White House Protest Corps


America Can’t Solve Crises Because It’s a Company-Owned Town
June 23, 2010, 5:13 pm
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Published on Wednesday, June 23, 2010 by Black Agenda Report

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with the imperatives of Capital — no right to return, no right to reclaim their lives, no rights that cannot be superseded by the claims and ambitions of the oligarchs.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.

© 2010 Black Agenda Report
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.


Oil Spill Catastrophe: The Only Way to Win is Not to Play
June 16, 2010, 10:16 am
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http://www.politicsplus.org/blog/?p=1887

The Congressional hearings on the spill left no doubt that the CEO’s of the world’s five largest oil companies are oblivious as to what to do next.  After the other CEO’s threw BP under the bus, they admitted as much.

16Tillerson ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson told Congress we must do everything possible to prevent offshore drilling disasters, because once they occur, there is not any way to stop the damage. By admitting the unavoidable risk of catastrophe, Tillerson exploded the myths — promoted by the oil industry and right-wing supporters — that offshore drilling is “environmentally safe,” and that the industry can handle these disasters when they occur. Tillerson made the shocking admission that the industry is “not well equipped to prevent any and all damage” under questioning from Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), the chair of the oversight subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, during a hearing that featured top executives from the five largest private oil companies:

There will be impacts as we are seeing. We have never represented anything different than that. That’s why the emphasis is always on preventing these things from occurring because when they happen we are not well equipped to deal with them. And that’s just a fact of the enormity of what we’re dealing with.

Watch it:

The only fail-safe way to prevent oil drilling disasters, in fact, is to stop drilling for oil — in other words, “The only winning move is not to play.” This is yet another reason this nation needs an energy policy that puts a cap on oil pollution and ends our toxic addiction… [emphasis original]

Inserted from <Think Progress>

These clowns would not even admit to having heard of IXTOC.

The industry had demonstrated with dozens of spills, not even mentioning the thousands of barrels currently flowing into and befouling the Gulf, that their ability to prevent leaks is no better than that to clean up after them.  As sympathetic as I am for those who will lose their jobs, there must be no more deep water drilling until such time as the oil industry can unequivocally demonstrate the ability to both prevent deep water spills and prevent environmental damage in case there is one.

The rules of the deep water drilling fame are now clear.  The only winning move is not to play.



Gulf of Mexico Deja Vu
June 16, 2010, 9:36 am
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Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

http://seizebp.org



From Medea Benjamin: Two Excellent Events in DC Fri and Sat

From Medea Benjamin:

It would be great if you could help us get out the word for these events–and join us! Please note the two different Busboy locations. Thanks so much, Medea

Friday, 8:30pm BP Oil Spill – Report Back and Discussion with Diane Wilson and Medea Benjamin

8:30 pm  Busboys and Poets, 14th and V St, NW (Langston Room) – Join Diane Wilson and Medea Benjamin (Global Exchange/CodePink) as the! y bring a first hand account of the damage that the BP Oil Spill is causing in the Gulf. Diane Wilson is a fourth generation shrimper from the Texas Gulf and a founder of CODEPINK. Medea Benjamin recently returned from a visit to the Gulf. Both have been involved in actions to protest BP. FREE AND OPEN TO ALL!


Saturday: 5PM , Report back from Free Gaza Flotilla
Busboys and Poets, 5th and K NW (Cullen Room) – R: Hear eyewitness reports from activists who accompanied the Free Gaza Flotilla, which was boarded by Israeli troops, in the early hours of May 31. Speakers include: Col. Ann Wright, former Ambassador  Ed Peck, Ramzi Kysia, and others associated with the Free Gaza movement. Background of the Free Gaza movement, efforts to provide needed humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, and next steps. Please join us and support these human rights activists! FREE AND OPEN TO ALL!

Gael Murphy
CODEPINK
www.gazafreedommarch.org

__._,_.___


The Oil Spills You Never Heard Of

By Conn Hallinan, June 11, 2010

http://www.fpif.org/blog/the_oil_spills_you_never_heard_of

While the news about British Petroleum’s (BP) Deepwater Horizon platform blowout in the Gulf of Mexico is on a 24-hour news feed, it took a long boat ride and some serious slogging by John Vidal of The Observer (UK) to uncover a bigger and far deadlier oil spill near the village of Otuegwe in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.

“We lost our nets, huts and fishing pots. This is where we fished and farmed. We have lost our forest,” Otuegwe’s leader, Chief Promise, told Vidal.

The culprits in Nigeria are Shell and Exxon Mobil, whose 40-year old pipelines break with distressing regularity, pouring oil into the locals’ fishing grounds and drinking water. The Delta supports 606 oil fields that supply close to 40 percent of U.S. oil imports.

This past May, an Exxon Mobil pipeline ruptured in the state of Akwa Ibon, dumping more than a million gallons into the Delta before it was patched. According to Ben Ikari, a writer and member of the local Ogoni people, “This kind of thing happens all the time in the Delta…the oil companies just ignore it. The lawmakers do not care, and people must live with the pollution daily. The situation is worse than it was 30 years ago.”

Just how bad things are is not clear, because the oil companies and the Nigerian government will not make the figures public. But independent investigators estimate that over the past four decades the amount of oil released into the Delta adds up to 50 Exxon Valdez spills, or 550 million gallons.  According to the most recent government figures, up to June 3, Deepwater Horizon had pumped between 24 to 51 million gallons into the Gulf.

Nigerian government figures show there have been more than 9000 spills between 1970 and 2000, and there are currently 2,000 official spill sites. The oil companies claim the majority of them are caused by local rebels blowing up pipelines or siphoning off the oil, and that spills are quickly dealt with.

However, the locals say most of the spills are caused by the aging infrastructure, and they and environmental groups charge that the companies do virtually nothing to clean them up. And when local people do challenge the oil giants, they say they get run off by oil company security guards.

The biggest oil disaster in the world, however, is not in Africa or the Gulf of Mexico, but in Ecuador’s Amazon jungle, where Texaco—now owned by Chevron—pumped 18.5 billion gallons of “produced water” into an area of more than 2,000 square miles.  “Produced water” is heavily laden with salts, crude oil, and benzene, a carcinogenic chemical,.

According to the Amazon Defense Coalition, Chevron dumped the toxic waste directly into rivers and streams, in spite of recommendations by American Petroleum Institute that such waste be injected deep into the earth. “The BP tragedy was an accident; Chevron’s discharge in Ecuador was deliberate,” said the Coalition in a press release.

Experts estimate that 345 million gallons of oil have been discharged into the rainforest, one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. The oil and wastewater, along with “black rains” produced by the uncontrolled burning of gas, has created a nightmare for the local indigenous groups—the Secoya, Cofan, Siona, Huarani, and Kichwa.

Ecuador and the five tribes are currently suing Chevron for $27 billion, but the oil company claims it bears no responsibility for Texaco’s practices and says it will not pay a nickel if it is assessed for any of the damage.

As oil resources decrease, the pressure will be on to seek new resources in more marginal territory, including the deep ocean, tropical rain forests, and sensitive artic and tundra zones.  Shell is chomping at the bit to start drilling in the Artic Ocean.

Judith Kimerling, who wrote “Amazon Crude” about the oil industry in Ecuador, told The Observer, “Spills, leaks and deliberate discharges are happening in oilfields all over the world and very few people seem to care.”

Except, of course, the people who live in the middle of them.