PNN - Dec 9 FDP Chair Candidates
7:00-7:15 Rick's opening
7:10-7:15 : Introduce Pres. Sally Phillips,
1st VP Dr. Maureen McKenna
Pres. Susan Smith
7:15-7:45 : Alan Clendenin
7:46-8:15 : Annette Taddeo-Goldstein
8:16-8:45 : Panelists Wrap up with explanation of the voting process;
8:50-9:00pm Rick's close
Alan Clendenin - Hillsborough County DEC State Committeeman
Annette Taddeo-Goldstein - Miami-Dade DEC Chair
Allison Tant Richard - Leon DEC Chair (candidate)
The program will be hosted by:
Progressive News Network's Rick Spisak
Florida Democratic GLBT Caucus President Sally Phillips
Democratic Women's Club of Florida 1st Vice-President Dr. Maureen McKenna
President, Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida
President Susan Smith
1. Covering Obama’s Secret War
When drones strike, key questions go unasked and unanswered
n the spring of 2009, New York Times reporter David Rohde was being held captive by Taliban gunmen in a house in Waziristan, a mountainous region on the Pakistan side of the border with Afghanistan. Aerial drones soared overhead, filling him and his kidnappers with a sense of dread, until one day, he later wrote, “Our nightmare had come to pass.” A drone fired missiles near their house, killing several militants on a road and terrifying people in the area. The house withstood the attack but, Rohde wrote, “the plastic sheeting covering the window hung in tatters.” He learned about the efficiency of the drones on that day and also saw the wrath they incurred: “My captors expressed more hatred for President Obama than for President Bush.”
Rohde is one of the only Americans to see the drones up close: not, it turned out, as a reporter, but as a prisoner. His first-hand perspective on the strike is rare, and the novelty of his reporting underscores the difficulties of covering this new kind of war, a remote-controlled campaign officially denied by the US government that is unfolding in a region where Pakistani officials have forbidden reporters to travel independently.
Journalists are struggling under these challenging circumstances. Even those reporting safely from afar have not succeeded in digging down to basic questions about drone attacks: How are targets chosen? Under what legal authority? How successful are drones in killing enemies and sparing civilians? Are the drones helping win the war against would-be terrorists?
War reporting is one of journalism’s highest callings, and for good reason: citizens need to know if battles are successful, and what the costs are in blood and money. But it is difficult to grasp the new war that Americans are fighting in Pakistan. As described by former US officials who participated, it is conducted not by military generals but by cia officers who are guiding drones from offices in Langley, Virginia, that kill people in a country with which the US is not at war.
“I think this is an issue that we—both as a profession of journalists and the public—have accepted without sufficient debate,” said Washington Post op-ed columnist David Ignatius, who often writes about the CIA and national security issues. “There is something about assassination from ten thousand feet that is more acceptable than it would be from one foot, by the bayonet.”
Indeed, the existence of this large-scale, secretive program that is designed to “neutralize” people has become one of the biggest and least understood stories of the Obama administration. Because it is hard for journalists to bear witness, it is difficult for citizens to get a clear picture of what is being done in their name.
Drone Strikes Ramp Up
President Barack Obama has authorized 193 drone strikes in Pakistan since he took office in 2009, more than four times the number of attacks that President George W. Bush authorized during his two terms, according to the New America Foundation, a Washington-based public-policy institute.
Unmanned aircraft became part of the US arsenal in the 1990s, as reconnaissance drones recorded images of terrain in the Balkans. After the September 2001 terrorist attacks, President Bush signed a directive that authorized arming the drones, called Predators, with Hellfire missiles to try to take out terrorism suspects, according to military officials. He later widened the directive to allow strikes against anyone working inside terrorist camps, not just individual suspects.
Today, according to military officials, the United States is running two drone programs: the military is in charge of drones in Afghanistan, where the country is officially at war; the cia, meanwhile, runs the drone program in Pakistan, an ally in the war in Afghanistan. The drone operations in Afghanistan are relatively straightforward and US officials routinely release information about the attacks. In Pakistan, where the CIA is running the show, the situation is different.
2. Oil Companies bribing Gulf Coast States
Recently, Gulf area legislators have been pushing to get their states a larger share of government income from offshore drilling. We’re told that they need the extra revenue to improve flood protection. But more is afoot here, and it deserves scrutiny.
First, here’s the background, from the Los Angeles Times:
Severe flooding from Hurricane Isaac has prompted a new effort by Gulf Coast lawmakers to secure a larger share of federal offshore drilling revenue to fund projects such as flood protection.
But the idea faces opposition from lawmakers who say it would siphon away money needed to pay Uncle Sam’s bills.
Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) stoked the debate this week by appealing to President Obama during his visit to the storm-battered area to support letting states share 37.5% of federal revenue from energy production off their coasts…..
Fair enough. But there’s a missing piece of this, about who benefits most. And it’s not the public.
Flood control work generates a ton of local income. It creates jobs. Channeling a larger share of the federal share of drilling income into the local area, you give residents a reason not to oppose continued drilling. Of course, these are the same people whose environment has been so badly harmed, perhaps permanently, by the risky practices of offshore production.
In other words, the very same people facing massive economic dislocation, the devastation of their ecosystem, and related chronic illness are being given a reason to put up with even more potential problems in the future.
Why shouldn’t the money from drilling go directly to the public to alleviate the harm done to it—and to develop alternative energy sources to reduce our dependency on the dangers increasingly associated with extraction of fossil fuels?
Actually, the region already gets plenty for harm remediation related to the BP spill.
One possible source of new money: the fines of as much as $21 billion that BP is expected to pay for the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill. Congress recently voted to steer 80% of the penalties to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas to help restore coastal ecosystems and rebuild regional economies.
But Landrieu is seeking additional money from offshore drilling, noting that inland states such as Colorado and Wyoming receive about half the revenue from drilling on federal land. “Coastal states should receive a similar allotment so they can engage these funds in flood protection,” she said in a letter to Obama.
She is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers sponsoring legislation that would let states receive 37.5% of all federal offshore drilling revenue. The idea has gained the backing of pro-production lawmakers who see it as a way to build public support for expanded offshore energy exploration that would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
There it is—in paragraph NINE. Should be in the first paragraph, and should be in the headline. Instead, it is buried under the bland headline
CONGRESSIONAL FORECAST: FIGHT OVER COASTAL FLOOD PROTECTION FUNDS
…which resulted in almost no one paying any attention to this story, dated September 6—and to what is really going on.
Of course, contrary to what the Los Angeles Times asserts, the real reason the lawmakers support the move is NOT their concern to reduce dependence on foreign oil. It is to increase our tolerance for risky domestic drilling.
If you doubt there’s more to it, consider who feathers Sen. Mary Landrieu’s nest. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the vast majority of her campaign contributions from 2007-2012 ($2.5 million) came from law firms, lobbyists, and the oil & gas industry. Guess who is one of the biggest clients of law firms and lobbyists? The oil & gas industry. It’s a safe bet that without doing that industry’s bidding, Mary Landrieu is toast. So she has to promote measures like this that do harm to the public interest and produce more profits for the dominant industry in her area.
It’s not that Mary Landrieu is a good or a bad person, any more than any of her Gulf Coast colleagues, of both parties, who also support this move. It’s that the system is so dirty. And that the public doesn’t have a media that can afford to just tell it to us straight—in such a way as to make us care, and make us want to actually do something about it.
Bet that, without public understanding of what is at stake, the very people who have a reason to fight against more offshore drilling in the gulf will be out there arguing for it.
3. Progressive Journalists get off the record meeting with the White House
TPM + KOS +
(Later Discussion on TPM - "What's the Big Deal with Drone Warfare?"
on subscription only part of Website.
4. The Low Power FM Deception
In response to the recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission to expand the LPFM broadcast service based on the Local Community Radio Act of 2010
by Stephen Dunifer
Free Radio Berkeley
Despite the well-intentioned efforts of organizations such as Prometheus Radio Project and Free Press to reform the media landscape, these efforts have only played into the hands of the government and the corporations who control it. This is the nature of reform, nothing more than a discussion about how to make the jail cell more comfortable - leaving intact the established relationships of power, control and finance. In the case of Prometheus Radio Project, they have fallen victim to their own historical revisionism, forgetting it was a national campaign of electronic disobedience (the Free Radio Movement) that forced the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to revisit the issue of low power community broadcasting. Hardly a gesture of beneficence from then FCC chairman William Kennard who began his legal career with a 1 year fellowship from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), assuming the role of assistant general counsel for the NAB shortly thereafter. Moving on from there, he made partner in a DC law firm (i.e. lobbyists) representing corporate communications interests prior to being appointed FCC Chairman by Bill Clinton in 1997. Currently, he is the Managing Director for the Global Telecom and Media Group of the Carlyle Group. It was Bill Clinton who signed the Telecommunications Deregulation Act of 1996, leading to an intense period of further media consolidation and control.
As a whole, the Free Radio Movement was not interested in a few crumbs off the table or an extremely thin slice of the pie -- it wanted the entire bakery! The airwaves belonged to the people and the people were going to take them back. Despite its own particular shortcomings, this movement, over a period of less than 10 years, was able to elevate the discussion of media ownership and control to both a national and an international level. Although it did not blossom into a movement until 1993, it owed much to the slightly earlier efforts of radio radicals such as Black Rose, Bill Dugan, Mbanna Kantako, and Tetsuo Kogawi. During this period, normally not well known academic authors and media critics such as Robert McChesney were finally able to find a national platform for their views on media consolidation.
With a history beginning in the early days of radio broadcasting, radio as a tool of popular liberation, struggle and expression has always been the instrument of choice whether as: a voice of US labor in the 1920's; part of the Resistance during WWII; an expression of the Bolivian tin miners' struggles in the 1950's; Radio Rebelde, the voice of the Cuban Revolution; radio ships blasting rock and roll into the British Isles when the BBC refused to play such music; the pirate radio explosion in Europe during the 1970's and 1980's; and, Radio Venceremos and Radio Farabundo Marti in El Salvador during the Central American “Dirty Wars” of the 1980's.
It was this spirit that attracted many individuals and communities to the Free Radio Movement. Although the campaign of electronic civil disobedience did not get really rolling until early 1995, when a Federal Judge refused the FCC's motion for a preliminary injunction to shut down Free Radio Berkeley, broadcasting stations started taking to air soon after Free Radio Berkeley received widespread publicity in 1993. Unlicensed FM radio broadcast station took to the airwaves across the breadth of the US and divergent areas such as: the traffic medians of Mexico City and Haitian Slums. From the beginning, Free Radio stations operated by communities of color received a rather disproportionate degree of enforcement action by the FCC.
