You are hereEnvironment
By Dave Lindorff
Okay, the etch-a-sketch vulture capitalist who would have given us four years of that smarmy missionionary-at-your-door smile, was thankfully sent packing by the voters, and Barack Obama gets four more years in the White House.
Gar Smith discusses his new book, Nuclear Roulette: The Truth About the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth, which has a foreword by Jerry Mander and Ernest Callenbach. Gar Smith is editor emeritus of Earth Island Journal, a Project Censored award-winning investigative journalist, and cofounder of Environmentalists Against War.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!
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Imagine if George W. Bush had stood on the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center and declared, "We are going to continue our pursuit of world domination and environmental destruction until the oceans rise, the storms surge, and this spot and all the surrounding streets are drowned in routine floods, destroying the infrastructure, and collapsing the buildings of this great city, while you morons are distracted by my screams for vengeance and genocide against people who've never driven an SUV a block in their lives or ever heard of us."
Imagine if Barack "Clean Coal" Obama had followed the same honest path, and not only competed with Mitt Romney in debates over who could drill more oil, but also stated plainly and openly that the Pentagon is still not ready for World War II to end.
On August 14, 1941, the military brought before the Senate plans to build a permanent building that would be the largest office building in the world and would be called the Pentagon. Senator Arthur Vandenberg asked for an explanation: "Unless the war is to be permanent, why must we have permanent accommodations for war facilities of such size?" Then he began to catch on: "Or is the war to be permanent?"
We weren't supposed to have standing armies, much less armies standing in everyone else's countries, much less armies fighting wars over the control of fuels that destroy the planet and armies that themselves consume the greatest quantity of those fuels, even though the armies lose all the wars. Before the Nobel Peace Prize was handed out to war makers, it was intended for those who had done the best work of removing standing armies from the world. World War II changed everything.
We never went back to pre-WWII taxes or pre-WWII military or pre-WWII restraint in foreign empire or pre-WWII respect for civil liberties or pre-WWII notions of who deserved a Nobel Peace Prize. We never saw another declaration of war from Congress, but we never stopped using those of 1941, never left Germany, never left Japan, never dismantled the Pentagon. Instead, as William Blum documents in his remarkable new book, "America's Deadliest Export: Democracy," since the supposed end of WWII, the United States has tried to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of them democratically elected; interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries; attempted to assassinate over 50 foreign leaders; dropped bombs on people in over 30 countries; and attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 nations.
Oh, but we meant well, and we mean well. Absolutely not so. There's no "we" involved here. The U.S. government meant and means global domination, nothing else. And yet, even foreigners buy the U.S. snake oil. Gaddafi thought he could please Washington and be spared. So did the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein. When Hugo Chavez heard about the coup planned against him in 2002, he sent a representative to Washington to plead his case. The coup went ahead just the same. Subcomandante Marcos believed Washington would support the Zapatistas once it understood who they were. Ho Chi Minh had seen behind the curtain when Woodrow Wilson was president; World War II didn't change quite everything. Maurice Bishop of Grenada, Cheddi Jagan of British Guiana, and the foreign minister of Guatemala appealed to Washington for peace before the Pentagon overthrew their governments. "We" don't mean well when we threaten war on Iran any more than we meant well when "we" overthrew Iran's government in 1953. The U.S. government has the very same agenda it had in 1953 because it is still engaged in the very same war, the war without end.
At the very moment of supreme moral pretense in 1946, as the United States was leading the prosecution of Nazi war crimes and killing the Nazis found guilty, at the very moment when Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson was declaring that those who sat in judgment at Nuremberg would be subject to the same standard of law, the United States was giving Guatemalans syphilis to see what would happen to them, and importing Nazi scientists by the dozen to work for the Pentagon. The war to save 6 million Jews that in reality condemned them and 60 million others to death, the war of innocence that followed the arming of the Chinese and the British, and before that the arming of the Nazis and Japanese, the war against empire that in reality spread the largest empire the earth has known, the war against inhumanity that in reality developed and used the greatest weapons ever directed against humans: that war wasn't a triumph; it IS a triumph. It has never ended. We've never stopped making our children pledge allegiance like little fascists. We've never stopped dumping our money into the complex that Dwight Eisenhower warned us would exert total influence over our society. We've never stopped to consider whether attacks on a finite planet must end someday. Truman showed Stalin a couple of bombs, and the goddamn flags haven't stopped waving yet.
If you don't believe me, read more William Blum. The Marshall Plan was a plan for domination -- smarter and more skillful domination than some other attempts -- but still domination. U.S. capitalist control was the highest purpose. Sabotage of leftist political gains was the primary approach. It's never changed. Dictators that play along have "our" full support. Don't go looking for "humanitarian" attacks by NATO in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia or Jordan or UAE or Qatar or Kuwait or Yemen, any more than Obama was willing to turn against Ben Ali or Mubarak or Gadaffi or Assad until doing so appeared strategic for the pursuit of global domination. The United States does not intervene. It never intervenes. It is incapable of intervening. This is because it is already intervened everywhere. What it calls intervening is actually switching sides.
If you don't believe me, read a short new book by Nick Turse called "The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Spies, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare." The "new" U.S. military is not a return to pre-WWII, not a reduction in financial expense, not a redirection away from global domination, not a shift toward somehow becoming defensive rather than offensive. The "new" military is a technological and tactical tweaking of the existing U.S. empire based on racist exploitation. Here's what's new:
The branches are blurring. The military, CIA, State Department, and Drug Enforcement Agency are becoming a team that operates in secret at the behest of the President. (Before you cheer, stop and consider that come January the president may belong to the Bad Team.) The Pentagon now has its own "intelligence" agency, while the State Department has its own office of proxy war making. U.S. Special Forces are active in 70 nations on any given day, on behalf of the President, without the authorization of Congress, and in the name of the uninformed people of the United States. The "special" forces, operating under the acronyms SOCOM and JSOC, are no longer special for being smaller. They're special for having the power to operate in greater secrecy and without the apparent limitation of any laws whatsoever.
Remember that raid that killed Osama bin Laden? Yay! Hurray! Whooo Hooo! Murder is sooooooo cool. But did you know that soldiers working for you do at least a dozen such raids somewhere in the world on any given night? Are you confident that everyone killed in a dozen raids a night is also Pure Satanic Evil deserving of execution without charge or trial? Are you certain that this practice sets a good example? Would you support other nations adopting its use? "Our" "special" forces are now larger than most nations' militaries, and we don't have the slightest idea what those forces are doing. "Our access [to foreign countries]," says Eric Olson, former chief of Special Operations Command, "depends on our ability to not talk about it." Got that? Your hero-murderers want you to keep quiet.
Here's what's new: the U.S. military has set up dozens of bases all over the world from which to fly killer robots known as drones. And there are dozens of bases all over the United States involved in the drone wars. Turse helpfully lists them; I guarantee there's at least one near you. Here in Virginia at Langley Air Force Base our brave desk-murderers watch what they oh-so-comically call "Death TV" -- the live video feeds from drones flying over people's homes on the other side of the world. At Fort Benning in Georgia, where the annual protest of the School of the Americas torture school is coming up soon, they're testing drones that can shoot to kill without human input. What could go wrong? Not only has the blowback begun, but it's how we learn where some of the drone bases are. In 2009, a suicide attack killed CIA officers and mercenaries at Forward Operating Base Chapman in the Khost province of Afghanistan, and only then did we learn that the base was used for targeting drone murders in Pakistan.
This is of course apart from the usual blowback of greatly heightened hostility which is being produced by the U.S. military in nations all over the world. The 2010 attack on Libya, for example, resulted in well-armed Tuareg mercenaries, who had backed Gadaffi, heading back to Mali, destabilizing that country, and producing a military coup by a U.S.-trained officer, as well as parts of the country being seized by the latest al Qaeda affiliate. And that's in Mali. Never mind what a paradise Libya has become post liberation!
