Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: black agenda report, boycott BP, BP, Deepwater Horizon, glen ford
America Can’t Solve Crises Because It’s a Company-Owned Town
by Glen Ford
The United States can no longer engage effectively in “nation-building” in the one place on Earth it has a right and duty to do so: at home. These are the lessons of the 2010 Gulf oil catastrophe, the 2008 financial meltdown and the 2005 Katrina horror — disasters that history will rightfully conflate as symptomatic of the fundamental crisis of the rule of Capital. The U.S. has become a company town of speculative and extraction enterprises whose social and physical geography the rulers relentlessly appropriate, monetize and despoil – all with obscene abandon.
At the core of the100 or so activists that gathered in New Orleans for an Emergency Summit to Stop the Gulf Oil Catastrophe, last weekend, were veterans of the ravages of Disaster Capitalism following Hurricane Katrina. They had seen up close how Capital and its servants at all levels of government organized themselves as a public-private mob to drive Black and poor people from the city. They were witnesses to the crafting of a corporate consensus that the exiled poor should have no rights that conflicted with the imperatives of Capital — no right to return, no right to reclaim their lives, no rights that cannot be superseded by the claims and ambitions of the oligarchs. They had watched as finance Capital’s urban gentrification agenda was near-instantaneously put on fast-forward in New Orleans to ensure the permanent purging of the poor. A kind of perverse anthem seemed to rise from each corporate celebration of the city’s imminent and profitable rebirth: “Free the land — of Black people!”
Now the land and bayous and sea are made hostile to all life by the depraved indifference of voracious extractors who monetized, securitized and derivitaized the Gulf’s most deeply buried oil deposits years before the accursed Deepwater Horizon rig made its last, fatal thrust. The super-deep reservoirs of the Gulf were sold and their oil futures already leveraged to finance yet more assaults on man and nature, even before President Obama’s flip-flop on off-shore drilling in August, 2008, when he had the Democratic nomination in the bag.
Such world-shaping dealings have nothing to do with you and me, nothing to do with notions of democracy, because democracy does not exist in the United States, where finance capital and its extracting, hoarding, manipulating energy cousin, rule. There is no evidence of democracy anywhere that counts — not in the $14-plus trillion transferred directly to Wall Street, mostly by the quasi-public Federal Reserve, while the real economy in general and Black America in particular were stripped and gutted. No notions of an American social compact could deter the ruling class from acting out its pathologies on its own citizens when Katrina presented the opportunity. And no amount of public disgust at BP has moved Obama to behave as if he is beholden to the majority that elected him — for the simple reason that he is not.
Every element of the American political process is firmly in the hands of the oligarchy. The public only became aware of Barack Obama’s existence after he had been thoroughly vetted by corporate mechanisms of all kinds, including but by no means limited to the corporatist Democratic Leadership Council (see Bruce Dixon, Black Commentator, June 5, 2003). Obama’s informal — but quite binding — “contracts” with the oligarchs were concluded before he set foot in the U.S. Senate. The public was the last to know that the obscure politician Obama had become a “viable” prospect by corporate acclimation in the only “race” that counts — the early, business fund-raising contest. (The corporate consensus included BP, which gave Obama more money than any other candidate, and Wall Street, which was even more generous to the Nation’s First Black President.)
The U.S. government is divorced from the people because it is a creature of Capital. The three recent mega-crises are both the products and the illuminators of that wholly corrupt relationship. It is, therefore, quite logical that the activists of the Emergency Summit to Stop the Gulf Oil Catastrophe appear to direct their demands to both BP and Obama:
1) Stop oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Full compensation, retraining and new employment, including public works, for all affected,
2) The government and entire oil industry must allocate all necessary resources to stop and clean up the spill, prevent oil from hitting shore, protect wildlife, treat injured wildlife, and repair all devastation. Full support, including by compensation, must be given to peoples’ efforts on all these fronts and to save the Gulf.
3) No punishment to those taking independent initiative; no gag orders on people hired, contracted, or who volunteer; those responsible for this crime against the environment and the people should be prosecuted.
