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Archive for January 2010

Joe Bageant: Tea Baggers are our canary in the coal mine

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Dispatches from America’s Class War Joe Bageant

Joe recently asked our “masked political consultant,” a well known West Coast political adviser for his quick take on the Tea Party movement. He is now writing under the pseudonym John Brown (Email: postpolitico88@yahoo.com. His previous contributions to this site are:”Not New Ideas, but Identifying New Enemies“, “Moving to the Center of Elite Consensus“, and “Life in the Post Political Age“.  As usual, the masked consultant cuts through the bullshit like a laser. Here is their exchange:

Dear John,

I don’t get it about the Tea Party movement. After eight years of of a super right wing administration destroying jobs and what social safety net there was … “the people”  have suddenly decided: “Now that I’m unemployed, I think I’ll form a grassroots movement to destroy my health care too. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by laudyms

January 31, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Banksters worry Congress will ask the right questions

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Today’s commentary by David Reilly at Bloomberg.com has an alarming (if not surprising) header: Secret Banking Cabal Emerges From AIG Shadows. Now it’s not just conspiracy-nuts or fringe Congressmen who are wondering why and how so much power-without-oversight has been given to the NY Fed et al,  just what they have been doing with it, and how so many profited from the meltdown of AIG.

Reilly notes:   “…when it became clear information would be disclosed, New York Fed legal group staffer James Bergin e-mailed colleagues saying: “I have to think this train is probably going to leave the station soon and we need to focus our efforts on explaining the story as best we can. There were too many people involved in the deals — too many counterparties, too many lawyers and advisors, too many people from AIG — to keep a determined Congress from the information.”

Think of the enormity of that statement. A staffer at a body with little public accountability and that exists to serve bankers is lamenting the inability to keep Congress in the dark.”

Oh yes. Think!

Written by laudyms

January 29, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Ecuador: Chevron’s dirty tactics delay trial over eco-destruction

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George Byrne, Quito
22 January 2010

Since 1993, oil giant Texaco, owned by Chevron since 2001, has been fighting an ongoing legal and publicity battle against an unlikely adversary.

Thirty thousand indigenous people of Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest have accused the oil giant of massive and intentional environmental devastation from 1964-1990, leading to elevated cancer levels, unusually high numbers of birth defects and miscarriages, and many other health issues.

In the face of an impending verdict, Chevron continues to use increasingly manipulative tactics to delay, if not avoid, paying up to US$27 billion in reparations.

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“Counterterror”- what the US calls its brand of state terrorism

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Tom Engelhardt and Anand Gopal explore the practices of our military and mercenary forces in Afghanistan in the Tomgram article “Obama’s Secret Prisons: Night Raids, Hidden Detention Centers, the “Black Jail,” and the Dogs of War in Afghanistan”:

“You don’t know what counterterror is?  Not so surprising.  The truth is, if you’re not a complete news jockey, you probably don’t know much about targeted assassinations, night raids, secret detention centers, disappearances, and other acts of counterterror (which is really terror in uniform or at least under state orders).  Of course, the Afghans know well enough.  For them, it’s not a secret war, particularly in the southern parts of the country, where the Taliban is strongest; it’s but one particularly frightening aspect of everyday life.

It’s just we Americans who are ignorant. Our secret war is essentially kept secret from us.  Our Special Forces operatives, along with the CIA (and possibly private contractors), have long been involved in the “night raids” that Anand Gopal describes below.  And regularly enough, if you’re reading closely, you’ll see news bubbling to the surface about their results — like those eight students in grades 6-10, who were taken from their beds by “Americans” in a night raid in Kunar Province, handcuffed, and then evidently executed. (A statement from Afghan President Hamid Karzai says that they were “martyred” and the UN has confirmed that they were students.)  Or consider the recent night raid in Ghazni Province that killed at least four Afghan villagers, including an 11-year-old.  Both incidents led to angry protests; both resulted in denials by the U.S. military that the dead were anything but “insurgents” or “bomb-makers.” ”

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The Corporate States of America already threaten your health

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Government agencies charged with protecting health and safety are ham-strung by on-going corporate efforts to maximize profits without regard to public health.

FDA Shifts Position on BPA but Says Its Hands are Tied
In its long-awaited decision on the dangers of bisphenol-A (BPA) exposure, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it believes there is some concern about the effects of BPA on children. This is a shift from the agency’s recent position that BPA is safe. The agency says its ability to regulate the chemical, however, is limited by FDA’s outdated regulatory authority.

Lead Standards for Children’s Products Challenge CPSC
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is struggling to interpret and enforce standards intended to limit children’s exposure to lead, the agency’s commissioners reported to Congress Jan. 15.

Untested, unsafe chemicals are so common in our everyday products that even a small inroad into corporate secrecy seems like a big deal:

Bite Taken Out of Chemical Secrecy
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Jan. 21 a new practice that will prevent chemical manufacturers from hiding the identities of chemicals that have been found to pose a significant risk to environmental or public health. The policy is a small step to increase the transparency of the nation’s chemical laws, and it highlights both the problem of excessive secrecy and the power of the executive branch to make government more open — even without action by Congress or the courts.