Many of the bases the U.S. military uses abroad are in nations less heavily occupied than Afghanistan. They are permitted to operate where they do by the nasty governments of those nations, thanks to U.S. support for dictatorship. This explains why the Arab Spring produced so much footage of U.S.-made armored personnel carriers, tanks, helicopters, and tear gas. The Obama administration is eagerly increasing supplies of U.S.-made weaponry to the very regimes beating, jailing, and killing pro-democracy activists. Repeat after me: "But it's a jobs program."
In fact, it's a major jobs program. The Pentagon/State Department markets U.S. weapons abroad, and the U.S. tripled its sales of weapons abroad last year, now accounting for 85% of international weapons sales.
But the weapons sales are the least of it. The United States now maintains its own troops in most nations on the earth and engages in joint training exercises with the local militaries. The biggest areas for base construction today are probably Afghanistan and Africa. Despite the supposed "winding down" of the war on Afghanistan over the next 2 or 12 years, base construction is moving ahead full steam, including new "secret" bases for "special" forces, new "secret" drone bases, and new prisons. The thinking -- and I use the term generously -- in Afghanistan and around the globe is that the United States should let the locals do more of the killing and dying. Of course, this hasn't worked in Afghanistan or Iraq, any more than it worked in Vietnam. In Afghanistan, a proxy war in the 1980s produced notable blowback that can only be appreciated by fanatics for continued war, not by residents of New York City.
Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Countrywomen, let's grow the fuck up. Stop blaming an imaginary being for a storm that you and your government produced. Stop thanking "God" for sparing one house while wiping out another. Put down the flags and the bullshit love of country. If you want to love this country you'll have to love the planet it's on. If you want to love this planet you'll have to love all of its people, and all of its other life forms. The storms are our own creation. The rising ocean is our own knowing act. If we want to turn this trend around we will have to shut down the Department of Defense and create a new department aimed at defending us from dangers that actually exist.
By Dave Lindorff
A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana, showing that young children who are fearful in childhood are likely to be conservative when they grow up got me to thinking.
By Dave Lindorff
We know that there isn't much "Hope" for "Change" -- at least for progressive change -- should President Obama win a second term as president.
Even when he had the chance, with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress during the first two years of his presidency, and with a solid mandate from the voters to act on restoring civil liberties, taking significant action against climate change, ending the wars and defending Social Security and Medicare, he did nothing.
New Book for Ages 6 to 10: Tube World
Parents: Have your kids been tired in the morning? Have you found wet bathing suits in their beds? Do they know things about far-away places that you didn’t teach them and they didn’t learn in school? Do children visiting your town from halfway around the world always seem to be friends with your kids, and to only be around during certain hours of the day? You won’t believe the explanation, but your kids might grin and wink at each other if you read it to them.
Kids: Did you know the center of the Earth was hollow? Do you know the words that can take you there, if you’re under the covers in your swimming suit and prepared for the trip? Can you imagine traveling anywhere in the world where there’s a swimming pool — and being home again in time for breakfast? If you haven’t been to Tube World yet, this book will tell you the secrets you need to know. And it will tell you about some children who discovered Tube World and used it to make the whole world a better place.
The paperback has been published in two versions, one with slightly better color, slightly better paper, and a dramatically higher price.
Buy the standard paperback from Amazon,
(If you order from Amazon it will ship right away even if Amazon says it won't ship for weeks; it is print-on-demand.)
Buy the premium paperback from Amazon,
Your local independent bookstore can order the book through Ingram.
Anyone can order the book in bulk at the lowest possible price right here.
Buy PDF, Audio, EPUB, or Kindle for $8 right here:
Advance Praise for Tube World:
“This book will make you laugh till water comes out your ears!”--Wesley
“This story is super flibba garibbidy schmibbadie libbidie awesome, mostly!”--Travis
“The best part is we saved 2,000 islands and pretty much the whole world in our swimming suits!”--Hallie
About Shane Burke:
Shane Burke lives in Denver Colorado and has been drawing and painting since he could hold a pencil. He took private art lessons when he was young and began winning awards and contests by the age of seven. His first big commission came at age nine when he created artwork for a billboard near his home town of Tracy California. His greatest influences came from his grandfather and elementary school teachers. He loved watching his grandfather paint landscapes and wanted to be just like him. Shane is a creative day dreamer and at complete peace when putting ink to paper. You can see more of Shane's work at www.beezink.com
Events in South Korea are putting U.S. and international environmental groups into coalition with antiwar groups, and in rare opposition to one of the most environmentally destructive forces on earth: the military industrial complex.
Normally, this doesn't happen. Typically, civil liberties groups oppose the detention and torture and assassination that come with military spending, but not the spending and not the wars. Typically, anti-poverty and pro-education groups lament the supposed lack of funding, but avoid all mention of our dumping 57% of federal discretionary funds into war preparation and war. Typically, for environmental groups, our top consumer of oil, producer of superfund sites, and poisoner of the earth is off-limits. We oppose pollution, but not pollution in the cause of killing people more quickly.
Jeju Island, South Korea, is changing this. A coordinated international campaign is trying to save this beautiful island from destruction. The World Conservation Congress 2012 is being held on Jeju Island -- while just four miles away, in the island's Gangjeong Village, construction is beginning on a massive new naval base to be used by the United States. Dredging of the seabed and coral has already begun. 94% of the residents of Gangjeong Village have voted against construction of the base.
The extraordinary biological diversity, unique volcanic topography, and the culture of Jeju Island attract many tourists. The Sea of Gangjeong is a national cultural treasure adjacent to a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Only 114 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins remain in Korea, and they live here -- one of many species threatened by base construction. The damage will be devastating.
If the base is constructed, it will host nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, as well as Aegis missile-carrying warships. U.S. taxpayers will pay the cost of the Obama administration "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific, while Jeju Islanders pay with a damaged home. Ultimately, the cost to the earth and the risk of war will belong to all of us.
Villagers have been arrested during nonviolent protests. Police and construction workers have assaulted elderly members of the community, who represent a large portion of the activists. Raising our voices in solidarity is the least we can do. But Samsung, the primary contractor for base construction, is sponsoring the World Conservation Congress (WCC), which opened pretending all was well. That pretense is crumbling.
From afar, we are flooding the WCC and Samsung with emails. You can help" Let them know we aren't fooled. Demand that Samsung halt construction and the WCC oppose the base.
On location, activists have made every single participant in the World Conservation Congress aware of the destruction underway on the island where the WCC is meeting. And a resolution is being introduced by 34 organizations from around the world calling for a halt to the military base construction.
Please take the time to read this resolution, and check out the list of signers. This is how the military industrial complex will eventually do itself in.