4) Full mobilization of scientists and engineers. Release scientific and technical data to the public; no more lying and covering up. Immediately end use of dispersants; full, open scientific evaluation of nature and impact of dispersants. Fund all necessary scientific and medical research.
5) Full compensation for all losing livelihood and income from the disaster.
6) Provide necessary medical services to those suffering health effects of the spill. Protect the health of and provide necessary equipment for everyone involved in clean up operations. Full disclosure of medical and scientific studies about the effects of the oil disaster.
No Nation-Building, Here
We are living in the late stages of overwhelming dominance (hegemony) of finance capital — and, secondarily, the oil and gas money-machines. It is a period characterized by destruction of the domestic manufacturing base and frenzied predation of the public sector. The mission of Capital’s servants in government is, therefore, to assist Wall Street and the energy sector in the fastest possible conversion of natural and social resources to private exploitation.
Those among the public and media that still harbor the illusion that government is there to serve the people, despite seeing so much evidence to the contrary, speak of a national “malaise,” a loss of purpose, a temporary failure or flaw in the national character. What nonsense! What we are witnessing is the destructive behavior of a predatory class that sees its future in trillion-dollar derivative bets; commodification of every conceivable resource (food, water, air?) and manipulation of every commodity market; privatization of every possible state function (schools, safety nets); constant expansion of the “market” in the maintenance of empire; and the “primitive accumulation” of the spoils of war.
For such a class, there is no room, rhyme or reason for anything resembling domestic nation-building, and they will not assign their servants in government to any such project. Worse than simply being on their own, the people face the same oligarchic enemy at the commanding heights of both the public and private sectors: the Democrat and the banks, the Republican and Big Oil, and vice versa – and all of them aligned with the military complex.
The pace of disaster-making is quickening in America, which indicates something very much like “the end is near.”
Maybe these overlapping pyrotechnics of horror — Katrina, the Crash of 2008, the Great Gusher in the Gulf — are necessary to teach Americans the nature of class war, that it is, indeed, hell. At any rate, the oligarchs can be counted on to accelerate the processes of their own demise. It is up to the people to save themselves, through organizing; there are no guarantees.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: BP, daily green, oil spill, seize BP assets, seizebp.org, siezbp.org, sieze BP assets
Since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig April 20 killed 11 oil rig workers, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to claim the lives of wildlife, like birds and sea turtles, and compromise the fishing and tourism industries, and threaten the culture of the Gulf coast. That, and it’s spawned an awful lot of misconceptions. Here’s a look at a few myths that The Daily Green has been watching:
1. Obama Put a Moratorium on Offshore Oil Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico
Myth. President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a moratorium on new oil deepwater drilling permits, and shut down 33 exploratory deepwater wells on May 6. (A similar moratorium on new shallow water drilling lifted three weeks later. “Shallow” in this context means up to 499 feet deep.) Both orders, however, were vague and left 3,600 existing offshore oil wells active in Gulf waters. Since the spill, 17 new offshore oil drilling projects have been permitted. Even the six-month deepwater moratorium was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge June 22, leaving it void if not overturned on appeal or reinstated on different legal grounds. (Nevermind that the judge has invested in Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded, Halliburton, which handled the faulty cementing of the well, and about a dozen other companies involved in offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.) And Obama has always been a supporter of offshore oil, though some of his environmentalist supporters seem to have forgotten that; he made good on a campaign promise shortly before the BP oil spill started and proposed opening additional offshore waters to oil and gas exploration – in the Gulf of Mexico, along the Atlantic coast and off Alaska. (Permits to start drilling in those new waters have been suspended temporarily.)
2. Boycotting BP Gas Stations Boycotts BP
Myth. Lady Gaga is among the leading proponents of a BP boycott, as musicians on summer tours shun the stations, along with Public Citizen and tens of thousands of Facebook fans of a boycott. But while the brand may be offensive and permanently tainted, BP disinvested in its U.S. gasoline chain in 2007, leaving independent owners invested most heavily in local stations. They pay BP a licensing fee and may (or may not) be more likely to carry BP gasoline, but the economics of wholesale oil and gas is such that BP, Britain’s largest company, is unlikely to suffer much from a retail gas boycott, but BP the local station owner could. Anyway, what’s the better alternative? And unfortunately, oil ends up in a lot of products other than gasoline, under a lot of different brands, making it difficult to avoid one company’s product.
