Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
EPA Declares Public Health Emergency
For decades, W.R. Grace and Company mined asbestos-contaminated vermiculite in the town of Libby, Montana. Hundreds of miners and residents of Libby have died, and at least 1,200 more have developed cancer or lung disease from exposure.
In May 2009, executives from W.R. Grace were acquitted on charges of knowingly allowing Libby residents to be exposed to cancer-causing asbestos.
A month later, the Environmental Protection Agency declared a public health emergency in Libby. It marks the first time such a declaration has been made by the EPA. The EPA said it will funnel $6 million to provide medical care for people sickened by asbestos from the mine.
May 12, 2009: W.R. Grace Acquitted in Libby, Montana Asbestos Case A federal jury in Montana acquitted W.R. Grace and Company and three of its former executives last Friday of knowingly exposing mine workers and residents of Libby, Montana, to asbestos poisoning and then covering up their actions. The government has called this the nation’s biggest environmental disaster. Hundreds of miners and residents of Libby have died, and at least 1,200 more have developed cancer or lung disease from exposure to the asbestos-containing ore from W.R. Grace’s vermiculite mine.
April 22, 2009: A Town Suffering for Generations: Decades of Asbestos Exposure by W.R. Grace Mine Leave Hundreds Dead, 1,200+ Sickened in Libby We broadcast from Missoula, Montana, where an environmental crimes trial is underway in what the government has called “the nation’s biggest environmental disaster.” Hundreds of miners, their family members and townsfolk have died, and at least 1,200 have been sickened, from exposure to asbestos-containing ore from a mine in Libby, Montana, owned by W.R. Grace and Company.
Friday, June 26, 2009
"Selective" everything in this country.
Here is to the people who dare to be different...who dare be themselves.
From Democracy Now:
Commemorations are being held across the world this weekend to mark the fortieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising that launched the modern gay and lesbian rights movement. The uprising began in the morning on June 28, 1969, when New York City police officers raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. As the police began dragging some of the patrons out, members of the gay community decided to fight back, sparking three days of rioting.
The Stonewall Riot and Its Aftermath
Ken Harlin, Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University
On Friday evening, June 27, 1969, the New York City tactical police force raided a popular Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn. Raids were not unusual in 1969; in fact, they were conducted regularly without much resistance. However, that night the street erupted into violent protest as the crowds in the bar fought back. The backlash and several nights of protest that followed have come to be known as the Stonewall Riots.
Prior to that summer there was little public expression of the lives and experiences of gays and lesbians. The Stonewall Riots marked the beginning of the gay liberation movement that has transformed the oppression of gays and lesbians into calls for pride and action. In the past twenty-five years we have all been witness to an astonishing flowering of gay culture that has changed this country and beyond, forever.
Featured here are clippings from the local New York City press reporting the "melee" in 1969, along with firsthand accounts published in later years about that night.
LETS IMPEACH BAUCUS...LET US STAND FOR SOMETHING...I SHOUT FOR CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE.
NO HEALTH CARE FOR BAUCUS...
Senator Max Baucus has put forth a proposal for healthcare reform. The only problem is that once you follow the money, you learn that Baucus is deep in the pocket of the insurance industry, as he's received more money from them than any other US Senator. Mike Papantonio takes Baucus to task for his plan, and outlines the problems facing the change we've been expecting for the country.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Written by . http://nativetimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2034&Itemid=&Itemid=29
Government Urged to Drop Criminal Charges Against Indigenous Leaders and Allow Independent Investigation into Violent Incidents in Bagua
Lima, Peru – The Peruvian Congress voted today 82 – 12 to repeal two of nine contested laws in an attempt to end widespread indigenous protests that have been paralyzing transportation and commerce in the Peruvian Amazon for 70 days. In a complete shift of discourse, President Garcia admitted that “there were a series errors and exaggerations” in the government’s handling of this conflict and asked Congress to repeal decrees 1090 and 1064, which were passed in 2008 as part of a package of new laws to facilitate the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States.
Having witnessed the vote in the Peruvian Congress, Daysi Zapata, acting President of AIDESEP, Peru’s national Amazonian indigenous organization welcomed the President’s comments and declared: "Today is a historic day. We are grateful that the will of the indigenous peoples has been heard and we only hope that in the future governments listen and attend to indigenous peoples, and not legislate behind their backs.”
Zapata said that AIDESEP it is calling on our base organizations and communities to end their blockades and protests while also calling on the government to enter into a good faith and transparent dialogue.
