Friday, April 30, 2010

                 WHAT A CROCK!

Go to this website....Learn and Change.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

More at The Real News

Schechter examines the fallout from the current economic and financial crisis. What the mainstream media (MSM) suppresses:

-- decades of wealth transfers to the rich;
-- the economy in recession;
-- the result of multiple imploding bubbles: housing, mortgage finance, and an alphabet soup of SDOs, SIVs, SPVs, and a whole menu of levered-up, high-risk securitized assets amounting to financial alchemy; largely outright fraud;
-- the risk things may worsen;
-- from drowning in debt and speculative excess;
-- bankrupt by some measures;
-- huge amounts of corruption;
-- government hiding how bad it is; complicit in it as well;
-- over one million homeowners foreclosed since summer 2007;
-- another million are 90 days past due on payments; foreclosures about to go out on them;
-- three million more potentially in coming months with up to five million total at risk over the next few years in the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression and too little government help provided too late;
-- rising unemployment;
-- failing banks;
-- rising inflation; and
-- consumers maxed out on credit and strapped by indebtedness the way Schechter portrayed them in his 2006 film titled "In Debt We Trust."
Schechter's book is timely, important, and frightening. He does a masterful job deconstructing a complicated subject. One covered up in the mainstream. Its dark side papered over suppressed.
Schechter explains it fully and clearly for lay readers to understand. It's essential they do it because it touches everyone. No one knows how bad it may get, but the current crisis has legs. The worst of it may be ahead, and before it ends millions may feel it painfully. "Plunder" provides ammunition. A blueprint of what's unfolding. Explaining that government help won't be forthcoming, so we're responsible for making the best of a very bad situation.
It begins with understanding the scandalous dilemma unfolding. The complicity of government and Wall Street behind it. The dominant media promoting it. What author Kevin Phillips calls the "rise of big finance" and "global crisis of American capitalism;" "Frankenstein finance;" and a problem so potentially grave that "there may no longer be a plausible way out."
Schechter calls it "financialization" to describe "the kind of control (a Credit and Loan Complex) exert(s) over society every bit as insidious as the Military-Industrial Complex." Made up of Wall Street; big banks; an array of finance, credit card and related companies preying on middle-America and the poor and transferring enormous wealth to the rich. A regulatory environment allowing it. Creating an open field for fraud. Taking full advantage because so-called "watchdogs" are part of the problem. The administration and Federal Reserve as well. The entire power structure allied against working people. A shameful and potentially disastrous situation as a result.

Monday, April 26, 2010

AMY GOODMAN: We’re back in New York, broadcasting from our Democracy Now! studios after a week in Bolivia, where we brought you on-the-ground coverage of the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Thousands of indigenous leaders, environmental activists and grassroots organizers met for three days of talks in Cochabamba. Working groups on seventeen topics discussed a variety of issues, and a summary of their conclusions was put into a six-page Agreement of the People.
The agreement calls on developed countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2020, recommends the creation of an international climate tribunal, and calls for an international referendum on the environment to coincide with the next Earth Day on April 22nd, 2011. The government of Bolivia has pledged to bring the results of the World Peoples’ Conference into the negotiating halls of the United Nations and to highlight the demands at the next UN climate meeting in Mexico in December.
One of the higher-profile participants at the Cochabamba conference was the former president of the United Nations General Assembly, Father Miguel d’Escoto. A Roman Catholic priest from Nicaragua, d’Escoto served as foreign minister in Daniel Ortega’s government from 1979 to 1990. In September of 2008, he was elected to serve as president of the UN General Assembly. A year later, he held a ceremony at the presidential palace in La Paz honoring Bolivian President Evo Morales, naming him World Hero of Mother Earth.
On the last of the summit, I had a chance to sit down with Father Miguel d’Escoto on Earth Day for an extended conversation. I began by asking him for his thoughts on the Bolivia climate summit.
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: You know, I think it was a really great inspiration. This was as a response to the farce of Copenhagen by President Evo Morales. When he realized that the developed countries were up to no good and that they couldn’t care less about what is happening to Mother Earth, he said, “This cannot stand this way. We are going to have a summit of the people.” And, you know, I think the time has come. Remember that the United Nations does not belong to the few who think that they own it. The United Nations was created in the name of we the people. And I think it’s about time that we the people take over. The United Nations is a dictatorship from which nothing good comes, because they find a million ways to prevent anything from happening.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s amazing that you, as the former president of the United Nations General Assembly, would call the UN a dictatorship.
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: It is what I called it always, and I always spoke about the need to democratize the United Nations. And I remember, prior to my becoming president, many representatives of different countries wanted to meet with me. And I can never forget Lord Sawers, the permanent representative from the United Kingdom. He came over to my office, and he says, “Father, I would like to know what is on your agenda, what are some of the main things that you would like to promote.” I said, “I would like the democratization to work for the democratization of the UN.” “Well,” he says, “how much more democratic can it be? After all, one country, one vote.” “You have a very little understanding of democracy, Lord Sawers, because a vote that is not taken into account doesn’t mean anything. Democracy means having the possibility to join in the decision-making process.”
And even if you want to reform the United Nations, then the Charter tells you how you can proceed to reform it. They say you have to call a general conference and how you have to call it and the approval that you have to have from the Security Council. But at the end, when all is said and done, when you have decided what reforms you want to make, they have a veto power over it. So it’s a farce. It’s a fraud.
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: The United Nations is a fraud.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean they have veto power over it? Who’s “they”?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: The Security Council.
AMY GOODMAN: And the countries, in particular, on the Security Council?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: Within the Security Council, there are five countries that have veto power. But without a doubt, the most influential country in the United Nations is the United States. And it’s really, really amazing the most warmongering country in the history of mankind is put there in charge to make sure that there is peace. And then they go ahead and launch one of the most atrocious—they call it war, this aggression against Iraq, for the only purpose of obtaining the petroleum of that country. It is hard to say how many people have died, but it’s over 1,300,000 now. If you ask people in the United States—I did many times—I said, “How many people do you think have died in Iraq by now?” And they say, “Well, Father, I’m not sure, but I have an idea that it’s coming close to 4,000.” And what is the rest? Cockroaches? They have been—it has been ingrained in their heads that the rest of human beings don’t count, they’re not people. They have been trained to think that if you invent a name for whatever crime you are making, then that’s OK. The crime has been baptized. And so, Madeleine Albright would say, for example, “Oh, that’s collateral damage.” So, you say, “Well, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it was that. So that’s OK. Let’s go to the next one.”
No, it’s really something terrible, what is happening in the world. We need a United nations. They are killing it. They are killing it because it’s not united. It’s a subjugated nations. And they’re killing it. It’s easy to see. For example, here in Cochabamba, I think it was yesterday or the day before, this very, very nice lady who has very wonderful ideals and who is very competent, head of CEPAL, the Latin America—the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America that is in Chile, when she spoke, thousands of people manifested repudiation through different sounds. Terrible. They were manifesting repudiation to the UN. The level of approval of the United Nations by the man in the street is at the lowest level ever, only comparable to the level of approval of the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Today, the Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations, Pablo Salon, is delivering the resolutions of the World People’s Conference and Climate Change to the UN to have them incorporated into the and climate summit planned in Cancun in December. On the last of the Bolivia summit, on Earth Day, I sat with Father Miguel d’Escoto in Cochabamba. We return to the interview with the former Foreign Minister of Nicaragua and the former president of the UN General Assembly, Father D’Escoto.
What do you make of the British Environment Secretary calling Morales’s activism “Watermelon Activism”—green on the outside, red on the inside?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: Yeah, they think that by making a joke that they can, again, we are back into what I was just saying, you give it a name, it sounds funny. This is, by the way, not an original. I have heard that millions of times, in different languages, that very same thing. ¿Como se llama ‘watermelon?’ Sandilla. Verde por fuera, rojo por dentro. I have been hearing that for thirty years. So, the British official that you refer to now saying—he can take care and diminish the prestige, the immense prestige, that Evo Morales is having not only within his own country, but within our continent and throughout the world. He has become sort of a prophet, really speaking out on the rights of Mother Earth. The Europeans, forgive me, it’s many of them, not all of them, but many of them a hard time at the United Nations when one year ago today, we were involved in trying to give the earth that designation and today is the International Day. To them, that sounded something primitive, something like Indian, not sophisticated enough.
AMY GOODMAN: To talk about Mother Earth?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: Yes, to talk to, to designate the earth with the name of Mother Earth. But she is our mother. You are earth. I am earth. Through you, the earth thinks, invents, cries, laughs, loves, venerates the Creator. They were saying, this morning I heard the Foreign Minister from Ecuador saying that some legislatures in his country were saying that Mother Earth cannot be the subject of rights. They were saying she could not be subject of Rights because she could not demand rights. That is like saying that you can be hurt in your elbow, smashed, but since your elbow cannot speak out, it’s doesn’t matter. You speak for your elbow. You are part, an integral part of mother earth. We are the ones who speak.
AMY GOODMAN: So how do think this people’s summit, called by President Evo Morales, can influence the UN Climate Change Summit that will be taking place in Cancun in December?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: I don’t want to be cynical and to say that I don’t expect much. I was saying that about Copenhagen. The way that the United Nations is now, it won’t produce too much. There are too many obstacles. The United Nations, I said when I was leaving my post as President of the General Assembly, at the end I said I want to share with you the insights that I take with me as I leave. The United Nations is beyond reform. It is beyond patchwork. It is the most important organization in the world to help save the human species and Mother Earth, but it has to be reinvented. And not include all kinds of little tricks, a few people to make sure that the imperial clause, and deep within it. So…
AMY GOODMAN: How much power do corporations have on the United Nations? Over the United Nations? Or do they at all?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: The question is this way: How much power do corporations, the whole industrial military complex, have on the United States? And there you have the answer. The United States is not what people think it is. I do not think it’s what President Obama thought it was. I thought that being President, I think that he meant, really —I liked him. And I thank God for his coming to that high office in the United States and I prayed he would be elected. And I know he was sincere. In my waiting room, in my office at the United States, I have a great big picture of him, it’s like a poster with “hope” written underneath. I wrote him a letter saying how much, how glad I was to hear him. But it has remained promises because I think now he realizes that he is only the President in a country where the industrial military complex decides what has to be done. And you cannot go beyond the parameters of what they decide. It would be dangerous.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think the U.S. has changed its policy at all towards Latin America now?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: No change whatsoever.
AMY GOODMAN: From Bush to Obama?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: From Bush to Obama, no change, no, no. [Inaudible] No change. There is a change in rhetoric, but no change, no.
AMY GOODMAN: And so what characterizes the relationship?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: A desire of domination and control. And now, you know, this putting-up of [UNINTELLIGIBLE] of 7 military bases in Colombia. They have a military base in Honduras. We know, I know from first-hand experience what is the purpose of such bases. My country was invaded, every day there was military incursions, from that base, with American camouflage. And…
AMY GOODMAN: Your country in Nicaragua?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: My country being Nicaragua. And so, it’s a very sad thing. One day we were hoping, really I was really hoping always, that the day would come when the United States would become a democracy. But we need democracy now! Right now, not in God knows how many centuries. We don’t have that much time. But, it’s very difficult because of the grip they have of the mind of the people. This mind control is very, very deep.
AMY GOODMAN: What is your assessment of your President, Nicaraguan President Ortega—right now you have this conflict going on where the Opposition lawmakers are challenging Ortega and the courts for extending the term of justices and they have led a major protest outside opposition legislators meeting?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: It is pretty typical. And of course it’s not only the opposition, it’s the United States with the opposition. What is happening in Nicaragua? The term of some of the magistrates in the court has ended. You cannot paralyze the country. You have to have the General Assembly, our Parliament, has the obligation to name the new judges. This is their right and their duty. They want to paralyze the country. And so they are not naming them. And the same goes—The legislators, they have a majority. The opposition, that is very much in coordination with the United States embassy in Washington, so they have said, OK, we’re going to bring this country to a halt by not naming members to the Supreme Court and also magistrates to the Supreme Electoral Council. Part of the Constitution says that the president is in charge to make sure that the country moves. He has said, “We’re not taking away your right to name them, but if you fail to do your duty, I will have to put out this decree that the ones that were elected are going to continue until you elect the new ones. Because we’re not going to close shop.” [Inaudible]
AMY GOODMAN: Do think President Ortega will try to extend his own term?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: WIll try to extend? I don’t know if he will try, but the people would like for him to extend it. And I certainly would like for him to extend his term.
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: Because this is not a government like in the United States where it doesn’t really matter or like in England where really does not matter whether you have stature – or Tony Blair. One being Conservative, the other Labor. Six of one and half a dozen of the other. We, and many countries in Latin America, are in revolution. That is to say, in transformation, and we need this kind of guidance. And the people want it.
AMY GOODMAN: There’s a piece on the The Washington Post website that calls the Ortega government a leftist “thugocracy.” What’s your response to that?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: Well, that’s, again, the United States. Our Lord used to say, “By their fruits, you shall know them.” So, see what is happening in Nicaragua, and then judge. But they will always be calling names. They started the campaign, for example, that I was against Jewish people and that I should be killed. It’s in the Internet. And I’m not against Jewish people. In fact, I have great love for Jewish people. And as a Christian, I’m a follower of Jesus, who was a Jew. But being a Jew is one thing, and being a Zionist outreach of the empire is something else.
AMY GOODMAN: Your view on the Israel-Palestine conflict, what you think needs to happen? What is your view of the Israel-Palestine conflict, what you think needs to happen—and why do you think it’s not happening?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: The biggest single tragic fault in the United Nations is that after sixty-four years, Israel has not been given its statehood.
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: I meant to say Palestine. Palestine has not been given statehood. And when the split of Palestine for Jewish state and Arab state, when that was decided upon—not really decided upon, but when that decision was imposed with all kinds of arm-twisting and threats and intimidations that the United States calls ‘negotiations,’ you have to change your lexicon. When they say ‘democracy,’ it usually means somebody who’s very obedient to whatever they say. Then they give the Good housekeeping seal of approval, and they put, ‘democracy.’ If they don’t like you, then they say you are ‘radical’ and then they escalate the term. So it’s very difficult. The United States claims that it has the right to rule the world because it did so much to save the world from – in the Second World war. I don’t know how many Americans died in that war, but I imagine it is infinitely, infinitely less than the 20 million people of the Soviet Union who died, more than 20 million. But regardless of that, the war was a great economic boom for the United States. The New Deal did not pull the United States out of its economic crisis, it was the war. War has been, on many occasions, a business. They’re very much into the business of death.
And that’s why, one time, when you talked to me over the phone many years ago and President Reagan had died and I will never forget you said to me, “What do you think?” Well, you know, President Reagan is a human being. He’s got his wife and he’s got his people who love him. And I feel sorry when people die, no matter who they are. And I pray to God that he receives them. In spite of the fact, I said, that he was the butcher of my people, a pathological killer. But in the U.S. they are accustomed not to recognize killers.You must have heard the name of Curtis LeMay, one of the sickest minds. Curtis LeMay, in a conversation with McNamara..
AMY GOODMAN: This was the General.
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: Si, it was Robert McNamara, said “You know, if we lose this war, we will be accused of crimes—of war crimes.” But you don’t have to lose it to commit war crimes. They committed war crimes. They talk about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Curtis LeMay, the most decorated ever military officer of the United States, the one who served the longest period of time, as general, 17 years, he was in charge of their operation. But they never mentioned the Holocaust that went before it. And sometimes when they mentioned it, they say, they talk about “firebombing.” 60 cities of Japan were subjected to bombing with incendiary cylinders. Some counts put it in the millions, the number of people who were turned into charcoal, the number of people who were incinerated. And, ¿Como se llama? Se llama “Enola Gay.” The plane, the B-62, the airplane that was used to throw the atom bomb, is put in display as a magnificent thing for people to go and take their picture next to it. It’s sick. It’s a sick society. I love the United States and I have great pain when I say that that is happening. And you know, and this is happening with a very sophisticated system of control of the mind of the Americans. They are good people. And you talk to very good people and tell them about these things, they get angry and think they did not happen. They think you are inventing them—like United States invents all kinds of things—they think that you are inventing them too.
AMY GOODMAN: You mention that U.S. hasn’t changed its policy to Latin America, but how has Latin-American changed?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: Very much. For the first time, you see, I often make a comparison of what you witness happening in some couples, marriage let’s say, where you have a monster of a man who beats and physically hurts his wife and this is very painful and she at first doesn’t even want to say this. And then he has instilled in her head that she is very stupid, that she cannot live without him and that she better take whatever he does because otherwise he threatens. We need the United States as much as we need arsenic, and that is the fact. We don’t need it. We would need if they want to join the rest of humanity and together work for a better future for all of us, but they are not doing that. They are instilling, they have instilled, a culture of death, of greed, of selfishness, and this is killing the world.
The world is now coming to a point, for the very continuation of the human species, it’s endangered. And the continuation of Mother Earth, her capacity to sustain life is being hurt very gravely. And it is this religion that the United States is imposing on people whose name is capitalism. It’s like a religion. They dedicate their whole military, and every kind of power that they have, to make sure you do not use alternative means of development. If you dare to show that maybe there’s another way to develop, not necessarily to live better, but to live well, which is our ideal, to live well means to live in harmony with nature and with one another. They instill a culture of keeping up with the Joneses, being better than the other. This is deadly, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: One of the major proposals to come out of the Bolivia People’s Summit is a Climate Change Tribunal—Climate Change Crimes Tribunal. What do you think of this?
FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO: I think it’s indispensable. Because some of the biggest crimes are being committed today by people who do things knowing what the consequences are going to be. I think it was a shame, I think it was really unbelievable the proposal that the United States came to present at Copenhagen. And I think there has to be—I have written a proposal of how to do it and what that tribunal should do. It’s indispensable. And it doesn’t matter. It should not matter whether or not you are a party to a protocol like Kyoto Protocol or to a treaty. Bilateral or multilateral. To a treaty that is meant to prevent the commission of certain crimes. It doesn’t matter whether you are a party to it or not, because not signing such a protocol or treaty does not give you the right to commit crime. And so…the tribunal will have the right to prosecute and to enforce.
The only thing is, that contrary to the United States, I am totally against the use of force and totally committed to the Gadhian ideal of Satyagraha non-violence, which is not to be confused with passive resistance. There is nothing passive about Satyagraha. It’s dynamic. We have to begin to see how to implement it. Imagine the world tomorrow saying that in passing a resolution at the General Assembly, no member states to the inner assembly can, from now on, have any dealings with Coca-Cola? It’s not that big a deal. It’s a big symbol. Coca-Cola has become almost a symbol of the United States, and I drink it, but if there were such a solution, there can be others. You have to find—We do not need them. We can make, by mutual cooperation, we must. You know, there’s a great African intellectual, he’s today teaching at the University of California at Berkeley. His name is Ngugi Wa Thiong’o. One of his books, The Decolonization of the Mind [Decolonizing the Mind]. The decolonization of the intellect. We’ve got to speed up the decolonization and realize that what we need is a solidarity among those who love life.
AMY GOODMAN: Father Miguel D’Escoto, former president of the UN General Assembly and former Foreign Minister of Nicaragua. I spoke with him in Cochabamba, just outside the Earth Day closing rally of the World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Corporations dictate our lives....dictate the lives of the world's peoples.

Koch Industries has “become a financial kingpin of climate science denial and clean energy opposition,” spending over $48.5 million since 1997 to fund the climate denial machine, according to an extensive report today by Greenpeace.

The Greenpeace report reveals how Koch Industries and the foundations under its control spent far more than even ExxonMobil in recent years to fund industry front groups opposed to clean energy and climate policies. Koch spent over half the total amount -nearly $25 million - funding climate denier groups from 2005 to 2008, a period in which Exxon only spent $8.9 million.
Greenpeace’s attempt to lift the veil of secrecy inherent to a private company like Koch Industries is no easy task. Because it remains privately owned, Koch faces few of the disclosure requirements designed to increase transparency among publicly-traded companies.
That intentional secrecy allows Koch Industries, the second-largest privately-held company in the United States, to fly largely below the public’s radar. Few Americans have likely heard of Koch, even though it operates crude oil refineries and pipelines across North America and owns such well-known consumer brands as Dixie cups, Brawny and Quilted Northern paper products, Stainmaster carpet, CoolMax and Lycra.
The company’s founder, Fred Koch, who once earned $5 million building oil refineries in the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin’s reign, was a co-founder of the libertarian John Birch Society. Charles G. and David H. Koch, two of Fred’s four sons, each now own 42% of the company’s stock. According to 2009 Forbes rankings, the Koch brothers are tied for the 19th-richest person in the world, and for ninth-richest American, each worth between $14 and $16 billion, more than George Soros or the founders of Google.
The Koch brothers use three foundations to spread Koch Industries’ influence, including support for roughly 40 organizations that doubt or downplay climate change or otherwise oppose policy solutions to build a clean energy future. Greenpeace also notes that Koch Industries has been the largest oil and gas industry contributor to electoral campaigns since the 2006 election cycle, and its done its fair share of lobbying as well. During the 2008 elections, Koch Industries contributed over $1.8 million, 88% to Republican candidates. Koch’s political action committee (PAC) also spent more than $2.5 million on contributions to federal candidates for that period, more than any other oil-and-gas sector PAC.
Koch Industries has bankrolled Americans for Prosperity to the tune of over $5 million since 2005. AFP – known primarily for its role in organizing the tea party movement in the U.S. – brought notorious climate denier Lord Christopher Monckton to the Copenhagen climate summit as its guest speaker. Despite Lord Monckton’s reprehensible behavior in Copenhagen – where he repeatedly compared college students advocating for a clean energy future to “Hitler Youth” and “Nazis” – Americans for Prosperity continues to host Monckton at its events in the United States, including a recent appearance in Wisconsin.
While in Wisconsin on AFP’s dime, Monckton booked a side gig at a GOP fundraiser where he described President Barack Obama as a “monster.” I wonder if David Koch – the second richest man in New York behind Michael Bloomberg - is even aware that Koch’s funding of AFP is in part providing support for Monckton to run around the world labeling American college students “Hitler Youth” and calling the President of the United States a “monster”?
Koch was also one of the funders of the 2007 polar bear junk science “study” authored by prominent climate deniers (including Sallie Baliunas, David Legates and Tim Ball) that claimed to prove that polar bear populations were not affected by anthropogenic climate disruption in the Arctic. Dr. Willie Soon, one of the non-peer-reviewed paper’s authors, disclosed in the acknowledgements section that he had received direct corporate funding for the work, stating “W. Soon’s effort for the completion of this paper was partially supported by grants from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, American Petroleum Institute, and Exxon-Mobil Corporation.”
Although the paper was thoroughly debunked by actual experts on Arctic sea ice and polar bears, many of the front groups funded by Koch and Exxon rebroadcast the study widely, creating public confusion. The matter came to a head when Sarah Palin and her officers in the Alaskan government referenced the Soon/Baliunas polar bear paper before it was even published in Alaska’s formal protest of efforts to protect the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. Both Soon and Baliunas have served as spokespeople, advisors and/or board members of multiple Koch-funded climate denial groups over the past decade.
The Greenpeace report notes Koch’s role in funding the Institute for Energy Research, which was behind the Danish study that attacked the viability of wind power. Greenpeace also points out the role that Koch’s web of climate denier groups played in supporting, disseminating and promoting the Spanish study attacking green jobs, including AFP, IER and the Heritage Foundation.

Indian law would make criticizing GM crops an imprisonable offense

Submitted by vermont on March 2, 2010 – 1:11 am27 Comments7
ShareCriticising Genetically Modified (GM) products could land you in jail — if the draconian draft Biotechnology Regulatory Authority Bill (BRAB) of 2009, which will be tabled in the current session of the parliament by the UPA government, is passed.
In an unprecedented muzzle on the right to freedom of speech of the citizen, Chapter 13 section 63 of the draft bill says, “Whoever, without any evidence or scientific record misleads the public about the safety of the organisms and products…shall be punished with imprisonment for a term that shall not be less than six months but which may extend to one year and with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees or with both.” The BRAI Bill drafted by the department of bio-technology under the Ministry of Science and Technology comes on the heels of a moratorium on Bt Brinjal announced by the Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.
“What they are doing is much worse than what Hitler or Mussolini did. Through this bill, they want to take absolute authority. They are behaving like a vendor instead of a regulator,” Pushpa M Bhargava, a member of the Supreme Court appointed Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) said.
There are also other provisions in this bill which are disconcerting.
Article 27 (1) of the bill seeks to keep the information related to the research, approval and science of the GM Products out of the purview of the Right to Information ( RTI) Act.
In other words, farmers, NGO’s and Environmental groups that have been on the forefront of the campaign against BT Brinjal and other genetically modified crops, can longer obtain information about it.
Not only that, the three member experts of the Department of Biotechnology will override any existing legislation about GM technology in the states.
The draft bill also states that the BRAI will set up its own appellate tribunal which will have the jurisdiction to hear arguments on the issues concerning biotechnology. In case of any disputes, petitioners can only approach the Supreme Court of India.
“The BRAI bill is more draconian than what the nation faced during the Emergency ‘’ says Devinder Sharma, writer and Food Policy Analyst. “If the Bill was already in force, I would have been in jail.
Jairam Ramesh too would have been in jail for challenging the health and environmental claims of the company developing Bt Brinjal,” he said. The bill demonstrates the extraordinary hold the multinational companies have over the UPA government, he added. Kavitha Kurugunti of Kheti Virasat Mission said that this bill is just a way to silence the voices who are opposed to GM technology.

EPA Scientists Speak Out

EPA Scientists Speak Out & The Story of Cap and Trade – Redux

Posted using ShareThis
Happy Earth Day.....

"Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect."
- Chief Seattle, 1855


Thursday, April 22, 2010


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We're Living in a Kleptocracy: Fears of Socialism and Fascism Are a Distraction from the Naked Theft of TrillionsBy William Astore,
Posted on April 20, 2010, Printed on April 21, 2010
Kleptocracy -- now, there’s a word I was taught to associate with corrupt and exploitative governments that steal ruthlessly and relentlessly from the people. It’s a word, in fact, that’s usually applied to flawed or failed governments in Africa, Latin America, or the nether regions of Asia. Such governments are typically led by autocratic strong men who shower themselves and their cronies with all the fruits of extracted wealth, whether stolen from the people or squeezed from their country’s natural resources. It’s not a word you’re likely to see associated with a mature republic like the United States led by disinterested public servants and regulated by more-or-less transparent principles and processes.

In fact, when Americans today wish to critique or condemn their government, the typical epithets used are “socialism” or “fascism.” When my conservative friends are upset, they send me emails with links to material about “ObamaCare” and the like. These generally warn of a future socialist takeover of the private realm by an intrusive, power-hungry government. When my progressive friends are upset, they send me emails with links pointing to an incipient fascist takeover of our public and private realms, led by that same intrusive, power-hungry government (and, I admit it, I’m hardly innocent when it comes to such “what if” scenarios).

What if, however, instead of looking at where our government might be headed, we took a closer look at where we are -- at the power-brokers who run or influence our government, at those who are profiting and prospering from it? These are, after all, the “winners” in our American world in terms of the power they wield and the wealth they acquire. And shouldn’t we be looking as well at those Americans who are losing -- their jobs, their money, their homes, their healthcare, their access to a better way of life -- and asking why?

If we were to take an honest look at America’s blasted landscape of “losers” and the far shinier, spiffier world of “winners,” we’d have to admit that it wasn’t signs of onrushing socialism or fascism that stood out, but of staggeringly self-aggrandizing greed and theft right in the here and now. We’d notice our public coffers being emptied to benefit major corporations and financial institutions working in close alliance with, and passing on remarkable sums of money to, the representatives of “the people.” We’d see, in a word, kleptocracy on a scale to dazzle. We would suddenly see an almost magical disappearing act being performed, largely without comment, right before our eyes.

Of Red Herrings and Missing Pallets of Money
Think of socialism and fascism as the red herrings of this moment or, if you’re an old time movie fan, as Hitchcockian MacGuffins -- in other words, riveting distractions. Conservatives and tea partiers fear invasive government regulation and excessive taxation, while railing against government takeovers -- even as corporate lobbyists write our public healthcare bills to favor private interests. Similarly, progressives rail against an emergent proto-fascist corps of private guns-for-hire, warrantless wiretapping, and the potential government-approved assassination of U.S. citizens, all sanctioned by a perpetual, and apparently open-ended, state of war.
Yet, if this is socialism, why are private health insurers the government’s go-to guys for healthcare coverage? If this is fascism, why haven’t the secret police rounded up tea partiers and progressive critics as well and sent them to the lager or the gulag?
Consider this: America is not now, nor has it often been, a hotbed of political radicalism. We have no substantial socialist or workers’ party. (Unless you’re deluded, please don’t count the corporate-friendly “Democrat” party here.) We have no substantial fascist party. (Unless you’re deluded, please don’t count the cartoonish “tea partiers” here; these predominantly white, graying, and fairly affluent Americans seem most worried that the jackbooted thugs will be coming for them.)
What drives America today is, in fact, business -- just as was true in the days of Calvin Coolidge. But it’s not the fair-minded “free enterprise” system touted in those freshly revised Texas guidelines for American history textbooks; rather, it’s a rigged system of crony capitalism that increasingly ends in what, if we were looking at some other country, we would recognize as an unabashed kleptocracy.
Recall, if you care to, those pallets stacked with hundreds of millions of dollars that the Bush administration sent to Iraq and which, Houdini-like, simply disappeared. Think of the ever-rising cost of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, now in excess of a trillion dollars, and just whose pockets are full, thanks to them.
If you want to know the true state of our government and where it’s heading, follow the money (if you can) and remain vigilant: our kleptocratic Houdinis are hard at work, seeking to make yet more money vanish from your pockets -- and reappear in theirs.
From Each According to His Gullibility -- To Each According to His Greed

Never has the old adage my father used to repeat to me -- “the rich get richer and the poor poorer” -- seemed fresher or truer. If you want confirmation of just where we are today, for instance, consider this passage from a recent piece by Tony Judt:
In 2005, 21.2 percent of U.S. national income accrued to just 1 percent of earners. Contrast 1968, when the CEO of General Motors took home, in pay and benefits, about sixty-six times the amount paid to a typical GM worker. Today the CEO of Wal-Mart earns nine hundred times the wages of his average employee. Indeed, the wealth of the Wal-Mart founder’s family in 2005 was estimated at about the same ($90 billion) as that of the bottom 40 percent of the U.S. population: 120 million people.
Wealth concentration is only one aspect of our increasingly kleptocratic system. War profiteering by corporations (however well disguised as heartfelt support for our heroic warfighters) is another. Meanwhile, retired senior military officers typically line up to cash in on the kleptocratic equivalent of welfare, peddling their “expertise” in return for impressive corporate and Pentagon payouts that supplement their six-figure pensions. Even that putative champion of the Carhartt-wearing common folk, Sarah Palin, pocketed a cool $12 million last year without putting the slightest dent in her populist bona fides.
Based on such stories, now legion, perhaps we should rewrite George Orwell’s famous tagline from Animal Farm as: All animals are equal, but a few are so much more equal than others.
And who are those “more equal” citizens? Certainly, major corporations, which now enjoy a kind of political citizenship and the largesse of a federal government eager to rescue them from their financial mistakes, especially when they’re judged “too big to fail.” In raiding the U.S. Treasury, big banks and investment firms, shamelessly ready to jack up executive pay and bonuses even after accepting billions in taxpayer-funded bailouts, arguably outgun militarized multinationals in the conquest of the public realm and the extraction of our wealth for their benefit.
Such kleptocratic outfits are, of course, abetted by thousands of lobbyists and by politicians who thrive off corporate campaign contributions. Indeed, many of our more prominent public servants have proved expert at spinning through the revolving door into the private sector. Even ex-politicians who prefer to be seen as sympathetic to the little guy like former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt eagerly cash in.
I’m Shocked, Shocked, to Find Profiteering Going on Here
An old Roman maxim enjoins us to “let justice be done, though the heavens fall.” Within our kleptocracy, the prevailing attitude is an insouciant “We’ll get ours, though the heavens fall.” This mindset marks the decline of our polity. A spirit of shared sacrifice, dismissed as hopelessly naïve, has been replaced by a form of tribalized privatization in which insiders find ways to profit no matter what.
Is it any surprise then that, in seeking to export our form of government to Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve produced not two model democracies, but two emerging kleptocracies, fueled respectively by oil and opium?
When we confront corruption in Iraq or Afghanistan, are we not like the police chief in the classic movie Casablanca who is shocked, shocked to find gambling going on at Rick’s Café, even as he accepts his winnings?
Why then do we bother to feign shock when Iraqi and Afghan elites, a tiny minority, seek to enrich themselves at the expense of the majority?
Shouldn’t we be flattered? Imitation, after all, is the sincerest form of flattery. Isn’t it?
William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF), now teaches at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. His books and articles focus primarily on military history and include Hindenburg: Icon of German Militarism (Potomac Press, 2005). He may be reached at

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Oh to have the courage of some.....
Jim Shultz on “Dignity and Defiance: Stories from Bolivia’s Challenge to Globalization”

Jim Shultz, founder of the Cochabamba-based Democracy Center, gives a snapshot of Bolivia ahead of the World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth. Ten years ago, Shultz helped expose the role of Bechtel in the privatization of Cochabamba’s water supply.
In 1999 and 2000, when Bechtel from San Francisco, very huge corporation, obviously, came here, they came under an assumed name. You know, they weren’t going to come here as Bechtel. In fact, nobody knew they were Bechtel. And so, what name did they pick? They called themselves Aguas del Tunari. They named themselves after that mountain.
The fact that the water was privatized at all in Cochabamba, it wasn’t like people in Cochabamba said, “Gee, that would be a really great idea. Let’s vote for it.” I mean, it was done completely behind closed doors, when the World Bank coerced the government of Bolivia in 1997. The World Bank said to the government of Bolivia, “Thou shalt privatize thy water in Cochabamba, or we’re cutting off aid for water development,” which is really crucial in a city like Cochabamba, where you have a growing population and they have a lot of need for infrastructure. So Bechtel—so the government of Hugo Banzer, who was our former dictator in the ‘70s, who became the president—the government of Banzer privatized the water system of Cochabamba into the hands of this mysterious foreign corporation Aguas del Tunari.

And during the water revolt—I remember it was Saturday, and it was the morning that Victor Hugo Daza, a seventeen-year-old boy, was shot in the face and killed. And his family and other people carried his body literally to the central plaza for a wake. And the Democracy Center, I mean, we started looking on the internet and trying to figure out who the heck this company was. And we had a lead from somewhere that there was a Bechtel connection, and we were able to track down that in fact it was Bechtel. And we—a reader of mine actually was able to get us the personal email address of Riley Bechtel, the CEO. And we were able to get thousands of people in the United States to bombard him with emails. 
And just to put that in context, Bechtel is an $18 billion—then, it was an $18-billion-a-year corporation. Bechtel of San Francisco built Hoover Dam, built BART, built that great Big Dig project in Boston that’s worked out so well, and was also, along with Halliburton, one of the two companies that got the big no-bid contract in Iraq from the Bush administration. This was a very power-–you couldn’t find a bigger Goliath than Bechtel.
 In some respects, you can say that the water revolt really began right here in Tiquipaya, because this is an agricultural community. This is the community where I live. Most of my neighbors are cows or corn. And obviously irrigation is very important. And it wasn’t just the city water system in Cochabamba that was privatized; the government had plans, as well, to require these rural communities to get permits for these water systems that they had built and managed on their own, without any help from the government. So the rural people were the first ones to really call for a revolt, and then they allied with the people in the city—the factory workers, others, environmentalists. The cocaleros from the other end of Cochabamba joined in.
 This is a city of half-a-million people. This is, you know, almost the size of San Francisco. Imagine this city, for a week, without any cars. None. This city was shut down by its people, tight as a drum, for a week, in order to kick Bechtel out.
Oscar Olivera, in many ways, is the symbolic leader of the water revolt. And you can’t understate the amount of courage that people had. Remember, when they led this rebellion, they were arrested. Some of them were put on a plane and sent to a jail in the Beni, in the jungle. I remember, in the night that the government—the governor of the state went on television live at midnight and announced he was resigning because he did not want to be responsible for a bloodbath. And for the hours that followed, we were getting calls all night of—the police had just busted down the door of Oscar Olivera’s mother’s house, looking for Oscar. So the courage that people like Oscar and others had, it’s easy to forget ten years later, especially if the city looks so peaceful. They were up against the Pinochet of Bolivia.

World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth  /////    Cochabamba, Bolivia, April 19 to 22, 2010
By Leonard Peltier:

My warmest regards to our host, Bolivian President Evo Morales.

To Presidents Rafael Correa, Daniel Ortega, Hugo Chavez, and other esteemed Heads of State; national representatives; and all concerned citizens in attendance at the People’s Conference on Climate Change: I send warm greetings and thank you for your participation.
Today, environmentalists are often portrayed as marginal intellects and labeled “lunatic fringe,” rather than progressive thinkers with the ability to foresee the true cost of destructive corporate practices. I applaud your intent to ignore your detractors and admire your efforts to refine the proposals from the Copenhagen meetings—in particular, towards the creation of a world tribunal for climate issues and a global referendum on environmental choices. I know the calculus of this work is difficult to solve. Listening to the voices of so many to create a common solution is a unique and difficult challenge, but also a special opportunity. I offer prayers for your success.
My name is Leonard Peltier. I am a citizen of the Dakota/Lakota and Anishinabe Nations of North America. Like many of you, I am a tribal person. As Aboriginal peoples, we have always struggled to live in harmony with the Earth. We have maintained our vigilance and bear witness to a blatant disregard for our planet and sustainable life ways. We’ve seen that the pursuit of maximized profits through globalization, privatization, and corporate personhood has become a plague that destroys life. We know that it is not only the land that suffers as a result of these practices. The people most closely associated with the Earth suffer first and most.
The enormous pressures of corporate profits have intruded on our tribal lands, but also on our ancient cultures—even to the extent that many Indigenous cultures have virtually disappeared. Just as our relatives in the animal kingdom are threatened, many more cultures are on the brink of extinction.
In America, we are at ground zero of this war for survival and most often have been left with no mechanism to fight this globalization monster. On those occasions when we are forced into a defensive posture, we are disappeared, tortured, killed, and imprisoned. I myself have served over 34 years in prison for resisting an invasion intent on violating our treaties and stealing our land for the precious resource of uranium. The same desire for uranium has decimated and poisoned the Diné Nation of Arizona and New Mexico. The quest for land for dumping and hiding the toxic waste from various nuclear processes has caused a war to be waged on the Shoshone people of Nevada, as well. These are just a few examples of what “progress” has meant for our peoples. As many can attest, the same struggle is occurring throughout Central and South America. While my defense of my tribal lands made me a political prisoner, I know I’m not at all unique. This struggle has created countless other prisoners of conscience—not to mention prisoners of poor health and loss of life way, as well as victims of guilt and rage.
To live as we were meant to live is our first right. To live free of the fear of forced removal, destroyed homelands, poisoned water, and loss of habitat, food sources, and our overall life way is our righteous demand. We, therefore, continue our struggle to survive in the face of those who deny climate change and refuse to curb corporate powers.
It is time for all our voices to be heard.
It is time we all listen, too—or else our collective Mother will dramatically and forcefully unstop our ears.
The Indigenous Peoples have been the keepers of knowledge and wisdom—long ago bringing forth foods, medicines, and other products from which the world population still benefits. The loss of our lands and cultures, therefore, is a loss for the entire human family. We are all citizens of Earth and this planet is our only home. What affects one, affects us all. We are all interconnected and our fates are intertwined.
We can indefinitely survive here, but only if we work together to adopt sustainable models for living responsibly. We cannot continue to destroy Creator’s work, or allow others to do so, in the belief that there will be no consequences.
I pray for a new age—a new understanding, consciousness, and way of being—a new path for all the peoples of the world.
Aho! Mitakuye Oyasin!
(Thank you to all my relations. We are all related.)
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier 89637-132
US Penitentiary
PO Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837


Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy tax day!

Okay, truth be told, if you're like me, you may not associate the fondest feelings with April 15.
But the same can't be said for many of our country's biggest polluters. Industries like big oil and dirty biofuels love tax time because Uncle Sam hands them billions in giveaways.
Just one example: Last year big oil giant Exxon Mobil reported a record $45.2 billion profit, but paid zero dollars to the IRS.1 That's outrageous!
Write a letter to the editor of your local paper demanding an end to wasteful tax giveaways to big oil and bad biofuels.
A key reason Exxon Mobil gets away with this? A recent Friends of the Earth analysis found that the oil and gas industry is slated to receive $32.9 billion in tax giveaways and other federal subsidies between 2009 and 2013.
Oil and gas production isn't the only polluting activity that provides corporations with windfalls from your tax dollars. The corporate giants -- including big oil -- that sell dirty corn ethanol, received $5 billion in 2009 from just one of many ethanol tax breaks. Corn ethanol causes even more global warming pollution than conventional gasoline, and growing corn for fuel causes harmful fertilizer and pesticide runoff. It is not something we should be subsidizing. But according to a recent Friends of the Earth study,3 if these giveaways to dirty ethanol continue, taxpayers like you and me will have funded the biofuels industry to the tune of $400 billion by the year 2022.
Unfortunately, much of the public has no idea that these massive, pollution-promoting giveaways exist.
Will you help us sound the alarm by submitting a letter to the editor to your local newspaper today?
Enough is enough. If you're like me, you work hard to earn your tax dollars. Our representatives in Congress ought to spend our money wisely and invest in clean energy that is in the public interest -- not waste our money on polluter lobbyists' pet projects. Help us send them that message through the media.
Please join me in writing a letter to the editor calling for an end to giveaways to big oil and dirty biofuels today.
Kate McMahon / Friends of the Earth
[1] "Exxon Mobil Paid No Federal Income Tax in 2009," Think Progress,
[2] "Big Oil, Bigger Giveaways," Friends of the Earth,
[3] "A Boon to Bad Biofuels," Friends of the Earth,
What is really going on in Mexico....What is NAFTA.....What is the war on drugs really doing?? What is really going on with illegal immigration....Find out the UN-FOXed story....Hear some truth....
Quit spreading lies and circulating racists jokes around the internet, Stop believing as a white american you matter more than people of color.
Become Conscious.
Legal Defender Isabel Garcia: Arizona Bill Forcing Officers to Determine Immigration Status Marks “All-Out Assault” on Latino Communities
Arizona lawmakers have approved what’s being described as the harshest anti-immigrant measure in the country, forcing police officers to determine the immigration status of someone they suspect of being an undocumented immigrant. Meanwhile, over fifty people were arrested Thursday in a federal immigration sweep targeting van operators allegedly involved in smuggling in undocumented migrants from Mexico. We speak to Isabel Garcia, co-chair of the Tuscon-based Coalition for Human Rights and legal defender of Pima County, Arizona.

Charles Bowden on “Murder City: Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields”
First Lady Michelle Obama arrived in Mexico City Tuesday night after making a stop in Haiti on her first official trip abroad without the president. Her trip to Mexico comes as a new report by the Mexican government has found the death toll from the so-called drug war is much higher than previously thought. Nearly 23,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since a US-backed military crackdown on cartels began more than three years ago. The report said 2009 was the deadliest year in the drug war, with over 9,600 people killed. The death toll is on track to be even higher in 2010. We speak to reporter Charles Bowden, author of Murder City: Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields.
This GIANT story has received little attention.....make your own conclusions....It is crazy making to think that the man who spilled the beans, is now housed in prison for the next 40 months, while the real criminals get their hands slapped.
Not to mention......Obama and other heads of states, golf with the perpetrators....this sends a message.....a very deep message.
What are we going to do.....will we be silenced as a country...or will we be able to call a spade a spade......

"Jailed UBS Whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld Makes Tax Day Clemency Request to President Obama"
"A former banker for the Swiss giant UBS who blew the whistle on the biggest tax evasion scheme in US history is asking President Obama today for clemency to coincide with Tax Day, the day US income tax returns are due for most people. In January, Bradley Birkenfeld began serving a forty-month sentence despite playing a key role in uncovering the bank scandal. He first came forward to US authorities in 2007 and began providing inside information on how UBS was helping thousands of Americans evade taxes by hiding billions of dollars in secret Swiss accounts. "

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Democracy now has a great interview on American insanity.
Go to:
Charles Bowden on “Murder City:
Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields”

A new report by the Mexican government has found the death toll from the so-called drug war is much higher than previously thought. Nearly 23,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since a US-backed military crackdown on cartels began more than three years ago. The report said 2009 was the deadliest year in the drug war, with over 9,600 people killed. The death toll is on track to be even higher in 2010 with more than 3,300 people in the first three months of this year alone. We speak to reporter Charles Bowden, author of “Murder City: Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields.”

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Check this post out...found at :
Posted by Kevin Connor at 11:30 am
April 7, 2010 COMMENT NOW!
 The Company Behind the Mine Disaster Has Grotesque Safety RecordThe death toll in the West Virginia mining explosion has climbed to 25, the worst mining accident since 1984, and the company that owns the mine, Massey Energy, is coming under intense scrutiny for a record of safety violations that suggests it could have done far more to guard against disasters like the one that occurred on Monday.
Think Progress has compiled extensive data on violations at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine, where the accident occurred, showing that the company has been cited a staggering 3,007 times since 1995 for violations at that mine, with assessed fines of $2.2 million (Massey is currently contesting $1.1 million of that amount).Disregard for worker safety was central to Massey’s business model: keep labor costs low to keep profits running high. That meant breaking unions and issuing memos like this one from CEO Don Blankenship which informed mine superintendents that “RUNNING COAL” was more important than any safety-related activity in the mines.

Specifically, Blankenship made a derisive, parenthetical reference to the construction of overcasts, which are mine ventilation structures designed to keep workers alive and breathing.
The company’s environmental record is similarly grotesque. The company is a leading practicioner of mountain-top removal, a horribly destructive method of mining. According to Forbes, in 2001 after 30,000 gallons of sludge emptied out of one of its mines into a nearby river with nary a peep from Massey, it won superlative condemnation from the state’s mine safety board, which called its response “absolutely the worst behavior by any company that any member of this board has ever seen over the decades that this board has been in existence.”

Blankenship is the sort of fringe lunatic readily embraced by the US Chamber of Commerce, where he sits on the board of directors. He calls environmental advocates “greeniacs,” has described the Charleston Gazette as a collection of “communists and atheists” and likened them to Osama bin Laden, and in 2004 launched a sinister, multi-million dollar campaign to back a candidate that swung the West Virginia Supreme Court in his favor. That bit of political intervention served as the inspiration for a John Grisham novel.
And then there is this chilling Blankenship quote from 1984:
“Unions, communities, people — everybody’s gonna have to accept that, in the United States, we have a capitalist society. And that capitalism, from a business viewpoint, is survival of the most productive.”
Who stands behind outlandish corporate villains like Blankenship?
Wall Street, for one thing. Massey saw big gains in recent months on the strength of profit projections. Stanley Druckenmiller’s Duquesne Capital gave Blankenship a vote of confidence by buying 6.2% of the company earlier this year. Druckenmiller was once George Soros’s right-hand man, helping him break the British pound in 1992.
To their credit, several banks, including Bank of America, have apparently stopped financing Massey’s operations in recent years. But overall, Wall Street (surprise surprise) had failed to price in the rising risk of utter catastrophe at one of Massey’s coal mines.
Former NSA director Bobby Ray Inman has stood by Blankenship and supported his leadership of Massey for over two decades. He is Massey’s lead independent director (and its longest-serving board member), having joined the board in 1985, when it was still a subsidiary of Fluor Corp (and Blankenship was not yet head of the company). Under Inman’s watch, Blankenship was promoted to CEO. In 2000, Massey split from Fluor, and Inman (and Blankenship) went with it.
Year after year, as a member of Massey’s compensation committee, Inman has approved multi-million dollar payouts for Blankenship. In 2008, Blankenship made $19.7 million, all told, and he reportedly got a raise in 2009.
Inman is about as elite as you can get: Clinton’s nominee for Defense Secretary in 1993 (he eventually withdrew); on the boards of numerous companies, many of them defense contractors; an honorary member of the Public Agenda Foundation, along with social security looter Pete Peterson; and, of course, a member of the Bohemian Club.
All signs point to Blankenship, Inman, and other members of Massey’s leadership facing some tough questions over the coming months.
One place to find them: at the company’s annual shareholder meeting, May 18 at 9am at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia.
Kevin Connor is co-founder and research director of, an involuntary facebook of powerful Americans.

Besides destroying our world for profit...Massey Energy destorys lives for profit; and prevents real change to renewal energy by corporate support of propaganda regarding "clean coal"... what an oxymoron.