3. Offshore Oil Could Make the U.S. Energy Independent
Myth. The U.S. imports 57% of the oil we burn, and two-thirds of those imports come from politically unstable or hostile countries. As a nation, we spend more than $700 million a day on imported oil (the figure was more than $1 billion as recently as 2008, when oil prices were higher). There isn’t enough oil offshore to offset that imbalance. An analysis by the Energy Information Administration, the most credible government voice on energy issues, predicted that new offshore oil drilling would result in a whopping 3-cent difference in the price of gas by 2030. That’s not to say that renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, are ready to fill in and plug the gap either, unfortunately. If you’re looking for a better path toward energy independence, conservation is the most lucrative avenue. Three pennies not spent on gas are three pennies earned (and three pennies worth of offshore oil not drilled).
4. The Deepwater Horizon Rig Was Uniquely Vulnerable to Disaster
Myth. The facts keep piling up showing negligence – or at the very least, bad decision-making – by BP, and many of those decisions and conditions may be unique to BP, which has been criticized before this for a culture that put profits far ahead of safety and environmental protection. But disaster preparedness by other oil companies drilling in the Gulf, and oversight by the government, is virtually identical. For instance, other companies’ disaster response plans in the Gulf seem to include notes about protecting the walrus and other Arctic creatures that don’t live in the Gulf; unfortunately they don’t include plans to respond to underwater plumes of oil, failed blowout preventers or other real-world issues. And the Mineral Management Service, the agency in charge of regulating energy exploration on federal lands and in federal waters (yes, you own those) was outed repeatedly by its own inspector general of cavorting with oil companies, failing to inspect rigs, waiving requirements for environmental review and otherwise failing its public service mission in favor of its royalty-collecting mission. The MMS determined in 2009 that an environmental review of the Deepwater Horizon rig wasn’t warranted because it would have “minimal or non-existent environmental effects.” The story is the same with hundreds of other drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico – including 49 projects (including two BP projects) exempted from environmental review since the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Clearly, the assumption that these rigs are safe is dead wrong. (Photo: Pacific walrus, by NOAA)
5. Seafood Is Widely Contaminated
Myth. Certainly, oil can make seafood unsafe to eat, and the Gulf of Mexico is the primary source of domestic shrimp and oysters, and a significant source for other popular fish, like red snapper. And roughly one-third of the Gulf has been closed to fishing as the oil spreads. But much of the seafood for sale in the U.S. is imported, and two-thirds of the Gulf remains open to fishing. While fraud can never be fully discounted, there are systems being put in place to inspect Gulf seafood to ensure that it has been caught from clean waters. That said, the story could change as the longterm contamination of the Gulf food chain is studied.
6. The BP Oil Spill Will Lead to a Strong Senate Energy Bill
Myth. The U.S. Senate has been stalled in its efforts to pass an energy and climate bill to match the one passed months ago by the House. A linchpin in the Kerry-Lieberman bill, which would cap carbon emission and invest in clean energy sources, was the expansion of offshore oil drilling. That, along with investment in nuclear power, the shielding of the coal industry from fully owning up to its pollution and other sweeteners were built into the bill to bring Republicans and reluctant Democrats to the table. The catastrophic oil spill will make an energy bill more likely to pass, but without the offshore oil sweetener, a climate bill is not.
7. It’s a “Spill”
Myth. We keep calling it the Gulf oil spill. But it’s a gusher, a geyser, a “four-dimensional catastrophe,” in the words of one fisheries expert: “‘Leak’ is totally wrong. A leak is something you wrap duct tape around and maybe get to next week, next month or next year. The ‘gusher in the Gulf’ sounds way too cute. It’s not exactly a spill: that’s maybe something between your kitchen and your dining room table. ‘Spill’ sounds like a pool. It’s two-dimensional. This is very much a three-dimensional or, rather, a four-dimensional catastrophe,” said Douglas N. Rader, chief ocean scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund. “I think a whole new language is going to have to be developed to discuss accidents – events – environmental catastrophes of this magnitude. Nothing quite like it exists.”
