Patricia was 5 years old when her parents took her and her older brother on a vacation trip from Ireland to Florida [names have been changed to protect privacy]. Within a few hours of take-off, a number of people were feeling sick with similar symptoms: nausea, shortness of breath, sweating and headaches. Upon arrival in Florida, over 40 or so people would be suffering from these symptoms and those that followed. Uncommon in its extreme perhaps, but the story for those 40-odd people doesn’t end there. A number still suffer side effects including headaches and dizziness, but also measurable damage to the autonomic nervous system, impairment of short-term memory (just to name a few), damage which is physiological as shown in medical tests and on-going exams. The psychological effects are hard to measure, but are more pronounced in some than others.
by Malcolm Steinberg
August 19, 2009
Enculturation is the process by which a person learns the requirements of the culture by which he or she is surrounded, and acquires values and behaviors that are appropriate or necessary in that culture. (Wikipedia)
There has been a question raised about the gun toting crew that showed up at one of President Obama’s town hall meetings, and how is it that our country brings this out in people. That would completely ignore the racist component of our society and it’s history, but there is something that sits even deeper, and that has to do with the fear so deeply ingrained in our history. We have been at war since our inception, against the indigenous people here before us, against a multi-cultural peoples from the African continent, and even a war against what Abraham Lincoln called ‘the angels of our better nature’. As humans, this society has warred against our beneficent selves. Indeed, the civil war was not started to emancipate slaves, but in response to the confederate attack on a Union fort. What we have done to others, we even did to ourselves. Would not fear be the necessary by-product of our own behavior, our history.
June 2, 2008
Greenpeace, in an extensive report dated April 6, 2006, Eating Up The Amazon (pdf download), exposes the use of slavery by Cargill and Bunge:
“Although Brazil has encouraged major companies to support its anti-slavery efforts by signing the National Pact for the Eradication of Slave Labor, neither ADM nor Bunge nor Cargill have done so. As Greenpeace documented, this is a failure not only in word, but in deed.”
Environment Network News ran an article Save the Rainforest Banner Raised at Chicago Board of Trade about Bunge, Cargill and ADM, October 11, 2007, and aside from the banner raising demonstration raised the issues of deforestation, slavery and inhuman conditions workers suffer on corporate plantations. ADM responded to calls from ENS, and denied they or any contractors to their business used slave labor, etc.
Bunge and Cargill did not respond to calls.
Rainforest Action Network campaigner Andrea Samulon sums up the situation more recently in a piece post May 23, 2008 Rainforest Action Network: News Article:
“The company continues to buy soy from plantations the Brazil government has blacklisted for using slave labor. Demanding that a public company not use slave labor is the lowest bar investors can set, and Bunge has failed to meet it.”
Get Involved! Go to the Rainforest link above and call your people in Congress.
Oct. 6, 2007
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is going to be changed, and then referred to the Judiciary Committee, according to Rep Silvestre Reyes, D-TX, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. The revision, he said, would not shield telecom companies for warrantless spying on US citizens from liability. Bush & Co. aren’t happy, but the White House has refused to hand over documents requested by the House regarding domestic surveillance. Therefore, said Reyes, exemption from lawsuits will not be part of this bill.
While some (lobbies?) in Congress are still fighting for liability protection, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has already proceeded with a class-action suit against AT&T, stipulating that AT&T wiretapped and conducted data-mining of US citizens for the National Security Agency. The White House has never admitted to this practice, but in a newspaper interview, the Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell slipped when he said “the carriers…that assisted us in the past”, inadvertently intimating the practice of domestic surveillance.[i]
So that’s why the documents have not been released. Torts anyone?
And then there’s $ecretary of $tate Condo Rice…remember how she didn’t want to testify in front of congress regarding the 9/11 investigation? She then refused to discuss pre-Iraq war intelligence, and again refused to testify about the CIA operative Valerie Plame outing. Apparently, she still thinks this is a not a government of checks and balances and refuses to testify about 1) corruption in the Iraq war effort and 2) the disappearance of unaccounted US fund$.
Are there any rules governing our government?
There is the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chaired by Henry Waxman, D-CA, and he is getting a little annoyed by this and said “Secretary Rice is going to have a confrontation with this committee.”[ii] I would pay to see that, but I’m not holding my breath. Instead what Waxman got was Larry Butler, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs. Larry refused to answer questions about Iraqi attempts to fight corruption except in closed session. To this Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-MA noted the irony of the Office on Accountability and Transparency withholding information.
Further, it was not until the House committee requested information from the State Dept. that the dept. classified the information that had been requested.
And then there’s a little thing about a company called Blackwater and Heir Heiness’ Condo has refused to turn-over documents requested by the committee.
