. President Barack Obama (endorsed by the Times as a change candidate before 2008 election) – Mr. “Change” himself – tried to accomplish other than to make the American corporate profits system “work more efficiently” without “dismantling the [capitalist] framework” and with power (and wealth) still concentrated “at the top?”

I admit to doubting that Americans will ever wake from their self-imposed hypnosis. At least until they and their ragged childen must roam the streets for scraps.  What is certain is that the Lone Ranger will not be coming this time.

Potential Food Shortages…in America?

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Millennium Ark  08/18/09

California and Texas – America’s main food growing states – have experienced severe, ongoing drought. California is suffering through a 4th straight year of horrendous water shortages, which has impacted every single crop it produces. See California’s Vital Role in Food Production for an eye-opener of what this states brings to your table.

Parts of Texas are experiencing the worst drought ever and fears are surfacing that it may be here to stay. Extreme drought is impacting everything that Texas produces. Marketing economist Dr. Mark Welch expects drought to cut Texas’ corn crops by 45%, sorghum by 69%, and wheat 62%. Cotton fields are so dry they’re being abandoned. These aren’t the only foods in trouble. Vegetables, horticulture plants, peaches and their world famous pecans have also taken severe hits. April freezes wiped out some Texas grapes leaving wineries in tough shape.
No Amer Drought

Drought in Wisconsin has pushed farmers to the edge and where it hasn’t destroyed crops and livestock outright, crops are at least 3 months behind. In Iowa, hail losses try farmers’ hearts.

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Written by laudyms

August 21, 2009 at 9:22 am

The live attenuated Swine flu vaccine has dangerous side-effects and is genetically unstable

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influenza-virus-vaccine

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The live attenuated swine flu vaccine intended for millions of children has dangerous side effects and is genetically unstable, risking generation of new pandemic strains should mass vaccinations go ahead.
Prof. Joe Cummins and Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

The swine flu vaccines being prepared for release to combat the current pandemic will be fast tracked without the usual clinical trials to ensure their safety. Five different companies were contracted to produce vaccines worldwide – Baxter International, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis. Sanofi-Aventis and AstraZeneca – using a range of technologies from traditional chicken egg production to cell culture [1] ( Fast-tracked Swine Flu Vaccine under Fire , SiS 43).

Most of the vaccines will not contain live virus and will be delivered by injection. However AstraZeneca will produce a genetically engineered live attenuated vaccine through its global biologics unit, MedImmune, using cell culture or eggs [2]. The MedImmune vaccine will be used primarily for children, to be delivered as a nasal spray. The nasal spray vaccine against pandemic H1N1 influenza has been fast tracked for global distribution [3].

The live-attenuated vaccine appears more effective than the inactivated virus vaccine, but it resulted in significantly higher rates of severe adverse events. Furthermore, there is evidence that the live vaccine is highly genetically unstable in warm body cells and that has not been thoroughly evaluated in the children vaccinated .

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Written by laudyms

August 17, 2009 at 12:14 pm

The Superbug in Your Supermarket

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superbug_supermarketA potentially deadly new strain of anti-biotic-resistant microbes may be widespread in our food supply.  MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a form of staph bacteria that resists antibiotics (including methicillin), making it hard to treat, even lethal.  Industrial agriculture is now a potent source of these infections.

from an August article by  Stephanie Woodard in Prevention magazine:

” Are You At Risk?

You’ve probably heard of people contracting certain strains of MRSA in hospitals, where it causes many illnesses: postsurgical infections, pneumonia, bacteremia, and more. Others encounter different types of the bug in community centers such as gyms, where skin contact occurs and items like sports equipment are shared; this form causes skin infections that may become systemic and turn lethal.

Then in 2008, a new source and strain of MRSA emerged in the United States. Researcher Tara Smith, PhD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa, studied two large Midwestern hog farms and found the strain, ST398, in 45% of farmers and 49% of pigs. The startling discovery– and the close connection between animal health and our own that it implied–caused widespread publicity and much official hand-wringing. To date, though, the government has yet to put a comprehensive MRSA inspection process in place, let alone fix our problematic meat-production system.

You may not have the same close contact with meat that a processing plant worker has, but scientists warn there is reason for concern: Most of us handle meat daily, as we bread chicken cutlets, trim fat from pork, or form chopped beef into burgers. Cooking does kill the microbe, but MRSA thrives on skin, so you can contract it by touching infected raw meat when you have a cut on your hand, explains Stuart Levy, MD, a Tufts University professor of microbiology and medicine. MRSA also flourishes in nasal passages, so touching your nose after touching meat gives the bug another way into your body, adds Smith.”

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Debtor’s Revolt?

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LocalPublic opinion polls reveal that Americans are angry about the current economic, healthcare, housing and environmental crises. Polls also document that a significant majority of the population want federal government assistance to fix these problems. But you’ve also got the makings of a huge neo-populist anger brewing, largely because (in the words of Frank Rich), “What disturbs Americans of all ideological persuasions is the fear that almost everything, not just government, is fixed or manipulated by some powerful hidden hand, from commercial transactions as trivial as the sales of prime concert tickets to cultural forces as pervasive as the news media.” In other words, even the feds might not be able to help.

The approach to financial reform that the Obama Administration has hitherto adopted is a classic illustration of this problem. Financial institutions are now back to business as usual and have provided limited help to the non-financial sector. In fact, some of them are clearly committed to worsen households’ financial position and have oriented their activity toward this end in order to maximize their profitability. Yet, they have received commitments from the taxpayer totaling $23.7 trillion.

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Written by laudyms

August 16, 2009 at 1:05 pm