8. The Gulf Coast Will Heal Itself
Myth. While it’s true that natural systems are remarkably regenerative, there’s still evidence of oil spill damage decades after past oil spills of this (or lesser) magnitude. Further, contamination from oil both on the surface and deep underwater could compromise marine ecosystems in surprising ways – leading to tainted seafood, for instance, or degraded wetlands so that coastal communities will be exposed to greater damage from hurricanes and storm surges. Before the spill (even after decades of degradation) the Mississippi Delta provides $47 billion annually in economically valuable “ecological services” – on par with the value of BP. Time will tell how bad and how long the environmental damage will be, but as the oil (hopefully) stops gushing, Gulf of Mexico ecosystems will find a new equilibrium, not return to a previous state.
9. Now We Know How Much Oil Is Spilling
Myth. Just how big is the Gulf oil spill? Recently leaked internal BP documents show that engineers have estimated a worst-case spill rate of 100,000 barrels a day. That’s two-thirds bigger than the worst-case estimate (60,000 barrels) of independent scientists charged by the government with estimating the spill … which was nearly three times the worst-case estimate (25,000 barrels) released by the government in June … which was five times the worst-case estimate (5,000 barrels) released by the government and BP in May … which was itself five times the estimate (1,000 barrels) released by the government and BP in April. The difference between 1,000 barrels and 100,000 barrels is obvious: It’s the difference from being a spill that’s a fraction of the size of the Exxon Valdez spill (previously the worst spill in U.S. history, at 11 million gallons) to a spill that’s many multiples of that infamous spill.
10. The Gulf of Mexico Is Most at Risk from Offshore Oil Spills
Myth. While the Gulf of Mexico holds all of U.S. offshore oil sites currently, President Obama wants to open the Arctic to offshore oil drilling for the first time. Environmental groups are trying to stop the plan, arguing that not only are ecosystems there fragile – think polar bears, seals and, yes, walruses – but a cleanup in icy waters would be even more difficult than in the Gulf of Mexico, and the icy waters themselves would inhibit the (slow, but natural) breakdown of oil. The Interior Department did halt Shell’s plans to start drilling this year, but it’s not a permanent ban. As for which is more vulnerable, it’s a difficult call; the point is that a spill in either place has the potential to devastate entire regions.
11. Shrimp and Pelicans Represent Wildlife at Risk From the Oil Spill
Myth. While shrimp and oil-soaked pelicans have become icons of the Gulf oil spill, there is a huge range of wildlife at risk, from the Kemp’s ridley turtle (five of the world’s seven sea turtles spend time in the Gulf, but none more than the Kemp’s ridley, which spawns only there) to the snowy plover (and other shorebirds that stopover in the Gulf on their migration flights) to the bluefin tuna (which spawns in the Gulf and is already at risk from overfishing). Each of these species was endangered before the spill, and dozens of birds, turtles, fish, marine mammals, crustaceans, and other species are at risk from the effects of the spill. (Photo: Piping plover, by Ralph Wright/American Bird Conservancy)
12. There’s Nothing Individuals Can Do
Myth. There’s always volunteering, donating to those cleaning birds or arguing for good energy policy, or writing to Congress directly. But beyond that, there’s federal law. The Clean Water Act empowers citizens to bring suits to stop water pollution and hold polluters accountable. It’s hard to argue that BP’s oil spill isn’t polluting water, and several groups – The Center for Biological Diversity, Gulf Restoration Network, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, and Environment America – have filed suit. The potential fine is great, at $4,300 per barrel.
13. On-Shore Drilling is Safer
Myth. It’s hard to compare the risks from different activities, but two forms of oil and gas extraction gaining steam on land are fraught with risk. Natural gas extraction from shale requires hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”), a process that injects a chemical stew at high pressure deep underground in order to force natural gas out of the rock. Groundwater becomes contaminated with toxic chemicals, threatening drinking water supplies across a wide swath of country where shale formations exist (like the Marcellus shale through New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia). Another controversial new form of oil extraction comes from so-called “tar sands” like those in Alberta, Canada; extracting oil from tar sands involves open pit mining on a grand scale or heating the land at high temperatures to sort-of melt the oil out of the land. What each of these – deepwater drilling, fracking and tar sands mining – has in common is that they are very difficult, expensive and risky. And that they are made necessary by our appetite for oil; the cheap oil that’s easy to get at is being exhausted, leading us to these highly complex, highly controversial and highly risky methods.
14. Republicans are the Politicians Most in the Pocket of Oil Companies
Myth. Republicans may scream “drill, baby, drill” louder, but when it comes to political money being spent to influence government, it’s more or less a tie. Key Democrats are among the top recipients of political money from oil companies, as are Republicans. The money flows to those in oil-rich states, to high-profile candidates and those with the most power in Congress (ie, the chairs of key committees). Here’s a look at the Friends of Earth tally of opensecrets.org data, showing the biggest recipients of money from BP and other oil companies since 2006:
- John McCain (R-AZ) – $36,649 from BP; $2.43 million total
- Mary Landrieu (D-LA) – $16,200 from BP; $329,100 total
- Mark Begich (D-AK) – $8,550 from BP; $85,958 total
- Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) – $8,500 from BP; 223,326 total
- Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – $8,500 from BP; 408,400 total
- John Culberson (R-TX) – $10,200 from BP; 187,350 total
- Ron Paul (R-TX) – $7,300 from BP; 134,132 total
- Charles Rangel (D-NY) – $6,500 from BP; 40,600 total
- Steny Hoyer (D-MD) – $6,000 from BP; 91,800 total
- Don Young (R-AK) – $5,500 from BP; $45,500 total
15. It Will All Be Over in August
Through each of BP’s failed attempts to cap its well – from the top hat to the top kill – it has maintained that the worst thing that could happen was that the well would continue to gush into August, when the company would complete its relief well. But there’s no guarantee that the relief well will be fully effective. In a June 15 testimony, BP’s Lamar McKay said that “the design of the relief well is very, very similar to the original well.” In addition, there’s speculation that the oil well leak may have caused the sea floor itself to rupture, meaning the shutting off the well may not stop oil from seeping into the Gulf.
By Beth Goldberg, June 18, 2010
Nearly 200 protesters gathered in front of the White House on the afternoon of June 14 to denounce continued U.S. support for Ethiopia’s incumbent regime. Chanting in native Amharic and rallying around the Ethiopian flag, the crowd members were predominantly from DC’s sizable Ethiopian diaspora.
On May 23, Ethiopia held its fourth national election since transitioning to democracy in 1993. The transition away from dictatorship seems incomplete, however, when all four election have reelected President Meles Zenawi and his monolithic EPRDF party by landslide majorities. This year’s officially reported win margin was 99.6% vote for Zenawi, representing the government’s repression of opposition, use of voter intimidation, and rejection of election monitors. This is a significant regression in democratic governance since the last election Ethiopia held in 2005.
The protesters reacted strongly to this regression, calling on the U.S. to change its foreign policy and aid practices, which currently help prop up Zenawi’s regime. Ethiopia receives the third largest amount of foreign aid from the U.S. after Israel and Egypt, receiving $862 million in foreign assistance in 2009. This inundation of aid and diplomatic silence by the U.S. is projected to be because Ethiopia is such valuable U.S. ally in the volatile horn of Africa and in the War on Terror.
But Ethiopians, both in the Horn of Africa and in the U.S. diaspora, are enraged that the U.S. is prioritizing the stability and anti-terrorism policies of their corrupt despot, Zenawi, over encouraging free and fair elections.
The State Department’s assistant press secretary has remained markedly vague and diplomatic, promising, “We will work diligently with Ethiopia to ensure that strengthened democratic institutions and open political dialogue become a reality for the Ethiopian people.”
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: catrachos, fascism, Honduras, Lobo, Micheletti, military coup junta, New York City, protest, Zelaya
Click image for English/Español flier, text below jump:
RALLY: HONDURAS RESISTS!!!