What rules? No, Hu rules.
Too heavy? There’s hope: Al Franken is running for a Senate seat from Wisconsin. His fund drive has been doing well, which led the incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman to say “It’s difficult to compete with the checkbooks of the Hollywood elite.”
As Franken used to say on Air America, “I make the punch lines here!”
Just in case you think the government really doesn’t care about the average citizen, the House passed a bill 386-27 to help people that might lose their home to foreclosure. According to Congress Daily “debt that is forgiven after a mortgage foreclosure … is considered income for tax purposes.” That is: if you are forgiven $100,000 on a house you bought but cannot make the payments, then $100K would be considered income on which you would have to pay taxes. Under the new bill, that would be eliminated. ‘Arbusto’ Bush is against the bill, which only highlights his consistent regard for the less fortunate.
The bill now goes to the Senate.
At last, the last: the Senate has passed a bill that would prohibit the import and use of asbestos. Remarkable, considering how long asbestos has been known to be injurious to living organisms. Is exporting OK?
To the House it goes, and they deserve it….
[i] By Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times “Spy chief’s disclosures stun Congress”, August 24, 2007 http://www.latimes.com/
[ii] This and much of the information included here is culled from, (but should not be held responsible for) the National Journal/Congress Daily. http://nationaljournal.com/pubs/congressdaily/
Oct. 4, 2007
England has organizations established to change the oil industry…
I was doing this search about exactly when George Shultz was on the board of directors at Chevron. I found refs verifying he was, but never the years, other than before Condo Rice. That just seemed so strange. Most bios did not even mentioned he was ever there. Another story stranger than fiction is how Chevron ended up in Burma. Unocal emerges from behind the walls and under the rocks, yeh, from the company that brought you Zalmay Khalizad, that brought the Taliban to Houston on a friendship tour, the same company that bought and supported the military dics, yes, yes, Unocal was sued and lost for complicity in murder, rape, forced prostitution, and eviction of people from their land and homes in Burma.
The company of Shultz and Condo Rice, that’s right, Chevron comes along and buys them in 2005, but since the initial ‘investment’ on development had been made prior to the US clamp down on trade with Burma due to the above offenses, Chevron gets the benefits accrued in gas and oil. Now isn’t that fair, so all’s well in the Empire and G ‘global warming’ Bush can spout his indignation about the bullies of Burma without worrying about Condo’s professional future. Think Chevron will have her back?
So all’s fair in Kapitalism. We don’t need no Kolonialism. Now we Kall it ‘FREE TRADE’.
Now, just trying to write about this I’m get as hot as a stolen car with a blown radiator, but to forget about Nigeria and what Chevron is doing there does not see the problem.
For those that have read Howard Zinn, there has been a sad awakening to an old paradigm. The United States’ foreign policy has been replicating the same behavior since it’s inception. Burma is just another example, so if we are going to correct the pattern we have much work to do. Currently, Burma is not the only iron in the fire. Nigeria is not just another instance of corporate- (Chevron)/government imperialism, it is every bit as vicious as Burma and has been going on for years.
In England, the resistance to oil industry atrocities in Nigeria is well established. Unraveling the Carbon Web (http://www.carbonweb.org/) was started in May of 1997 by a collaboration of Platform and CorporateWatch. Unraveling is about the bigger vision based upon analysis of those affected by the oil industry’s impact on society and the environment. Their goal is to educate and influence the public, government and corporate leaders, “its roots lie in the Crude Operators conference – a gathering to understand and challenge the oil industry.”
In their own words:
Platform “works across disciplines for social and ecological justice. It combines the transformatory power of art with the tangible goals of campaigning, the rigour of in-depth research with the vision to promote alternative futures.”
This site is of incredible depth, but here is a reminder if you have forgotten: “On November 10th 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight Ogoni colleagues were executed by the Nigerian state for campaigning against the devastation of the Niger Delta by oil companies, especially Shell and Chevron.”
Understanding is empowering and these sites are an education about the monster, but may be also worthy of consideration for organizing here in the United States.
Aug. 28, 2007
Here is a simple story about Iraq and the United States. The problem with any simple explanation of the Iraq invasion is that it hides the complexity of the situation. True enough, the United States has interest in the oil: just look at the oil policy it is trying to force on the newly formed government. From a different perspective, the former CEO of a major US oil corporation seemed quite certain that the major reason for the invasion was to maintain the dollar as the dominate world currency. When he mentioned this during the summer of 2003 it looked like yet another Republican rationale, but the topic of dollar dominance is starting to get some visibility as global oil distribution meets greater global demand.
