Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sinking Feeling of the Unemployed

A hidden world, growing beyond control


The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation's other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.


Tell DARE to admit marijuana is SAFER

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It's time for the nation's largest drug education program to get its facts straight when it comes to the world's two most popular recreational substances.

In a guest column in opposition to the marijuana reform initiative on the ballot in California, DARE America Chairman Skip Miller goes off about how marijuana "mushes up your brain," "lowers inhibitions," and "makes users engage in risky behavior."  Meanwhile, the DARE America website discusses how "[s]ocial drinking is an acceptable and pleasurable activity for millions of Americans," which "relaxes you, curbs stress, and chases away inhibitions."

DARE instructors from across the nation are gathering this week for the DARE International Training Conference.  We can't help but assume they will be instructed to continue spreading this misguided and potentially dangerous message that alcohol is an acceptable form of intoxication for adults, yet marijuana is just too harmful, cannot be consumed responsibly, and thus should never be allowed as an alternative.

As a result, SAFER and Chelsea Green Publishing are offering every DARE instructor in the nation a FREE copy of Marijuana is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?  In order to reach Mr. Miller and the DARE organization as a whole, however, we need your help...

Take action today and send DARE a message!

CLICK HERE or visit http://tinyurl.com/3yfsw5e to send DARE America Chairman Skip Miller an e-mail, calling on him and DARE to admit that marijuana is safer than alcohol and incorporate this important fact into the DARE's curriculum.

In fact, Mr. Miller essentially challenged you to do so in his column:

As the chairman of DARE America... I have yet to see one [e-mail from a marijuana reform supporter] that overcomes the body of scientific research demonstrating that smoking marijuana is harmful and does just one thing well: It gets people high...

We have provided you with an editable e-mail to Mr. Miller that includes links to all the information he should need to arrive at the conclusion that marijuana is far safer than alcohol.  We hope you will take a minute to fill out the quick form, send him an e-mail, and then encourage others to do so, as well.  Needless to say, SAFER will also be sending Mr. Miller a complimentary copy of Marijuana is Safer.

As Exxon continues climate denial crusade, Raw Story fighting back

By John Byrne

The Raw Story - carbon balanced with TerraPassUPDATE: Raw Story has purchased carbon offsets from Terrapass, and is at this very second paying for the carbon produced by your reading this page. You can sleep easier tonight, and keep telling people about RawStory.com! -J

earthday2010a As Exxon continues climate denial crusade, Raw Story fighting back

I've decided it's time for us to do our part to ameliorate the coming climate catastrophe -- but let's please stop using the phrase "climate change."

In an effort to offset carbon emissions produced by Raw Story and everyone who visits our site (our energy costs and yours), we will begin purchasing carbon credits through Terrapass.com.

Our offsets will include: our servers (energy costs), your computer (energy costs of time you spend reading our site), our work-from-home office utilities, our (rather limited) air travel, and any other associated energy expenses.

I'm sure you know why we're worried about a world where the ocean rises, and hurricanes and typhoons consume entire cities. It's already begun.

It's actually gotten so bad that "the president of Maldives and his Cabinet wore scuba gear and used hand signals [last October] at an underwater meeting to highlight the threat climate change poses to the archipelago nation." Countries are going to be underwater. More than 70 percent of the Earth's population lives on coastal plains, and 11 of the planet's 15 largest cities are on coastal estuaries. Global climate catastrophe is not a joke.

exxon logo As Exxon continues climate denial crusade, Raw Story fighting back

But this article just sent me over the edge:

ONE of the worlds largest oil companies broke its pledge to stop funding groups that promote scepticism about man-made climate change, it emerged late Sunday.

U.S. fuel giant ExxonMobil gave almost $US1.5 million last year to organisations that campaign against controls on greenhouse gas emissions.

Several made outspoken attacks on climate scientists at Britain's University of East Anglia and argued their leaked e-mails showed the dangers of global warming had been grossly exaggerated.

The scientists were exonerated this month by an independent inquiry but groups funded by Exxon continued to attack them. The U.S.-based Media Research Centre, which received $50,000 last year from Exxon, called the inquiry a whitewash and condemned climate alarmists.

ExxonMobil isn't just "one of the world's largest oil companies." ExxonMobil is the largest corporation in the world. (For the record -- if it were a publicly traded company, the Pentagon would be the largest corporation in the world; the US military is the world's single largest consumer of oil, much of which it continues to buy from BP.)

Hopes and Prospects, By Noam Chomsky


Reviewed by Johann Hari

An antidote to lies: Noam ChomskyNoam Chomsky is one of the most hysterically abused figures in the world today. Even his critics have to concede that his work in the field of linguistics – beginning to decode the structure of how language is formed in the human brain – makes him one of the most important intellectuals alive. But when he applies the same rigorous method to figuring out how power – especially the American government's – works, he is pepper-sprayed with smears. He is a self-hating Holocaust denier, a jihad-loving traitor, a Pol Pot-licking communist, and on and on.

If all you know of his work is the smears, then Hopes and Prospects will be a revelation. In his dry, understated way, he excavates the reality behind the Babel of 24/7 corporate news, and places long-buried truths on the table to examine. Every one is sourced to the leading academic journals, the best experts, the sharpest medical advice – yet each one is a shock if you rely on news brought to you by corporations and corrupt right-wing billionaires.

For example, he uncovers the story of why Haiti is so poor, and could be shaken to pieces by an earthquake that would have killed only a handful in California. It's a story of man-made earthquakes, one after another. The country was the first to rebel against slavery and to cast off the whip-hand – and was brutally punished by the French Empire. Every time it has begun to rise to its feet, it has been kicked back down, with the American Empire taking over to topple its elected leaders (the last was put on a plane at gunpoint in 2008) and stifle any moves towards development.

But who has heard about it? Who tries to hold our leaders accountable for it? Chomsky is trying to rescue crimes from the memory-hole. He explains that Ronald Reagan – the great hero of the US right – was a great champion of jihadism. It was Reagan who encouraged Pakistan simultaneously to become fundamentalist, and acquire nuclear weapons. Chomsky coolly condemns "the global jihad launched by Zia and Reagan," for geopolitical reasons, with no concern for the after-effects.

But Reagan remains unstained. Chomsky quotes the great American historian Francis Jennings, who noted that "In history, the man in the ruffled shirt and gold-coated waistcoat levitates above the blood he has ordered to be spilled by dirty-handed underlings." Instead, Chomsky says, history is too often ruled by Thucydides's maxim: "The strong do as they wish, while the poor suffer as they must."


Bibi Unmasked

Caught on tape: what the Israelis really think of us

In 2001, Bibi Netanyahu paid a condolence call on a group of Israeli settlers in the village of Ofra, widows whose husbands had been killed in the Intifada: the videotaped conversation has just been leaked, and broadcast by Israel's Channel 10, and it is a blockbuster. At one point, Bibi is telling the widows that the Palestinians "think they will break us," but don't worry, ladies, Bibi has a plan:

"To hit them. Not just one blow, but blows that are so painful that the price will be too heavy to be borne. The price is not too heavy to be borne, now. A broad attack on the Palestinian Authority. To bring them to the point of being afraid that everything is collapsing…

"Woman: Wait a moment, but then the world will say 'how come you're conquering again?'

"Netanyahu: The world won't say a thing. The world will say we're defending.

"Woman: Aren't you afraid of the world, Bibi?

"Netanyahu: Especially today, with America. I know what America is. America is something that can easily be moved. Moved to the right direction."

A child speaks up, and, surprisingly articulate, avers: "They say they're for us, but, it's like…"

Yes, even the children are little ideologues. Today that boy is a teenager on the verge of adulthood, and likely a fervent supporter of Israel's ultra-rightist government, led by Bibi, who, back then, quickly assured him: "They won't get in our way." The child, hardliner that he was and no doubt still is, seemed doubtful: "On the other hand," the kid ventured, "if we do some something, then they…"

That's when Bibi really let his hair down:

"So let's say they say something. So they said it! They said it! 80% of the Americans support us. It's absurd. We have that kind of support…. Look. That administration [Clinton] was extremely pro-Palestinian. I wasn't afraid to maneuver there. I was not afraid to clash with Clinton."

Of course he wasn't, because he knew he'd win, what with the Republicans in Congress passing resolutions unconditionally supporting the Israelis and AIPAC and the rest of the Lobby going all out to mobilize their fifth column against Oslo and the very idea of a rapprochement. Oslo was a dagger placed against the throat of the hard-line Likud movement, which explicitly embraces the rather nutty idea of a "Greater Israel," and there was no way Netanyahu or his party could accept it without betraying who and what they were and are.



Halliburton profit soars 83% in Q2

US oil giant Halliburton says its second-quarter profit has jumped 83 percent, despite the company's involvement in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The news caused Halliburton shares to soar 5 percent to $28.89 in Wall Street pre-opening trade on Monday, the Associated Press reported.

Halliburton announced that the boom is the result of a hike in natural gas drilling activities in the United States.

The oil giant's net income for the April-June period was $480 million up from $262 million one year ago.

This is while the oil leak disaster in the Gulf of Mexico still hangs over the company. Before the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, Halliburton was hired by BP to seal the Macondo well before it blew up.


Too Much

The ballplayers on last year's highest-paid baseball team, the New York Yankees, took home about $210 million. Most of those millions faced a 35 percent federal tax rate. Last week, the billionaire owner of the Yankees, George Steinbrenner, passed on. His four offspring now stand to inherit their old man's entire $1.15 billion estate — tax-free. Yankee luck? Not this time. Chalk the good fortune of the Steinbrenner clan off to political negligence, more specifically the 2001 tax cut legislation that erased all federal estate tax liability for the 2010 tax year. With Steinbrenner's death, four billionaires have now kicked the bucket since January 1. Their combined fortune: $13.65 billion. The total tax savings for their heirs: as much as $6 billion over what the heirs would have inherited if their rich relations had died last year. And what about next year? That remains up for grabs. The best estate tax restoration proposals currently before the Senate and the House would subject fortunes over a billion to a 65 percent federal estate tax rate . . .

A two-bit scam artist who cheats a little old lady will likely, if caught, get jail. A Wall Street bank that conspires to scam investors out of $1 billion apparently, when caught, just gets richer. Shares of Goldman Sachs jumped 5 percent last Thursday after the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Goldman had agreed to shell out $550 million to settle pending fraud charges. Goldman overall scored $13.4 billion in profits last year, over eight times the entire 2010 budget of the SEC, the federal agency responsible for policing Wall Street. Goldman's stock ended last week trading up nearly $9 a share. That boost added over $20 million to the personal portfolio of Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein . . .

Howard Schultz That $20 million might look like chump change, these days, to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. The Starbucks chief exec, the Corporate Library reports, is sitting on a $44.6 million windfall from the stock options he collected in fiscal 2009. The secret to his success? Schultz convinced Starbucks to quadruple the number of shares in his annual stock option grant, at a time when Starbucks shares were trading at a five-year low. This big option grant meant that Schultz could make a killing even if the Starbucks share price merely crept back to its pre-slide level. And that's exactly what has happened. Schultz has added royally to his already ample fortune, and ordinary investors — who bought Starbucks shares in the three years before the slide began — still have no gain to show for their investment . . .  


Do You Want A Toxic Manicure?

Brave New Foundation


Click here to watch the video

Dear Friend,

Do you know it is legal for cosmetics manufacturers to use chemicals linked to cancer and reproductive harm in their products?

These toxic chemicals are used in nail salons every day and as a result, nail salon workers are at risk. It's time to STAND UP for workers rights!

The Safe Cosmetics Act is a piece of legislation that will help protect workers in nail salons from unsafe chemicals in salon products. The legislation will also give these workers more information about the chemicals used in the products that they work with everyday. In order for this to pass, we need you to TAKE ACTION!

Workers can and should be protected from exposure to toxic chemicals in their workplaces.

Tell your Congress member to protect nail salon worker health by supporting safe cosmetics legislation! Sign the Petition!

Robert Greenwald
and the Brave New Foundation team


Xenophobic language laws: English only spoken here


A NICE little kerfuffle has begun over the decision by the township of Homer, Illinois, population around 30,000, to adopt English as its official language. Motivated, reportedly, by the harsh Arizona immigration law that is due to take effect at the end of this month, the two people on the township's board who sponsored the resolution, at least one of them a member of the local Tea Party movement, are clearly driven at least as much by the desire for a little glory as by any problems with foreigners, which in Homer at least seem rather rare:

"I knew I was going to take some heat from this," said Steve Balich, the township's clerk and author of the resolution...

...Trustee Vicki Bozen agreed, saying, "We would love this issue to explode throughout the nation."

...Balich and Bozen admitted that illegal immigration isn't a serious problem in Homer Township, where Hispanics make up about 12 percent of the population, equal to the percent in Will County as a whole. Township documents are always printed in English, and nobody, to their knowledge, has ever requested otherwise.

It remains only to reprint the text of the resolution, as it appears on the Homer/Lockport Tea Party website in the glorious and now official language of English, in full, and to ask you, dear readers, to see how many errors you can spot.

Homer Township Resolution #HT071210
State of Illinois
County of Will

Homer Township Board recognizes that there most likely no serious problem with illegal immigration, in the Township, but wants to make it policy to enforce the Rule of law in Homer Township. We support the right to make this statement and encourage other Townships, Cities, and the State to follow suit. We are asking for nothing to be added or taken away from the existing law. We recognize Native Americans had the first language in our Country, followed by Western European dialects, with English eventually becoming dominant. Traditionally becoming a citizen required speaking English, accepting the United States as their Country, and assimilating into the population.

The Homer Township Board, supports actions to enforce existing immigration law, enforce residency requirements in our school districts, and acknowledge that English the dominant language of Homer Township.


Republicans and The Honest Approach