According to a Harper’s article, Why Poisonous, Unregulated Chemicals End Up in Our Blood, By Mark Schapiro:

“In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention completed screening for the presence of 148 toxic chemicals in the blood of a broad cross section of Americans; it found that the vast majority of subjects harbored almost all the toxins. In the same year, the CDC’s National Survey on Family Growth concluded that rates of infertility were rising for women under the age of twenty-five, a spike many scientists attribute, at least in part, to routine exposure to toxic chemicals.”

Krugman: Obama Liquidates Himself

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Paul Krugman 01/26/10     New York Times

A spending freeze? That’s the brilliant response of the Obama team to their first serious political setback?

It’s appalling on every level.

It’s bad economics, depressing demand when the economy is still suffering from mass unemployment. Jonathan Zasloff writes that Obama seems to have decided to fire Tim Geithner and replace him with “the rotting corpse of Andrew Mellon” (Mellon was Herbert Hoover’s Treasury Secretary, who according to Hoover told him to “liquidate the workers, liquidate the farmers, purge the rottenness”.)

It’s bad long-run fiscal policy, shifting attention away from the essential need to reform health care and focusing on small change instead.

And it’s a betrayal of everything Obama’s supporters thought they were working for. Just like that, Obama has embraced and validated the Republican world-view — and more specifically, he has embraced the policy ideas of the man he defeated in 2008. A correspondent writes, “I feel like an idiot for supporting this guy.”

Now, I still cling to a fantasy: maybe, just possibly, Obama is going to tie his spending freeze to something that would actually help the economy, like an employment tax credit. (No, trivial tax breaks don’t count). There has, however, been no hint of anything like that in the reports so far. Right now, this looks like pure disaster.

Written by laudyms

January 26, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Root of Our Health Care Problems: Privatization

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Patients gather outside the Virginia-Kentucky Fairgrounds for their turn to enter the Remote Area Medical (RAM) Health Expedition in Wise, Va., July 24, 2009. Photo by Paul Morse for AARP Bulletin Today

“The root of the problem is the privatization of the funding and organization of medical care.”

Consequences of the Privatized Funding of Medical Care and the Privatized Electoral Process

By Vicente Navarro, M.D.
American Journal of Public Health, Jan. 14, 2010

The current state of health care reform in the United States reveals the enormous limitations of democracy in this country, unparalleled in the western world. Why is there such a large gap between what people want from their representatives in Congress – including universal access to health care as a matter of right – and what they get?

To answer this question, we first need to look at what is happening in the U.S. medical care sector. I think it’s fair to say that what we see there is also unparalleled in the western world. Forty-seven million people are without any form of health insurance coverage (and a million more are added each year) and 102 million have insufficient coverage (and many aren’t aware of how limited their coverage is until they find out that an illness or needed test is not covered). The clearest indicator of the inhumane system of funding and organizing medical care in the United States is that 40 percent of people in the terminal stages of illness say they are worrying about how to pay their medical bills. No other major country comes even close to this level of inhumanity.

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Disastrous Effects of Free Trade

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by Craig Harrington EIC

January 24, 2010

The United States economy has lost over $7 trillion to international commerce in the past four decades, the majority of those losses have come in the past 10 years alone.

We know where the money is going: overseas.

We know how much of it is leaving this country: roughly $700 billion annually.

We know why this country is losing such astounding sums: “free trade”.

It is time to fix the situation and get America back on a path toward growth and prosperity once again. The only way to do this is by pursuing fair trade policies which counteract the decades of unsustainable imbalances brought on through “free trade.” We need policies that can be adapted quickly and that meet the needs of this nation first and foremost.

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Roger Baker : Is America Already a Failed State?

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No public trust for a dysfunctional system

The main obstacle to progress is a corporate dominated political system that resists favoring broad long range public benefits over the short term profits of the few.

By Roger Baker / The Rag Blog / January 23, 2010

It is getting harder to argue that America is not already a failed state. One important reason is the fact that the public, to an alarming degree, doesn’t trust the government anymore. When the public is suffering economically and stops trusting their government to bring relief, nothing the government does is likely to bring much contentment. This is especially true where it is unlikely that the underlying problems causing the pain will get much better soon.

Broadly speaking, top political leaders including Obama and Congress are not being very honest about the poor prospects for economic recovery. The resulting political backlash is a big part of the explanation for the Democratic Party defeat in the Massachusetts senate election. Governmental distrust is now widespread, as Adam Nagourney acknowledges in The New York Times.

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US Politics is Corrupt: Based on Legal Graft and Crime

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Corruption in Politics – Part 1 of 2

Corruption in Politics Part 2 of 2

Filmmaker note:

“I know the [Part 2] sound is bad [for the first two minutes] but the information is still good. This was my first video so please forgive me for all the audio problems. Thanks. “