Several news items relating to these issues are currently posted at Alexander’s GasAndOil.com
Regions of the world are listed on the front page, and after selectiing one, article titles are scrolled in the left column while articles appear in the center by clicking on the titles. The mere frequency of the topics suggests what is relevant in today’s current events. Previously listed articles included topics covering China’s oil drilling in Sudan, and India’s state run oil company building the pipeline connecting the oil fields to the port city allowing for China and India to buy the oil. Of course, this is part and parcel to the protest over China holding the Olympics while abetting the genocide in Darfur, the region of Sudan from which the oil is being taken.
More recently the topics tend to deal with the collaborative projects that are developing between Iran and the other countries in the region such as Iraq, Turkey, India, Greece and Turkmenistan. These projects involve everything from running pipelines from the Middle East to Europe; and Iran and Indonesia building a $5.6bil refinery. Austrian petro company OMV spokesman Thomas Huemer is quoted as saying they are “…only talking about our project …an LNG project and contracts” with Iran but they have signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’. Source cited: ArabianBusiness.com. Turkey is also investing in the South Pars gas field, and they like Austria are doing so in EUR$, not US$. Iran is asking Japan to pay for oil/gas in Yen. And from the article titled Iran to maximise oil income in non-US currency is the line “Iran, OPEC’s second biggest producer, exports around 2.3 mm bpd of crude, with up to 65 % of that volume moving into Asia” Source cited: Iranian.ws / Persian Journal. A senior official with the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company is quoted, “As long as the dollar is weak, the best decision is for us to move away from it… .”
For the ultimate afront to the great liberators that tried to pull a fast one by securing Iraq’s oil for multinational oil corporations comes a new story line: Iran and Iraq have signed an agreement for the first Iranian power plant to be built in Iraq. From the article: Iran and Iraq to establish first joint power plant is at least a clear signal that old enemies have now become good friends. So it is that the United States attempted to secure it’s Empire for the New American Century and alienated the world, exported it’s jobs and cornered itself into mountains of debt. This perhaps has set the stage for al-Maliki to find other friends of which there are now plenty. But by invading and occupying Iraq, they have done what they least intended and forced a decline in the dominance of the US dollar.
Aug. 8, 2007
So here is an idea for a game called Name the Dictator. The game is to determine who is responsible for this mess, the bush (adj.) corporate control of our government. John Perkins calls it corporatocracy. Cool. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could blame a person, someone we could hold accountable, and rightfully so, the non-elected officials that determine public policy.
Name the Dictator would be the opposite of a Presidential debate. Instead of looking for someone to make things better, the game is to name who we tar and feather, someone to put in the town square locked in the stocks, someone on whom we could walk by and kick or spit, verbally abuse, something rude and distasteful. Very therapeutic.
Unfortunately, a dictator, king, or president is just a figurehead. A corporation is another identifier, and probably more current, but much too ambiguous since it does not fix blame on any one person; it is far less specific and hence, of little therapeutic value.
The title ‘quisling’ would be a better fit: from Am. Heritage Dictionary, n. someone who serves as a puppet to the enemy occupying his country. The word comes from the name of a ‘tom delay’ kind of nut, Vidkun Quisling, who while serving as a legislator in Norway decided it would be a great idea if Hitler took control of his country. So when the Nazis invaded he became the Chief of Norway. In the game ‘The Quisling’ the definition ‘enemy occupying his country’ could be either foreign or domestic; but since the corporatocracy is currently an occupational force the distinction hardly matters.
Like the Donald Trump show, The Apprentice, it would allow a winnowing from a group of candidates until the winner is named: The Quisling.
So who are our enemies, our Quislings? John Perkins could name some great candidates for the show (the viewing/public audience could participate with email). Like where Perkins worked, it could be those corporate heads that determine our national (and foreign) policy, unelected ‘officials’ that shape the media and sell us their ‘reality’, United Fruit/Chiquita that deposed Guatemala’s democratically elected President in 1953; Drummond Mining (a US privately held company) who were recently indicted for assasinating labor organizers at their mining operations in Equador; Freeport-McMoran (with Kissinger on the Board of Directors) that use the Indonesian army to hold down the local population while the mine effluent poisons a river the local villagers depended upon.
Like picking lobster out of the aquarium at a seafood restaurant, this would be easy pickings; and like the FBI’s most wanted list at a Post Office, these people should be held up to public scrutiny.
Now is the time to take action. We, the People, that hold this country to a higher ethical standard need to determine the issues; We need to direct the ‘talking points’ instead of Carl Rove’s lowest common denominator; We need to get the fear-based platform turned around and moving forward instead of the regressive politics of a highly focused minority. They have been in controll since the tawdry smear of the Clinton Administration. The bush Condoleezza (on the Board of Directors at Chevron) has stollen our national integrity for the benefit of corporations, from oil to prison management. Dictators or Quislings, we might as well have some fun exposing their operation and maybe change their game.