…A YEAR AFTER THE COUP D’ETAT
MONDAY, 28th JUNE 2010, 4:00PM to 7:00PM
Rally assembles at: Times Square (42nd St and 7th Ave) – New York, NY
March to and ending rally: 42nd St to 48th St and 1st Ave (Honduran Embassy-UN)
March of the People of Honduras against the coup d’état of June 28th, 2009
- Stop human rights violations in Honduras
- Stop political assassinations in Honduras
- No to impunity for assassinations and violations
- We demand the release of political prisoners and the repatriation of our political exiles
- We support the rebuilding of Honduras and the creation of a new Constitutional Assembly
Organized by: Resistencia Honduras NY/NJ, Endorsing Organizations: National IAC, May 1st, Troops Out Now Coalition. Solidarity work donated by community organizers
…UN AÑO DESPUES DEL GOLPE DE ESTADO
LUNES, 28 de JUNIO 2010, de 4:00PM a 7:00PMRally Salida: Times Square (42 Calle y Ave. 7th) – New York, NY
Trayecto: Calle 42 hasta la calle 48 y 1ra Ave (Frente Embajada de Honduras)
Marcha del Pueblo Hondureño contra el golpe de estado de Junio 28 del 2009
- Alto a las violaciones de derechos humanos en Honduras
- Alto a los asesinatos políticos
- Alto a la impunidad por violaciones y asesinatos
- Exigimos la libertad a los presos políticos y la repatriación a los exiliados políticos
- Apoyamos la refundación de Honduras con una nueva Asamblea Constituyente
Organizado por: Resistencia Honduras NY/NJ, Organizadores auspiciadoras: National IAC, May 1st, Troops Out Now Coalition. Trabajo de solidaridad donado por organizadores comunitarios
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Gush-Shalom, Knesset, Occupation, palestine, Ram Cohen
A school principal should have a clear and unequivocal moral position about any subject and issue on the agenda of Israeli society. A principal is not an educational clerk. A principal must have, for example, something to say about the deportation of the children of migrant workers, trafficking in women, the separation fence, the withdrawal from Gaza, minimum wage law, settlers attacking Palestinian villagers to exact a `price tag`, the removal of Arabs from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, the siege on Gaza, corruption in government, or the relations of religion and state.
מנהל בית ספר צריך להחזיק בעמדה מוסרית, ברורה וחד משמעית לגבי כל נושא ועניין הנמצאים על סדר יומה של החברה הישראלית, הוא איננו פקיד חינוך. כך למשל צריך שתהיה לו אמירה אודות גירוש ילדי העובדים הזרים, סחר בנשים, גדר ההפרדה, הנסיגה מעזה, חוק שכר מינימום, “תג מחיר”, סילוק ערבים מבתיהם בשיח’ ג’ראח, המצור על עזה, שחיתות שלטונית, שאלות דת ומדינה ועוד.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Protest the crimes of British Petroleum and the painfully slow and woefully inadequate response by both BP and the US Government..
From the People’s Gulf Emergency Summit today in New Orleans, we found out that the
Deepwater Horizon Unified Response Command Center
has moved to New Orleans, near the infamous Superdome where many poor and black people were forced to evacuate to after Hurricane Katrina.
If you are in the area, come out to show your opposition to the collaboration of the destruction of the Gulf.
When : Monday, June 21
Time: Noon to two
Where : 1250 Poydras St (Eni Petroleum)
Bring : your signs, bullhorns, and energy.
(There may be opportunity for Civil Resistance)
for more info email Cindy Sheehan:
EVERYONE CAN DO SOMETHING:
Collect and send towels! Laundry CEO Organizes Towel-Collection Drive for Gulf Spill Clean-Up 16 Jun 2010 David Gross, CEO of Gulf Coast Laundry Services in Gulfport, Miss., is coordinating an effort to get much-needed towels to wildlife agencies racing to save birds, turtles, dolphins and other animals affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Gross is still reaching out to laundries to gather whatever they can, but the most emergent need is still towels. Gross is also asking laundries to pay for shipping costs of the materials they send.To make a donation or for more information on what or where to send supplies, contact Christie Allen at 288-896-4405 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .