Monday, May 31, 2010

War Lord Obama

Barack Obama:
Liar, Warlord and Corporate Shill
by Stephen Lendman اوروكنت.إنفو
May 31, 2010

It shouldn't surprise because no one gets the top job or any government position of power unless they're safe, yet, naively, most people thought Obama was different. Many still do.

As a candidate, he promised change, a new course, sweeping government reforms, addressing people needs, and "ensur(ing) that the hopes and concerns of average Americans speak louder in Washington than the hallway whispers of high-priced lobbyists" - the same ones who bought and now own him.

He promised peace and delivered war; real health and financial reform, not same old, same old; help for millions losing jobs, homes, hope and futures, not handouts to Wall Street and other industry favorites; regulatory oversight, not the usual incestuous government-industry ties, making disasters like in the Gulf possible, and when they happen conspiring with offenders in coverup, distortion, lies, and a total disregard for the environment, wildlife, and way of life for thousands - let alone permanent damage to a vital ecosystem.

At the same time, Big Oil gets billions in subsidies, special tax breaks and other financial benefits, besides operating in a regulatory-free environment.

The 1995 Outer Continental Shelf Deep Water Royalty Relief Act (DWRRA - courtesy of Bill Clinton) exempted royalties on defined amounts of deep water production. After its 2000 expiration, the law was redefined and extended to promote further deep water drilling.

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) defines it as having a water depth of 200 meters (656 feet). To be eligible, leases must be in the Gulf of Mexico, west of 87 degrees and 30 minutes west longitude (the Florida-Alabama boundary), and MMS must determine that the site isn't economically viable without relief.

Given longstanding MMS-industry coziness, it's practically rubber-stamp. DWRRA also reduced royalties on pre-November 28, 1995 leases, decided by the Interior Department Secretary on a case-by-case basis - again, practically assured by officials with close industry ties.

The 2005 Energy Policy Act was one of the friendliest ever with over $10 billion in handouts. It lets oil giants pay federal royalties in barrels of oil and grants exemptions on some wells, subsidizes a new R & D program for ultra deep water drilling and unconventional oil and gas development, creates hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax breaks, increases what oil and gas companies can deduct on pipeline expenses, provides more liability protection besides the $75 million cap (established by the 1990 Oil Pollution Act after the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, an amount too small to matter).

As an Illinois senator, six months into his term, Obama supported it, an early clue to where he stood, and how he hoped to gain - the usual "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" payoff.

It worked hugely with BP, the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) reporting that its employees and political action committees gave more to him than to any other federal candidate in the past 20 years.

During his 2008 campaign, CRP reported that the oil and gas industry overall gave him $884,000, more than any to other lawmaker except John McCain, and no wonder. His Senate voting record showed what they bought:

-- the right of mining companies to strip mine everywhere, including on government lands;

-- vast new powers and handouts to the nuclear industry;

-- harmful biofuels production;

-- lax regulation; and

-- other pro-business, anti-populist measures - besides supporting the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

Obama promised change, and delivered betrayal - evident now in the Gulf, America's greatest ever environmental disaster, fast becoming the most catastrophic in history, a shameless addition to his resume, already revealing a world class rogue and failed president less than a year and half into office. No wonder calls for his impeachment have begun, including by James Petras on May 27, on the Progressive Radio News Hour, hosted by this writer who wholeheartedly agrees.

Disaster in the Gulf - Maybe Worse than Now Known

According to prominent oil industry insider, Matt Simmons, former head of Simmons & Company International, a private investment bank specializing in energy research, trading and capital structuring, the Gulf disaster is much worse than reported, and a far greater problem to fix.

Appearing on MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show on May 27, he described the riser on BP's video as 21.5 inches in diameter with a six or seven inch rip at the top. But that's the small rupture, in his judgment. There's a giant oil plume about five or six miles away, getting little attention.

"I believe the eruption blew off the wellhead," he said. If so, that's the real story, and "we have an enormous problem," suppressed and unreported. BP's video shows a small leak, not the bigger one. It looks like its "top kill" is "chasing a mouse and behind it is a tiger," the real problem creating two giant plumes of thick oil (discussed below), neither BP or the Obama administration wants to acknowledge or explain.

Nor that perhaps the "top kill" is a PR stunt, not a serious attempt to cap the well. Worse still, according to the Washington Blog on May 27, it "FAILED In the Attempt to Plug the Oil Leak Using Mud."

"Now BP Will Try to Add Some 'Junk' to the Mix to Try to Seal the Holes," or at least one of them. It cites a same day New York Times report saying BP "stopped pumping (mud) the night before when engineers saw that too much of the drilling fluid was escaping along with the oil." In other words, it failed, so pumping stopped for over 16 hours. So far, "top kill" 2.0 hasn't worked better after two attempts (so-called "junk shots" with chunky debris) - why some experts believe only a relief well will relieve pressure and allow capping.

But completing one is at least a few months away, and even then the big rupture Simmons cites may be too severe to handle. Time alone will tell, but in the meantime, vast environmental contamination grows, wildlife is dying, the lives and livelihoods of thousands more residents are being devastated, and late Saturday BP abandoned its "top kill" approach, admitting what they likely knew all along. It failed because there was no chance it could work.

More Evidence of Industry-Government Ties

A May 26 Josh Harkinson Mother Jones article headlined, "Steven Chu's Ties to BP."

On December 11, 2008, Obama chose Chu as his Energy Secretary, the same day he picked Carol Browner to oversee energy, environmental and climate policies and Lisa Jackson as EPA head.

Chu had been professor of physics and molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley and director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), originally called the UC Radiation Lab.

Today the Energy Department runs LBNL, continuing its radiation research, what it's done since the 1940s with little regard for public or environmental concerns, true as well under Chu. He was picked for his commitment to nuclear power, while downplaying the risks.

When asked in 2005 if fission-based plants should be a larger part of the energy-producing portfolio, he responded: "Absolutely," displaying a cavalier attitude about its dangers in advocating for "recycling" of waste, when experts say doing it spreads poisons causing cancer, genetic damage, and premature deaths.

Harkinson asked: "Is Steven Chu too cozy with BP," given his longstanding ties to the oil industry that "funded the Energy Biosciences Institute at UC Berkeley that (he) founded a year before he joined the DOE."

BP's chief scientist, Steven Koonin, gave him a $500 million grant. In return, Chu appointed him DOE undersecretary for science. But instead of them both getting involved in the Gulf disaster, they stood aside, telling reporters earlier that "things are looking up" when, in fact, they're worsening.

It's unclear "to what extent Chu has given BP favorable treatment, either in terms of crafting DOE's research agenda or its response to the oil spill. But what is clear is that the close ties are casting a shadow over the agency, sowing doubt among the public that the government is truly an independent watchdog."

Also clear is that $500 million buys a lot of influence, expecting payback in far greater amounts and nearly always getting it and then some. When Chu arranged it, UC Berkeley Professor Ignacio Chapela called it "the coup de grace to the very idea of a university that can represent the best interest of the public," benefitting a man who looks deeply compromised - the same "qualification" as other Obama officials for their close industry ties, serving their interests, not the public's.

BP's Specialty: Spill Baby, Spill - Its Other One in Alaska

On May 28, investigative journalist Greg Palast headlined his article, "BP's Other Spill this Week," saying:

During the week of May 25, BP's "Pump Station 9, at Delta Junction on the 800-mile (Alaska) pipeline, busted" - spewing over 100,000 gallons because "procedures weren't properly implemented," according to state inspectors. In 2006, irresponsible maintenance caused another one, polluting Prudhoe Bay.

BP "owns the controlling stake in the trans-Alaska pipeline," but tries to hide it, given its poor management practices. The pipeline is understaffed, corroded, and "basic maintenance" is poor - standard procedures for BP, notorious for having the worst safety and environmental record in the industry.

In his earlier investigatory work, Palast learned that BP was most to blame for the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster. As the controlling Alyeska pipeline owner, it was responsible for the spill response, but handled it the same way as now - by "l(ying, prevaricat(ing) and obfuscatin(ing)," making a serious spill disastrous.

BP is a notorious liar, scofllaw, environmental and employee safety criminal. But it's never been held accountable, nor will it for its Gulf disaster.

A Second Underwater Oil Plume Discovered

Licensed to the University of South Florida, WUSF broadcasts from its campus. On May 27, it reported that USF scientists discovered "what appears to be a massive second underwater plume (six miles deep, measuring 3,300 feet from top to bottom) in previously untested waters northeast of the leaking BP wellhead..." Its estimated to be six miles wide, stretching 22 miles, heading toward Mobile Bay, Alabama, affecting the DeSoto Canyon area, an important habitat for numerous species, including:

-- bluefin tuna, swordfish, king mackerel, grouper, giant tube worms, sea turtles, sharks, whales and dolphins.

It also threatens the continental shelf, including west Florida's wetlands and beaches. USF oceanographer Robert Weisberg called it "a very serious concern." Rowan Gould, US Fish and Wildlife Service acting director, said the spill "will affect fish and wildlife resources....for years to come, if not decades," literally destroying formerly pristine areas of the Gulf.

Calling it "insidious," chemical oceanographer, David Hollander, believes it contains chemically dispersed hydrocarbons, calling it "an invisible component we really don't know the short or the long term impact" about. He expressed serious concerns that the oil/dispersant toxicity may cause great harm to fish larvae, "and we also may see a long term response as it cascades up the food web," endangering human health.

The other plume stretched from the wellhead southwest toward the open sea, heading for the Florida Keys and beyond.

Some Final Comments

On May 27, the Center for Biological Diversity's Senior Counsel, Brendan Cummings, responded to Obama's same day Gulf disaster press conference, saying:

No technology exists to deal with disasters like in the Gulf...."even in areas with existing infrastructure and significant spill response assets, containment and response capability to a large oil spill is wholly inadequate. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the Obama administration should not pretend that a six-month review of drilling procedures will change anything. Expanding offshore drilling to new areas needs to be permanently taken off the table."

Obama's comments follow "a month of half-steps and broken promises by the Interior which a pledged 'moratorium' on oil drilling turned out to be largely a fiction, with multiple drillings plans approved after no environmental review, and drilling permits similar to those given to BP continuing to be used."

What else to expect from a corporate shill president, spearheading the Gulf disaster coverup from day one, while claiming he's been "in charge" since it happened, and it's his "job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down."

Gulf residents say he "hasn't done a damn thing but run his mouth," according to an angry and frustrated Louisianan, after waiting weeks for help, and hearing nothing but excuses, saying BP is in charge. That's the problem. Corporate interests always run things, presidents and their officials salute and obey, sacrificing people, wildlife and the environment. It's the "American way," partnering with business for plunder and profits, the public interest be damned.

2010 Predictions

Economic Collapse – Martial Law
24 Experts Warn of 2010 Meltdown
Predictions For The Rest Of 2010

Bob Chapman
First 6 months of 2010, Americans will continue to live in the 'unreality'…the period between July and October is when the financial fireworks will begin. The Fed will act unilaterally for its own survival irrespective of any political implications …(source is from insider at FED meetings). In the last quarter of the year we could even see Martial law, which is more likely for the first 6 months of 2011. The FDIC will collapse in September 2010. Commercial real estate is set to implode in 2010. Wall Street believes there is a 100% chance of crash in bond market, especially municipals sometime during 2010. The dollar will be devalued by the end of 2010.

Gerald Celente
Terrorist attacks and the "Crash of 2010". 40% devaluation at first = the greatest depression, worse than the Great Depression.

Igor Panarin
In the summer of 1998, based on classified data about the state of the U.S. economy and society supplied to him by fellow FAPSI analysts, Panarin forecast the probable disintegration of the USA into six parts in 2010 (at the end of June – start of July 2010, as he specified on 10 December 2000

Have projected that the third and final stage of the economic collapse will begin sometime in 2010. Barring some kind of financial miracle, or the complete dissolution of the Federal Reserve, a snowballing implosion should become visible by the end of this year. The behavior of the Fed, along with that of the IMF seems to suggest that they are preparing for a focused collapse, peaking within weeks or months instead of years, and the most certain fall of the dollar.

July and onward things get very strange. Revolution. Dollar dead by November 2010.

LEAP 20/20
2010 Outlook from a group of 25 European Economists with a 90% accuracy rating- We anticipate a sudden intensification of the crisis in the second half of 2010, caused by a double effect of a catching up of events which were temporarily « frozen » in the second half of 2009 and the impossibility of maintaining the palliative remedies of past years. There is a perfect (economic) storm coming within the global financial markets and inevitable pressure on interest rates in the U.S. The injection of zero-cost money into the Western banking system has failed to restart the economy. Despite zero-cost money, the system has stalled. It is slowly rolling over into the next big down wave, which in Elliott Wave terminology will be Super Cycle Wave Three, or in common language, "THE BIG ONE, WHERE WE ALL GO OVER THE FALLS TOGETHER."

Joseph Meyer
Forecasts on the economy. He sees the real estate market continuing to decline, and advised people to invest in precious metals and commodities, as well as keeping cash at home in a safe place in case of bank closures. The stock market, after peaking in March or April (around 10,850), will fall all the way down to somewhere between 2450 and 4125 during the next leg down.

Harry Dent (investor)
A very likely second crash by late 2010. The coming depression (starts around the summer of 2010). Dent sees the stock market–currently benefiting from upward momentum and peppier economic activity–headed for a very brief and pleasant run that could lift the Dow to the 10,700-11,500 range from its current level of about 10.090. But then, he sees the market running into a stone wall, which will be followed by a nasty stock market decline (starting in early March to late April) that could drive down the Dow later this year to 3,000-5,000, with his best guess about 3,800.

Richard Russell (Market Expert)
(from 2/3/10) says the bear market rally is in the process of breaking up and panic is on the way. He sees a full correction of the entire rise from the 2002 low of 7,286 to the bull market high of 14,164.53 set on October 9, 2007. The halfway level of retracement was 10,725. The total retracement was to 6,547.05 on March 9, 2009. He now sees the Dow falling to 7,286 and if that level does not hold, “I see it sinking to its 1980-82 area low of Dow 1,000.” The current action is the worst he has ever seen. (Bob Chapman says for Russell to make such a startling statement is unusual because he never cries wolf and is almost never wrong)

Niño Becerra (Professor of Economics)
Predicted in July 2007 that what was going to happen was that by mid 2010 there is going to be a crisis only comparable to the one in 1929. From October 2009 to May 2010 people will begin to see things are not working out the way the government thought. In May of 2010, the crisis starts with all its force and continues and strengthens throughout 2011. He accurately predicted the current recession and market crash to the month.

Lyndon Larouche
The crisis is accelerating and will become worse week by week until the whole system grinds into a collapse, likely sometime this year. And when it does, it will be the greatest collapse since the fall of the Roman Empire.

"You are witnessing a fundamental breakdown of the American dream, a systemic breakdown of our democracy and our capitalism, a breakdown driven by the blind insatiable greed of Wall Street: Dysfunctional government, insane markets, economy on the brink. Multiply that many times over and see a world in total disarray. Ignore it now, tomorrow will be too late."

Eric deCarbonnel
There is no precedence for the panic and chaos that will occur in 2010. The global food supply/demand picture has NEVER been so out of balance. The 2010 food crisis will rearrange economic, financial, and political order of the world, and those who aren’t prepared will suffer terrible losses…As the dollar loses most of its value, America's savings will be wiped out. The US service economy will disintegrate as consumer spending in real terms (ie: gold or other stable currencies) drops like a rock, bringing unemployment to levels exceeding the great depression. Public health services/programs will be cut back, as individuals will have no savings/credit/income to pay for medical care. Value of most investments will be wiped out. The US debt markets will freeze again, this time permanently. There will be no buyers except at the most drastic of firesale prices, and inflation will wipe away value before credit markets have any chance at recovery. The panic in 2010 will see the majority of derivatives end up worthless. Since global derivatives markets operate on the assumption of the continued stable value of the dollar and short term US debt, using derivatives to bet against the dollar is NOT a good idea. The panic in 2010 will see the majority of derivatives end up worthless. The dollar's collapse will rob US consumers of all purchasing power, and any investment depend on US consumption will lose most of its value.

Alpha-Omega Report (Trends Forecast)
Going into 2010, the trends seemed to lead nowhere or towards oblivion. Geo-politically, the Middle East was and is trending towards some sort of military clash, most likely by mid-year, but perhaps sooner…At the moment, it seems 2010 is shaping up to be a year of absolute chaos. We see trends for war between Israel and her neighbors that will shake every facet of human activity…In the event of war, we see all other societal trends being thoroughly disrupted…Iran will most likely shut off the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. This will have immense consequences for the world’s economy. Oil prices will skyrocket into the stratosphere and become so expensive that world’s economies will collapse..There are also trend indicators along economic lines that point to the potential for a total meltdown of the world’s financial system with major crisis points developing with the change of each quarter of the year. 2010 could be a meltdown year for the world’s economy, regardless of what goes on in the Middle East.

Robin Landry (Market Expert)
I believe we are headed to new market highs between 10780-11241 over the next few months. The most likely time frame for the top is the April-May area. Remember the evidence IMHO still says we are in a bear market rally with a major decline to follow once this rally ends.

John P. Hussman, Ph.D.
In my estimation, there is still close to an 80% probability (Bayes' Rule) that a second market plunge and economic downturn will unfold during 2010.

Robert Prechter
Founder of Elliott Wave International, implores retail investors stay away from the markets… for now. Prechter, who was bullish near the lows in March 2009, now says the stock market “is in a topping area, “predicting another crash in 2010 that will bring stocks below the 2009 low. His word to the wise, “be patient, don’t rush it” keep your money in cash and cash equivalents.

Richard Mogey
Current Research Director at the Foundation for the Study of Cycles- Because of a convergence of numerous cycles all at once, the stock market may go up for a little while, but will crash in 2010 and reach all-time lows late 2012. Mogey says that the 2008 crash was nothing compared to the coming crash. Gold may correct in 2009, but will go up in 2010 and peak in 2011. Silver will follow gold.

James Howard Kunstler (January 2010)
The economy as we’ve known it simply can’t go on, which James Howard Kunstler has been saying all along. The shenanigans with stimulus and bailouts will just compound the central problem with debt. There’s not much longer to go before the whole thing collapses and dies. Six Months to Live- The economy that is. Especially the part that consists of swapping paper certificates. That’s the buzz I’ve gotten the first two weeks of 2010.

Peter Schiff (3/13/2010)
"In my opinion, the market is now perfectly positioned for a massive dollar sell-off. The fundamentals for the dollar in 2010 are so much worse than they were in 2008 that it is hard to imagine a reason for people to keep buying once a modicum of political and monetary stability can be restored in Europe. In fact, the euro has recently stabilized. My gut is that the dollar sell-off will be sharp and swift. Once the dollar decisively breaks below last year's lows, many of the traders who jumped ship in the recent rally will look to re-establish their positions. This will accelerate the dollar's descent and refocus everyone's attention back on the financial train-wreck unfolding in the United States. Any doubts about the future of the U.S. dollar should be laid to rest by today's announcement that San Francisco Federal Reserve President Janet Yellen has been nominated to be Vice Chair of the Fed's Board of Governors, and thereby a voter on the interest rate-setting, seven-member Open Markets Committee. Ms. Yellen has earned a reputation for being one of the biggest inflation doves among the Fed's top players." Schiff is famous for his accurate predictions of the economic events of 2008.

Lindsey Williams
Dollar devalued 30-50% by end of year. It will become very difficult for the average American to afford to buy even food. This was revealed to him through an Illuminati insider.

Unnamed Economist working for US Gov't (GLP)
What we have experienced the last two years is nothing to what we are going to experience this year. If you have a job now…you may not have it in three to six months. (by August 2010). Stock market will fall = great depression. Foreign investors stop financing debt = collapse. 6.2 million are about to lose their unemployment.

Jimmy "Doomsday"
DOW will fall below 7,000 before mid summer 2010- Dollar will rise above 95 on the dollar index before mid summer 2010- Gold will bottom out below $800 before mid summer 2010- Silver will bottom out below $10 before mid summer 2010- CA debt implosion will start its major downturn by mid summer and hit crisis mode before Q4 2010- Dollar index will plunge below 65 between Q3 and Q4 2010- Commercial real estate will hit crisis mode in Q4 2010- Over 35 states will be bailed out by end of Q4 2010 by the US tax payer End of Q4 2010 gold will hit $1,600 and silver jump to $35 an oz.

George Ure
Markets up until mid-to-late-summer. Then "all hell breaks lose" from then on through the rest of the year.

Mass Murder Day

A Memorial Day We Can All Get Behind

Mass murderers day, as we're all aware, is tomorrow. It's a disgrace of a holiday where we "honor" those who have murdered, raped, pillaged, nuked, and tortured for the state.

The state's (I refuse to call them "our") veterans deserve a lot of things--such as being spit on, or locked up for crimes against humanity--but respect is hardly one of them.

Some anarchists will tell you that the troops died for nothing. But that's not exactly true.

They died to butcher women and children. They died to make life miserable and unbearable for people all across the globe. They died to strengthen the police state. They died to take away our liberties. They died to enrich the military industrial complex. They died to make the world safe for US-style corporatist capitalism. They died to strengthen dictators and tyrants. They died to ensure US hegemony over the entire world, and to enslave the innocent. They died to destroy and steal from foreign countries. They died to worsen the economy and harm the poor. They died to end habeas corpus and protect torture.

In a nutshell: they died to make the world a far worse, far more despicable, and far more dangerous place. And they did so knowing exactly what they were doing.

Rather than show any respect for veterans, we should use this day to remember those who do deserve to be remembered: those who have been slaughtered by the troops, those whose lives have been permanently destroyed by the troops, those who refused to serve, those who deserted the troops in times of battle, and those who betrayed their own country in times of war.

Now that's a memorial day I could get behind.

Obama's Fault

Obama Administration Blocked Efforts

to Stop BP Oil Drilling Before Explosion

By Joe Kishore
World Socialist Web Site

10 May 2010
In 2009, the Obama administration intervened to support the reversal of a court order that would have halted offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has long had close ties to the industry, specifically cited BP’s Deepwater Horizon operation as one that should be allowed to go forward, according to a group involved in the court case.

A Washington DC Appeals Court ruled in April 2009 that the Bush administration’s five-year plan for offshore oil and gas drilling (covering 2007 to 2012) was not based on a proper review of the environmental impact of the drilling. Only days before the ruling, the Obama administration had granted BP a “categorical exclusion,” exempting it from an environmental impact study for the Deepwater Horizon project.

The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry trade group, intervened to reverse the court order, and was backed by the administration.

Kierán Suckling, executive director and founder the Center for Biological Diversity, which was involved in the original lawsuit, told the World Socialist Web Site that Salazar “filed a special motion asking the court to lift the injunction, and he cited the BP drilling several times by name in the request.”

In July 2009, the court ruled that drilling in both the Gulf and off the coast of Alaska could continue, on the condition that the administration conduct a study of the potential environmental risks. This study has yet to be completed.

Salazar praised the decision at the time, saying it allowed the administration to go forward with “a comprehensive energy plan,” including the BP project and a sale of leases for drilling in the Gulf.

Even since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon less than three weeks ago, the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Services (MMS) has continued to grant “categorical exclusions” to oil and gas companies, allowing them to bypass environmental studies.

The administration has publicly announced that no new offshore drilling grants will be issued until a review, to be completed by the end of the month. Nevertheless, at least 27 exemptions have been granted, including one for a BP exploration plan for drilling at more than 4,000 feet. Another exemption was granted to Anadarko Petroleum Corporation for an exploration plan at more than 9,000 feet. The Deepwater Horizon was drilling at about 5,000 feet.

“The same problems we saw under the Bush administration are continuing under Obama,” Suckling said. “The change in political parties has done very little in terms of corporate domination of the political system. Who got to vote on turning over our natural resources to private corporations? The whole system is corrupt from the bottom up.”

The Obama administration’s announcement earlier this year that he would expand offshore oil drilling was a clear sop for the oil industry, as was his earlier decision to appoint Salazar as Interior Secretary. Suckling noted that as a Senator for Colorado Salazar supported the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, which expanded drilling. Salazar received money from BP, and when he became Interior Secretary he brought several BP officials on his staff.

These latest revelations come as the haphazard and experimental attempts by BP and the government to stop oil from flowing into the Gulf have failed.

Oil is now beginning to appear on the coast, from Louisiana to parts of Alabama. Tar balls have washed up on the shore of an Alabama barrier island, according to the Associated Press.

Oil is also dispersed throughout the Mississippi Delta region. According to the Financial Times, a vessel it has chartered with Canadian oil spill consultants “located patches of thick crude oil on a beach at the mouth of the South Pass, one of the navigable channels of the Mississippi. ‘This is bad,’ said Dec Doran of Ontario-based Oil Spill Control Services, as he took samples from a saucer-sized patch of red-brown crude, the consistency of peanut butter. ‘If nothing is done, this will take 10 years to disperse.’”

On Saturday, the cofferdam—a 100-ton containment box or “dome” that BP sought to place over one of the major leaks—had to be removed after it was clogged by gas and water crystals. The project, which was presented as the most feasible short-term option for slowing the leak, was highly experimental, untested at the depths BP was drilling. The clog developed even before operators could hook up a tube intended to direct the leaking oil into ships above.

While BP has said it will try again, government officials have begun floating another, even more improbable scheme. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is overseeing the government’s response, outlined on Sunday what he called a “junk shot” tactic. “They’re going to take a bunch of debris—shredded up tires, golf balls, and things like that—under very high pressure and shoot it into the [blowout] preventer.” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

These desperate measures are intended to give the appearance of action and hide the fact that neither the administration nor BP had in place any plans to deal with the failure of a blowout preventer, an entirely foreseeable event.

The actions could well have the effect of making the spill worse by damaging the pipe, which is restricting the flow of oil. Currently, oil is spewing out at a rate of between 5,000 barrels a day (government estimate) and 25,000 barrels a day (estimate of several scientists). If the pipe completely fails, the leak rate could soar to as high as 60,000 to 100,000 barrels a day.

At the same time, BP and government officials have noted that all attempts could fail. “It’s very difficult to predict whether we will find solutions,” said Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer. “This dome is no silver bullet to stop the leak,” Rear Adm. Mary Landry of the Coast Guard acknowledged.

The major step intended to block off the well completely—drilling a relief well—will take several months to complete and is not guaranteed to work. In the worst-case scenario, which appears increasingly likely, the eruption of oil could continue until the entire reserve is drained—tens if not hundreds of millions of gallons of oil.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Oil Spill Facts

Ten Things You Need (But Don't Want)

To Know About the BP Oil Spill

by Daniela Perdomo
Global Research, May 29, 2010

How the owner of the exploded oil rig has made $270 million off the disaster, and nine other shocking, depressing facts about the oil spill.

It's been 37 days since BP's offshore oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, crude oil has been hemorrhaging into ocean waters and wreaking unknown havoc on our ecosystem -- unknown because there is no accurate estimate of how many barrels of oil are contaminating the Gulf.

Though BP officially admits to only a few thousand barrels spilled each day, expert estimates peg the damage at 60,000 barrels or over 2.5 million gallons daily. (Perhaps we'd know more if BP hadn't barred independent engineers from inspecting the breach.) Measures to quell the gusher have proved lackluster at best, and unlike the country's last big oil spill -- Exxon-Valdez in 1989 -- the oil is coming from the ground, not a tanker, so we have no idea how much more oil could continue to pollute the Gulf's waters.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster reminds us what can happen -- and will continue to happen -- when corporate malfeasance and neglect meet governmental regulatory failure.

The corporate media is tracking the disaster with front-page articles and nightly news headlines every day (if it bleeds, or spills, it leads!), but the under-reported aspects to this nightmarish tale paint the most chilling picture of the actors and actions behind the catastrophe. In no particular order, here are 10 things about the BP spill you may not know and may not want to know -- but you should.

1. Oil rig owner has made $270 million off the oil leak

Transocean Ltd., the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig leased by BP, has been flying under the radar in the mainstream blame game. The world's largest offshore drilling contractor, the company is conveniently headquartered in corporate-friendly Switzerland, and it's no stranger to oil disasters. In 1979, an oil well it was drilling in the very same Gulf of Mexico ignited, sending the drill platform into the sea and causing one of the largest oil spills by the time it was capped... nine months later.

This experience undoubtedly influenced Transocean's decision to insure theDeepwater Horizon rig for about twice what it was worth. In a conference call to analysts earlier this month, Transocean reported making a $270 million profit from insurance payouts after the disaster. It's not hard to bet on failure when you know it's somewhat assured.

2. BP has a terrible safety record

BP has a long record of oil-related disasters in the United States. In 2005, BP's Texas City refineryexploded, killing 15 workers and injuring another 170. The next year, one of its Alaska pipelines leaked 200,000 gallons of crude oil. According to Public Citizen, BP has paid $550 million in fines. BP seems to particularly enjoy violating the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and has paid the two largest fines in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's history. (Is it any surprise that BP played a central, though greatly under-reported, role in the failure to contain the Exxon-Valdez spill years earlier?)

With Deepwater Horizon, BP didn't break its dismal trend. In addition to choosing a cheaper -- and less safe -- casing to outfit the well that eventually burst, the company chose not to equip Deepwater Horizon with an acoustic trigger, a last-resort option that could have shut down the well even if it was damaged badly, and which is required in most developed countries that allow offshore drilling. In fact, BP employs these devices in its rigs located near England, but because the United States recommends rather than requires them, BP had no incentive to buy one -- even though they only cost $500,000. estimates that BP makes $500,000 in under eight minutes.

3. Oil spills are just a cost of doing business for BP

According to the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, approximately $1.6 billion in annual economic activity and services are at risk as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Compare this number -- which doesn't include the immeasurable environmental damages -- to the current cap on BP's liability for economic damages like lost wages and tourist dollars, which is $75 million. And compare that further to the first-quarter profits BP posted just one week after the explosion: $6 billion.

BP's chief executive, Tony Hayward, has solemnly promised that the company will cover more than the required $75 million. On May 10, BP announced it had already spent $350 million. How fantastically generous of a company valued at $152.6 billion, and which makes $93 million each day.

The reality of the matter is that BP will not be deterred by the liability cap and pity payments doled out to a handful of victims of this disaster because they pale in comparison to its ghastly profits. Indeed, oil spills are just a cost of doing business for BP.

This is especially evident in a recent Citigroup analyst report prepared for BP investors: "Reaction to the Gulf of Mexico oil leak is a buying opportunity."

4. The Interior Department was at best, neglectful, and at worst, complicit

It's no surprise BP is always looking out for its bottom line -- but it's at least slightly more surprising that the Interior Department, the executive department charged with regulating the oil industry, has done such a shoddy job of preventing this from happening.

Ten years ago, there were already warnings that the backup systems on oil rigs that failed on Deepwater Horizon would be a problem. The Interior Department issued a "safety alert" but then left it up to oil companies to decide what kind of backup system to use. And in 2007, a government regulator from the same department downplayed the chances and impact of a spill like the one that occurred last month: "[B]lowouts are rare events and of short duration, potential impact to marine water quality are not expected to be significant."

The Interior Department's Louisiana branch may have been particularly confused because it appears it was closely fraternizing with the oil industry. The Minerals Management Service, the agency within the department that oversees offshore drilling, routinely accepted gifts from oil companies and even considered itself a part of the oil industry, rather than part of a governmental regulatory agency. Flying on oil executives' private planes was not rare for MMS inspectors in Louisiana, a federal report released Tuesday says. "Skeet-shooting contests, hunting and fishing trips, golf tournaments, crawfish boils, and Christmas parties" were also common.

Is it any wonder that Deepwater Horizon was given a regulatory exclusion by MMS?

It gets worse. Since April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, the Interior Department has approved 27 new permits for offshore drilling sites. Here's the kicker: Two of these permits are for BP.

But it gets better still: 26 of the 27 new drilling sites have been granted regulatory exemptions, including those issued to BP.

5. Clean-up prospects are dismal

The media makes a lot of noise about all the different methods BP is using to clean up the oil spill. Massive steel containment domes were popular a few weeks ago. Now everyone is touting the "top kill" method, which involves injecting heavy drilling fluids into the damaged well.

But here's the reality. Even if BP eventually finds a method that works, experts say the best cleanup scenario is to recover 20 percent of the spilled oil. And let's be realistic: only 8 percent of the crude oil deposited in the ocean and coastlines off Alaska was recovered in the Exxon-Valdez cleanup.

Millions of gallons of oil will remain in the ocean, ravaging the underwater ecosystem, and 100 miles of Louisiana coastline will never be the same.

6. BP has no real cleanup plan

Perhaps because it knows the possibility of remedying the situation is practically impossible, BP has made publicly available its laughable "Oil Spill Response Plan" which is, in fact, no plan at all.

Most emblematic of this farcical plan, BP mentions protecting Arctic wildlife like sea lions, otters and walruses (perhaps executives simply lifted the language from Exxon's plan for its oil spill off the coast of Alaska?). The plan does not include any disease-preventing measures, oceanic or meteorological data, and is comprised mostly of phone numbers and blank forms. Most importantly, it includes no directions for how to deal with a deep-water explosion such as the one that took place last month.

The whole thing totals 600 pages -- a waste of paper that only adds insult to the environmental injury BP is inflicting upon the world with Deepwater Horizon.

7. Both Transocean and BP are trying to take away survivors' right to sue

With each hour, the economic damage caused by Deepwater Horizon continues to grow. And BP knows this.

So while it outwardly is putting on a nice face, even pledging $500 million to assess the impacts of the spill, it has all the while been trying to ensure that it won't be held liable for those same impacts.

Just after the Deepwater explosion, surviving employees were held in solitary confinement, while Transocean flacks made them waive their rights to sue. BP then did the same with fishermen it contracted to help clean up the spill though the company now says that was nothing more than a legal mix-up.

If there's anything to learn from this disaster, it's that companies like BP don't make mistakes at the expense of others. They are exceedingly deliberate.

8. BP bets on risk to employees to save money -- and doesn't care if they get sick

When BP unleashed its "Beyond Petroleum" re-branding/greenwashing campaign, the snazzy ads featured smiley oil rig workers. But the truth of the matter is that BP consistently and knowingly puts its employees at risk.

An internal BP document shows that just before the prior fatal disaster -- the 2005 Texas City explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 170 -- when BP had to choose between cost-savings and greater safety, it went with its bottom line.

A BP Risk Management memo showed that although steel trailers would be safer in the case of an explosion, the company went with less expensive options that offered protection but were not "blast resistant." In the Texas City blast, all of the fatalities and most of the injuries occurred in or around these trailers.

Although BP has responded to this memo by saying the company culture has changed since Texas City, 11 people died on the Deepwater Horizon when it blew up. Perhaps a similar memo went out regarding safety and cost-cutting measures?

Reports this week stated that fishermen hired by BP for oil cleanup weren't provided protective equipment and have now fallen ill. Hopefully they didn't sign waivers.

9. Environmental damage could even include a climatological catastrophe

It's hard to know where to start discussing the environmental damage caused byDeepwater Horizon. Each day will give us a clearer picture of the short-term ecological destruction, but environmental experts believe the damage to the Gulf of Mexico will be long-term.

In the short-term, environmentalists are up in arms about the dispersants being used to clean up the oil slick in the Gulf. Apparently, the types BP is using aren't all that effective in dispersing oil, and are pretty high in toxicity to marine fauna such as fish and shrimp. The fear is that what BP may be using to clean up the mess could, in the long-term, make it worse.

On the longer-term side of things, there are signs that this largest oil drilling catastrophe could also become the worst natural gas and climate disaster. The explosion has released tremendous amounts of methane from deep in the ocean, and research shows that methane, when mixed with air, is the most powerful (read: terrible) greenhouse gas -- 26 times worse than carbon-dioxide.

Our warming planet just got a lot hotter.

10. No one knows what to do and it will happen again

The very worst part about the Deepwater Horizon calamity is that nobody knows what to do. We don't know how bad it really is because we can't measure what's going on. We don't know how to stop it -- and once we do, we won't know how to clean it up.

BP is at the helm of the recovery process, but given its corporate track record, its efforts will only go so far -- it has a board of directors and shareholders to answer to, after all. The U.S. government, the only other entity that could take over is currently content to let BP hack away at the problem. Why? Because it probably has no idea what to do either.

Here's the reality of the matter -- for as long as offshore drilling is legal, oil spills will happen. Coastlines will be decimated, oceans destroyed, economies ruined, lives lost. Oil companies have little to no incentive to prevent such disasters from happening, and they use their money to buy government regulators' integrity.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Culture of Impunity


Sam Smith May 26, 2010
What corporate America wanted was nothing less than the Third Worlding of the US, a collapse of both present reality and future expectations. The closer the life and wages of our citizens could come to those of less developed nations, the happier the huge stateless multinationals would be. Then, as they said in the boardrooms and at the White House, the global playing field would be leveled. Once having capitulated on economic matters, Americans would be taught to accept a similar diminution of social programs, civil liberties, democracy, and even some of the most basic governmental services. Free of being the agent of our collective will, government could then concentrate on the real business of a corporatist state, such as reinforcing the military, subsidizing selected industry, and strengthening police control over what would inevitably be an increasingly alienated and fractured electorate.

We would be taught to deny ourselves progress and to blame others for our loss. Worse, underneath the sturm und drang of political debate, the American establishment -- from corporate executive to media to politician -- reached a remarkable consensus that it no longer had to play by any rules but its own.

There is a phrase for this in some Latin American countries: the culture of impunity. In such places it has led to death squads, to the live bodies of dissidents being thrown out of military helicopters, to routine false imprisonment and baroque financial fraud. We are not there yet but are certainly moving in the same direction. In a culture of impunity, rules serve the internal logic of the system rather than whatever values typically guide a country, such as those of its constitution, church or tradition.

The culture of impunity encourages coups and cruelty, at best practices only titular democracy, and puts itself at the service of what Hong Kong, borrowing from fascist Germany and Italy, refers to as "functional constituencies," which is mainly to say major corporations. A culture of impunity varies from ordinary political corruption in that the latter represents deviance from the culture while the former becomes the culture. Such a culture does not announce itself. It creeps up day by day, deal by deal, euphemism by euphemism.

The intellectual achievement, technocratic pyrotechnics, and calm rationality that serves as a patina for the culture of impunity can be dangerously misleading. In a culture of impunity, what replaces constitution, precedent, values, tradition, fairness, consensus, debate and all that sort of arcane stuff? Mainly greed and power. As Michael Douglas put it in Wall Street: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works."

Of course, there has always been an overabundance of greed in America's political and economic system. But a number of things have changed. As activist attorney George LaRoche points out, "Once, I think, we knew our greedy were greedy but they were obligated to justify their greed by reference to some of the other values in which all of us could participate. Thus, maybe ‘old Joe' was a crook but he was also a ‘pillar of the business community' or ‘a member of the Lodge' or a ‘good husband' and these things mattered. Now the pretense of justification is gone and greed is its own justification." The result is a stunning lack of restraint. We find ourselves without heroism, without debate over right and wrong, with little but an endless narcissistic struggle by the powerful to get more money, more power, and more press than the next person. In the chase, anything goes and the only standard is whether you win, lose, or get caught. - Sam Smith, Why Bother?, 2001

Sam Smith - When I wrote that, I assumed that, having ditched the First American Republic, we might well move towards some form of ordered and unpleasant tyranny. I assumed that the establishment would stick to its agenda that we would be expected to understand and obey.

After all, as I wrote at the time, "we all live in a Mafia neighborhood now." And a big part of living in a Mafia neighborhood is that you know what the rules are. But what I missed was the possibility that the forces driving the elite would not only destroy our America, but their America as well. And it wasn't until the chaos, confusion, crises, conflicts and controversies of the last year and a half that it became apparent that both victim and tyrant had lost this battle.

What has happened is that atomized ambition has created aggregated anarchy. No one controls the country any more. Yes, they are in charge of the buttons, but the buttons no longer work. The housing and stock markets have collapsed. Academics act as though they haven't gotten their GED yet. Intellectuals grasp at adjectives and metaphors that bear no contact with reality. Corporate executives speak of markets long gone. We are in wars no one can defend reasonably yet against which there is no major protest. Reporters prefer adjectives over facts and have come to think of skepticism as a form of extremism. Sanctified, sanctimonious figures in the church and the GOP are caught in gay trysts. And a hustler named Madoff easily rips off the very high society of which he was a part.

Among the most striking developments has been the impermeable inconsistency of the Obama administration. Although it has spoken repeatedly of transparency, seldom has there been an administration whose true purpose was more difficult to perceive.

Of course, it has been aided mightily by a Democratic Senate that created months of trouble for itself simply by choosing not to revert to traditional rules that could have made it the most, rather than the least, effective upper body in years. Instead, all you needed for a filibuster was to hand in a slip of paper.

The results have been unlike anything that has ever been seen on Capitol Hill. Put together the stimulus package, the health care bill and banking reform and you have a triptych of laws of uncertain purpose, volcanic confusion and concealed contradiction - one to two thousand pages making the future impenetrable until it will be too late to do much about it.

Congress used to pass legislation in order to accomplish something, whether for good or evil. Now we have major bills no one can accurately explain, no one can predict their consequences and no one can convincingly argue on their behalf save for a series of abstractions easily balanced by similar vagaries of the opposition.

We do know that the stimulus bill has so far done little worthwhile, unless you work on Wall Street. Unemployment remains high, foreclosures have not been significantly limited and public works are pathetic.

What the score will be for the health care measure is far harder to guess, for the legislators and Obama have simply hid some of its most important elements for years in the future.

As for the so-called bank reform measure, it was clearly a gift to Wall Street. Yet the LA Times, among others, called it "the most sweeping rewrite of financial rules since the Great Depression."

In fact, the bill didn't even bring back the Glass-Steagall Act which would have been the most sweeping rewrite of financial rules since, well since 1999, when Bill Clinton and Congress buried it.

Eric Alterman came closer to the truth: "When was the last time Congress passed a bill so large that even its significant provisions resisted summarization, both for reasons of complexity and enormity? If you said 'health care,' well, perhaps you're noticing a pattern. Once again, Democrats spent the better part of a year playing three-dimensional chess with themselves, lobbyists, and Republicans to pass. . . The actual provisions of this bill are beyond the capacity of most of us to understand"

Add to all this the BP disaster, in which our leaders desperately try to spin the oil away by endless news conferences in front of a gulf they never cared about before. And the attempt to dismantle a system of public education that for a couple of centuries helped make America a place to admire.

How does one define politics in times like this? In truth, the only parties that still have a whit of purpose are the Greens, Libertarians and Socialists and they can't hardly make it on the ballot. The rest has been reduced to office politics.

We have now gone through a year and a half when either nothing has happened or nobody can tell what has happened. Yet the elite still acts like they know what they are up to and their indentured media loyally spreads the myth.

For example, Obama appoints a Supreme Court justice whom none of her social ilk can describe much except to say how smart she is. These same figures, however, then proceed to admit that her views are a "blank page."

Is the only purpose of intelligence to go through life filling out crossword puzzles correctly? Might it not help to do or say something worthwhile that someone might remember? Apparently, by today's elite standards, that is not smart.

Obama himself warned us in his memoirs that he was merely a mirror, that people would see what they wanted in him. Only now are many who voted for him beginning to realize that Barack Obama never really existed; he was only a transient reaction to things that really existed - a reaction based on what seemed to be most beneficial or safest for himself at the moment.

One leader of this kind would be a problem in any period, but when a whole elite has given up shared values, community and conscience in order to play the game solo, you have a problem that can destroy your entire culture.

And that's where we find ourselves. Vicky Ward gets close to the nub in her book on the desperate housewives of Lehman Brothers. The illusion of common purpose - taken to the extreme of precisely defined clothing, rigorously shared charities and climbing mountains together - is finally shattered by the reality that the men who were supposed to be partners in a common endeavor actually viewed each other as one more market to manipulate and beat.

Lately a strange image has been bouncing about in my head. It is a scene of urban riots, flames in the street, of aimed guns and aimless bodies. But the people in the image aren't the poor and the helpless, and they are not in Athens or Bangkok. Rather they are in Washington and they are judges and CEOs and lawyers and MBAs and cabinet officials and TV news hosts. They are looting stores, smashing statues, and lighting gasoline in a desperate last act of the greed that got them so far yet now has so little to offer. Their memories can no longer recall conscience, causes, or community. They have no friends, allies or movements. They are on their own just like the Lehman Brothers housewife to whom former friends would longer speak after the firm had died.

We have, from a young age, been trained to respect, admire and follow our leaders. Even now, you can hardly find a major op ed writer or a TV commentator who will admit that those who are supposed to show us the way have disintegrated like, say, a malfunctioning deep water well or a high rolling hedge fund.

But we're on our own now. Which was never a bad idea; it was just that we weren't meant to think about it.

If Obama has done us one favor, perhaps it is this: we now know there is no one waiting behind the curtain to save us.

(I leave the incorrect ending on this article an Amerikan has written, with hope, about his country. He cannot bring himself to realize his country is past saving and any efforts to prolong it does irrepairable damage and death to other nations daily. He should spend his effort saving the world, not the country that is working to destroy it and the people who created it.)

But there still is an America and a good one. You just won't find it on the front pages or on the evening news. It is in our communities, our towns and our states and we have to rediscover and build this America from the bottom up.

It can happen, but the first step is to stop listening to an elite that has destroyed our land and disgraced itself, an elite that has rolled into one great cultural tar ball.

American Interference

Jamaica Declares State of Emergency
After Obama Demands Arrest of “Robin Hood” Drug Lord

Kurt Nimmo
May 25, 2010

The United States says Coke is one of the world’s most dangerous criminals, responsible for trafficking cannabis and crack cocaine around the Caribbean, North America and the UK in exchange for guns and money, according to The Guardian. Prior to the Obama administration leaning on Jamaica’s PM Bruce Golding and his Labor Party, Coke enjoyed substantial protection from the government.

Feds in the U.S. unveiled charges against Coke last August and accused him of selling marijuana and cocaine in New York and elsewhere and arming his associates with illegally trafficked weapons. The Justice Department lists Coke among the “world’s most dangerous narcotics kingpins.”

It turns out arresting Coke will be no easy matter. Gang members attacked police stations in and around Kingston as it became clear Coke was a wanted man. “In response, the prime minister put troops on the streets and declared a state of emergency in Tivoli Gardens, the west Kingston neighborhood, or ‘garrison,’ loyal to Mr. Coke, who is commonly known as Dudus, and his Shower Posse gang,” reports the New York Times.

Christopher “Dudus” Coke.

It is the sort of one dimensional story the corporate media loves — a drug-dealing bad guy and his armed supporters fighting against a noble government determined to bring him to justice.

As usual, the corporate media only tells one side of the story.

“For many in Kingston’s slums, Dudas is a much better provider of political goods (education, security, and food) than the state, which translates into the popular support he gets locally,” writes John Robb for Global Guerillas.

“To the poor residents of west Kingston, Coke is a benefactor who distributes cash, food and scholarships. They call him ‘Dudus’ and vow to die for him,” adds The New York Daily News.

“Dudus is benefactor to many persons who depend on him to send their children to school, buy food and, most important, settle disputes beyond Jamaican borders,” notes The Jamaica Gleaner.

Nearly 20 percent of the Jamaican population live in abject poverty while close to 6 percent live on less than two dollars a day. The working poor earn an average of $50 a week if they are lucky.

“The government, which spends 48 per cent of the country’s GNP to pay Jamaica’s external debt, doesn’t really make a difference in the lives of the poor, who have to depend on charity to survive,” writes the Western Catholic Reporter.

Former Prime Minister Michael Manley was elected on a non-IMF platform in 1976, but was subsequently forced into Jamaica’s first loan shark agreement with the IMF in 1977. In 2001, Jamaica owed over $4.5 billion to the IMF, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank among other “international lending agencies,” i.e., the international banksters.

“We are seeking to get US$1.2 billion [from the IMF], and it is not a panacea. That US$1.2 billion is going to stop at the Bank of Jamaica, not one penny of that is going to go to the Ministry of Finance, that’s the nature of IMF arrangements,” PM Bruce Golding declared last December. In other words, poverty will continue in Jamaica and will likely get worse.

“The country is paying out increasingly more than it receives in total financial resources, and if benchmark conditionalities are not met, the structural adjustment program is made more stringent with each re negotiation,” explains Stephanie Black and “Life and Debt,” a documentary about IMF-imposed poverty in Jamaica (see a clip from the film below).

“To improve balance of payments, devaluation (which raises the cost of foreign exchange), high interest rates (which raise the cost of credit), and wage guidelines (which effectively reduce the price of local labor) are prescribed. The IMF assumes that the combination of increased interest rates and cutbacks in government spending will shift resources from domestic consumption to private investment…. Increased unemployment, sweeping corruption, higher illiteracy, increased violence, prohibitive food costs, dilapidated hospitals, increased disparity between rich and poor characterize only part of the present day economic crisis.”

In other words, a perfect “investment” climate for the banksters and ideal conditions for transnational corporations as they scour the globe in search of slave labor gulags. Jamaica sports “free trade zones” where workers toil five to six days a week for corporations and earn the legal minimum wage of $30 a week.

Considering the criminal practices of the IMF, World Bank, and the international bankers, it is quite natural and understandable that the Jamaicans have turned to a drug lord in order to have basic necessities met.

Only drug kingpins not working for Wall Street and the bankers are considered international criminals. As the UN’s crime chief Antonio Maria Costa pointed out in January of 2009, the illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat during the manufactured global financial crisis. Billions of misery-soaked dollars keep the Wall Street ship afloat.

The bankers work closely with the government and the CIA in order to make sure millions of Americans get their daily fix. John Gotti, Jr, not a reliable source, when asked by a reporter whether or not the New York Gotti family was dealing in narcotics said, “No, who can compete with the government?” notes Catherine Austin Fitts, who has documented the massive infusion of illegal drug money on Wall Street.

Finally, it is less than certain the Jamaican government can arrest Mr. Coke and deliver him to the hypocrisy that is U.S. justice.

“As long as the conflict is mainly fought via barricades, the government has a chance of winning. If it expands to include disruption of energy, water, and food to the wider population of Jamaica (inflicting costs on those outside the slums) via blockades of intersections by protesters and the intentional breaking of Kingston’s infrastructure networks, the government is likely to lose,” writes John Robb.

If Obama and the Justice Department want to showboat Coke, they may have to send in the Marines.

Shades of Grenada and Reagan’s Operation Urgent Fury quite naturally come to mind. It should be noted that the invasion of the tiny Caribbean nation enjoyed the enthusiastic support of most Americans who are fond of watching their wars unfold on television. The talking heads on TV reading Pentagon scripts, of course, didn’t bother to mention that the CIA had worked to destabilize Grenada years before the primetime invasion.

Underwater Plume

Scientists Find Evidence
of Large Underwater Oil Plume in Gulf

By David A. Fahrenthold and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 27, 2010; 4:21 PM

Scientists have found evidence of a large underwater "plume" of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, adding to fears that much of the BP oil spill's impact is hidden beneath the surface.

The scientists, aboard a University of South Florida research vessel, found an area of dissolved oil that is about six miles wide, and extends from the surface down to a depth of about 3,200 feet, said Professor David Hollander.

Hollander said that he believed the plume might have stretched more than 20 miles from the site of a leak on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, where the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sank April 22. It has not yet reached Florida.

The plume is clear, with the oil entirely dissolved.

"Here is a situation where, unless you're looking at the chemical fingerprints, [the oil] is absolutely not visible," Hollander said. "It's not some Italian vinaigrette or anything like that. It's absolutely, perfectly clear."

But, Hollander said, even this clear-looking water could contain enough oil to be toxic to small animals at the base of the gulf food chain. He said he was also worried that the oil contains traces of "dispersants," soap-like chemicals sprayed into the oil to break it up.

"You don't want to put soap into a fish tank," Hollander said.

This discovery seems to confirm the fears of some scientists that -- because of the depth of the leak and the heavy use of chemical "dispersants" -- this spill was behaving differently than others. Instead of floating on top of the water, it may be moving beneath it.

That would be troubling because it could mean the oil would slip past coastal defenses such as "containment booms" designed to stop it on the surface. Already, scientists and officials in Louisiana have reported finding thick oil washing ashore despite the presence of floating booms.

It would also be a problem for hidden ecosystems deep under the gulf. There, scientists say, the oil could be absorbed by tiny animals and enter a food chain that builds to large, beloved sport-fish like red snapper. It might also glom on to deep-water coral formations, and cover the small animals that make up each piece of coral.

"It kills them because it prevents them from feeding," said Professor James H. Cowan Jr., of Louisiana State University. "It could essentially starve them to death."

The University of South Florida vessel, the Weatherbird II, used sonar and other devices to sample the water below it. Other scientists have said they have little of the equipment necessary to find oil under the water -- leading to debates about whether the underwater plumes were even there.

This week, Mike Utsler, who helps oversee the spill response off the entire Louisiana coast as BP Houma incident commander, said he's only focused on taking oil off the surface. "We don't know there's oil underwater," he said.

But others had seen worrisome evidence.

Owen Morgan of Amira, a group that specializes in breaking apart spills with oil-eating microbes, found evidence of the oil plume off Venice when his team sampled water 75 feet beneath the service. Morgan -- who said his company is pulling out of Louisiana because of insufficient cooperation from state and federal authorities -- showed a thick, gooey sample consisting of 60 percent crude oil.

"People don't realize how bad it is," Morgan said, dipping a fork in the sample to show the goo that hung in midair without sliding off. "This went on for three miles, of that consistency."

William Hogarth, dean of the USF College of Marine Science, said university researchers have sent samples to federal officials for analysis, but it's clear the oil is new because Stanford scientists had sampled the same area a year ago and found no evidence of oil. The Weatherbird II will conduct another tour next week, he said, with different researchers aboard.

"This is not natural seep," he said, adding that scientists will have to study the region for several years in order to properly gauge its impact. "We're talking about probably a three to five-year monitoring program to see what happens to food chain."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Global Crisis

The Global Economic Crisis,

The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Global Research, May 25, 2010

The following text is the Preface of The Global Economic Crisis. The Great Depression of the XXI Century, Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors), Montreal, Global Research, 2010, which is to be launched in late May.

Each of the authors in this timely collection digs beneath the gilded surface to reveal a complex web of deceit and media distortion which serves to conceal the workings of the global economic system and its devastating impacts on people's lives.

The complex causes as well as the devastating consequences of the economic crisis are carefully scrutinized with contributions from Ellen Brown, Tom Burghardt, Michel Chossudovsky, Richard C. Cook, Shamus Cooke, John Bellamy Foster, Michael Hudson, Tanya Cariina Hsu, Fred Magdoff, Andrew Gavin Marshall, James Petras, Peter Phillips, Peter Dale Scott, Bill Van Auken, Claudia von Werlhof and Mike Whitney.

Despite the diversity of viewpoints and perspectives presented within this volume, all of the contributors ultimately come to the same conclusion: humanity is at the crossroads of the most serious economic and social crisis in modern history.

In all major regions of the world, the economic recession is deep-seated, resulting in mass unemployment, the collapse of state social programs and the impoverishment of millions of people. The economic crisis is accompanied by a worldwide process of militarization, a "war without borders" led by the United States of America and its NATO allies. The conduct of the Pentagon’s "long war" is intimately related to the restructuring of the global economy.

We are not dealing with a narrowly defined economic crisis or recession. The global financial architecture sustains strategic and national security objectives. In turn, the U.S.-NATO military agenda serves to endorse a powerful business elite which relentlessly overshadows and undermines the functions of civilian government.

This book takes the reader through the corridors of the Federal Reserve and the Council on Foreign Relations, behind closed doors at the Bank for International Settlements, into the plush corporate boardrooms on Wall Street where far-reaching financial transactions are routinely undertaken from computer terminals linked up to major stock markets, at the touch of a mouse button.

Each of the authors in this collection digs beneath the gilded surface to reveal a complex web of deceit and media distortion which serves to conceal the workings of the global economic system and its devastating impacts on people’s lives. Our analysis focuses on the role of powerful economic and political actors in an environment wrought by corruption, financial manipulation and fraud.

Despite the diversity of viewpoints and perspectives presented within this volume, all of the contributors ultimately come to the same conclusion: humanity is at the crossroads of the most serious economic and social crisis in modern history.

The meltdown of financial markets in 2008-2009 was the result of institutionalized fraud and financial manipulation. The "bank bailouts" were implemented on the instructions of Wall Street, leading to the largest transfer of money wealth in recorded history, while simultaneously creating an insurmountable public debt.

With the worldwide deterioration of living standards and plummeting consumer spending, the entire structure of international commodity trade is potentially in jeopardy. The payments system of money transactions is in disarray. Following the collapse of employment, the payment of wages is disrupted, which in turn triggers a downfall in expenditures on necessary consumer goods and services. This dramatic plunge in purchasing power backfires on the productive system, resulting in a string of layoffs, plant closures and bankruptcies. Exacerbated by the freeze on credit, the decline in consumer demand contributes to the demobilization of human and material resources.

This process of economic decline is cumulative. All categories of the labor force are affected. Payments of wages are no longer implemented, credit is disrupted and capital investments are at a standstill. Meanwhile, in Western countries, the "social safety net" inherited from the welfare state, which protects the unemployed during an economic downturn, is also in jeopardy.

The Myth of Economic Recovery

The existence of a "Great Depression" on the scale of the 1930s, while often acknowledged, is overshadowed by an unbending consensus: "The economy is on the road to recovery".

While there is talk of an economic renewal, Wall Street commentators have persistently and intentionally overlooked the fact that the financial meltdown is not simply composed of one bubble – the housing real estate bubble – which has already burst. In fact, the crisis has many bubbles, all of which dwarf the housing bubble burst of 2008.

Although there is no fundamental disagreement among mainstream analysts on the occurrence of an economic recovery, there is heated debate as to when it will occur, whether in the next quarter, or in the third quarter of next year, etc. Already in early 2010, the "recovery" of the U.S. economy had been predicted and confirmed through a carefully worded barrage of media disinformation. Meanwhile, the social plight of increased unemployment in America has been scrupulously camouflaged. Economists view bankruptcy as a microeconomic phenomenon.

The media reports on bankruptcies, while revealing local-level realities affecting one or more factories, fail to provide an overall picture of what is happening at the national and international levels. When all these simultaneous plant closures in towns and cities across the land are added together, a very different picture emerges: entire sectors of a national economy are closing down.

Public opinion continues to be misled as to the causes and consequences of the economic crisis, not to mention the policy solutions. People are led to believe that the economy has a logic of its own which depends on the free interplay of market forces, and that powerful financial actors, who pull the strings in the corporate boardrooms, could not, under any circumstances, have willfully influenced the course of economic events.

The relentless and fraudulent appropriation of wealth is upheld as an integral part of "the American dream", as a means to spreading the benefits of economic growth. As conveyed by Michael Hudson, the myth becomes entrenched that "without wealth at the top, there would be nothing to trickle down." Such flawed logic of the business cycle overshadows an understanding of the structural and historical origins of the global economic crisis.

Financial Fraud

Media disinformation largely serves the interests of a handful of global banks and institutional speculators which use their command over financial and commodity markets to amass vast amounts of money wealth. The corridors of the state are controlled by the corporate establishment including the speculators. Meanwhile, the "bank bailouts", presented to the public as a requisite for economic recovery, have facilitated and legitimized a further process of appropriation of wealth.

Vast amounts of money wealth are acquired through market manipulation. Often referred to as "deregulation", the financial apparatus has developed sophisticated instruments of outright manipulation and deceit. With inside information and foreknowledge, major financial actors, using the instruments of speculative trade, have the ability to fiddle and rig market movements to their advantage, precipitate the collapse of a competitor and wreck havoc in the economies of developing countries. These tools of manipulation have become an integral part of the financial architecture; they are embedded in the system.

The Failure of Mainstream Economics

The economics profession, particularly in the universities, rarely addresses the actual "real world" functioning of markets. Theoretical constructs centered on mathematical models serve to represent an abstract, fictional world in which individuals are equal. There is no theoretical distinction between workers, consumers or corporations, all of which are referred to as "individual traders". No single individual has the power or ability to influence the market, nor can there be any conflict between workers and capitalists within this abstract world.

By failing to examine the interplay of powerful economic actors in the "real life" economy, the processes of market rigging, financial manipulation and fraud are overlooked. The concentration and centralization of economic decision-making, the role of the financial elites, the economic thinks tanks, the corporate boardrooms: none of these issues are examined in the universities’ economics programs. The theoretical construct is dysfunctional; it cannot be used to provide an understanding of the economic crisis.

Economic science is an ideological construct which serves to camouflage and justify the New World Order. A set of dogmatic postulates serves to uphold free market capitalism by denying the existence of social inequality and the profit-driven nature of the system is denied. The role of powerful economic actors and how these actors are able to influence the workings of financial and commodity markets is not a matter of concern for the discipline’s theoreticians. The powers of market manipulation which serve to appropriate vast amounts of money wealth are rarely addressed. And when they are acknowledged, they are considered to belong to the realm of sociology or political science.

This means that the policy and institutional framework behind this global economic system, which has been shaped in the course of the last thirty years, is rarely analyzed by mainstream economists. It follows that economics as a discipline, with some exceptions, has not provided the analysis required to comprehend the economic crisis. In fact, its main free market postulates deny the existence of a crisis. The focus of neoclassical economics is on equilibrium, disequilibrium and "market correction" or "adjustment" through the market mechanism, as a means to putting the economy back "onto the path of self-sustained growth".

Poverty and Social Inequality

The global political economy is a system that enriches the very few at the expense of the vast majority. The global economic crisis has contributed to widening social inequalities both within and between countries. Under global capitalism, mounting poverty is not the result of a scarcity or a lack of human and material resources. Quite the opposite holds true: the economic depression is marked by a process of disengagement of human resources and physical capital. People’s lives are destroyed. The economic crisis is deep-seated.

The structures of social inequality have, quite deliberately, been reinforced, leading not only to a generalized process of impoverishment but also to the demise of the middle and upper middle income groups.

Middle class consumerism, on which this unruly model of capitalist development is based, is also threatened. Bankruptcies have hit several of the most vibrant sectors of the consumer economy. The middle classes in the West have, for several decades, been subjected to the erosion of their material wealth. While the middle class exists in theory, it is a class built and sustained by household debt.

The wealthy rather than the middle class are rapidly becoming the consuming class, leading to the relentless growth of the luxury goods economy. Moreover, with the drying up of the middle class markets for manufactured goods, a central and decisive shift in the structure of economic growth has occurred. With the demise of the civilian economy, the development of America’s war economy, supported by a whopping near-trillion dollar defense budget, has reached new heights. As stock markets tumble and the recession unfolds, the advanced weapons industries, the military and national security contractors and the up-and-coming mercenary companies (among others) have experienced a thriving and booming growth of their various activities.

War and the Economic Crisis

War is inextricably linked to the impoverishment of people at home and around the world. Militarization and the economic crisis are intimately related. The provision of essential goods and services to meet basic human needs has been replaced by a profit-driven "killing machine" in support of America’s "Global War on Terror". The poor are made to fight the poor. Yet war enriches the upper class, which controls industry, the military, oil and banking. In a war economy, death is good for business, poverty is good for society, and power is good for politics. Western nations, particularly the United States, spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year to murder innocent people in far-away impoverished nations, while the people at home suffer the disparities of poverty, class, gender and racial divides.

An outright "economic war" resulting in unemployment, poverty and disease is carried out through the free market. People’s lives are in a freefall and their purchasing power is destroyed. In a very real sense, the last twenty years of global "free market" economy have resulted, through poverty and social destitution, in the lives of millions of people.

Rather than addressing an impending social catastrophe, Western governments, which serve the interests of the economic elites, have installed a "Big Brother" police state, with a mandate to confront and repress all forms of opposition and social dissent.

The economic and social crisis has by no means reached its climax and entire countries, including Greece and Iceland, are at risk. One need only look at the escalation of the Middle East Central Asian war and the U.S.-NATO threats to China, Russia and Iran to witness how war and the economy are intimately related.

Our Analysis in this Book

The contributors to this book reveal the intricacies of global banking and its insidious relationship to the military industrial complex and the oil conglomerates. The book presents an inter- disciplinary and multi-faceted approach, while also conveying an understanding of the historical and institutional dimensions. The complex relations of the economic crisis to war, empire and worldwide poverty are highlighted. This crisis has a truly global reach and repercussions that reverberate throughout all nations, across all societies.

In Part I, the overall causes of the global economic crisis as well as the failures of mainstream economics are laid out. Michel Chossudovsky focuses on the history of financial deregulation and speculation. Tanya Cariina Hsu analyzes the role of the American Empire and its relationship to the economic crisis. John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff undertake a comprehensive review of the political economy of the crisis, explaining the central role of monetary policy. James Petras and Claudia von Werlhof provide a detailed review and critique of neoliberalism, focusing on the economic, political and social repercussions of the "free market" reforms. Shamus Cooke examines the central role of debt, both public and private.

Part II, which includes chapters by Michel Chossudovsky and Peter Phillips, analyzes the rising tide of poverty and social inequality resulting from the Great Depression.

With contributions by Michel Chossudovsky, Peter Dale Scott, Michael Hudson, Bill Van Auken, Tom Burghardt and Andrew Gavin Marshall, Part III examines the relationship between the economic crisis, National Security, the U.S.-NATO led war and world government. In this context, as conveyed by Peter Dale Scott, the economic crisis creates social conditions which favor the instatement of martial law.

The focus in Part IV is on the global monetary system, its evolution and its changing role. Andrew Gavin Marshall examines the history of central banking as well as various initiatives to create regional and global currency systems. Ellen Brown focuses on the creation of a global central bank and global currency through the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). Richard C. Cook examines the debt-based monetary system as a system of control and provides a framework for democratizing the monetary system.

Part V focuses on the working of the Shadow Banking System, which triggered the 2008 meltdown of financial markets. The chapters by Mike Whitney and Ellen Brown describe in detail how Wall Street’s Ponzi scheme was used to manipulate the market and transfer billions of dollars into the pockets of the banksters.

We are indebted to the authors for their carefully documented research, incisive analysis, and, foremost, for their unbending commitment to the truth: Tom Burghardt, Ellen Brown, Richard C. Cook, Shamus Cooke, John Bellamy Foster, Michael Hudson, Tanya Cariina Hsu, Fred Magdoff, James Petras, Peter Phillips, Peter Dale Scott, Mike Whitney, Bill Van Auken and Claudia von Werlhof, have provided, with utmost clarity, an understanding of the diverse and complex economic, social and political processes which are affecting the lives of millions of people around the world.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Maja Romano of Global Research Publishers, who relentlessly oversaw and coordinated the editing and production of this book, including the creative front page concept. We wish to thank Andréa Joseph for the careful typesetting of the manuscript and front page graphics. We also extend our thanks and appreciation to Isabelle Goulet, Julie Lévesque and Drew McKevitt for their support in the revision and copyediting of the manuscript.

The Simplicity Of The

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

By Jeremy R. Hammond
March 24, 2010

There is a general perception that the reason the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has continued for so long is because it is extremely complex. Nothing could be further from the truth. Placed in historical context, understanding the root cause of the conflict is simple, and in doing so, the solution becomes apparent.

During the late 1800s, a movement known as Zionism arose to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, then a territory under the Ottoman Empire. As a result of World War I, the Ottoman Empire was dissolved and Great Britain and France conspired to divide the territorial spoils of war between themselves. The British became the occupying power of Palestine. The League of Nations issued a mandate effectively recognizing Great Britain as such.

During the war, the British had promised the Arab nations their independence in return for their cooperation in helping to defeat the Ottoman Turks. At the same time, the British declared its support for the goal of Zionism of establishing a "national home" for the Jewish people and permitted Jewish immigration into Palestine.

The Zionist aims did not sit well with the majority Arab inhabitants of Palestine. The Arab states proposed that the independence of Palestine be recognized and a democratic government established that would include representatives of the Jewish minority. But this solution was rejected by both the Zionists and the British, whose respective leadership recognized that the Zionist project could not be carried out except by force of arms.

As Jewish immigration continued and Arabs were displaced from their land, violent clashes between the two communities began to erupt. In 1921, for instance, Arabs rioted and attacked Jewish communities, and in 1929, Arabs massacred Jews in Hebron.

Zionist terrorist organizations targeted not only Arabs, but the British as well, such as the bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946. That attack was carried out by the Irgun, whose leader, Menachem Begin, would later become prime minister of Israel.

Following World War II, the British, unable to reconcile its conflicting policies and commitments, requested that the newly formed United Nations take up the matter. This resulted in the creation of the U.N. Special Commission on Palestine. The members of the commission, which included no representatives from any Arab state, explicitly rejected the right to self-determination of the population. Although the Arab states reiterated their proposed democratic solution, it was again rejected. The commission instead recommended dividing Palestine in two.

Under their partition plan, more than half of the territory would go to the minority Jews, who owned just seven percent of the land (while 85 percent was owned by Arabs). The General Assembly passed a resolution in 1947 recommending that the commission's partition plan be implemented. Naturally, the Arabs rejected the plan.

Contrary to popular myth, Israel was not created by the U.N. Israel was born on May 14, 1948, when the Zionist leadership unilaterally declared its existence. The neighboring Arab states took up arms against the newly declared state in the war known to Israelis as the "War of Independence" and to the Arabs as the "Nakba", or "Catastrophe". During the war, 700,000 Arabs were either driven from their homes or fled out of fear of further massacres such as had occurred at the village of Deir Yassin shortly prior to the Zionist declaration.

This ethnic cleansing of Israel is the root cause of the Palestinian refugee problem one hears so much about today. Although their right of return is guaranteed under international law, Israel has refused to allow those who fled and their descendents to return to what is rightfully their own land. This is also the reason why Palestinians today do not recognize that Israel has a "right to exist".

Another watershed event occurred in June of 1967, when Israel launched a surprise attack against Egypt (then the United Arab Republic). Such was the superiority of the Israeli force of arms that the war lasted only six days, during which Israel invaded and occupied the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

As a result of the war, the U.N. Security Council passed resolution 242, which emphasized the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and called on Israel to withdraw from the territories it had occupied.

Today, the West Bank remains under Israeli occupation. Israel continues to bulldoze Palestinian homes and construct Jewish settlements in violation of international law and numerous U.N. resolutions.

As for Gaza, Israel withdrew in 2005, but has since placed it under siege, permitting in only enough aid to prevent a full-scale humanitarian catastrophe, while keeping Gazans perpetually in a state of misery and despair.

Then, on December 27, 2008, Israel launched a full-scale military attack against Gaza dubbed Operation Cast Lead, during which the Israeli military rained down death and destruction upon the defenseless civilian population and infrastructure of Gaza.

The reason why this state of affairs can continue is simple. It is because the United States unconditionally supports Israel. An illuminating example was the announcement early in the Obama administration that if Israel did not end settlement activity, it would suffer no consequences. U.S. support would continue regardless. That message was understood perfectly well by the Netanyahu government in Israel.

U.S. policy must be understood and judged by deeds and not rhetoric. The fact of the matter is that the U.S. supports Israeli violations of international law financially ($3 billion plus annually), militarily (U.S. made F-16 jets, Apache helicopter gunships, and white phosphorus munitions were used during Operation Cast Lead, for instance), and diplomatically (such as the U.S. use of the veto in the U.N. Security Council).

The most practical and equitable solution to the conflict has been recognized for decades. There is an international consensus on a two-state solution that has long been accepted by the Palestinian side. The reason this solution has not been implemented is also perfectly simple. It is because the Israeli and U.S. policies of rejectionism prevent it from happening.

Israeli policy will continue so long as it has U.S. backing. U.S. policy will continue so long as the American people permit it to.

A just and lasting peace in the Middle East is possible. It's simple. There is a choice.

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