Primer Minister Simon, who has been a lead negotiator to the indigenous communities, said Tuesday that he would resign after bringing the current conflict closer to resolution. The Peruvian Government has been heavily criticized for the June 5 attack to quell nonviolent protests by Amazonian indigenous communities, which resulted in dozens of deaths of both protesters and police and left 150 of indigenous demonstrators injured.
In addition to decrees 1090 and 1064, AIDESEP points to at least seven other laws that continue to pose a threat to their constitutionally guaranteed rights. In addition to the repeal of all these controversial laws, indigenous people are demanding that the Peruvian Government lift the State of Emergency, in effect since May 9 in several regions throughout the Amazon. AIDESEP is also calling for the Government to drop criminal charges against Alberto Pizango and five other indigenous leaders. Pizango was given safe passage to leave the country and is now exiled in Nicaragua.
In the United States, fifteen human rights and environmental organizations recently sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top Administration officials urging the United States to take immediate steps towards addressing the political crisis in Peru. Representatives from this coalition met with the U.S. Trade Representative’s office on Wednesday to again urge the U.S. Government to publicly clarify if Peru would be penalized for revoking the package of “free trade laws.”
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
check it out....why wild...WATCH THE TRAILER
Taking Down the Corporate Food System Is Simple
By Joel Salatin, Public Affairs BooksPosted on June 20, 2009, Printed on June 23, 2009http://www.alternet.org/story/140477/
Excerpted by permission from "Declare Your Independence" by Joel Salatin, part of the book Food, Inc., available now from PublicAffairs. Copyright 2009.
"Perhaps the most empowering concept in any paradigm-challenging movement is simply opting out. The opt-out strategy can humble the mightiest forces because it declares to one and all, "You do not control me."
The time has come for people who are ready to challenge the paradigm of factory-produced food and to return to a more natural, wholesome and sustainable way of eating (and living) to make that declaration to the powers that be, in business and government, that established the existing system and continue to prop it up. It's time to opt out and simply start eating better -- right here, right now.
Impractical? Idealistic? Utopian? Not really. As I'll explain, it's actually the most realistic and effective approach to transforming a system that is slowly but surely killing us.
What happened to food?
First, why am I taking a position that many well-intentioned people might consider alarmist or extreme? Let me explain.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the unprecedented variety of bar-coded packages in today's supermarket really does not mean that our generation enjoys better food options than our predecessors. These packages, by and large, having passed through the food-inspection fraternity, the industrial food fraternity and the lethargic cheap-food-purchasing consumer fraternity, represent an incredibly narrow choice.
If you took away everything with an ingredient foreign to our 3 trillion intestinal microflora, the shelves would be bare indeed. (I'm talking here about the incredible variety of microorganisms that live in our digestive tracts and perform an array of useful functions, including training our immune systems and producing vitamins K and biotin.) In fact, if you just eliminated every product that would have been unavailable in 1900, almost everything would be gone, including staples that had been chemically fertilized, sprayed with pesticides or ripened with gas.
Rather than representing newfound abundance, these packages wending their way to store shelves after spending a month in the belly of Chinese merchant marine vessels are actually the meager offerings of a tyrannical food system.
Strong words? Try buying real milk -- as in raw. See if you can find meat processed in the clean open air under sterilizing sunshine. Look for pot pies made with local produce and meat. How about good old unpasteurized apple cider? Fresh cheese? Unpasteurized almonds? All these staples that our great-grandparents relished and grew healthy on have been banished from today's supermarkets.
They've been replaced by an array of pseudo-foods that did not exist a mere century ago. The food additives, preservatives, colorings, emulsifiers, corn syrups and unpronounceable ingredients listed on the colorful packages bespeak a centralized control mind-set that actually reduces the options available to fill Americans' dinner plates.
Whether by intentional design or benign ignorance, the result has been the same -- the criminalization and/or demonization of heritage foods. The mind-set behind this radical transformation of American eating habits expresses itself in at least a couple of ways.
One is the completely absurd argument that without industrial food, the world would starve. "How can you feed the world?" is the most common question people ask me when they tour Polyface Farm.
Actually, when you consider the fact that millions of people, including many vast cities, were fed and sustained using traditional farming methods until just a few decades ago, the answer is obvious. America has traded 75 million buffalo, which required no tillage, petroleum or chemicals, for a mere 42 million head of cattle. Even with all the current chemical inputs, our production is a shadow of what it was 500 years ago. Clearly, if we returned to herbivorous principles five centuries old, we could double our meat supply. The potential for similar increases exists for other food items.
The second argument is about food safety. "How can we be sure that food produced on local farms without centralized inspection and processing is really safe to eat?"