World Appeal to Protect the People, Nature, Culture and Heritage of Gangjeong Village
UNDERSTANDING that Gangjeong Village, also known as the Village of Water, on the island of Jeju, also known as Peace Island, is a coastal area home to thousands of species of plants and animals, lava rock freshwater tide pools (“Gureombi”), endangered soft coral reefs, freshwater springs, sacred natural sites, historic burial grounds, and nearly 2,000 indigenous villagers, including farmers, fishermen, and Haenyo women divers, that have lived sustainably with the surrounding marine and terrestrial environment for nearly 4000 years;
NOTING that Gangjeong Village is an Ecological Excellent Village (Ministry of Environment, ROK) of global, regional, national and local significance, sharing the island with a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve and Global Geological Park, and is in close proximity to three World Heritage Sites and numerous other protected areas;
NOTING that numerous endangered species live in and around Gangjeong Village, including the Boreal Digging Frog (Kaloula borealis) listed on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species; the red-footed crab (Sesarma intermedium); the endemic Jeju fresh water shrimp (Caridina denticulate keunbaei); and the nearly extinct Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins;
NOTING the global uniqueness of the Jeju Soft Coral habitats, designated as Natural Monument 422 of Korea: the only location in the world known to have temperate octocoral species forming a flourishing ecosystem on a substrate of andesite, providing ecological balance to the Jeju marine environment and the development of the human culture of Gangjeong Village for thousands of years;
UNDERSCORING that of the 50 coral species found in the Soft Coral habitats near Gangjeong, 27 are indigenous species, and at least 16 are endangered species and protected according to national and international law, including Dendronephthya suensoni, D. putteri, Tubastraea coccinea, Myriopathes japonica, and M. lata;
THEREFORE CONCERNED of the Civilian-Military Complex Tour Beauty project, a 50-hectare naval installation, being constructed within and adjacent to Gangjeong Village, estimated to house more than 8,000 marines, up to 20 warships, several submarines, and cruise liners;
NOTING the referendum of Gangjeong Village on August 20, 2007, in which 725 villagers participated and 94% opposed the construction;
ACKNOWLEDGING that the construction of the military installation is directly and irreparably harming not only the biodiversity, but the culture, economy and general welfare of Gangjeong Village, one of the last living remnants of traditional Jeju culture;
NOTING the Absolute Preservation Act, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province (1991) and that Gangjeong Village was named an Absolute Preservation Area on October 27, 2004: a permanent designation to conserve the original characteristics of an environment from the surge in development, therefore prohibiting construction, the alteration of form and quality of land, and the reclamation of public water areas;
CONCERNED that this title was removed in 2010 to allow for the Naval installation, and that this step backwards in environmental protection violates the Principle of Non-Regression;
RECALLING the numerous IUCN Resolutions and Recommendations that note, recognize, promote and call for the appropriate implementation of conservation policies and practices that respect the human rights, roles, cultural diversity, and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples in accordance with international agreements;
CONCERNED of reports that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the naval construction was inaccurate and incomplete and may have violated well-known principles of international law concerning EIAs, transparency, public and indigenous participation, right to know, and free, prior and informed consent;
CONCERNED of the destruction of sacred natural sites in and near Gangjeong Village, noting that the protection of sacred natural sites is one of the oldest forms of culture based conservation (Res. 4.038 recognition and conservation of sacred natural sites in Protected Areas);
ACKNOWLEDGING that IUCN’s Mission is “To influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable;” and that “equity cannot be achieved without the promotion, protection and guarantee of human rights.”;
NOTING Resolution 3.022 Endorsement of the Earth Charter (Bangkok, 2004) that endorsed the Earth Charter as “the ethical guide for IUCN policy and programme,” and that the military installation is contrary to every principle of the Earth Charter;
NOTING the U.N. World Charter for Nature (1982), and that the military installation is contrary to each of its five principles of conservation by which all human conduct affecting nature is to be guided and judged;
AND ALARMED by reports of political prisoners, deportations, and restrictions on freedom of assembly and speech, including the arrests of religious leaders, for speaking against the naval installation and for speaking in promotion of local, national, regional and world conservation and human rights protections;
NOTING Res. 2.37 Support for environmental defenders, “UNDERSTANDING that the participation of non-governmental organizations and individual advocates is essential to the fundamentals of civil society to assure the accountability of governments and multinational corporations; and AWARE that a nation’s environment is only truly protected when concerned citizens are involved in the process;”
NOTING principles enshrined in the Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development such as those concerning military and hostile activities (Art. 36), culture and natural heritage (Art. 26), and the collective rights of indigenous peoples (Art. 15);
FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGING that militarization does not justify the destruction of a community, a culture, endangered species or fragile ecosystems;
AND UNDERSCORING that IUCN’s aim is to promote a just world that values and conserves nature, and the organization sees itself as nature’s representative and patrons of nature;
The IUCN World Conservation Congress at its 5th session in Jeju, Republic of Korea, 6-15 September 2012:
1. REAFFIRMS its commitment to the UN World Charter for Nature and the Earth Charter;
2. CALLS ON the Republic of Korea to:
(a) immediately stop the construction of the Civilian-Military Complex Tour Beauty;
(b) invite an independent body, to prepare a fully transparent scientific, cultural, and legal assessment of the biodiversity and cultural heritage of the area and make it available to the public; and
(c) fully restore the damaged areas.
Sponsor – Center for Humans and Nature
-Chicago Zoological Society (USA)
-International Council of Environmental Law (Germany)
-El Centro Ecuatoriano de Derecho Ambiental, CEDA (Ecuador)
-Sierra Club (USA)
-Fundacion Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Argentina)
-Center for Sustainable Development CENESTA (Iran)
-Asociación Preserve Planet (Costa Rica)
-The Christensen Fund (USA)
-Terra Lingua (Canada)
-Ecological Society of the Philippines (Philippines)
-Citizen’s Institute Environmental Studies (Korea)
-Departamento de Ambiente, Paz y Seguridad, Universidad para la Paz (Costa Rica)
-Coastal Area Resource Development and Management Association (Bangladesh)
-Fundação Vitória Amazônica (Brazil)
-Fundación para el Desarrollo de Alternativas Comunitarias de Conservación del Trópico, ALTROPICO Foundation (Ecuador)
-Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano (Ecuador)
-Fundación Hábitat y Desarrollo de Argentina (Argentina)
-Instituto de Montaña (Peru)
-Asociación Peruana para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, APECO (Peru)
-Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica, COICA (Ecuador)
-Fundación Biodiversidad (Argentina)
-Fundacao Vitoria Amazonica (Brazil)
-Fundación Urundei (Brazil)
-Dipartimento Interateneo Territorio Politecnico e Università di Torino (Italy)
-Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas (Costa Rica)
-Corporación Grupo Randi Randi (Ecuador)
-Living Oceans Society (Canada)
-Instituto de Derecho y Economía Ambiental (Paraguay)
-Korean Society of Restoration Ecology (Korea)
-Ramsar Network Japan (Japan)
-The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (Isreal)
-Chimbo Foundation (Netherlands)
-Endangered Wildlife Trust (South Africa)
INTERNATIONAL UNION FOR CONSERVATION OF NATURE (IUCN) BLOCKS PARTICIPATION BY JEJU VILLAGERS WHO OPPOSE NAVAL BASE CONSTRUCTION
IUCN leadership refuses to criticize Korea's destructive naval base that is
killing numerous endangered species, and destroying indigenous
communities. This stance from IUCN defies its traditional mission,
conserving nature and a "just world."
The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congressis the world’s largest environmental event. Held every four years, the 2012 World Conservation Congress (WCC) will be held from September 6-15 on Jeju Island, the “jewel” of South Korea. Over 7,000 leaders from government, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, business, UN agencies and social organizations will meet at this event.
Meeting just a few miles from Gangjeong village the IUCN has over and over again resisted requests from those living in the 450-year old fishing and farming community to help them protect their sacred nature and coastline from Navy base construction. A five-year non-violent campaign rages in the village and more than 500 people have been arrested for attempting to block the destruction of their way of life.
While continuing to proclaim its devotion to protecting Nature through democratic process, IUCN leadership has ignored or whitewashed projects that are assaulting these wonders, and undermining human rights and sustainable livelihoods.
Eva Westheimer was recently arrested for shutting down a strip mine in West Virginia, along with Radical Action for Mountain People's Survival ( http://rampscampaign.org ). Westheimer is a junior at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She describes the recent action she took, the ongoing campaign, and what motivates her.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!
Embed on your own site with this code:
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Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio
By Dave Lindorff
We’ve all heard it said by our teachers when we were in school, we’ve all heard it said by politicians, including presidents: “Democracies don’t start wars.”
By Dave Lindorff
This article was originally written forPressTV
We Americans are taught it in school. The propaganda put out by Voice of America repeats the idea ad nauseum around the globe. Politicians refer to it in every campaign speech with the same fervor that they claim to be running for office in response to God’s call: America is a model of democracy for the whole world.
But what kind of democracy is it really that we have here?
Trees are the lungs
of the earth
At Afghanistan Samsortya, we directly address the challenges of environmental degradation, recognizing that a healthy environment is crucial for economic and social well-being.
As a grassroots organization directly involving communities in revitalization work, in 2009 we raised funds to establish a nursery that has now produced thousands of tree saplings. In 2011 we drilled a well to supply water. In February, 2012 we began our third season, continuing to plant fast growing species – like the Moringa oleifera, known as the “magic tree” because its leaves are edible by animals and people, and support lactation.
In response to requests, we were also able to distribute fig and lemon saplings to 100 households in the Surkhrud district of Ningrahar Province. Our fig trees bear fruit year round and provide an important source of nutrition. We are happy to report these trees are already thriving, and that our revitalization efforts have been well received by the local population!
We are optimistic that despite the extreme level of environmental degradation, Afghanistan’s natural environment can be revived and rehabilitated. We now have tree nurseries in Surkhrud in Eastern Afghanistan and outside of Jalalabad City. Our most recent accomplishment is the conversion of a new four-acre plot into a nursery. We will use this nursery to plant, nurture, and harvest thousands of fig, lemon, orange and mulberry trees in the coming years.
How is this possible, and how can you help? Financial contributions combined with land and seed donations make us able to continue our reforestation projects.
by Common Dreams - Common Dreams staff
Environmental activists shut down dozens of Shell gas stations across the UK, Denmark and Germany on Monday. The action was part of environmental group Greenpeace's Save the Arctic Campaign -- a bid to prevent oil drilling in the Arctic slated to begin within the next three weeks. Greenpeace has ramped up its efforts against oil company Shell as its drilling vessels drift closer to its targets in the Arctic.
Earlier this week Shell's first drill rig to near the Arctic, Noble Discoverer, lost control during high winds and ran aground near Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
"Shell can't keep it's drill rig under control in a protected harbor, so what will happen when it faces 20 foot swells and sea ice while drilling in the Arctic? Shell's whole drilling program seems to be running aground...Shell cannot be trusted, and President Obama should not let its Arctic drilling program move forward," stated Greenpeace Lead Arctic Campaigner Jackie Dragon.
On Monday the activists scaled the roof of a Shell gas station, many in sickly polar bear costumes, used barriers to block off access to pumps, and covered a Shell sign with a Save the Arctic banner. In one instance they placed a life-sized polar bear model on a station's roof. Other campaigners chained themselves to pumps, a Greenpeace spokesman told the Independent.
Activists shut down pumps by switching emergency shut-off levers, which stop gas flow.
24 were arrested over the course of the planned actions.
Apocalypse has been given a bad name. The Seventh Day Adventists are still around. The Nike sneaker cult failed to open Heaven's Gate. The new millennium brought us George W. Bush, not Jesus H. Christ. And everybody's terrified of "drinking the Kool-Aid."
But our species is living beyond its means. If we continue down this path, the planet, our food supplies, our climate, and life as we know it will collapse. If we bring population growth, consumption, and pollution under control, the damage already set in motion will play out for centuries, but complete catastrophe will likely be averted.
Nobody likes to be told that the end might be near. Either it is or it isn't. And the question is resolved by a personal lifestyle choice. Do I wish to be a pessimist or an optimist? Of course, optimist is far more popular. Even most predictors of apocalypse have actually believed they were predicting a good thing. The world was to be replaced with something better. Even our best environmentalists who understand the radical changes needed for survival guarantee they will happen. Harvey Wasserman says he simply believes in happy endings.
Meanwhile, we can barely get half of us in the United States to "believe" that global warming is happening. Of course, we step outside and there's a sauna, but that could just be "natural." So what if the ocean is a few inches higher? The people who've been predicting that for decades have been wrong until now, and now they're only a little right -- if you even believe them. The ocean looks about the same to me. And if they predict exponential acceleration of such changes, meaning that once the changes have become visible it won't be long before they're enormous, well that just proves one thing: they've drunk the Kool-Aid. They're pessimists.
By Helen Jaccard, WarIsACrime.org
Need to test some new weapons? Bomb paradise!
The sound of bombs, missiles, and other explosions; massive attacks from the sea onto the beach; an epidemic of cancers and birth defects; soil, air, food and water contaminated with heavy metals, jet fuel and other poisons; and national and company secrets that prevent the residents from learning the truth: Is this a modern war zone? No – Sardinia is the victim of weapons manufacturers, polluting military activities and a political system that cares about power and money over the health of people and the environment.
Sardinia and it’s People
Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea – a paradise with diverse wildlife and beautiful beaches. Alice Scanu, a Sardinian environmental engineer and activist said, “We are peaceful people, poor ones maybe, but very welcoming. That's how I'd like Sardinians to be remembered, not as people involved in wars and power games.” In the rural areas are shepherds and farmers who make magnificent wine, honey, and cheese.
Military Use of Sardinia
For over 50 years Sardinia has been used by militaries and arms manufacturers to:
· test new bullets, bombs, missiles and drones
· train soldiers and pilots
· practice war scenarios
· explode, burn and bury old weapons and dangerous chemicals
· launch bombing sorties
Seventy percent of Italian military bases are located here, and Italian, NATO, and U.S. bases occupy about 1/3 of the area of the island’s land and sea. During military practice drills, the area closed to navigation and fishing increases to about 7200 square miles, almost 2 times the island surface.
Quirra, Teulada and Capo Frasca testing and firing ranges
The worst of the pollution, cancer, and birth deformities is in the firing ranges. In these huge areas in Southern Sardinia, militaries and weapons manufacturers:
· test-fire artillery rockets, drones, and laser-guided precision bombs, including at least one depleted uranium weapon and missiles that release asbestos and white phosphorus
· test the effects of explosions and fires on armor and pipelines
· dispose of tons of old weapons and chemicals, by explosion or burial
· perform air and naval “exercises”, holding mock attacks of the coast
· large quantities of buried waste containing cadmium, lead, antimony, and napalm
· high levels of lead on several beaches and in the water
· explosions of waste and weapons from past wars affecting areas up to 2000 square meters each that no longer support vegetation – each explosion produces as much pollution as an incinerator of municipal solid waste during one year - exposing communities, shepherds, base personnel and animals to toxic dust containing thorium, lead, cerium and cadmium
· Thorium, a radioactive and highly carcinogenic heavy metal used in military targeting systems has been found in Sardinian honey, milk, and other areas of the food chain.
· Pieces of bombs, missiles, and bullets are lying on the ground and in the sea.
· Unexploded ordnance lies in and around the restricted areas, including both land and sea.
· Birth Defects: Between 1988 and 2002 fourteen children were born with severe malformations in Escalaplano, a small village of 2400 people bordering the Quirra base.
· Malformed animals: two-headed lambs, calves with deformed legs, a pig with one huge grotesque eye – problems not normally seen here. A tissue sample from a malformed lamb was found to contain depleted uranium.
· Cancer: In a village with 150 inhabitants, 12 people died from leukemia in 2002, with 63 in the past decade. In the previous decade (1990 – 2000), there had been no cases of leukemia or lymphoma among this same population. 65% of workers on seven of twelve farms located near the Quirra base are suffering from serious cancer. Rates of lymphoma, thyroid cancerand autoimmune diseases are also unexpectedly high.
John Madeddu worked in the Capo Frasca base from 1968 to 1987. He has diffuse large cell lymphoma. He remembers an area where a large number of bullets accumulated in a clearing. When it rained it created a marsh and the
water seeped into the ground. The artesian wells provide water for both the base and the nearby farms. This kind of contamination has continued to build over the years with no clean-up effort undertaken. Animal deformities are common near the bases. Cattle still graze here and even if directly hit and killed by weapons containing heavy metals these animals are being butchered and eaten.
Francesco Piras died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 27 in 2007 after serving for 10 months at Capo Teulada. At the hospital, doctors asked him if he had been in contact with radioactive materials. Dr. Antonietta Gatti, Experimental Physicist at the University of Bologna, took biopsies of Francesco’s tissues and discovered high quantities of nanoparticles of industrial heavy metals.
A shepherd analyzed the situation with clear, shocking realism: "I have leukemia, I have only a few months or years of life, I accepted it. Nobody cares about us, and we just do not count for anything. They are powerful; it is better for them if there are fewer of us.”
The sheep are still grazing on contaminated land and the local people sell sheep cheese and grapes for a living.
Investigation and Prosecution:
On May 12, 2011, State Prosecutor Domenico Fiordalisi opened a court case to stop all military use of the Quirra base. Hundreds of shepherds and farmers demonstrated against the case because they might lose use of their land. They do not want a handout for unemployment; they just want their land to be uncontaminated and available.
The nuclear physicist Evandro Lodi Rizzini of Brescia University and CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) found elevated levels of radioactive thorium 232 and cerium (proving that the thorium was man-made) in the tissues of 15 of 18 bodies of Quirra-area shepherds who died of cancer between 1995 and 2000.
On March 24, 2012 Fiordalisi indicted twenty people on charges of "willful omission of precautions against injury and aggravated disasters or because they falsely certified the absence of pollution with the aim to "hide the environmental disaster.” The documents from Fiordalisi’s investigation have now been turned over to a tribunal for prosecution.
Decimomannu, the largest NATO air base contaminating the water supply
Decimomannu in Southwest Sardinia has the largest NATO air base in the world, used since 1954 as collaboration between Italy, Germany, Canada, the United States and NATO. From here they support transport aircraft of the Military Airlift Command from the United States to the Middle East and Africa. A total of 4 F-18s, along with a single Boeing 707 refueling aircraft was deployed to Decimomannu Air Base on the island of Sardinia for operations over Libya.
The military base of Decimomannu has been contaminating the environment with jet fuel and other poisons. Jet fuel contains xylene, benzene and lead, highly dangerous and carcinogenic substances. Mayor Louis Porceddu in February 2011 prohibited the use of the local wells. The authorities deny responsibility and expertise. An alleged reclamation has already cost 900,000 Euros, although no problem has been solved. Monica Pisano of the Decimomannu Civic Committee “Su Sentidu” said, “It is absolutely ineffective, since it is useless to reclaim the territory if the spill continues!”
La Maddalena / Santo Stefano islands
La Maddalena is an archipelago located 2 km Northeast of Sardinia. The population of 17,000 swells to 75,000 during the summer, when the tourists come to enjoy the campgrounds, beautiful beaches and lovely hiking trails.
From 1972 to 2008 a U.S. / NATO base on Santo Stefano Island served as the home port for nuclear submarines. In 2003 the nuclear powered submarine U.S.S. Hartford struck a rock and damaged its rudders, sonar and electronics. However, residents suspect that even greater damage was done.
Massimo Zucchetti, Professor at the Department of Energy at the Torino Polytechnic and his team analyzed algae in the archipelago. The presence of radioactive alpha particles and plutonium traces were found, sometimes in high concentrations. This contamination is due to either a continuous loss of pollutant from the submarine base, or to environmental releases that took place during the USS Hartford accident.On January 20, 2004, the “schwäbische Zeitung”newspaper reported that there was an alarming high amount of radioactivity in the waternear La Maddalena Island.
Cause of Cancers
Dr. Antonietta Gatti, Experimental Physicist at the University of Bologna, found nano-particles of iron, lead, tungsten, and copper in the tissues of citizens and sheep. She said, “Rain leads to the contamination of the soil. Through air pollution, other areas that are not involved in the testing are contaminated as well… The sea is polluted. Local governments do not warn people when there are testing activities; they do testing even at night.”
Fernando Codenesu, Professor at the Department of Energy at the Torino Polytechnic, explained that Sardinia has rocks that are very fragile and contain heavy metals. An explosion breaks the rocks into micro and nano-particles containing these heavy metals. These in turn are blown in the wind, contaminate the groundwater; people and animals breathe them into their bodies.
Health Effects of Depleted Uranium and Thorium
What are effects of depleted uranium and thorium - elements that emit alpha particles on the body?
Dr. Rizzini said, “One micro-gram, that is, one millionth of a gram is sufficient to kill a person. It causes a rise in atomic disintegrations; with a production of 2000 alpha rays a day, nuclear radiation is most damaging.”
Demands of the people
· Transparency and truth – reveal what chemicals and metals have been used.
· Close all of the bases and radar facilities – completely de-militarize the island.
· Clean and decontaminate the bases and land, aquifers and sea around them.
· Provide health care to all people affected by military activity on the island
· Provide financial assistance and clean land and sea to farmers and fishers
Cagliari – Monthly Rally with Cancer Victims and their Families
There is a monthly rally against the bases on the 15th of each month in Cagliari. It is organized by victims of cancer and their families and those opposed to military use of Sardinia.
Committee of Parents of Fallen Soldiers in Times of Peace
Parents of deceased children (who had done their military service in Sardinia and in the Balkans) founded the organization “Comitato Genitori Vittime uranio impoverito” (Committee of Parents of Fallen soldiers in times of peace). Giancarlo Piras (father of Francesco) says, “Here in Sardinia, we are confronted with war victims but in a peaceful area. We like to call this area the zone for preparing new wars”. He points out that existing law is that the government needs to know what kind of weapons/materials have been tested in the bases. The reality is that none of the armies give information about the tests and hide under the umbrella of ‘military secrecy’.
Protests Prevent New Radar Installations
There are about 15 radar stations on the island, on the top of the mountains surrounding the bases. Many fear that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by them is dangerous and want their use stopped.
People are now demonstrating against construction of several more radar sites. Local officials and the Italian Party Partito Democratico have now spoken against some of the proposed radar sites as well. As a result, plans for four of them have been abandoned.
Fishermen Bring Naval Exercises to a Halt
Since the 1990s fishermen have been pushed out of their profession by NATO naval exercises and have become activists for their right to use the sea. There were acts of civil disobedience at the port, the base entrances, and at sea. Stubbornly, daily, when the wind allowed it, the fishermen challenged the restrictions and the bombs, directing up to 42 boats into the heart of the war game area and threw their fishing nets in a prohibited sea saturated by war ships. Fortunately, it only takes one civilian boat to stop a naval exercise.
Their demands are simple: the right to safe work, to have the stolen sea back, and to have a clean sea and environment.
2005 was the last year of protest. The fishermen are now paid to stay out of the water and many have abandoned their profession.
Italian Democratic Party (Partito Democratico) calls for closure or conversion of bases
In an encouraging new development in March 2012, Senator Gian Piero Scanu called for closing the bases in Capo Frasca and Capo Teulada, and for changing the Quirra base back to its previous designation as a technical-scientific research center. This letter was signed by over 100 Senators of many political parties.
The Sardinian newspapers have published articles about the deformities and high rates of cancer, so everyone on the island is aware of this problem. L’Union Sardo has been particularly good about publishing articles regarding the cancer, birth defects, contamination, and military use of Sardinia.
What can you do?
· Spread the word about Sardinia. More information is available here where the original 7500-word research document is stored. Also here as a PDF.
· Contact your congressional representatives and demand the closure of the Sardinia NATO bases.
· Carry signs or flyers at demonstrations demanding that NATO stop bombing Sardinia.
· Contact Helen Jaccard at Helen.Jaccard@gmail.com to discuss ideas.
Environmental lawsuit filed against U.S. Navy’s 2nd Explosives Handling Wharf at Trident nuclear submarine base
Today, two groups took action to halt construction of a second Explosives Handling Wharf at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor until the public is fully informed about the serious environmental risks of the $715 million project. The groups filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tacoma alleging that Navy secrecy surrounding the project is a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.
The new wharf would be built close to the existing wharf where submarines dock for loading and unloading of Trident missiles. Plaintiffs are concerned about harm to birds, salmon, seals, whales and other marine life from drilling up to 1,250 pilings and covering an area of water the size of six football fields in ecologically sensitive Hood Canal.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has signed a law introducing binding targets on climate change.
Mr Calderon said on Twitter that the law would make Mexico the "first developing country with integral legislation against climate change".
The law, which sets targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy, is only the second of its kind in the world.
The measures had been passed by the Senate in April by 78 votes to nil.
"Mexico is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020 and by 50% by 2050," Mr Calderon said in another tweet.
By Gary Lindorff
Welcome to the Land of No-poetry.
If I succeed in writing this poem
No one will understand me.
It will be like talking backwards.
It will be like autism.
There is no music here,
Except what you buy.
The weather is predictable.
Frogs are two-headed or one-legged
But it doesn’t mean anything.
Up means up, down means down.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Wilkins heard the arguments on Friday in Washington, D.C., and is deliberating now on the question of whether young people can sue to compel their government to take serious measures to stop global warming.
Judge Robert Wilkins is familiar with discrimination, having been the plaintiff in a well-known driving-while-black case of racial profiling in Maryland. But few of us are familiar with the concept of discrimination against future generations. We grow easily indignant when living people are unfairly treated. We grow confused when considering the injustice of depriving our grandchildren of a habitable planet so that we can drive our SUVs and fight our wars. There's no living person or group of persons we can point to as being wronged, unless perhaps it is the young.
Judge Wilkins is familiar with, and appreciative of, the role federal courts played in the U.S. civil rights movement. But a case had been made that certain people's Constitutional rights were being violated. Whose Constitutional rights are violated by condemning young people to grow old on a damaged planet turning to desert and barren rock?
There may be an answer to that. The Constitution's purpose is to "insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." Surely there is a violation of the Constitution in making the earth uninhabitable for our Posterity. But no court has ever arrived at that conclusion.
"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person," says the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which under Article VI of the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family." How can we protect those rights for everyone, including the young and the not-yet-born, without putting everything we have into trying to preserve a climate in which humans can prosper? How can the U.S. government fulfill its obligations to Native American nations while finally completing the destruction of their land along with everyone else's?
Courageous young people filed suit a year ago against the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of the Interior, the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of Commerce, the United States Department of Energy, and the United States Department of Defense. One would think being sued for ruining the earth's atmosphere with greenhouse gases was not terribly desirable, but there was a mad rush by other parties to be added to the list of defendants. These additional defendants succeeded in getting themselves added: Delta Construction Company Inc., Dalton Trucking Inc., Southern California Contractors Association Inc., California Dump Truck Owners Association, Engineering & Utility Contractors Association, and The National Association Of Manufacturers.
The National Association of Manufacturers openly claims selfish interests for being involved:
"NAM moved to intervene in this litigation, because the law suit, if successful, would have a dramatic effect on manufacturing processes and investments, increasing production and transportation costs, decreasing global competitiveness and driving jobs and businesses abroad. The litigation, which seeks a minimum 6% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions every year, would be devastating to the entire U.S. economy."
NAM also says:
"The NAM's members include many of the major oil, coal and natural gas producers, petroleum refiners, and petrochemical producers, as well as manufacturing companies that make the tools and components critical to such industries. Id. Obviously, immediate reductions—and eventual elimination—of conventional fuel use is a central business concern for these members of the NAM."
So, this was the argument for joining the case: our profits would suffer. Well, of course, they would. The government would have to stop giving $11 billion a year or more to fossil fuel companies. Arguably, the government would have to stop putting over $1 trillion a year into preparation for wars fought largely to secure fossil fuels. Taxes would have to be imposed on carbon emissions. But there would also have to be massive public investment in green energy, investment that could help companies become profitable in new ways. Or it could not. What's guaranteed is that the current profit-making plans of these companies would suffer, while humanity would benefit. We're trained to think such conflicts don't exist, that what's good for Exxon-Mobil is good for all of us. It isn't true. The oil companies are arguing for the right to ruin the atmosphere.
In Friday's hearing, however, other arguments were advanced. Three men spoke for the defense, one from the government, one from NAM, and one from the California interveners. They did not dispute the reality and seriousness of global warming, which James Hansen called "apocalyptic" in Thursday's New York Times. They did not claim ownership of the sky. Instead they argued for democracy, the Constitution, the separation of powers, the right of the legislative branch to legislate, and the existence of the EPA as sufficient to answer the plaintiff's claims whether or not the EPA was doing any good.
It was curious to hear the government's defense of the rights of the legislative branch for a number of reasons. First, the executive branch in recent years has been rapidly eroding Congress's powers. Second, the Constitution has been discarded when it comes to Congressional war powers, or habeas corpus, or much of the Bill of Rights. Third, Congress almost never represents majority opinion in the country on any important issue, but is instead openly working for the legal bribes authorized by the Supreme Court as election spending -- for which the Supreme Court has argued to protect the human rights of corporations. To pretend that the legislative branch envisioned by the Constitution still exists is bizarre. Fourth, immediately after the government's lawyer rhetorically asked, "In a democracy whose job is it to take public actions of the first order?" he turned the floor over to the lawyer from NAM. Where in the Constitution does it assign corporate lobbyists the duty to defend the government against popular petitions for redress of grievances?
The NAM lawyer said not one word about his clients' profits. Instead he proposed, among other things, that "national security" might require current levels of C02 emissions. He was, of course, using a narrow conception of national security. How secure is a nation that is losing its farmland and coastlines? But, if the argument was to be made on behalf of the Pentagon, why not let the Pentagon do it? Why allow the oil barons' hired hand to substitute?
Julia Olson argued ably for the plaintiffs, citing numerous precedents for her claim that the atmosphere is a public trust and that public trusts must be protected. As in the on-going struggle over the Supreme Court's pro-bribery Citizens United ruling, the state of Montana is featured in this debate, as the Supreme Court once ruled that Montana had a right to protect its rivers as a public trust, a ruling based on a long legal tradition, but later reversed.
Judge Wilkins asked Olson numerous detailed questions in a lengthy exchange that reviewed many precedents and hypothetical arguments. Olson pointed to a case that had established a three-judge panel to direct the state of California to reduce its prison population. The judges had not handled the details of the changes made to California's penal system, but had enforced a level of reduction by a deadline, just as these plaintiffs want CO2 levels in the atmosphere reduced to 350 ppm by a set date.
Olson's co-counsel Philip Gregory brought to Friday's hearing something that was otherwise missing in hours of technical debate: honest passion. Gregory made a moral as much as a legal case on behalf of the rights of the plaintiffs, a row of several teenagers seated in the front row of the courtroom.
Judge Wilkins argued to Gregory that either he was being asked to tell six government agencies that they were not doing their jobs as required by statute -- in which case, the judge said, such matters could be handled one-at-a-time outside of this lawsuit, or he was being asked to instruct six agencies to act outside of their Congressional mandate. Gregory's response focused, rightly, on the magnitude and urgency of the crisis we face.
Trying to get courts to do Congress's job may, in fact, not be ideal. Trying to get state or foreign prosecutors to indict Bush for torture is not ideal. Pinochet's indictment in Spain was not ideal. Federal desegregation of Southern states was not ideal. Protecting voting rights state-by-state is not ideal. But in an emergency, shouldn't one try the tools that are available? And shouldn't one drop counterproductive pretenses, such as the pretense that a functioning Congress still exists?
What if the mythical humanized frogs in the pot of gradually warming water -- thousands and thousands of such frogs in a giant pot on a giant stove -- had a frog government? And what if the frog Congress had been bought off with piles of flies by a frog whose business it was to sell tiny, cold, bottled water to the frogs as they warmed? If the frog courts decided to leave the decision to hop out of the pot to the frog Congress, they would make the correct decision that would best allow representative frog government in the future. But would that do anything to guarantee that there would be any future for those frogs?
In case it isn't blatantly obvious, the above and everything else written here is my opinion, not the plaintiffs' legal arguments. The hearing ran for about three hours, and was all very formal and polite. Judge Wilkins generously thanked both sides for their "sincerity, diligence, and earnestness."
"But I would be remiss," he added, "if I did not say that it is a struggle for any judge to determine based on our Constitutional system how best to play the proper role in adjudicating a case like this one. I don't take the Constitution lightly. . . ."
"That said, it behooves all of us, regardless of the resolution of this case, to really think about what we can do to resolve this very serious problem."
Of course, we aren't all in the same position to do the same amount of good. By ruling that this case can proceed, Wilkins would open up a public forum on intergenerational justice and a ground-breaking earth-protecting suit that the plaintiffs would be very likely to win. Future generations would, quite likely, revere the name Robert Wilkins. His heroism would not be quickly forgotten.
WASHINGTON, May 8 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), will hold a news conference Thursday to announce legislation that would eliminate all oil, coal and gas production subsidies.
The measure would do away with tax breaks, financial assistance, royalty relief, direct federal research and development and many loopholes that benefit the fossil fuel industry. Under current law, more than $110 billion in federal subsidies would go to oil, coal and gas industries in the coming decade.
The bill is supported by 350.org, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife. Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, and Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense will join Sanders and Ellision.
Who: Sen. Sanders, Rep. Ellison, Bill McKibben of 350.0rg, Erich Pica of Friends of the Earth and Ryan Alexander of Taxpayers for Common Sense
What: News conference to announce legislation to end fossil fuel subsidies
When: 11:45 a.m., Tuesday, May 10, 2012
Where: Senate swamp Map
U.S. District Court Will Hear National Association of Manufacturers’ and six federal agencies’ Motions to Dismiss a Climate Change Lawsuit Brought by Kids from across the U.S.
WHAT: Court Hearing on the Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss the Federal Atmospheric Trust Litigation case
(Alec L. v. Jackson, D.D.C., No. 11-CV-022235, 12/14/11). The case was filed by youth plaintiffs
with the iMatter Movement. These young people from across the country are being impacted by
climate change now and are standing up for future generations by arguing that the Federal
government has a constitutional obligation under the Public Trust Doctrine to protect the atmosphere
from harmful greenhouse gases. They do not seek monetary damages, but ask that the government
immediately create and implement a scientifically viable emissions reduction plan.
The court will decide whether the youth plaintiffs can sue their government for its failure to protect
the atmosphere as a public resource, under the Public Trust Doctrine. The doctrine requires
By Dave Lindorff
As we slog towards another vapid, largely meaningless exercise in pretend democracy with the selection of a new president and Congress this November, it is time to make it clear that the current president, elected four years ago by so many people with such inflated expectations four years ago (myself included, as I had hoped, vainly it turned out, that those who elected him would then press him to act in progressive ways), is not only a betrayer of those hopes, but is a serial violator of his oath of office. He is, in truth, a war criminal easily the equal of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and perhaps even of Bush’s regent, former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Let me count the ways:
By Brian Willson
Originally published by Veterans For Peace
The beautiful island of Jeju in South Korea is packed with natural and cultural treasures and designated a UNESCO world heritage site. But it has the misfortune of appearing to the U.S. military strategically positioned to play a part in surrounding China.
Most Americans are unaware of Jeju or of the U.S. policy of increasing its military presence in Korea, Japan, and the rest of the Pacific -- even moving the Marines into Australia. But for the people of Jeju, attempting to nonviolently resist the construction of a new military base, there is an eerie sense of déjà vu.
In fact Jeju's history is central to how the United States became the militarized nation it has been for over half a century.
Veterans for Peace (VFP) recently sent members to Jeju to monitor the local resistance to this militarization, but they were refused entry by Korean security officials who gave no reasons other than following orders. VFP represents thousands of U.S. military veterans who have participated in various overt and covert U.S. interventions violating the sovereignty of countless countries. This aggressive foreign policy, little mentioned in our history classes, has caused incalculable harm to people, cultures, and the environment. Our personal experiences summon us to carefully re-examine the nature and patterns of U.S. foreign policy. Our clear understanding of past and present imperial adventures compel us to passionately and tenaciously oppose further militarism, war and aggression which we see as severe obstacles to the continuation of our species.
In examining U.S. interventions since World War II, historian William Blum has recently catalogued the following disgraceful record: (1) attempted overthrow of more than 50 governments; (2) attempted suppression of populist and nationalist movements in 20 countries; (3) interference in democratic elections in at least 30 countries; (4) bombing of citizens in 30 countries; and (5) attempted assassinations of more than 50 foreign political leaders.
Shockingly, when all the empirical evidence is scrutinized, the U.S. has militarily intervened nearly 400 times since World War II in nearly 100 countries, while covertly intervening thousands of times. Millions of human beings have been murdered, maimed, and displaced as a result of this egregious, unlawful behavior. Adherence to international and Constitutional law, and honest diplomacy, have been thwarted over and over.
One of the darkest, virtually unknown chapters of U.S. intervention occurred in the southern portions of Korea prior to the Korean War. In 1945, a Joint U.S. Army-Navy Intelligence Study reported that the vast majority of Koreans possessed a strong desire for independence and self-rule, and were vehemently opposed to control by any successor to the hated Japanese who had ruled them since 1910. A subsequent U.S. study reported that nearly 80 percent of Koreans wanted a socialist, rather than capitalist system.
Despite the conclusions of these internal documents, U.S. President Harry Truman, after the Japanese surrender in August 1945, imposed a purportedly temporary partition at Korea’s 38th Parallel dividing a 5,000-year homogenous culture. He then commanded U.S. General Douglas MacArthur to “govern” the people living south of the 38th Parallel. In October 1945, needing a trusted Korean with “an [U.S.] American point of view” to be the U.S. strongman, MacArthur flew 71-year-old Korean-born Syngman Rhee from the U.S. to Seoul on MacArthur’s personal plane. Rhee, a Methodist who had lived in the United States for 40 years, was to be a surrogate ruler of Korea that was largely Buddhist and Confucianist.
Rhee unilaterally chose to hold separate elections in 1948 to “legally” create an artificially divided Korea, despite vigorous popular opposition throughout the Peninsula, north and south of the 38th Parallel, including residents of Cheju Island (now called Jeju, hereafter identified as such). What is referred to as the April 3 (1948) uprising on Jeju in response to these elections, actually lasted into 1950, and is the single greatest massacre in modern Korean history. The Jeju uprising in 1948 may be seen as a microcosm for the impending Korean War.
A CIA National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Rhee was so unpopular that the newly-established Republic of Korea (ROK) would not survive “without massive infusion of U.S. aid.”
The U.S. Embassy described the repression in response to the Jeju opposition to Rhee as a “scorched earth” campaign of “extermination.” Secret protocols placed all Korean Constabulary, police, ROK forces, and paramilitary units under USAMGIK’s (United States Army Military Government In Korea) control.
CIA documents concluded that politics under the USAMGIK and Rhee regime were dominated by a tiny elite class of wealthy Koreans who repressed dissent of the vast majority, using “ruthlessly brutal” policies similar to those of the previous Japanese machinery hated by most Koreans.
Then U.S. Military Governor of Korea, John Reed Hodge, briefed U.S. Congressional Representatives that “Cheju was a truly communal area that is peacefully controlled by the People’s Committee.” Despite this understanding, he commanded three U.S. military officers (among others) – Colonel Harley E. Fuller, Captain John P. Reed, and Captain James Hausman – to advise and coordinate the “extermination” and “scorched earth” campaign. Koreans who had collaborated with the hated Japanese occupiers now served in the U.S.-trained Korean Constabulary and police. Right wing paramilitary units became a brutal element of Rhee’s security apparatus. U.S. advisers accompanied all Korean Constabulary and police (and additional ROK units after 1948) in ground campaigns; U.S. pilots flew C-47s to ferry troops, weapons, war materiel while occasionally directing bombings; and U.S. intelligence officers provided daily intelligence. Additionally U.S. Navy war ships, including the USS Craig, blockaded and bombed the Island, preventing supplies and additional opposition forces from arriving, while preventing flight of boatloads of desperate Islanders.
Hodge’s successor, General William Roberts, declared it was of “utmost importance” that dissenters “be cleared up as soon as possible.” The repressive Japanese organization, “National League To Provide Guidance” (Bo Do Yun Maeng), was expanded by the Rhee regime. Used to systematically identify any Koreans who had opposed Japanese occupation, the League now worked to identify those who opposed the de facto brutal U.S./Rhee rule. Thousands were murdered, jailed, and tortured, and many dumped into the sea as a result.
The Governor of Jeju at the time admitted that the repression of the Island’s 300,000 residents led to the murder of as many as 60,000 Islanders, with another 40,000 desperately fleeing in boats to Japan. Thus, one-third of its residents were either murdered or fled during the “extermination” campaign. Nearly 40,000 homes were destroyed and 270 of 400 villages were leveled. One of Robert’s cohorts, Colonel Rothwell Brown, claimed that the Islanders were simply “ignorant, uneducated farmers and fishers,” a weak excuse for repressing those who, Brown asserted, refused to recognize the “superiority” of the “American Way.”
U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and George Kennan, head of the State Department’s Policy Planning, agreed in 1949 that suppression of the internal threat in South Korea, (i.e., Koreans’ passion for self-determination), with assistance of the newly created CIA, was critical to preserving Rhee’s power, and assuring success of the U.S.’s worldwide containment policy. The 1949 Chinese Revolution made repressing the neighboring Korean’s passion for self-determination indispensable for success in the emerging “Cold War,” complementing successful U.S. efforts using CIA covert actions to thwart any socialist movements in Europe following World War II.
The 1949-50 National Security Council study, known as NSC-68, laid out U.S. aims to assure a global political system to “foster a world environment in which the American system can survive and flourish.”
The Korean War that lasted from June 1950 to July 1953, was an enlargement of the 1948-50 struggle of Jeju Islanders to preserve their self-determination from the tyrannical rule of U.S.-supported Rhee and his tiny cadre of wealthy constituents. Little known is that the U.S.-imposed division of Korea in 1945 against the wishes of the vast majority of Koreans was the primary cause of the Korean War that broke out five years later. The War destroyed by bombing most cities and villages in Korea north of the 38th Parallel, and many south of it, while killing four million Koreans – three million (one-third) of the north’s residents and one million of those living in the south, in addition to killing one million Chinese. This was a staggering international crime still unrecognized that killed five million people and permanently separated 10 million Korean families.
Following the Korean War, Dean Acheson concluded that “Korea saved us,” enabling the U.S. to implement its apocalyptic imperial strategy laid out in NSC-68. In Korea, this meant that the U.S. consistently assured dictatorial governments for nearly 50 years, long after Rhee was forced out of office at age 85 in 1960. Since 1953, the U.S. and South Korea have lived under a Mutual Defense Treaty, Status of Forces Agreements, and a Combined Forces Command headed by a 4-star U.S. general. The fact is that despite claims to the contrary, Korea has never assumed sovereignty since the U.S. imposed division of Korea in 1945. The U.S. has possessed more than 100 military bases and nearly 50,000 troops on Korean soil, and even today has dozens of bases and 28,000 troops stationed there. For decades, the U.S. maintained its main Asian bombing range south of Seoul.
Despite this gruesome history, Koreans began to successfully assert some semblance of democratic governments in the 1990s. However, despite creation of a constitution that protects free speech and basic human rights, Koreans once again are experiencing egregious repression. The Korean residents of pristine Jeju Island vigorously oppose the construction of a deep-water port to host Korean and U.S. guided missile-equipped Aegis Destroyers at the village of Gangjeong. The South Korean government headed by reactionary President Lee Myung Bak is ruthlessly repressing their legitimate, constitutionally-protected free speech. This is not acceptable. The residents of Jeju have a long history of living in peace and harmony. They were brutalized in the late 1940s for wanting independence, and are being brutalized once again for attempting to preserve self-determination. It is déjà vu.
We have been following the daily brutal repression by as many as 1,500 Korean police and security forces of Jeju’s 1,500 residents whose voices of passionate and nonviolent opposition have been completely ignored. When we called the Korean Embassy in Washington, D.C. to ask why this deep-water port construction continues in Gangjeong over objections of more than 90 percent of its residents, the answer has been, “Don’t call us, call your own (U.S.) government.” Political pressure from the U.S. continues to interfere with sovereignty of the Korean people as their own government disrespects, then represses, the free speech of its own citizens despite protections inscribed in the Korean constitution.
We read reports in the Korean press of more than 2600 politicians, journalists and civilians being secretly, illegally spied upon during the current Lee administration. In January 2009, Korea Broadcasting Service (KBS) aired a program that disclosed a secret deal made by the CIA-style Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS), Korean police, and components of the Jeju Island government, to quash any opposition movement to the planned construction of a Jeju deep-water military port, saying such opponents are, in effect, traitors. It is being built by the huge South Korea conglomerate, Samsung, despite watchdog Public Eye citing its history of over 50 years of environmental pollution, trade union repression, corruption and tax flight. Samsung’s power in South Korea is so great that many citizens speak of the “Samsung Republic.”
And we note that the NIS has raided Korean citizens and organizations, even on the mainland, who support the valiant villagers of Gangjeong on Jeju Island who resist the militarization of their Island, of their coastline, of their villages.
The stakes are much higher now that U.S. President Barack Obama has chosen a dangerous policy to militarize the Asia-Pacific region, due to obvious U.S. political intentions to encircle resource-rival China. Jeju, only 300 miles from China’s mainland, is located in a strategic sea route between Japan, Korea, and China. Obama recently dispatched U.S. troops to a northern port of Australia (2,500 miles from China) as part of this plan, while possessing existing jet landing strips in Okinawa (400 miles), Guam (1,900), and new landing bases in Afghanistan (1,000) and Turkmenistan (1,500), and increased strategic relationships with Singapore (1,200) and Philippines (750).
The immensely biodiverse Jeju Island is a most inappropriate location for a deep-water port to host highly armed U.S. and Korean Navy war ships. Former Korean President Roh Moo Kyum designated Jeju as “Jeju Island of Global Peace” when he formally apologized for the April 1948 massacre. A popular tourist vacation spot, famous for honeymooners and sometimes called “women’s Island” due to its matriarchal history, it is also called the “Island of the Gods.” It is Jeju’s incredible unique ecosystem that makes the island so inappropriate for militarizing a deep-water port in quiet coastal village of Gangjeong. It is sheer madness to blow up sacred lava rocks to make way for violent war machines. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has designated no less than three World Heritage sites on Jeju, including the Gureombi Lava Rocks being blown up for construction of the Navy destroyer port that are being covered with cement along the coast. UNESCO has also designated nine Geo-Parks on Jeju, as well as designating it as a protected Global Biosphere Reserve that includes Jeju coastlines and its fragile coral reefs.
The Korean government has claimed the deep-water port will also host commercial cruise ships. Their huge weight and 1,000-foot length makes them twice as heavy and long as the 500-550 foot Aegis Destroyers. The port will not be capable of hosting these tourist ships, revealing this dual-use claim as fanciful propaganda.
Our military experiences tell us this plan by Korea and the U.S. to host missile-equipped Aegis Destroyers as part of its global anti-ballistic missile system on the pristine Island of Jeju is extremely threatening to world peace, destroys the peace of the residents of Jeju and Gangjeong village, and flaunts Korea’s Constitutional assurances of protecting free speech of its citizens. We urge the Korean government act decisively to end its continued deference to pressures from the United States, and instead commence pursuing Korea’s legitimate dignity and sovereignty.
This article is written by S. Brian Willson, VFP Member of Chapter 72 in Portland, OR.
Photos of Jeju Island are from http://savejejuisland.org
S. Brian Willson, commander of an Air Force security unit in Viet Nam, a trained lawyer and criminologist, and former dairy farmer, has been a long time activist critiquing the US criminal injustice system while investigating its criminal interventions abroad. He is a long time member of Veterans For Peace and recently authored his psychohistorical memoir, "Blood On The Tracks: The Life and Times of S.Brian Willson" (PM Press, 2011).
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