Faced with a radio rebellion, the FCC and National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) responded with the expected heavy hand of repression – the NAB is considered to be the most powerful lobbying group in DC since their member control any given politician's face time in the media. For the FCC, this consisted of raiding stations and threatening the levying of high fines against anyone who had the temerity to believe that the airwaves belonged to the people. A laughably histrionic PR campaign was waged against the Free Radio Movement by the NAB – one claim being that the proliferation of unlicensed stations would literally cause airplanes to fall from the sky. To many, it seemed possible the NAB might consider the hiring of private mercenaries to deal with the situation if their PR efforts and the enlisting of local radio stations in an overall campaign against Free Radio Stations failed to stem the tide. During the course of their convention in 1998 where they were met with organized demonstrations for Free Speech on the airwaves, an NAB daily trade publication stated that they had originally considered one of the leaders of the Free Radio Movement to be just a minor annoyance, but in light of the protests on their doorstep in Las Vegas, he was now considered to be a major threat.
In fact, this sort of kick-down-the-doors, SWAT team mentality lead to the early retirement of the head of the San Francisco FCC field office during the mid 90's. He was perceived by his superiors at the FCC as being too much of a loose cannon. (Although, this did not prevent an actual multi-jurisdictional SWAT raid on the home of a Tampa Radio broadcaster, Doug Brewer.) Despite immense efforts and resources, both the FCC and NAB lost the PR battle, as far as the court of public opinion was concerned.
Most likely, cooler heads prevailed at the FCC who told the NAB to back off and allow them to handle the situation in a time tested manner – co-option. Given the trend, it was likely a full-fledged Federal Court victory would be given to the Free Radio Movement – almost achieved in the case against Free Radio Berkeley. A Waterloo moment the FCC sought to avoid at all costs.
Combining co-option with an another trusty tool, divide and conquer, the FCC announced that it would establish a Low Power FM (LPFM) broadcast service, but anyone who had been engaged in unsanctioned acts of broadcasting would not be eligible for a possible future LPFM license. In other words, go off the air now if you ever have any hope obtaining a license at some indeterminate point in the future. To be expected, quite a number of Free Radio folks responded with a resounding “F” you. Other stations went dark.
In typical fashion, the FCC created a rather difficult and costly (at least in terms of what it cost to set up a Free Radio Station - $1000 to $2000) LPFM license application process in 1999. Of course, the NAB got its Congress Critters (the lobbying probably carried out by the FCC Chairman's former law firm) to immediately to pass a bill ironically titled the The Broadcast Preservation Act of 1999. This bill severely curtailed the number of LPFM stations by imposing upon them harsher technical standards than were applied to non-LPFM stations – thus preventing any stations from being established in urban areas of any size.
Some former broadcasters (labeled pirate by both the FCC and NAB) decided to unfurl the Jolly Roger, sheath the broadswords and spike the cannons, seeking a less confrontational approach by organizing the Prometheus Radio Project to assist communities with the LPFM application process and station building. Unfortunately, they engaged in more than a modicum of historical revisionism in attempt to cast off their past and make themselves more appealing to funding organizations such as the Ford Foundation, who are more than skittish about “illegitimate activities”. These same foundations fund a number of so-called progressive voices, considered by a number of folks to be information gatekeepers.
According to the Prometheus narrative, the entire LPFM service, limited as it was, came about as a result of a reasonable and fair-minded FCC chairman William Kennard seeing the need for such a service. Given his corporate background, pigs were much more likely to fly. Such a narrative was a disservice and an affront to the many people, communities and their supporters and legal groups such as the National Lawyers Guild who had put so much on the line in the cause of Free Speech.
Unprepared to the handle the large number of LPFM applications, it took the FCC an inordinately long time to grant LPFM construction permits and licenses to community organizations who had managed to deal with the entire process. Several large national religious organizations contributed more than their fair share to the confusion by filing hundreds of what amounted to be bogus applications on behalf of local religious groups who had no idea what LPFM was or that someone else had filed in their name.
During this period much of the energy of the Free Radio Movement dissipated due to a number of factors. Engaging in media reform was more appealing and less risky than electronic civil disobedience. The established, progressive left never accepted the Free Radio Movement - concerned about image and offending Democrat Party associated foundations, the source of much of their funding. Being a rather diverse amalgam of anarchists, DIY punks, community activists, libertarians, 60's radicals and contrarians with very little in the way of funding and resources, the Free Radio Movement was not able to create a more evolved, comprehensive and unified strategy, moving beyond the more immediate aspects of putting FM broadcast stations on the air.
Despite these shortcomings, the Free Radio Movement made a number of significant contributions to the media landscape. One being the idea of sharing media content, specifically MP3 audio, via the internet several years prior to Napster and podcasting becoming household words. Instead of audio cassettes being mailed between radio stations, an audio content sharing website, Radio4all.net, was established to facilitate the sharing of radio programs. Radio4all.net is still going strong today with thousands of audio programs available for download. This ultimately led to the concept of the open publishing model being applied to all types of media – the basis for the Independent Media Centers. In collaboration with Wired magazine, some the first webcasts of live radio were made from the studios of Free Radio Berkeley. Finally, the first time a webcast had been made of a political protest occurred when live audio from a demonstration outside the Berkeley studios of KPFA in 1999 was relayed by a small FM transmitter supplied by Free Radio Berkeley to a nearby receiver feeding the audio to a computer audio server.
An embryonic LPFM service presented a number of challenges to the Free Radio Movement. Many folks felt this was a small victory but more concessions from the FCC should be demanded. During the commentary phase prior to the official launch of the LPFM broadcast service, the FCC received thousands of letters and such. From the point of view of the Free Radio Movement, if such a service was going to established, it would have to be totally non-commercial, locally owned and controlled and structured in a manner to be as financially and technically feasible as possible for grassroots organizations. Further, with the advent of digital TV (an 80 billion dollar give away of spectrum) looming on the horizon, a demand was made for the ultimate expansion of non-commercial FM broadcasting into VHF TV channels 5 and 6 (to be abandoned when the digital transition to UHF channels took place), thereby adding 60 new FM channels to the broadcast spectrum. Needless to say, this has yet to implemented – the phrase “a snowball's chance in hell” is appropriate.
A general consensus along with a good deal of grumbling emerged from the Free Radio Movement along the lines of - we will accept LPFM, but the war is not over. At that point, two divergent currents emerged. One being the folks who decided they would keep putting stations on the air no matter what and the other represented by the Prometheus Radio Project. A third wave consisted of people who held a more ecumenical position of maintaining the need for a continuing campaign of electronic civil disobedience while at the same time providing whatever assistance they could to communities who wished to engage in the LPFM process. If a few deserving communities could establish a voice with an LPFM station, then that was all for the greater good of media democracy and Free Speech.
The Prometheus Radio Project did their best to create a firewall between itself and the notion of electronic civil disobedience. Inherently, this is the genesis of the title of this article – the LPFM deception. It was a deception on a number of levels. By distancing themselves from civil disobedience the Prometheus Project deceived itself into thinking it could prevail on the policy level with out the threat of street heat. Instead it found itself in a protracted, decade long legislative struggle to expand the LPFM service. By what amounted to a legislative miracle, they did prevail with the passage of the Community Radio Act of 2010. As a result, the FCC will open the window for new LPFM applications in the Fall of 2013. In addition, in coalition with a number of other organizations, they were able to beat back an effort by the FCC for further media deregulation. Ultimately, their strategy may have worked, but at what cost?
By focusing primarily on the legislative level and achieving legitimacy, another deception has taken place - that being to limit the imaginative possibilities grassroots broadcasting offers. Imagine this, non-union workers are demonstrating outside of a Wall Mart armed with the usual picket signs, leaflet and megaphones. But wait, there are also large signs being held up at key points in the parking lot and entry points on nearby roads. These signs say “Tune to 87.9”. A transmitter has been set up nearby in a van or car to broadcast a continuously looping message at the frequency of 87.9 MHz – an electronic leaflet. Workers who are supportive can listen to the broadcast in the safety of their cars without risking their jobs by being seen by management taking a leaflet directly from the folks on the picket line. Drivers going by can tune to the station to hear about what is happening, hard to hand a physical leaflet to car going by at 35 MPH. Drive by Radio. This is one of many possibilities. Temporary stations pop up at community gatherings such as flea markets, concerts and farmers' markets. All schools, senior and community centers and libraries should have their own stations as well, an impossibility under the current regime imposed by the FCC.
Another not so obvious self-imposed deception concerns the exact nature of a broadcast license. At the most fundamental level, a license is a business law contract between an individual acting on his own behalf or on the behalf of an organization and the government agency issuing the license. It does not matter whether it is a fishing license, driver’s license or broadcasting license. Signing the license form is an implicit abandonment of normally protected rights and presumption of innocence. Possession of a broadcast license allows the FCC to regulate speech (the 7 dirty words), issue fines without any proof other than their say so and enter the station premises at any time without notice or search warrant. Further, fines and penalties cannot be adjudicated at a local Federal District Court. They must first be appealed through a serpentine process within the FCC itself prior to seeking any other legal remedy. After exhausting all administrative remedies within the FCC, the appeal process is then handed off to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Washington, DC – arguably one of the most conservative and reactionary court districts in the US. Needless to say, the FCC appeal process is an exhaustive and expensive journey. Individuals operating a Free Radio station without sanction or license retain their basic rights of Free Speech, presumption of innocence and protection from unlawful search and seizure – at least in theory with what is left of the Bill of Rights.
At another level, it is deceptive thinking to assume that what the FCC has offered us is the best that can be achieved. Yes, an additional 800 LPFM stations is a good thing, depending who ends up with licenses. The major issue of who owns the airwaves has yet to be resolved in any meaningful way, however. Leading to the more general question of who is going to control and own the Commons – the people or the corporations? The current chairman of the FCC is putting forth a proposal that would allow one corporation to own 8 radio stations, 2 TV stations, one newspaper and internet access in any given market area. By taking the strategy of electronic civil disobedience off of the table, the FCC, in relative peace, can continue to being a captive protector of the corporations it is supposed to regulate.
One could take the cynical position of radio broadcasting does not matter, being a legacy technology in this new era of internet information and such. But the reality is that if they come for my radio in the morning, they will come for your internet in the afternoon. Free Speech is anathema to the state and the corporations it serves. Remember, it was just recently proposed to give the White House an internet kill switch. Events taking place in the Middle East over the last few years demonstrate what happens when governments feel threatened by popular movements and revolt – they shut down the entire communications network, forcing a return to the use of legacy technologies such as fax, packet radio, dial-up ISPs, etc. Imagine the consequences if folks in those countries had had portable FM transmitters with laptop studios ready to go. All the various forms of communications do not exist in isolation from one another. They must be combined together to form a synergistic whole, as the Independent Media Centers have demonstrated, to achieve their full potential as a tools for personal and collective liberation.
While the potential addition of 800 or so new LPFM stations is to be welcomed, it remains to seen as to whether radical and grassroots communities will find a voice by this means. It is a matter that will require a high degree of organizing and the establishing of coalitions on an unprecedented level. Finally, one must avoid self-deception by not seeing LPFM as a final victory, but rather one battle of a continuing war for not only the broadcast airwaves but the entire Commons.
5. What are the T-Party Billionaires afraid of?
The great mystery of American politics, a mystery which no one in the world can fathom, not even most Americans, is why so much money, hot air and spittle is being spent on literally paralyzing the American political system and making it impossible, not just to negotiate solutions, but to even have an intelligent conversation about solving the problems facing everyone, everywhere today. For that is what the Tea Party is really about: making first thought, then negotiation, and finally action impossible.
What is all this sound and fury covering up?
In my opinion it has much to do with where contemporary globalization is leading, the forces that it is setting in motion, which for historically minded Americans could elicit a bit ofdèjá vu.
It seems to me that the globalization of today is in many ways similar on a world scale to the explosion of growth, power and sophistication of the US economy in the period after the Civil War, commonly called “The Gilded Age“. This was the period of the “robber barons” and viewed nostalgically by many of the American right as a paradise of anarcho-capitalism. This was a period of immense growth and innovation, but also one of enormous inequality, suffering and exploitation and financial crisis, all of it interpenetrated by an ubiquitous political corruption as the enormous new wealth so recently created set about purchasing and deforming to its benefit the institutions of American government: federal, state and local.
The excesses of the Gilded Age gave birth to a mass reform movement in the United States called, “Progressivism“. This movement, in a titanic struggle, bridging decades, among other things brought into effect: the regulation of interstate commerce, the breaking up of the monopolies known as “trusts“, laws regulating the purity of food and drugs, the rise of labor unions, laws eliminating child labor and in 1913, even progressive income tax, something which still causes intense indignation on the American ultra-right.
I would maintain that today the “Gilded Age” is happening on a global scale. The same viral growth and innovation; the same inequality, suffering and exploitation and financial crisis and similar corruption as rootless, multinational corporations evade much needed tax money and corrupt the political systems where they find themselves, world wide. And today we can add the more recent concerns for climate change and renewable energy.
Action and reaction, just as in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the grotesque abuses of the system brought forth a muscular reform movement to tame the beasts of the Gilded Age, today the feeling is growing all over the world that this new Gilded Age must also be brought under some sort of rational control and regulation. As the center of the world economic system, any general reform and regulation of globalization logically must begin in the United States of America.
That is what the one-percent are afraid of and that is why they fund and promote the paralysis of the American political system.
Just to show you the symmetry between the urge to reform one hundred years ago and to reform today, I’d ask you to take the trouble to read two texts, they are like the tiny samples taken to analyze DNA.
I’m sure you have heard about the terrible fire in a garment factory in Bangladesh a few days ago,which took the lives of over a hundred workers trapped in the blaze, (the color photo at the top of the page shows the aftermath) so the first text I’d like you to read, is about that tragedy:
(…) On the third floor, where firefighters later recovered 69 bodies, Ms. Pakhi was stitching sweater jackets for C&A, a European chain. On the fifth floor, workers were making Faded Glory shorts for Walmart. Ten bodies were recovered there. On the sixth floor, a man named Hashinur Rahman put down his work making True Desire lingerie for Sears and eventually helped save scores of others. Inside one factory office, labor activists found order forms and drawings for a licensee of the United States Marine Corps that makes commercial apparel with the Marines’ logo. In all, 112 workers were killed in a blaze last month that has exposed a glaring disconnect among global clothing brands, the monitoring system used to protect workers and the factories actually filling the orders. After the fire, Walmart, Sears and other retailers made the same startling admission: They say they did not know that Tazreen Fashions was making their clothing.(…) David Hasanat, the chairman of the Viyellatex Group, one of the country’s most highly regarded garment manufacturers, pointed out that global apparel retailers often depend on hundreds of factories to fill orders. Given the scale of work, retailers frequently place orders through suppliers and other middlemen who, in turn, steer work to factories that deliver low costs — a practice he said is hardly unknown to Western retailers and clothing brands. The order for Walmart’s Faded Glory shorts, documents show, was subcontracted from Simco Bangladesh Ltd., a local garment maker. “It is an open secret to allow factories to do that,” Mr. Hasanat said. “End of the day, for them it is the price that matters.” New York Times
A little over a hundred years ago something almost identical happened in the USA. You probably know about it, but read the following text to refresh your memory and to compare it with the Bangladesh tragedy:
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history. It was also the second deadliest disaster in New York City – after the burning of the General Slocum on June 15, 1904 – until the destruction of the World Trade Center 90 years later. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women aged sixteen to twenty-three; of the victims whose ages are known, the oldest victim was Providenza Panno at 43, and the youngest were 14-year-olds Kate Leone and “Sara” Rosaria Maltese. Because the managers had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits – a common practice at the time to prevent pilferage and unauthorized breaks – many of the workers who could not escape the burning building jumped from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors to the streets below. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers. (emphasis mine)Wikipedia
The only real difference between the two fires is that today the money is not bringing poor immigrant women to America to do the sewing, they are sending the sewing out to poor women in their home countries.
The text I put into bold type, the reforms the Triangle fire produced, is the key, the symbol, to explain the energy and funds behind the Tea Party’s mostly successful struggle against rational thought in the USA today.
It is easy to imagine that we will be seeing more and more incidents like these sweatshop fires, some of them may cause thousands of deaths, pollute the atmosphere or spread disease in much the same way that the financial crisis that began in the USA has spread around the world. Today, unless the world cooperates to regulate, what goes around, comes around.
Now it happens that there is only one state in the whole world that is still, for the moment at least, potentially powerful enough to be able to bring this situation under some sort of control at home and abroad, and this state is in theory a democracy that is elected by its citizens to serve them.
That state is, of course, the United States of America.
Now, for the state apparatus of the United States of America to bring the situation under control in America and to a great extent around the world, all the branches of the state, executive, legislative and judiciary would have to be in nearly total alignment, as they were during World War Two.
Keeping that from happening, paralyzing the political system, with racism and paranoia so that unity is entirely unthinkable except around “supporting our troops” to defend the “homeland” against the threat of “terrorism” is what the Tea Party movement and every move of Fox and Kochs is about.
So that is what it is really all about: it is about not legislating and not getting things done… to paralyze the government of the United States of America at a critical time in its history and the history of the world at large. To prevent the system from flushing itself out and regenerating itself. To cut the wires of the burglar alarms so they can sack the house, the house of everyone in the world, in peace. Their peace.
Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com
6. War brewing on the latest front line against terrorism in Mali
BAMAKO, Mali — The next war against terrorism is taking shape in this West African country, as African nations backed by the United States and France are readying a force to recapture Mali’s north from extremists linked to al-Qaeda and prevent another haven for jihadists from taking root on the continent.
But whether a military intervention can defuse such a complex crisis remains in doubt. Mali’s transitional government, installed after a military coup earlier this year, is weak and lacks legitimacy. Its poorly equipped army is in disarray.
African and Western powers are already in disagreement over the timing and goals of a military strike. Also unclear is whether regional African forces are strong enough to defeat well-armed militants in desert terrain the size of Texas without help on the ground from Western armies.
Johnnie Carson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, said this week that “the military concept proposes an Africa-led effort, but several key questions must be answered to ensure that this effort is also well-planned and well-resourced.”
Nevertheless, after months of hesitation, the momentum for a military intervention has surged in the region and among Western powers, as the radical Islamists and al-Qaeda militants have deepened their grip over the north.
Analysts and U.N. officials say that any military strike is still months away, but the United States and France are playing an active diplomatic role in it and encouraging African nations to take the lead — a model used most recently in Somalia, where Islamist radicals also seized much of the country. Last month, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) approved a 3,300-member force for northern Mali.
Thousands of Malians have fled to this capital to escape the Islamists’ brutal rule, and many say military action is the only way to liberate the north. “It’s the only solution,” said Aziz Maiga, a 27-year-old rapper who recently left the north. “Negotiating with the Islamists will not work.”
The American role has intensified since U.S. officials implicated al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — the terrorism network’s North and West Africa affiliate known as AQIM — in the September assault on a U.S. mission in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. AQIM is one of the three major groups that now control northern Mali.
In a telephone interview, a senior Islamist leader denounced the United States, declaring that its people are “against Islam” and that superstorm Sandy was “a punishment from God.”
“If the Western countries send troops, that will be fine. We are prepared for war,” said Oumar Ould Hamaha, the military leader of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, known as MUJWA, which is an offshoot of AQIM. “If they don’t come here, one day we will attack them. If we cannot do this in our time, our sons and the next generation will attack the West.”
Coalitions and factions
This landlocked former French colony, much of it in the Sahara Desert, is one of the world’s poorest countries despite an abundance of natural resources, including gold and uranium.
Long before the seizure of northern Mali, AQIM kidnapped Westerners and operated a drug pipeline to Europe and other criminal enterprises to finance its operations.
In March, the group and other radical Islamists joined forces with secular Tuareg separatists, angered by decades of political marginalization and neglect by the central government. They overran the north, taking advantage of a power vacuum that followed the military coup in Mali’s capital, Bamako, in March
The Islamists then seized control from the Tuareg rebels. They imposed Islamist sharia law on a moderate Muslim population and began enforcing it with public beatings, amputations, stonings and prison sentences.
Initially, there were two main groups of extremists — AQIM and Ansar Dine, or “defenders of the faith,” which is led mostly by Malian hard-liners and linked to AQIM. But by September, MUJWA — which splintered from AQIM late last year — seized significant territory. Despite their differences, all three groups remain loosely linked. They have been joined by some fighters from Boko Haram, an Islamist force in Nigeria, according to the United Nations, Malian and regional African military officials.
French President Francois Hollande recently cited intelligence that some French Muslims had joined the jihadists and could perpetrate terrorist acts upon their return to France. Mali’s neighbors are also worried about radical Islamists spilling across their borders.
“They have killed so many of our soldiers, our sons,” said Sadou Diallo, the former mayor of Gao who fled to Bamako. “They have abused our sisters. They have destroyed 50 years of development in the north.”
7. Turnout unusually high among Democratic officials for committeman vote that saw Ramos beat former party chairman Siegel
Elected officials tend to have finely calibrated Geiger counters to detect and avoid any hint of political radiation, so it’s not surprising they were among the biggest supporters of Palm Beach County Democratic State Committeeman John Ramos’ reelection bid last week against former county chairman and end-times controversialist Mark Alan Siegel.
The normally low-profile race for committeeman drew a remarkable 88.5 percent turnout at Thursday’s Democratic Executive Committee meeting, with 254 of 287 eligible voters casting ballots. By comparison, only 227 people voted earlier in the evening for the more visible position of county chair, which Terrie Rizzo won.
Siegel was the face of the county party for nearly four years. But Siegel, who is Jewish, was pressed to resign in September after he told a conservative website during the Democratic National Convention that pro-Israel fundamentalist Christians “just want us to be there so we can all be slaughtered and converted and bring on the second coming of Jesus Christ.”
Siegel apologized for the remarks the next day. He recently told the Politics column that his September words were “talking about the end of days, not next week. … I did not say, would not say, didn’t believe then, don’t believe now that any Christians want to slaughter any Jews.”
In the committeeman race, Ramos got 128 votes to 87 for Siegel and 39 for Irving Rosenthal. While Ramos beat Siegel by a comfortable margin, he barely avoided a runoff. Party rules require a majority for election. So Ramos needed exactly the 128 he got to win outright.
Local elected Democrats voting in person or by proxy were a key for Ramos. All five Democratic county commissioners — Shelley Vana, Mary Lou Berger, Paulette Burdick, Priscilla Taylor and Jess Santamaria — backed Ramos. So did Tax Collector Anne Gannon, Public Defender Carey Haughwout, state Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, state Reps. Lori Berman, Kevin Rader, Bobby Powell and Irving Slosberg and Port of Palm Beach Commissioners George Mastics, Wayne Richards and Jean Enright.
Elected Dems who supported Siegel included U.S. Rep.-elect Lois Frankel, Clerk and Comptroller Sharon Bock, and Port Commissioner Blair Ciklin.
U.S. Rep.-elect Patrick Murphy voted by proxy for Rosenthal.
8. BBC -
Fukushima fish still contaminated from nuclear accident
Levels of radioactive contamination in fish caught off the east coast of Japan remain raised, official data shows.
It is a sign that the Dai-ichi power plant continues to be a source of pollution more than a year after the nuclear accident.
About 40% of fish caught close to Fukushima itself are regarded as unfit for humans under Japanese regulations.
The respected US marine chemist Ken Buesseler has reviewed the data in this week's Science journal.
He says there are probably two sources of lingering contamination.
"There is the on-going leakage into the ocean of polluted ground water from under Fukushima, and there is the contamination that's already in the sediments just offshore," he told BBC News.
Continue reading the main story
With these results it's hard to predict for how long some fisheries might have to be closed”
Prof Ken Buesseler WHOI
"It all points to this issue being long-term and one that will need monitoring for decades into the future."
Prof Buesseler is affiliated to the US Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).
His evaluation covers a year's worth of data gathered by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).
Its monthly records detail the levels of radioactive caesium found in fish and other seafood products from shortly after the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami - the double disaster that triggered the Fukushima crisis.
The caesium-134 and 137 isotopes can be traced directly to releases from the crippled power station.
MAFF uses the information to decide whether certain fisheries along five east-coast prefectures, including Fukushima, should be opened or closed (it is not a measure of contamination in actual market fish).
The data is used to decide when fisheries should be opened or closed
The caesium does not normally stay in the tissues of saltwater fish for very long; a few percent per day on average should flow back into the ocean water. So, the fact that these animals continue to display elevated contamination strongly suggests the pollution source has not yet been completely shut off.
He notes that although caesium levels in any fish type and on any day can be highly variable, it is the bottom-dwelling species off Fukushima that consistently show the highest caesium counts.
For the WHOI researcher, this points to the seafloor being a major reservoir for the caesium pollution.
"It looks to me like the bottom fish, the fish that are eating, you know, crabs and shellfish, the kinds of things that are particle feeders - they seem to be increasing their accumulation of the caesium isotopes because of their habitat on the seafloor," he explained.
Prof Buesseler stresses however that the vast majority of fish caught off the northeast coast of Japan are fit for human consumption.
And while the 40% figure for unsafe catch in the Fukushima prefecture may sound alarming, the bald number is slightly misleading.
Last April, the Japanese authorities tried to instil greater market confidence by lowering the maximum permitted concentration of radioactivity in fish and fish products from 500 becquerels per kilogram of wet weight to 100 Bq/kg wet.
This tightening of the threshold immediately re-classified fish previously deemed fit as unfit, even though their actual contamination count had not changed.
It is also worth comparing the Japanese limit with international standards. In the US, for example, the threshold is set at 1,200 Bq/kg wet - significantly more lenient than even the pre-April Japanese requirement.
And Prof Buesseler makes the point that some naturally occurring radionuclides, such as potassium-40, appear in fish at similar or even higher levels than the radioactive caesium.
Nonetheless, the contamination question is a pertinent one in the Asian nation simply because its people consume far more fish per head than in most other countries.
"At one level, there shouldn't be any surprises here but on another, people need to come to grips with the fact that for some species and for some areas this is going to be a long-term issue; and with these results it's hard to predict for how long some fisheries might have to be closed," said the WHOI scientist.
Prof Buesseler, with Japanese colleagues, is organising a scientific symposium in Tokyo on 12/13 November to present the latest thinking on Fukushima and its impacts on the ocean. The information will then be shared with the public in a free colloquium on 14 November
9.Almost half of Fukushima children now have thyroid disorders from radiation poisoning, officials blame 'too much seafood'
Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/038185_Fukushima_children_thyroid_disorders.html#ixzz2Eb3bsHpX
NaturalNews) Not much information comes out of Japan about Fukushima anymore, and the American MSM seems to have forgotten what watered down reporting they had done earlier. But the human suffering has begun in Japan, and even the Japanese government is trying to pretend it's not happening.
The curtain is pulled over the total impact of this disaster to protect the nuclear power industry. The government and media blackout has become known as "plume gate" for the radioactive plume that was released from the Fukushima mishap. (http://www.naturalnews.com/035789_Fukushima_Cesium-137_Plume-Gate.html)
The Fukushima reactors were designed by General Electric, and 23 reactors of the USA's 104 operating reactors are very similar to Fukushima's. Lately, awareness of nuclear power's pitfalls is growing and casting a shadow on nuclear power's illegitimate
Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/038185_Fukushima_children_thyroid_disorders.html#ixzz2Eb3mrInL
The suffering has already begun
Thousands of Japanese children from Fukushima and the nearby areas have been diagnosed with cysts and nodules on their thyroid glands. So far, 41.1 percent of 57,000 tested have shown these early warnings of potential thyroid cancer.
Even worse, four out of five Fukushima evacuees have been observed with developing thyroid abnormalities. It's not just iodide isotopes with their relatively short radioactive half-lives that can penetrate thyroid glands, cesium-37 isotopes with longer half-lives can too. Here's the shocking truth about radioactive half-life. (http://www.lbl.gov/abc/Basic.html#Half)
However, the official medical line from the head of this research is that maybe they've eaten too much seafood or taken too much iodine. It's also an official decree that the testing be stopped before it begins in other areas of Japan.
Even in Tokyo, doctors are reporting dramatically increased incidents of incurable diarrhea, non-stop nose bleeds, and flu-like symptoms. Some parents are becoming activists in Japan to get at the truth and get their children treated properly. Children are more easily affected by radiation poisoning.
A Japanese pediatrician even put out a YouTube video asking for outside help since the Japanese government is not helping as they should. (http://enenews.com)
Dr. Christopher Busby, visiting professor at the University of Ulster's School of Biomedical Sciences and Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk put out this video about Fukushima. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdvfsBsXNS4)
He's been attacked. But as a saying goes: "You know you're getting close to the target when you're getting flack." Here's Busby's counter attack: http://fukushimaupdate.com
Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/038185_Fukushima_children_thyroid_disorders.html#ixzz2Eb3xd2Pr
10. VOTING BLAME GAME - by Sen. Dan Gelber
It is the theatre of the absurd to watch the Republicans in the legislature and the Governor try to affix blame for Florida’s election fiasco on someone other than themselves. Today they went after election supervisors who they claim didn’t provide enough capacity to process voters. Let’s be clear, while election supervisors might have done more to accommodate voters, they were without authority to prevent the voter suppression that was purposefully and willfully committed by the Republican Legislature and Governor Scott. The facts and run up to the 2012 election prove that point convincingly…
Prior to the 2008 election, the Republican legislature tried to limit early voting to 96 hours over a 14 day period, and to only city halls and libraries. Democrats hollered that the limitations on hours each day (8) and locations would cause long lines but the Republicans defeated all amendments trying to enlarge the time and places for early voting.
The result: lines were so long during the 2008 election that in the middle of early voting Governor Crist issued an executive order expanding early voting to 12 hours each day (for a total of 120 hours). If you remember, even with Crist’s expansion there were still long lines, some around the block in many communities.
The Legislature knew exactly who the early voters were because it had commissioned a study after the election. http://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/InterimReports/2011/2011-118ee.pdf . The Legislature’s study showed that 52% of the early voters in 2008 were Democrats and only 30% were Republicans.
So armed with the knowledge that more Democrats voted early, and knowing full well that 120 hours was insufficient, the Republican Legislature and the Governor again limited early voting in advance of the 2012 election, this time to 48-96 hours over 8 days. They limited locations to only city halls and libraries and forbid early voting the last Sunday before the election (a popular voting day for African American churches). Again Democrats hollered that the limitations would cause long lines, but Republicans defeated amendments to the election bill that would have expanded hours and days and allowed more locations for early voting.
The sponsors of the bill claimed it was necessary because of “fraud” in early voting. Of course there is no evidence of even insignificant fraud in early voting and the claim was an outright lie. Yes, a lie.
The legislature also put on the ballot 11 constitutional amendments, many of which had multiple parts. Rather than use short descriptions of the amendments, the legislature made the summaries as long as possible (some up to 600 words) ensuring that any conscientious voter would have to spend inordinate time to actually vote.
So, the resulting voting delays were not simply predictable, they were intended by a legislature and governor who had all the facts necessary to know precisely what there law would do. There is no blaming anyone else. This was done for the singular purpose of making it harder to vote for people who the Republican legislature believed tended to vote for Democrats. Case closed.