Here, too, the facts are opposite to what many people assume. The notion that indigenous food is unsafe simply has no scientific backing. Milk-borne pathogens, for example, became a significant health problem only during a narrow time period between 1900 and 1930, before refrigeration but after unprecedented urban expansion. Breweries needed to be located near metropolitan centers, and adjacent dairies fed herbivore-unfriendly brewery waste to cows. The combination created real problems that do not exist in grass-based dairies practicing good sanitation under refrigeration conditions.
Lest you think the pressure to maintain the industrialized food system is all really about food safety, consider that all the natural-food items I listed above can be given away, and the donors are considered pillars of community benevolence. But as soon as money changes hands, all these wonderful choices become "hazardous substances," guaranteed to send our neighbors to the hospital with food poisoning.
Maybe it's not human health but corporate profits that are really being protected."
© 2009 Public Affairs Books All rights reserved.View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/140477/
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Women of Wisdom: Empowering the
Dreams and Spirit of Women
What can women offer the world? What hidden potentials and secret gifts
reside in the depths of feminine spirit?
Answers bloom like wildflowers in Women of Wisdom, a mixture of spiritual, academic, and artistic contributions from professionals and lay people who share their experience of being women and being divine. Since 1993 women have been attending the WOW gathering to uncover and celebrate the power of feminine spirit. In these selections, poetry mixes with history, visual art with the inner spirit, and the intellect with soulful longing, creating an inspiring kaleidoscope of feminine reverence. Often practical, always moving, the guidance on these pages speaks to the divine within us all.Promotional offer June 23:
Purchase the Women of Wisdom book and receive bonus gifts valued over $3000!
Gifts from some amazing wise women and men including
Barbara Marx Hubbard, Judith Orloff, Susun Weed, Starhawk,
Nicki Scully, Marci Shimoff, David Riklan, Scott Blum and many others!
Purchase your WOW book on June 23rd
Saturday, June 13, 2009
But be aware. Lately, the natives are shooing back. Last week, indigenous Peruvians seized an oil pumping station, grabbed the nine policemen guarding it and, say reports, executed them. This followed the government's murder of more than a dozen rain forest residents, who had protested the seizure of their property for oil drilling.
Again and again, I see it in my line of work of investigating fraud. Here are a few pit stops on the oily trail of tears:
In the 1980s, Charles Koch was found to have pilfered about $3 worth of crude from Stanlee Ann Mattingly's oil tank in Oklahoma. Here's the weird part. Koch was (and remains) the 14th richest man on the planet, worth about $14 billion. Stanlee Ann was a dirt-poor Osage Indian.
Stanlee Ann wasn't Koch's only victim. According to secret tape recordings of a former top executive of his company, Koch Industries, the billionaire demanded that oil tanker drivers secretly siphon a few bucks worth of oil from every tank attached to a stripper well on the Osage Reservation where Koch had a contract to retrieve crude.
Koch, according to the tape, would "giggle" with joy over the records of the theft. Koch's own younger brother Bill ratted him out, complaining that, in effect, brothers Charles and David cheated him out of his fair share of the looting, which totaled over three-quarters of a billion dollars from the native lands.
The FBI filmed the siphoning with hidden cameras, but criminal charges were quashed after quiet objections from Republican senators.
Then there are the Chugach natives of Alaska. The Port of Valdez, Alaska, is arguably one of the most valuable pieces of real estate on earth, the only earthquake-safe, ice-free port in Alaska that could load oil from the giant North Slope field. In 1969, Exxon and British Petroleum companies took the land from the Chugach and paid them one dollar. I kid you not.
Wally Hickel, the former governor of Alaska, dismissed my suggestion that the Chugach deserved a bit more respect (and cash) for their property. "Land ownership comes in two ways, Mr. Palast." explained the governor and pipeline magnate, "Purchase or conquest. The fact that your granddaddy chased a caribou across the land doesn't make it yours." The Chugach had lived there for 3,000 years.
No oil company would dream of digging on the Bush family properties in Midland, Texas, without paying a royalty. Or drilling near Malibu without the latest in environmental protections. But when natives are on top of Exxon's or BP's glory hole, suddenly, the great defenders of private property rights turn quite Bolshevik: Lands can be seized for The Public's Need for Oil.
Some natives are "re-located" through legal flim-flam, some at gunpoint. The less lucky are left to wallow, literally, in the gunk left by the drilling process.
Chief Emergildo Criollo told me how oil company executives helicoptered into his remote village and, speaking in Spanish - which the Cofan didn't understand - "purchased" drilling rights with trinkets and cheese. The natives had never seen cheese. ("The cheese smelled funny, so we threw it in the jungle.")
After drilling began, Criollo's son went swimming in his usual watering hole, came up vomiting blood and died.
I asked Chevron about the wave of poisonings and deaths. According to an independent report, 1,401 deaths, mostly of children, mostly from cancers, can be traced to Chevron's toxic dumping.
Chevron's lawyer told me, "And it's the only case of cancer in the world? How many cases of children with cancer do you have in the States? ... They have to prove that it is our crude," which, he noted with glee, "is absolutely impossible."
Big Oil treats indigenous blood like a cheap gasoline additive. That's why the Peruvians are up in arms. The Cofan of Ecuador, unlike their brothers in Peru, have taken no hostages. Rather, they have heavily armed themselves with lawyers.
But Chevron and its Big Oil brethren remain dismissive of the law. This week, Shell Oil, got rid of a nasty PR problem by paying $15 million to the Ogoni people and the family of Ken Saro-Wiwa for the oil giant's alleged role in the killing of Wiwa and his associates, activists who had defended these Nigeria Delta people against drilling contamination. Shell pocketed $31 billion last year in profits and hopes the payoff will clear the way for a drilling partnership with Nigeria's government.
Congratulations, Shell. $15 million: For a license to kill and drill, that's a quite a bargain.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
"Peruvian indigenous leader Alberto Pizango has been granted asylum in Nicaragua after leading protests against oil and mining projects in the northern Peruvian Amazonian province of Bagua. Over the weekend, an estimated sixty people died after police tried to break up a blockade. We speak to actor Q’orianka Kilcher, of part Indigenous Quechua descent, who is heading to Peru to support the Amazonian protest."
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
After 13 years of legal battles, the deaths of these activists who opposed Shell's gas flaring and environmental devastation of their homeland have been recompensed. Shell was forced to pay $15.5 million, including $5 million for a trust to benefit communities in Ogoni territory in Nigeria, the homeland of the executed activists.
The fact that the Nigerian plaintiffs were able to win such a large settlement means they successfully held Shell accountable for its complicity in human rights abuses. You can read more about the settlement at our Shell Guilty campaign website (http://www.shellguilty.com), or take a look at some of the news articles below.
June 9, 2009
"60 die in Peru rainforest protest
Clashes between police and indigenous protesters over drilling for oil and gas in rain forest
Recent free trade agreements signed with the American and Canadian governments fueled the government to go ahead with changes to domestic laws that would seek to advance mineral, logging, oil and agricultural ‘development’ into previously untouched areas of the Amazon. This touched off a over-50-day protest that has shut down parts of the Amazon." Real News
Monday, June 8, 2009
Israeli journalist Amira Hass, columnist for Ha’aretz newspaper, comes from a family of Holocaust survivors. Her mother, Hanna Levy-Hass, survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Amira Hass edited her mother’s diary from that period, and it’s being published this month from Haymarket Books.
But let us not fall into the trap and think because Israel abuses the Holocaust and very often makes use of it in order to justify the repression and oppression of the Palestinians, let us not fall into the trap and think that one should not assess the Nazi threat as it really was. And it was a huge threat to the entire humankind.
And I think that’s why I appreciate when he goes to Buchenwald. I think that beyond the propaganda that every act has, it has important content. We often ask ourselves what was different. I mean, human—the West, the Christian West, the Christian white West, is responsible for the murder of millions and millions of people, already before the ’40s, the ’30s and the ’40s: colonialism, slavery—it’s not new—the conquest of the Americas, all this. What still we have to remember, that there was something peculiar about the murder during the Nazi times, is that it was so organized. It was not a—death and murder were not byproduct of a lucrative expedition, but turned into a goal, turned into the main product. This is the difference, from the point of view of the culprit, of the perpetrator, not from the point of view of the victim, because a slave who was tortured by hard labor until death, the suffering is—I mean, there is no way to measure suffering and injustice. So when we do this, it’s in order to understand. When we diagnose an illness, it is in order to find the remedy; it’s not in order to compare—“Oh, you suffer more, and you suffer less.”
Friday, June 5, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
The Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2009 (S.624) is stuck in the Committee on Foreign Relations, and it needs at least 20 cosponsors in order to get the attention of Senate leaders.
Please help us improve access to clean water and sanitation for the world's poorest people by asking your senators to cosponsor this important legislation.
Water for the World Petition the U.S. Senate
Senators Durbin and Corker introduced S. 624, The Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2009, a bipartisan bill to make clean water a reality. But with only five cosponsors, the bill isn't getting the attention it needs for a hearing and further action by Senate leaders. It must have at least 20 cosponsors to move forward. Now is the time to follow through on Obama's inaugural pledge to poor countries. Ask your senators, Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, to cosponsor S. 624 now: