Saturday, December 30
How'd We Do in 2006?: The American Injustice Index
America's ruling elite--the wealthiest 3-5% families and their corporate and governmental managers--did very well in 2006, thanks to Big Business-friendly domestic policies the White House promulgated after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to "fortify" the nation in the manufactured "war on terrorism."
Consider the economic disparities below compiled for 2006 by the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, a New York-based nonprofit and nonpartisan organization founded in 1961 by Harvey Wachtel, an attorney and adviser to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the '60s-era civil rights movement.
Number of times that Congress has reduced the estate tax since it last raised the federal minimum wage: 9
Longest period in which the federal minimum wage has not been increased: 1997–2006
Number of workers who would directly benefit from an increase in the minimum wage: 5.6 million
Number of very large estates that would directly benefit from a reduction in the estate tax: 8,200
Perhaps no other disparity than stock market investment this year better reveals the New American Order is about widening the economic gulf between the wealthiest and disenfranchised middle-class citizens:
Decrease in percentage of Americans who own stocks from 2004 to 2006, the first such decline on record: 51.9% to 48.6%--even though US stocks this year posted their biggest gains since 2003.
When US academics finally inventory the full carnage inflicted on America by the Bush White House in eight short years, 2006 will be commemorated a watershed for fascism. Scholars also will be amazed to learn some of the civil damage even was televised--in real-time but to apparent public indifference--including
1. institution of a US dictatorship; the Military Commissions Act negated (scroll down for MSNBC clip) civil rights and habeas corpus allowing complete White House discretion-- with no review by civilian courts--to designate any American an "enemy combatant" subject to transfer to military tribunals based on hearsay evidence where there are no rights to a trial, attorney or ability to confront accusers;
2. unimpeachable but uninvestigated evidence of a coup d'etat; an HBO documentary (scroll down for film) accounts for that the statistically-stratospheric disparity between exit polls and final vote counts in 2004 for George Bush and John Kerry was accomplished through hacked e-voting machines--disparities duplicated in the 2006 midterm elections.
Let's also not forget the European-styled North American Union for the US, Canada and Mexico approved in 2005 through a pact signed by Bush without constitutionally-mandated congressional review. In October Dr. Robert Pastor, chief architect of the plan, told a Mexican publication (which the American news media took as their cue to ignore) that "a new 9/11 crisis" could serve to expedite his trade and commerce unification plan.
That same month veteran Texas Republican congressman Ron Paul warned Americans of another crisis embedded in Pastor's plan. On his U.S. House website, Paul reports the "NAFTA Superhighway," a massive infrastructure crisscrossing the US to physically link the three countries, will necessitate "coordinated federal and state eminent domain actions on an unprecedented scale, as literally millions of people and businesses could be displaced" to provide right-of-way for those construction projects that begin early next year in Texas.
This litany of injustice and overt fraud--a federal budget deficit sixteen times larger than publicly reported, a biotech-friendly FDA that approved genetically-modified livestock for our dinner plates though Europe does not agree, etc., etc., etc.--is but a partial list of the unrelenting civil scourge visited on American "democracy" in 2006.
Without further ado, here is the Drum Major Institute's Injustice Index for 2006.
(Note: Red text is not URL-embedded.)
Wages that an average CEO earns before lunchtime: more than a full-time minimum wage worker makes in a year
Ratio of the average U.S. CEO’s annual pay to a minimum wage worker’s: 821:1
Year when this ratio reached its highest so far: 2006
Total compensation in 2005 of Barry Diller of IAC/Interactive, the highest paid CEO in the US today: $469 million
Additional amount that Mr. Diller received in new stock options “to motivate Mr. Diller for future performance”: $7.6 million
Percentage of Americans who feel chronically overworked: 30
Years of unused vacation time that American workers collectively give back to their employers each year: 1.6 million
Percentage of women earning less than $40,000 per year who receive no paid vacation time at all: 37
Payment per episode that Donald Trump receives to host The Apprentice:
Average amount that companies spend to recruit a new CEO from outside the company: $2,000,000
Probability that the newly hired CEO will either quit or be fired within the first eighteen months: 1 in 2
Estimated number of people lined up outside the new M&M store set to open in Times Square responding to ads for “on-the-spot” hiring for 200 jobs, 65 of which were fulltime: between 5,000 and 6,000
Starting salary that drew them there: $10.75 per hour
Fee Paris Hilton is seeking to host a New Year’s Eve party in NYC, Miami, or L.A.: $100,000 plus a private jet
Amount that Ms. Hilton is set to inherit from the Hilton Hotel fortune: $350 million
Number of times that Congress has reduced the estate tax since it last raised the federal minimum wage: 9
Longest period in which the federal minimum wage has not been increased: 1997–2006
Number of workers who would directly benefit from an increase in the minimum wage: 5.6 million
Number of very large estates that would directly benefit from a reduction in the estate tax: 8,200
Highest price per custom-fitted, handmade power suit in Armani’s new line, which hopes to respond to what ex-Gucci head designer Tom Ford calls “a lot of pent-up demand for true luxury [from men who] are getting rich first, and they want to deck themselves out before they deck out their wives”: $20,000
Number of households using credit to cover basic living expenses: 7 in 10
Amount in tax breaks and subsidies that last year’s energy bill paid out to the gas and oil industry during a period of record profits and higher prices at the pump: $6 billion
Campaign donations that Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who voted for the energy bill, received from the oil and gas industry: $500,000, making her the top recipient of oil contributions in the 2006 election cycle
Percentage of U.S. workers who are confident they will be able to live comfortably after retirement: 68
Percentage who have saved less than $25,000 toward their retirement: 53
Percent of African-American and Latino families that have zero or negative net worth, respectively: 31 and 38
Date on which USA Today reported that Dr. Anthony Griffin of the Beverly Hills Cosmetic Surgery Institute, who appears on the ABC program Extreme Makeover, predicted that CEOs will lead a surge in male cosmetic surgery because, he says, “for instance, executives on trial for corporate scandals would improve their chances for acquittal with a makeover just before trial”: November 4, 2006
Date on which the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached its all-time high:
October 26, 2006
Decrease in percentage of Americans who own stocks from 2004 to 2006, the first such decline on record: 51.9% to 48.6%
Total Wal-Mart received in government subsidies, sometimes called “corporate welfare” by activists, in 2005: $3.75 billion
Percent of the decline in welfare caseloads that is due to TANF programs failing to serve families that are poor enough to qualify, rather than due to a reduction in the number of families poor enough to qualify for aid, in the ten years since “welfare reform”: 57
Percentage of the GDP that went to wages and salaries in the first half of 2006: 51.8
Time when the percentage of GDP belonging to wages and salaries was lower than in 2006, out of the 77 previous years for which these data are available: never
Projected total in Christmas bonuses that the five largest investment banks in New York City will pay out in 2006: $36 billion
Estimated additional amount U.S. workers would receive annually if all employers obeyed workplace laws: $19 billion
Ratio of compensation of CEOs of publicly traded defense companies to privates before September 11th, 2001: 190 to 1
Ratio in 2006: 308 to 1
Percentage increase in out-of-pocket medical expenses for the average American in the past 5 years: 93
Estimated amount the U.S. would save each year on paperwork if it adopted single-payer health care: $161,000,000,000
Date on which incoming Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson announced “Amid this country’s strong economic expansion, many Americans simply aren’t feeling the benefits. Many aren’t seeing significant increases in their take-home pay. Their increases in wages are being eaten up by high energy prices and rising health care costs, among others”: August 2, 2006
According to exit polls in the midterm elections, percentage of Americans who think life for the next generation will be about the same or worse respectively: 28, 40
Wednesday, December 27
Democracy Hacked, America Hijacked
Five days before the November 7 midterm elections HBO broadcast Hacking Democracy, a documentary featuring startling research by Bev Harris, an e-voting activist and writer from Kings County, Washington.
After vainly attempting to get answers to questions about computerized voting from her county election officials, she discovered on an FTP website unguarded proprietary code for voting machines owned by Diebold, the largest U.S. e-voting vendor. A subsequent analysis of that code by a Johns Hopkins University computer system analyst revealed significant vulnerabilities to Diebold voting machines, a discovery contradicting the company's assurances of the security of its voting machines.
Bev then became a fair elections advocate, starting the nonprofit organization BlackBoxVoting.org that effectively serves as an information clearinghouse on problems with computer voting from around the country. Harris also wrote Black Box Voting, a book of her work which can be downloaded at no charge at BBV.
Her work attracted the attention of HBO and Diebold, which threatened lawsuits to halt the film's production, its broadcast and to muzzle Harris. To its credit, HBO did not relent. In compiling evidence to make its case of vote manipulation, filmmakers established that both Democrats and Republicans have had elections stolen via computerized voting.
Recently posted in three segments to YouTube.com, Hacking Democracy, destined for an Oscar nod, is obligatory viewing for any American still harboring illusions the US is led by a President who was empowered by voters through a unbiased election.
Arguably, the most dramatic segment of the film appears in part 3. On 13 December 2005, Harris and a team of e-voting activists were invited by Ion Sancho, supervisor of elections for Leon County (Tallahassee) Florida, to demonstrate if any of his Diebold opti-scan voting machines could be hacked through its memory card, a scenario Diebold insists is impossible.
But see what magic Finnish computer analyst Harri Hursti can spin with a few strokes of the keyboard. In the process he clears up confusion Sancho harbored since the 2000 presidential election about Diebold machines in adjoining Volusia County that displayed 16,000 negative votes for Democrat presidential candidate Al Gore, who George Bush "defeated" by only 537 votes.
And as the cliche goes, the rest is history...very bad history.
Watch part 1 below or here (31 minutes, 57 seconds).
Watch part 2 below or here (28 minutes, 3 seconds).
Watch part 3 below or here (21 minutes, 57 seconds).
Tuesday, December 26
Not All House Democrats Rolling Over, Playing Dead
Michigan Democrat John Conyers, the incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee at age 77, next backed away from years of spewing outrage at White House criminality over its contrived war in Iraq and 2004 presidential election theft.
"I have substantial concerns about the way this administration has abused its authority, but impeachment would not be good for the American people," Conyers told the Detroit News a month after the November elections.
After the GOP arranged for five-time Georgia Democrat Cynthia McKinney's defeat during her primary last August, it appeared House Democrats was content to morph into their GOP colleagues and run the House using their "Know Nothing" policy template and rubber stamp.
But not all are selling out. The Boston Globe report below reveals Massachusetts House delegation apparently tossed Pelosi's memo for conciliatory treatment of White House and GOP House criminals.
If they proceeds with their proposed probes of the White House, we can expect that "inevitable" terrorist attack Cheney promised America after 9/11, followed by imposition of martial law and suspension of the Constitution.
But, MA delegation, thanks for offering Free America such a generous Christmas present.
Published on Saturday, December 23, 2006 by the Boston Globe
Probes of Bush Policies in Works
Mass. lawmakers to launch hearings
by Rick Klein
WASHINGTON -- Massachusetts lawmakers are set to launch a blizzard of investigations in the new Congress, probing issues such as wartime contracting, post-Katrina housing assistance, and the Bush administration's relationship with Cuba and other countries in Latin America.
n what could be closely watched proceedings, two members of the Massachusetts delegation -- representatives William D. Delahunt of Quincy and Martin T. Meehan of Lowell -- are planning joint committee hearings to examine the administration's Iraq war policies, particularly the reasons for the military's lagging efforts to train Iraqi troops. Delahunt is in line to become chairman of the House International Relations Committee's subcommittee on oversight and investigations, and Meehan will take over the same subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee.
Armed with the power to force sworn testimony for the first time after 12 years in the minority in Congress, members of the state's all-Democratic congressional delegation are positioned to play major roles in investigating policies and actions that cut across the federal government and the business community.
"We could be the Bush administration's worst nightmare come to pass, in terms of the questions we'll be able to ask from positions of power," said Representative Edward J. Markey of Malden, the dean of the Massachusetts delegation. "There are a lot of secrets that have been hidden from the American people in terms of the way business has been done for the past six years."
Democrats in general say that when they become the majority party in Congress, they intend to shine a spotlight on administration policies and management, where the Republican power structure has done little to check the authority of the president. With the GOP powerless to stop them, Democrats say, they hope their oversight will protect taxpayer dollars and shape the political agenda going into the 2008 presidential election.
The hearings and investigations planned by Massachusetts' members of Congress will complement and, in some cases, compete with a dizzying array of other investigations Democrats are expected to launch early next year, and Senate committees are expected to be just as active as those in the House.
In addition to Delahunt and Meehan, Massachusetts will have House members in high-ranking posts on several major investigatory committees.
Representative Barney Frank of Newton will become chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which has sweeping authority over the Treasury Department, the Securities and Exchange Commissions, and the nation's housing policies. Frank has outlined an agenda that includes a year long examination on the issue of wage inequality in the United States.
He is also planning hearings in late January or early February on consumer protections in federal banking laws, as well as the federal government's efforts to rebuild housing destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast.
"A lot of low-income housing was destroyed, and they've done virtually nothing to replace it," Frank said. "The federal government's role in this has been a disaster."
Representative Stephen F. Lynch of South Boston serves on the Government Reform Committee, which will look at the role that industry groups played in shaping the closed-door energy task force convened by Vice President Dick Cheney in 2001. Representative Richard E. Neal of Springfield, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, wants hearings on the impact of President Bush's tax cuts on the federal budget deficit, given the administration's promise that the tax cuts wouldn't throw the budget out of balance.
The cumulative effect of the ramped-up congressional scrutiny will probably lead Republicans to accuse Democrats of political payback after six years of one-party rule in Washington, said Jeffrey Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University. But after years in which the Bush administration has faced virtually no scrutiny from a Republican-controlled Congress, troves of embarrassing revelations about Republicans during their six years in power seem destined to pour from a Democratic House and Senate, he said.
"The Republicans will claim that the Democrats are obsessed with publicity-oriented witch hunts, but the Republicans are more vulnerable than the Democrats," Berry said. "A lot of these hearings are going to be compelling, and are going to produce storylines that readers and viewers are going to be very interested in."
The Iraq war is likely to be a particularly popular subject of inquiry, with a range of committees set to examine pre war intelligence, troop readiness, and the administration's plans moving forward. Democratic House members say they expect House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi's office to help streamline the various investigations and set a manageable timeline for higher-profile inquiries when the next legislative session begins next month.
In the meantime, Meehan has outlined a full agenda for his Armed Services subcommittee on oversight, which Republicans disbanded in 1995 but which Democrats will reconstitute next year. He is hiring five investigators -- including specialists in weapons systems and Pentagon budgeting -- and promises to look into equipment shortages among soldiers in Iraq, military recruiting and retention, and corruption allegations involving Defense contractors operating in Iraq.
"For the past six years, Congress has rolled over and played dead while the president has done anything he wanted to, particularly in the war in Iraq," Meehan said.
After Republicans made it primarily a mechanism to criticize the United Nations, Delahunt said, he plans to broaden his International Relations subcommittee on oversight. He wants to examine government-funded broadcasts that reach Cuba; the international component of the president's grant programs for faith-based health organizations; and the impact in Latin America of the administration's push to sign "bilateral immunity agreements" to shield US citizens from being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.
"Does this work to our benefit? We're losing influence in Latin America," Delahunt said.
Tuesday, December 19
Chinese Communists School White House on Labor Democracy
Until the 1930s, the nation's ruling elite who owned American Industry--the Morgans, Vanderbilts, Carnegies, Fords, DuPonts, etc.--had succeeded in restricting workers' ability to organize or have much say in their place of work.
But following a series of increasingly violent general labor strikes in San Francisco, Minneapolis and Toledo Ohio, Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act in 1935. Besides legally empowering workers to organize and bargain collectively, the legislation also created the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency tasked "to investigate and decide on charges of unfair labor practices and to conduct elections in which workers would have the opportunity to decide whether they wanted to be represented by a union."
But after the strikes and violence subsided, the American power elite initiated legislative and judicial rollbacks to their concessions to workers; the NLRB also was populated with industry bosses and lobbyists with biases favoring owners and managers over complaints brought by workers.
By 2000 Human Rights Watch issued a "powerful report that found U.S. labor laws were grossly out-of-compliance with international human rights norms."
And then in 2001 the Supreme Court gave George Bush the White House. According to the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor union, the NLRB under Bush "is easily the most anti-worker labor board in history and has lost few opportunities to turn back the clock on workers' rights."
Wal-Mart, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based international retail giant, was heralded in Bush America as the ideal corporate model for generating wealth by outlawing labor unions and passing costs of employee benefits and healthcare on to public service and medical programs.
But last Monday (18 December), China's ruling communist party convinced Wal-Mart to allow labor unions in its Chinese stories. According to the Canton,Ohio-based publication CantonRep.com:
"Wal-Mart... resisted the creation of unions at its Chinese stores for two years before agreeing in August to help the ACFTU organize its workers....
The ACFTU, the umbrella body for unions permitted by the government, has announced a target of setting up unions at 60 percent of China’s 150,000 foreign companies by the end of this year."
Read more here.
Wednesday, December 13
Constitutional Law Professor Turley Details Public's "Yawn" at Despotism, Police State
Do you find that assessment of post-9/11 America... irresponsible? Overdramatic? Unbelievable? George Washington constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley suggests the most appropriate question for Americans is "Who cares?".
That's his assessment on George Bush's October 17 signing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. In case you missed Professor Turley on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann forewarning the politically observant to dispense with criticizing Bush and look straight head, be advised to watch it now (or here in Quicktime).
In a related report (Quicktime) following congress's passage of MCA in September, Olbermann concludes federal whistleblowers will be the first Americans subjected to the strictures of the new law. In other words, the federal whistleblower who revealed last spring that "scientific reports about global warming have been systematically changed and suppressed" and lead researchers gagged would now be eligible for indefinite detention at the White House's discretion.
(Can you recall any leaked memos or embarrassing revelations on neo-conic malfeasance since mid-October? Neither can I.)
As Olbermann concluded his interview with Turley, he half-jokingly announced "I'll see you at Gitmo."
Postscript: George Bush's signature on the Military Commissions Act 17 October 2006 was one in a disturbing series of fascist measures taken in 2006 by the Bush administration to impose martial law. Robert Parry, who broke many Iran-Contra stories in the early 1980s as an AP and Newsweek reporter, headlined his analysis of MCA with "History Should record October 17, 2oo6, as the Reverse of July 4, 1776."
"In effect, it creates a parallel 'star chamber' system of criminal justice for anyone, including an American citizen [emphasis added], who is suspected of engaging in, contributing to or acting in support of violent acts directed against the US government [read "corporate global wealth structure"] or its allies anywhere on earth," wrote Parry in his Consortiumnews.com column on 18 October. (Truthout.org renamed Parry's article "Shame on US All" and reissued here.)
Why did coverage of the MCA by the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times (all three here) neglect to mention American citizens also can fall beneath the judicial wheels of MCA?
Details on additional preparations for martial law forthcoming.
14 December 2006 Update: John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 Defines US as a Theater in the "War on Terror"
George Bush must have suffered writer’s cramp on October 17. In addition to signing the Military Commissions Act that day, he also inked into H.R.5122, the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007.
“The act provides $462.8 billion in budget authority for the department. Senate and House conferees added the $70 billion defense supplemental budget request to the act, so overall, the act authorizes $532.8 billion for fiscal 2007,” explains Jim Garamone of the American Forces Press Service.
But according to Kurt Nimmo, the bill will cost Americans much more than a few billions dollars.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Bush demanded Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco yield to him the command over any National Guard troops sent to the area. “Bush wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act, which would have allowed him to take control over all armed forces deployed, including
Warner's bill effectively supersedes "the Insurrection Act, a set of laws that limits the President’s ability to deploy troops within the
“Section 1076…is entitled, 'Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies' explains Morales. “Section 333, ‘Major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law’ states that ‘the President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of (’refuse’ or ‘fail’ in) maintaining public order, ‘in order to suppress, in any State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.’”
Nimmo defers to an assessment of additional curious language in the bill by New York City Episcopal priest and antiwar activist Frank Morales.
For the current President, “enforcement of the laws to restore public order” means to commandeer guardsmen from any state, over the objections of local governmental, military and local police entities; ship them off to another state; conscript them in a law enforcement mode; and set them loose against “disorderly” citizenry—protesters, possibly, or those who object to forced vaccinations and quarantines in the event of a bio-terror event.Any questions? Oh, you haven't heard about Halliburton's $385 million contract this year to construct domestic detention centers? That's development in the American fascist state is next.
The law also facilitates militarized police round-ups and detention of protesters, so called “illegal aliens,” “potential terrorists” and other “undesirables” for detention in facilities already contracted for and under construction by Halliburton. That’s right. Under the cover of a trumped-up “immigration emergency” and the frenzied militarization of the southern border, detention camps are being constructed right under our noses, camps designed for anyone who resists the foreign and domestic agenda of the Bush administration.
Tuesday, December 12
I-69 "Commerce Connector": Indianans Unwittingly Sue to Halt Segment of NAFTA Superhighway
One of reportedly 80 "stand alone" commerce corridors comprising the US portion of the North American SuperCorridor (NASCO, left)--a massive transcontinental combo road-train-truck transportation network physically linking the US, Canada and Mexico in an open-bordered North American Union--is slated for review and vote next year in the Indiana state legislature.
But neither state legislators or local environmental groups that recently filed a lawsuit to stop the proposed $1.8 billion construction project realize the plan is part of a much more ambitious privatized system (see page 4) of interlinking US toll roads either in place by early this year or under similar review in other states.
In March 2005, President Bush held meetings with then-Mexican President Vincente Fox and then-Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin at his Crawford, Texas ranch culminating in their unilateral ratification of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP). Their plans, characterized as "NAFTA on steroids," calls for open borders and unrestricted trade facilitated by a super highway linking the three countries.
The three leaders' respective national judiciaries and legislatures were excluded from their review and approval process.
While major US media are conspicuously silent about their agreement or its disturbing implications, the Toronto Star reported the development a week after learning of a secret forum meeting in September among US-Canadian-Mexican officials in a remote area in western Canada.
Indiana business leaders and Republican Governor Mitch Daniels are promoting the proposed "Indiana Commerce Connector" toll road (see more detailed PDF file here) for the Northeast, East and South sides of Indianapolis as a strategy for boosting the state economy and traffic easement around the capitol city. But a cost analysis review conducted by the University of Indiana (see below) reveals that the Indiana Department of Transportation's projections of total costs and benefits to state residents were dramatically overstated.
To date, only a handful of Indianians with homes or property along the right-of-way of the proposed construction project, slated to last ten years and eventually extend to the state's southwestern corner in Evansville, have voiced concern over the I-69 plan.
But the state's relative passivity markedly contrasts with opposition in Texas to the proposed system of commerce and trade toll corridors along that state's portion of I-69. Collectively called the TransTexas Corridor, the state-wide plan was quickly pushed through the Texas legislature last year, even though up to one million mostly rural Texans could be required to relocate when eminent domain laws are invoked to confiscate properties needed for the massive project.
What also angered many Texans about project was the awarding of a no-bid contract for construction and subsequent toll management of the roadways to CINTRAS, a Spanish consortium of construction and management companies that invested $7.2 billion in the plan.
With Lou Dobbs' increasingly high-profile opposition to the transcontinental integration proposal for its inordinate benefit to America's "investment class," President Bush expedited construction of the NAFTA superhighway this summer by appointing Mary Peters as Norman Minetta's replacement as US Transportation Secretary. According to author and Washington journalist Wayne Madsen, Peters has a checkered history as paid shill for the surface transportation industry that has carried over into her occasional stints as state and federal transportation officials (see September 8/9/10 entry).
In reviewing local news accounts excerpted below on the Indiana Commerce Connector, the plan, though no similarities are cited, resembles Texas's proposed TransCorridor project, which begins construction in early 2007. Because the Indiana legislature has yet to approve the project, no company is mentioned in connection to the I-69 loop plan or future service maintenance and toll collections contracts.
Indiana Reports on I-69 Loop
The three articles below offer contrasting perspectives on the $2 billion project, slated for initial construction in early 2008 to last for 10 years. The first, written some time after May 2006, actually includes the term "NAFTA Superhighway" (while the two news reports omit any such reference). Contact information also is provided for obtaining a free video from one group rallying local resistance to the plan, which is seen as a threat to rural sections of Indiana.
The news reports are from The Frankfurt (Indiana) Times and Indianapolis Star. Posted 3 October, The Times story, posted from one a town in a country in the project's proposed right-of-way, addresses area residents' legal opposition to a plan that "would destroy about 5,300 acres of farmland, 1,500 acres of woodland and 95 acres of wetland, and would damage or disturb some 400 acres of sensitive ecosystem in caves, sinkholes and underground streams, according to the plaintiffs."
The Star piece appearing on 10 November does a good job in interviewing several players on both sides of the story. But omitting any reference the NAFTA superhighway fails to situate the project in a vaster design clearly with national implications. The piece cite "mixed views" among state legislators, including concern over invocation of eminent domain.
1. NAFTA Superhighway Update
by Jan Lundberg
The University of Indiana has done a cost-benefit study on the Indiana portion of I-69, the first NAFTA Superhighway. It found that there would be a net loss of 19 cents per dollar spent. This updates the discredited Indiana Department of Transportation's study which claimed there would be $1.54 gained per dollar spent. (Read the rest of the report here.)2. I-69 Opponents Sue in Indiana
By RICK CALLAHAN, Associated Press Writer
MARTINSVILLE, Ind. - Environmentalists and citizen groups sued the federal government and Indiana highway commissioner Monday, alleging that the state rigged the process for choosing a route to extend Interstate 69 from Indianapolis to Evansville.
The lawsuit asks a federal court to halt planning and design work on the state's favored route for the $2 billion project, which would extend the highway 142 miles through mostly rural counties primarily served by winding, two-lane roads. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in the summer of 2008.
The plaintiffs argue that officials violated federal law, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.
The lawsuit also alleges that the route selection criteria was tailored to ensure that the state's preferred route was chosen, and that officials did not seriously consider upgrading existing Interstate 70 and U.S. 41 for the path. It contends that route would be significantly less expensive and cause less environmental damage.
"This case comes down to the state ignoring good sense, the law and public sentiment to choose the wrong route for Interstate 69 when there's clearly an environmentally and economically preferable route out there," said Tim Maloney, executive director Hoosier Environmental Council, one of the plaintiffs. (Read the rest of the story here.)
3. Gov. wants toll road loop around Indy
Daniel's pitch: 75-mile metro tollway would boost business, ease traffic.
Gov. Mitch Daniels promoted it as a launching pad for economic growth, a way to extend I-69 without tolls and a solution to traffic congestion around Indianapolis.
But his plan to build a privately run, 75-mile toll bypass through five counties is also raising concerns that the new highway would invite sprawl, harm the environment and lead to the possible forced seizure of land by the state.
.... Sen. Robert N. Jackman, R-Milroy, who represents some of the people whose land would be affected, said he is a strong supporter of preserving farmland. But, he said, change is coming to his rural area, and he and the local officials he's spoken to are excited by the plan.
David C. Long, the Fort Wayne Republican who is taking over as Senate president pro tempore, said he's sure he and other lawmakers will have questions. But right now he could see only positives -- a toll-free I-69, reduced congestion northeast of Indianapolis and an economic development generator for the counties the toll road would run through.
"The public is entitled to a full explanation of how this will result in growth and what type of growth are they talking about," said Sen. Timothy S. Lanane, D-Anderson. (Read more here.)
That "growth" as it's being pitched to you, Senator Lanane, entails the forcible restructuring of Indiana and most US states as we now know them--without adequate public notice or discussion.
Postscript: Watch CNN's Lou Dobbs here update progress on the North American Union.
18 December update: Governor Mitch Daniels, avid proponent of privatization as a panacea of all social ills, now is aggressively pursuing privatizing Indiana's lottery. Among Indiana's bidders are Greek, Italian and New York companies. When will investigators check Daniels' offshore banking accounts for kickbacks? Illinois is considering a similar privatization plan.
Friday, December 8
2006 Tough Year Professionally for 9/11 Truth Professor
In mid-September, Milkhouse Mouse revealed the White House's glaringly obvious machinations to silence an outspoken Utah physics professor for his high-profile frontal assaults on its Official Story about the collapse of three World Trade Center buildings. Jones' research implies the increasingly popular view among Americans that US officials were complicit in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In 2005, Brigham Young University physics professor Dr. Steven Jones joined the 9/11 Truth Movement after accepting a dare to view a video clip of World Trade Center Building #7's systematic collapse in its own footprint at 5:20 P. M. on 11 September 2001, though the building was not struck by a commercial jetliner as were WTC #1 and #2. Like most Americans, Jones had never heard of the collapse of #7-- or that shortly before the terrorist attacks then-NYC major Rudolph Guliani had moved his Office of Emergency Management from WTC7 to another location--even though the mayor's WTC7 23rd-floor digs had been terrorist-proofed to the tune of $15 million.
Unlike Van D. Romero, a physics colleague in New Mexico well experienced in explosives who initially told the press on 9/11/01 that controlled demolitions brought down the WTC only to recant ten days later, Jones' refused to disavow his own subsequent research that reached similar conclusions. After refitting his original views to The Official 9/11 Story, Romero won more and bigger Pentagon contracts for his little mining college. In contrast, BYU in September placed Jones on paid leave that culminated in a deal reached in October for the professor's early retirement from the university.
In a statement released by the university to the Deseret News, a Salt Lake City news daily, Jones said retirement was his idea. "I am electing to retire so that I can spend more time speaking and conducting research of my own choosing. I appreciate the wonderful opportunity I have had to teach and serve and do research at BYU for more than 21 years."
Jones' statement suggests the mild-mannered Mormon is sparing his university, a private university owned and funded by the Church of Ladder Day Saints, additional public embarrassment over its repression of academic speech, a charge regularly leveled against the university. But there is no question the Bush White House threatened BYU, a Research I Institution, with reduced federal funding unless officials found a way to deny Jones the university's support and tacit approval of his 9/11 research. When university officials placed him on paid leave 7 September, Jones was obliged to remove his 48-page paper "Why Indeed Did the WTC Building Completely Collapse" from his physics department's website.
In December 2005 Jones joined Minnesota philosophy professor James Fetzer in founding Scholars for 9/11 Truth, an affiliation of over 300 experts and scholars dedicated to "exposing falsehoods and revealing truths" about the 9/11 attacks. But the two professors' growing disputes over the organization's future occasioned Jones to end his relationship with the group.
Fetzer has claimed that Jones wants to suppress alternative theories about 9/11, including the destruction of the WTC by mini-nukes and high-energy weapons, and so-called "no-plane" theories. Jones has examined the mini-nukes hypothesis experimentally and rejected it,and has questioned whether theories about high-energy weapons are testable. This disagreement continues an earlier dispute with former mechanical engineering professor Judy Wood, who claimed Jones is not examining all the evidence and hindering attempts by others to do so.Part of the dispute is about the Scholars' website, which Fetzer seems to control. On November 25, he announced that he was temporarily removing Jones from his position as co-chair. On Dec 5, 2006, Fetzer announced that Jones had resigned as a member of ST911.
In a 25 November letter to ST9/11 members and supporters commemorating the group's first anniversary, Fetzer cited his disputes with Jones, along with an incident that prompted him to remove his colleague as co-chair.
As many of you are aware, Steve Jones and I have recently had some minor and not-so-minor disputes and disagreement. Disagreements occur in any high-profile organization, and Scholars is no different from others in this respect. However, the stakes are much higher in this case. Our research, our science, and our publications have the potential to expose the truth about 9/11 events, to bring the prime 9/11 perpetrators to justice, and to help to remedy the wrong turns that our country and the world have taken since 9/11....
When Steve was nudged into "early retirement", I invited him to supervise our members’ forum as well as continue to co-edit the society’s journal, which he co-founded with Judy Wood as co-editor. I had become aware of his strenuous objections to having "star wars beam weapons" hypotheses mentioned on our home page. (Judy’s use of "star wars" was a subtle intimation of its probable origins, but Steve has used "space beams" in order to denigrate it!) But I was acutely distressed when members of the forum were cut off from access to the forum abruptly and without notice.
It is the case that policies are in place for conduct on the forum, which members have been known to violate. In this case, however, the members who were banned–one of whom , Rick Siegel of "9/11 Eyewitness" and "9/11 Eyewitness — Hoboken", was in the middle of posting criticism of Steve when he was cut off in mid-post–appeared to me to have been denied access on political grounds, which is completely unacceptable.
For this reason and other actions and communications between us, I have temporarily removed Steve Jones as Co-Chair of Scholars for 9/11 Truth. I took this action because I had concluded that Steve’s conduct was undermining the objectives of the society.…
On November 11, Jones gave a two-hour lecture on his 9/11 physics paper at UC-Berkeley, site of at the "Lifting the Fog" Conference advocating that the scientific method be applied to studying "the World Trade Center disaster" (see Google Video below). In his early remarks, Jones seems to be feeling the cumulative affronts to his status as a research physicist since he went pubic with his 9/11 research in September 2005.
He begins by reviewing previous high-profile publications on earlier controversial research--his 1980s-era work on cold fusion--that appeared in prestigious peer-reviewed journals, e.g., Science, Nature. What Jones' putative defense of his 9/11 research suggests is that controversial ideas take several years to be accepted by scientific colleagues.
Jones believes time is on his side and will ultimately absolve him, revealing the political motivation driving the public savaging of 9/11 research on the WTC.
Wednesday, December 6
Bush League FEMA Added to Groups' Enemies Lists; Demo Congressional Katrina Inquiry Looming?
[In January 2007, the Demos will have the majority and subpoena power in both the House and Senate. What excuse will they then concoct to justify looking past Bush's blatant lying (see below) and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's failure in responding to Katrina, negligence occasioning the death of 3600 New Orleaneans and the horrible flooding that lay waste to their city. Note: Also watch below as U2 and Green Day sing "the saints" home to New Orleans. --Moose]
The Federal Emergency Management Administration, notoriously known globally since the 2005 hurricane season as FEMA, was fingered yesterday (6 December) in two news wire releases for its abiding pillage of Hurricane Katrina victims, principally those in New Orleans. As France's 17th-century bejeweled gift of bawdiness to Puritanical America, the city defied Louisiana's preference for GOP political leadership in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections to instead cast a majority of votes for George Bush's Democratic White House rivals.
Like the elephant on his political party's logo, the famously vindictive Bush never forgets.
Viewed against the legitimized criminality pocking his administration, Bush's 2003 reorganization of FEMA is an emblematic case study for his administration's systematic conversion of the federal bureaucracy from public service into cash cow conduits for the wealthy, well-connected and brazenly corrupt.
In 2002, the Brookings Institute praised FEMA "for emerging as one of the most effective arms of the federal government after years of 'determined effort' helping victims of major disaster like floods, fires and hurricanes." But in March 2003, after the GOP reclaimed the Senate in the 2002 midterm elections, the White House neutralized FEMA by rolling it up in the dark folds of a newly christened Department of Fatherland (Homeland?) Security, forever making it an enemy of the American people.
Wearing his hat as Center for American Progress senior fellow, journalist and author Eric Altertman a month after the storm held his news media colleagues responsible for the Bush administration's success in not being held accountable for and to no one for Katrina's tragic aftermath.
Bush administration officials, including most prominently the president himself, continue to resist citizens’ demands for an independent 9/11-style commission, preferring the political protection of a Republican-controlled effort in Congress. In this Potemkin investigation, viewers were graced with the spectacle of former FEMA head Michael Brown [photo]... attempting to blame Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin for his own agency’s failures.
“Brownie” also, somewhat surprisingly and ungratefully – given the fact that he had been graced with a job for which he had no apparent qualifications – pointed his finger at the Bush administration for what he called the "emaciation" of FEMA after round upon round of budget cuts forced the agency to let go of key personnel. Of course the media treated the catfight aspect of this accusation as irresistible. What might have been more useful, however, would have been a review of the extreme budgetary restrictions placed on FEMA by the president's spending priorities.One report, appearing in the Los Angeles Times, predicted that Brown’s appearance was “likely to keep the Bush administration on the political defensive as it tries to project a strong commitment and direction in dealing with rebuilding New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast." This almost reflexive instinct on the part of the press to consider the president's political health, rather than the health of the nation, has been one of the aspects of the weakness of its coverage that has allowed the administration to evade paying the price for its dishonesty and incompetence time and again.
Sadly, Alterman became of the media lynch mob unfairly scapegoating former FEMA chief Michael Brown for Bush's criminal negligence during Hurricane Katrina. An Associated Press report (3-minute Google video clip) filed five months after Alterman's assessment included footage of a 29 August 2005 pre-storm video conference call in which Brown warned George Bush a day before Katrina's landfall that the storm was a "bad one," that "this is... the big one." Four days after Brown's warning, Bush appeared on ABC TV's Good Morning America to defend his negligence, saying "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees"--though Brown's conference call warned of breached levees. Of course Bush administration officials tapped GOP congressional leaders to avoid any inquiry into their negligence in the 3600 lost lives to Katrina.
15 Months Later: FEMA Crime Wave Unabated
Without further ado, below are the two "FEMA-as-thief" news releases posted 6 December. The first is excerpted from the daily progress report from the Center for American Progress, filed in the "Under the Radar" news notes section. The second is from ACORN, an national advocacy group for low- to moderate-income American urban families, in 100 US cities.
1. KATRINA -- FEMA STINGY WITH EVACUEES AS MONEY TO SCAM ARTISTS GOES UNRECOVERED: "More than a year after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, life is still precarious and unpredictable for many evacuees, especially those who have depended on the government for a modicum of stability." 102,000 families still live in government trailers, and 33,000 live in apartments paid for by FEMA. The agency is closing five of the trailer parks, but the families "have not been told where their new homes will be." For those living in the apartments, FEMA has tried to cut them off "with little explanation," although a federal judge ruled the "'Kafkaesque' application process" had unconstitutionally denied aid to tens of thousands of hurricane victims. In addition, FEMA has "recouped less than 1 percent of an estimated $1 billion in fraudulent or unjustified payments it distributed" after the storms. "At the same time," a Government Accountability Office report found, FEMA "continued to wrongly send out millions of dollars of new aid this year, including $17 million in rental assistance to families living rent-free in FEMA trailers." Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) described as a "false choice" the agency's claim that they "could not figure out how to distribute emergency assistance quickly while preventing widespread waste and fraud."
2. ACORN Calls on FEMA to Adhere to Judge's Orders
ACORN Will Announce Next Steps in Suit and Campaign to Restore Housing Aid
WASHINGTON - December 6 - Members of ACORN will conduct press conferences at the U.S. Capitol and three cities around the country on Thursday, Dec. 7, to announce the organization's next steps to pressure FEMA's to comply with a federal judge's orders to "immediately'' resume making housing benefits available to 11,000 survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In Washington, D.C., 10:30 a.m. (EST), 2220 Rayburn House Office Building
-- Speakers: Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA); Rep. Al Green (D-TX); Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX); Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA); Robert Coakley, ACORN Katrina Survivors Association; Mary Spencer, ACORN DC Leader
In New Orleans, 11 a.m., (CST) ACORN National Headquarters, 1024 Elysian Fields Ave.
In Houston, 11:30 a.m. (CST) Houston FEMA office, 2575 W. Belfort In Little Rock, ACORN Office, 2101 S. Main St.
Survivors of Hurricane Katrina and plaintiffs in the lawsuit will speak about their struggles over FEMA housing issues, and their work with public officials to pressure the agency.
On Tuesday, FEMA filed a motion to appeal the decision, but it is still under Court order to resume housing aid. ACORN's attorneys filed a motion in with Judge Richard J. Leon on Tuesday asking him to compel FEMA to produce a compliance plan.
"FEMA is still under a court order restore the housing support they illegally terminated. They haven't moved to do so yet -- even though more families are now facing eviction as December rents come due. ACORN members will continue push FEMA to put a quick procedure in place to get the people the assistance we were wrongly denied," said Wanda Jones, a Katrina Survivor and ACORN member in Houston whose housing assistance was terminated last summer. "It is long past due for FEMA to live up to its responsibilities and help families get on their road home to recovery."
The court ordered the aid restored retroactively, so affected families are to receive checks for past payments from Sept. 1 to now, and continued assistance until February 2007, or until FEMA gives them adequate notice of why they were ineligible. The ruling affects 11,000 families, mostly in Texas and Louisiana, who received FEMA rental assistance.
ACORN, a national community organization based in New Orleans, has organized thousands of dislocated Katrina survivors into local chapters. ACORN has pushed local and federal officials and lawmakers to provide Katrina survivors the assistance needed to take care of their families and rebuild their homes. In New Orleans, ACORN's Home Clean-Out Program has saved over 1,800 homes from decay, and the group and its partners are rebuilding homes in low and moderate income neighborhoods, while pushing for fair and inclusive rebuilding plans. Visit http://www.acorn.org/katrina to learn more.
ACORN is represented by Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid (Jerome Wesevich 915-241-0534) and Public Citizen Litigation Group (Michael T. Kirkpatrick 202-588-1000). The lawsuit and supporting exhibits are posted at: http://www.citizen.org.
Postscript: If you have yet to see U2 and Green Day perform their post-Katrina commemorative music video to New Orleans, treat yourself below.
Tuesday, December 5
When You Gonna Learn?
For those not either IQ-impaired or chronically dissociated from their mental processes, the evidence that 9/11 was an inside job is overwhelming beyond belief. For example, former ABC producer and now prolific 9/11 author Peter Lance has just released his final 9/11 Truth book in a trilogy that focuses on the cover-up prowess of the FBI and 9/11 Commission.
Ascending to the number four on Amazon.com's "terror list," Triple Cross explores what The Washington Establishment wishes to spin as yet another remarkable "intelligence failure" that allowed al-Qaeda's 9/11 training master Ali A. Mohamed to serve as an FBI informant at the time he was also was eluding them to train al-Qaeda operatives in 1992 to make the first bomb attack on the World Trade Center and in 1998 to blow up US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Mohamed is the most brilliant "double agent" in world history, able to elude FBI and the CIA and right under their noses train al-Qaeda soldiers across the world without detection.
But former Canadian diplomat and UC-Berkeley professor emeritus of English Peter Dale Scott recently wrote a compelling piece on Mohamed that demonstrates he was a protected US asset in its stable of resident terrorists it trots out for special bombing projects like the embassy bombings and the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
…Ali Mohamed had been detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in
This release enabled Ali to go on to
Recognizing that official post-9/11 propaganda pieces like that attempted by National Geographic increasingly evident in mainstream media, Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime (72 minutes) attempts to reestablish with the original evidentiary case that spawned the grassroots phenomenon now widely know as the 9/11 Truth Movement.
Watch the video below or at Google here.
Note: The opening commercial promo for "the first legally authorized government coin" sporting the twin towers demonstrates the demeaning historical revisioism the historical event known as 9/11 via trivializing commodification.