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Truth To Power

the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must

Archive for June, 2009

Fighting the power in the Amazon

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

A Fight For The Amazon That Should Inspire The World

June 28, 2009 “The Independent” — Wednesday, 24 June 2009 — While the world nervously watches the uprising in Iran, an even more important uprising has been passing unnoticed – yet its outcome will shape your fate, and mine.

In the depths of the Amazon rainforest, the poorest people in the world have taken on the richest people in the world to defend a part of the ecosystem none of us can live without. They had nothing but wooden spears and moral force to defeat the oil companies – and, for today, they have won.

Here’s the story of how it happened – and how we all need to pick up this fight. Earlier this year, Peru’s right-wing President, Alan Garcia, sold the rights to explore, log and drill 70 per cent of his country’s swathe of the Amazon to a slew of international oil companies. Garcia seems to see rainforest as a waste of good resources, saying of the Amazon’s trees: “There are millions of hectares of timber there lying idle.”

There was only one pesky flaw in Garcia’s plan: the indigenous people who live in the Amazon. They are the first people of the Americas, subject to wave after wave of genocide since the arrival of the Conquistadors. They are weak. They have no guns. They barely have electricity. The government didn’t bother to consult them: what are a bunch of Indians going to do anyway?

But the indigenous people have seen what has happened elsewhere in the Amazon when the oil companies arrive. Occidental Petroleum are facing charges in US courts of dumping an estimated nine billion barrels of toxic waste in the regions of the Amazon where they operated from 1972 to 2000. Andres Sandi Mucushua, the spiritual leader of the area known to the oil companies as Block (12A)B, said in 2007: “My people are sick and dying because of Oxy. The water in our streams is not fit to drink and we can no longer eat the fish in our rivers or the animals in our forests.” The company denies liability, saying they are “aware of no credible data of negative community health impacts”.

How can the greedy be so stupid? Here’s hoping the Amazon people f them up but good.

Why did Captain Morgan get my tax money?

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Bailout of U.S. Banks Gives British Rum a $2.7 Billion Benefit

June 26 (Bloomberg) — In June 2008, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John deJongh Jr. agreed to give London-based Diageo Plc billions of dollars in tax incentives to move its production of Captain Morgan rum from one U.S. island — Puerto Rico — to another, namely St. Croix.

DeJongh says he had no idea his deal would help make the world’s largest liquor distiller the most unlikely beneficiary of the emergency Troubled Asset Relief Program approved by Congress just four months later.

Today, as two 56-foot-high (17-meter-high) tanks for holding fermenting molasses will soon rise from the ground on the Caribbean island of St. Croix, the extent to which dozens of nonbank companies benefited from last October’s emergency financial rescue plan is just beginning to come to light.

The hurried legislation adopted by a Congress voting under the threat of sudden global economic collapse led to hidden tax breaks for firms in dozens of industries. They included builders of Nascar auto-racing tracks, restaurant chains such as Burger King Holdings Inc., movie and television producers — and London’s Diageo.

Yet again we’re forced to determine, as we did on 9/11, is our government corrupt, or merely incompetent? And in the end, does it really make a difference? This sort of shit is outrageous.

Iraq parties as Yankee go home

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

If not home, at least out of the cities:

Iraqis jubilantly celebrate U.S. troop withdrawal

U.S. forces handed over formal control of Iraq’s major cities today (it is already Tuesday in Iraq), “a defining step toward ending the U.S. combat role in the country.” In celebration, Iraqis launched fireworks and “thousands attended a party in a park [in Baghdad] where singers performed patriotic songs. … Loudspeakers at police stations and military checkpoints played recordings of similar tunes throughout the day, as Iraqi military vehicles decorated with flowers and national flags patrolled the capital.” Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who had called the withdrawal a “great victory,” declared June 30 a public holiday.

Never should have been there to begin with, and until everyone here understands that, we’re gonna keep on killing and electing puppets like Obama.

Pole dancing for justice

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Stripping Away Free Expression

Dressed in a low-cut pink shirt, tight black booty pants, and thick, plastic platform stilettos, Stephanie Babines doesn’t look the part of a political rabble-rouser. Yet an activist is exactly what Babines became when her efforts to help women shape up through fully clothed, decidedly G-rated stripper-inspired aerobics ran afoul of overzealous officials in the small western Pennsylvania town of Mars. This unyieldingly perky 31-year-old entrepreneur, standing in the small forest of steel poles that shoot up from the floor of her mirrored dance and fitness studio, has taught dance-phobic authorities an expensive lesson in federal court.

Ouch that stings! Chili grenade debuts in India

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Hot chilli grenades

They say the devices will be used to control rioters and in counter-insurgency operations.

Defence researchers say the idea is to replace explosives in small hand grenades with a certain variety of red chilli to immobilise people without killing them, reports the BBC.

The chilli, known as Bhut Jolokia, is said to be 1,000 times hotter than commonly used kitchen chilli.

Scientists at India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are quoted as saying the potent chilli will be used as a food additive for troops operating in cold conditions.

And the powder will also be spread on the fences around army barracks in the hope the strong smell will keep out animals.

Who watches the watchers?

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Or can we just call them what they are, thieves?

Members of U.S. House Financial Services Committee snapped up or dumped bank stocks as bottom fell out of market

WASHINGTON — As financial markets tumbled and the government worked to stave off panic by pumping billions of dollars into banks last fall, several members of Congress who oversee the banking industry were grabbing up or dumping bank stocks.

Anticipating bargains or profits or just trying to unload before the bottom fell out, these members of the House Financial Services Committee or brokers on their behalf were buying and selling stocks including Bank of America and Citigroup — some of the very corporations their committee would later rap for greed, a Plain Dealer examination of congressional stock market transactions shows.

Financial disclosure records show that some of these Financial Services Committee members, including Ohio Rep. Charlie Wilson, made bank stock trades on the same day the banks were getting a government bailout from a program Congress approved. The transactions may not have been illegal or against congressional rules, but securities attorneys and congressional watchdog groups say they raise flags about the appearance of conflicts of interest.

And the reason weren’t illegal or against Congressional rules is because…they write the rules. Simple, eh?

Good news from Spain, unless you’re a Bush lawyer

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Lawyer: Spanish prosecution of Bush lawyers will proceed

The Spanish lawyer working to indict six former Bush administration attorneys for their roles in the US’s torture program says the case will go ahead in Spanish courts.

Gonzalo Boyé, a private lawyer in Spain, is working to indict the so-called “Bush Six” lawyers who gave the Bush administration its rationale for carrying out the systematic torture of terrorist suspects. The six are former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, author of the “torture memos,” Douglas Feith, then a deputy defense secretary, Pentagon lawyer William Haynes II, former assistant attorney general Jay Bybee, and David Addington, a former chief of staff to then-Vice President Dick Cheney.

A recent decision by Spain’s parliament to re-work its “universal jurisdiction” rules (which allow human-rights crimes anywhere in the world to be prosecuted in Spanish courts) won’t stop the prosecution of six Bush administration lawyers, Boyé told Mother Jones magazine in an interview.

Supremes nix stripping teenagers for pain relievers

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Strip search of 13-year-old unconstitutional, Supreme Court says

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the strip search of a 13-year-old schoolgirl violated the constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

In a closely watched case filled with poignant facts, the court ruled 8-1 that Arizona school officials violated student Savana Redding’s Fourth Amendment rights when they searched her down to her bra and underpants. Officials were looking for pain relievers, which they didn’t find.

“The content of the suspicion failed to match the degree of intrusion,” Justice David Souter wrote for the majority.

The Safford Middle School nurse and administrative assistant who searched Redding in October 2003 told her to remove her stretch pants and T-shirt. They then directed her to pull her bra to the side and shake it, and to pull out the elastic on her underpants.

They were looking for prescription-strength ibuprofen and over-the-counter naproxen, which another student had suggested might be hers.

“What was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana was any indication of danger to the students from the power of the drugs or their quantity, and any reason to suppose that Savana was carrying pills in her underwear,” Souter wrote.

PC makers rush to embrace censorship

Friday, June 26th, 2009

PC makers race to comply with China’s Web filter

BEIJING – Days before a deadline abruptly imposed by China, computer makers are scrambling to comply with an order to supply Web-filtering software with PCs amid concerns about what it might do to their reputations.

Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Inc. and Taiwan’s Acer Inc. — the top three global producers — are asking regulators for details of the order that takes effect July 1 to provide Green Dam Youth Escort software with every laptop and desktop PC sold in China.

The conflict reflects the clash between the authoritarian government’s efforts to control information and China’s high-tech ambitions.

China is important to PC suppliers both as a major manufacturing site and a fast-growing market. It accounts for up to 80 percent of world production and sales that state media say rose to 147 billion yuan ($21 billion), up 12.8 percent from 2007.

The conflict comes as Beijing launched new criticisms this week against search giant Google Inc., which a foreign ministry spokesman accused Thursday of spreading pornography. Chinese users were unable to connect to Google’s main site or its China-based service, google.cn, from late Wednesday into Thursday.

Government regulators say Green Dam must be supplied with every computer to prevent children from surfing the Internet for pornography. But technical analyses of the software — developed by a previously unknown Chinese company — have shown embedded programs to filter out content the government deems politically objectionable.

Whats freedom of speech worth? Apparently not as much as Chinese money.

Mark Sanford is the luckiest man on earth today.

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Gosh, this is in bad taste but…

In a hotel, somewhere in the low rent area near the governors mansion, South Carolina, a scene unfolds.

Mark Sanford, the day after he has to admit to being derelict in his duty as governor of SC, killing his chances at the White House, and looking like complete sleaze hypocrite, watching tv:

“Are you f’ing kidding me? This…and this the day after I look like a dick?

Thank you Jesus! Get Sean Hannity on the phone, I’m feelin’ comeback! ”