July 19, 2007
Many people(and most Iraqi’s) have made the conclusion long ago why the US/UK went into Iraq. Well, folks, some very interesting sources have come up with some astounding evidence.
George Schultz of the Bechtel Corporation stated on Frontline/PBS that he and future Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice personally asked George W to run for President. The same George Schultz that asked Ronald Reagan to run for President and served as Secretary of State when they won. The same George Schultz is currently on the Board of International Tax and Investment Counsel (ITIC). The ITIC is a Washington ‘think tank’ that was formed in 1993 to advise former Soviet countries on how they should run their affairs such as taxation, infrastructure, oil industry and the like(1).
Since the United States decided to export democracy, ITIC decided it should write a little paper on how to advise Iraqis regarding their oil business(2). The plan is to allot almost 80 percent of Iraqi oil production for ‘privatization’ by foreign oil companies(3). Working together, the IMF, US and UK government officials, with oil companies BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total and ENI (Italy) began using all the pressure they could to secure an oil contract that suited them, maximizing profit and shielding themselves from any interference.(4)
The plan passed thru committee as of 13 July 2007, is supposed to be passed by the Iraqi Parliament and to be monitored by a cabinet level committee called the Panel of Independent Advisors as stipulated in the document· The bill specifically states the Panel is to include members of foreign oil companies. What the Panel achieves is that there will be no public oversight of this cabinet level committee or their policy decisions. In addition, the Panel becomes the decision-maker of last resort: ”In case the initial contract has serious discrepancies as compared to the model contracts and guidelines issued by the Federal Oil and Gas Council, the Federal Oil and Gas Council will make a decision on the contract relying on the opinion of the Panel of Independent Advisors….“(5) No surprise, ITIC also has nine board members from oil and oil service companies.
So if you think this is incredible, check this: when Bremmer landed in Baghdad 2003, one of his first actions was to say that no unions would be allowed in state run businesses. Despite this edict, the technicians and workers of the Iraqi oil industry did so anyway. Further, the Union being aware of this proposed oil bill have threatened a strike if it is passed by Parliament(6). Meanwhile, sandwiched between US pressure and sectarian factionalism within the Parliament, Maliki knows that either the Oil Bill will be passed or his tenure might be briefer than anticipated.(7)
During the week ending July 13, 2007, the proposed bill passed thru committee and will now be put to the legislature, and soon. The first deadline of June has already passed, but the new one is July. Same old song: exporting ‘democracy’ and taking your oil.
Remember Arbenz in Guatemala?
Petroleum and Iraq’s Future: Fiscal Options and Challenges
by INTERNATIONAL TAX AND INVESTMENT CENTER (ITIC) in cooperation with: OXFORD ECONOMIC FORECASTING, TRANSBORDER, and Center for Global Energy Studies
Muttitt, Greg: Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth
“The Iraqi government would be left with control of only the 17 fields that are already in production, out of around 80 known fields.” and “Running to hundreds of pages of complex legal and financial language and generally subject to commercial confidentiality provisions, PSAs are effectively immune from public scrutiny and lock governments into economic terms that cannot be altered for decades.”
Fisher, Becca CorporateWatch.org http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=2912
“Shrouded in secrecy, the US and UK governments, big oil companies and the IMF pushed for the new oil law. BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total and Italian oil and gas company ENI have been working through a major lobbying organization, the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC). The document they produced amounts to a hymn of praise for the form of contracts, known as Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs), which are now written into the law.”
Council of Ministers/Oil and Energy Committee Draft Oil and Gas Law 15 February 2007
Ben Lando, UPI. Posted July 12, 2007.
“Opposition to American Oil Grab is Unifying Iraqis” “The oil law already faced opposition from Iraq oil experts — including two of the law’s three original willing to stop production and exports if the law gives foreign oil companies too much access to or ownership of the oil.”
International Herald Tribune, AP Report, 13 February 2007
Al-Maliki tells aides U.S. benchmark deadline is June 30 or his ouster possible.
“ ‘Al-Maliki is committed to meeting the deadline because he is convinced he would not survive in power without U.S. support’, one of the associates said.
But standing in the way of forward movement is a recalcitrant Cabinet which al-Maliki has promised to reshuffle by the end of this week. So far, however, he is at loggerheads with the political groupings in parliament which are threatening to withdraw their support for the prime minister if he does not allow the blocs to name replacements for Cabinet positions.
The impasse amounts effectively to a threat to bring down the government if it does what the Americans reportedly are telling al-Maliki he must do to win continued U.S. backing.”