Monday, June 21, 2010

NRA sellout on HR 5175 creates national maelstrom

Call NRA officers listed below to express your outrage at having a gun rights organization betray gun owners’ interests.

On Tuesday, the NRA confirmed that it had carved out a narrow exemption for itself from HR 5175, the misnamed “DISCLOSE Act.” Among onerous requirements, the bill would require any political organization which mentions a candidate for most of an election year to report names of some donors and members to the Federal Election Commission.

When NRA leaders signed on to the deal brokered by Representative Heath Shuler (D-NC), they almost certainly anticipated an outcry from liberal organizations. Indeed, 45 such groups have come out in opposition.

What they probably did not predict, however, was vociferous opposition from their own ranks. Scores of gun rights organizations and ostensibly friendly conservatives have lined up against the NRA over the DICSLOSE Act, including national groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Family Research Council, Freedom Action, Gun Owners of America, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the National Organization for Gun Rights, the Coalition for Liberty, and state level groups such as Grass Roots North Carolina, Gun Owners of Nevada, the Oregon Firearms Federation, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, South Dakota Gun Owners, the Virginia Gun Owners Coalition, and Wisconsin Gun Owners, among many others.

Meanwhile, pro-gun and conservative blogs like teem with opposition to what is commonly perceived as a sellout by the NRA of not only gun owners, but constitutionalists.


But the biggest blockbuster came today in, of all places, The Washington Post, as one of the NRA’s own board members, Cleta Mitchell, wrote a piece entitled “NRA exemption shows campaign disclosure bill's cynical, fatal flaws,” noting:

“The NRA carve-out is a clear example of a congressional speech license…

“This is not just ‘disclosure.’ It is a scheme hatched by political insiders to eradicate disfavored speech. There is no room under the First Amendment for Congress to make deals on political speech, whether with the NRA or anyone else.”


In a feint designed to placate its most loyal followers, the NRA put out a press release implying that it is not the only organization exempted from electioneering speech restrictions:

“On June 14, 2010, Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives pledged that H.R. 5175 would be amended to exempt groups like the NRA, that meet certain criteria, from its onerous restrictions on political speech. As a result, and as long as that remains the case, the NRA will not be involved in final consideration of the House bill.”

Although NRA supporters have latched on the reference to “groups” and “certain criteria,” however, the fact that only organizations with more than 1 million members in existence for 10 years and operating in all 50 states means that only 3 organizations could benefit: The NRA, the AARP, and the National Humane Society. Given that the AARP routinely lobbies for leftism, and the Humane Society is an extremist animal rights group that lobbies against hunting, that doesn’t put the NRA in very good company, does it?


The question remains: Why do gun rights supporters oppose having the world’s biggest gun rights organization exempted from election speech restrictions? The answer is that, to gun rights activists who thoroughly understand the issues, the NRA has become bloated, self-serving, and unresponsive to its membership.

At both state and federal levels, NRA lobbyists have developed a reputation for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, often making bad deals with entrenched incumbent politicians in order to claim “success” to members.

Last year, the NRA began making cozy noises about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, saying: “For many years now, Harry Reid has been supporting our Second Amendment rights in the U.S. Senate.” This despite the fact that Reid – rated “F” by Gun Owners of America – is widely considered to be vulnerable in his race.

This year, bucking the Tea Party trend of true conservatives unseating incumbents, the NRA endorsed Senator John McCain, despite his history of supporting gun show restrictions.

And for years, state-level activists have reported problems with the NRA supporting anti-gun legislation and politicians for self-serving ends.


Rather than calling general membership numbers, here are some numbers that go directly to NRA officers. Let them know how you feel about having the world’s biggest gun rights organization betray the interests not only of its members, but of gun owners everywhere. North Carolina residents should also call the politician who brokered the deal, Congressman Heath Shuler.

Congressman Heath Shuler: 202- 225-6401. If possible, call on Friday, June 18 between the hours of 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM – but if you miss that time, call regardless.

Ronald L. Schmeits, NRA President:
Home: 18 Private Rd #2001ST, Raton NM 87740, (575) 445-5836, (575) 445-2080 fax
Office: International Bank,200 S 2nd Street, Raton NM 87740-3908, (575) 445-2321

Charles L. Cunningham, Director, NRA-ILA Federal Affairs:
4864 Oakcrest Drive, Fairfax VA 22030
703-352-3245, 202-651-2570

David A. Keene, NRA 1st Vice President:
5602 Dawes Ave, Alexandria VA 22311-1102, 703-671-5602

James W. Porter II, NRA 2nd Vice President:
215 21st St N # 1000, Birmingham AL 35203-3710, (205) 322-1744

Corporate atrocities against nature may ultimately destroy human civilization

(NaturalNews) What's most striking about the present BP oil catastrophe is not that it is an aberration but rather part of a dangerous pattern of mankind's propensity to destroy nature. To destroy life in a large region of an ocean isn't even new: The world already has over two hundred "dead zones" where fish can't live because the ocean water has no more oxygen left thanks to the runoff effects of man-made chemicals.

Not content with mere deforestation and the vast destruction of biodiversity on land, Man has now expanded to destroy the oceans through overfishing, ocean acidification from CO2 emissions, agricultural runoff, flushing pharmaceuticals down the drain and unleashing crude oil directly into the ocean waters. It almost seems as if mankind were somehow bent on destroying itself by first destroying everything else on the planet just to see what happens.

Human beings, by any honest accounting, are repeat offenders engaged in crimes against nature. This article, by the way, isn't some clever way to try to push us all toward a U.N.-controlled world government where every human action is regulated by environmental cops; it's merely an observation of what's really happening right now on our planet. I'm a Constitutionalist and remain strongly opposed to UN control as much as any properly-informed American. In no way do I support suppressing our individual freedoms or liberties. In fact, the problems here are not with the People but rather with the corporations.

The criminal corporations

It is the corporations that are committing these crimes against nature: Big Pharma's mass poisoning of the waters, BP's oil catastrophe crime against the planet in the Gulf Coast, the manufacture of Depleted Uranium shells by wealthy "defense" contractors, factory farming by meat producers, the poisoning of our farms by Monsanto and its campaign to dominate nature with genetically modified seeds... you get the picture. If you really look hard at the issues, it's the corporations who are destroying our planet and thereby destroying future survivability for the rest of us.

It is the corporations, in essence, that are the criminals who are now destroying the very world around us, and if We the People continue to let these corporations engage in such actions, it won't be long before we wake up and find ourselves enslaved in a Corporatocracy that has stolen from us the very world in which we had hoped to raise our children.

What is abundantly clear now is that corporations will do anything to make money, from the cruel and inhumane factory farming of cows to dumping millions of gallons of toxic chemicals in the ocean to try to sink the dead sea animals in the Gulf. Corporations would set fire to the entire planet if that act could somehow boost profits by 50% next quarter.

The unbridled greed that drives these corporations is simply incompatible with sustainable life on our planet. Through their careless, greed-driven actions, corporations are threatening YOUR life and the lives of your children.

I say enough is enough.

An armed revolt against the corporations?

There is already some mainstream talk about arresting the CEO of British Petroleum for his crimes against nature. It will never happen, of course, because these corporations wield too much power over government entities. We've seen it time and time again: Corporations are almost never held accountable for their crimes.

It is becoming increasingly clear that any action to hold these corporations accountable for their actions must come from the People -- most likely in the form of a dedicated revolt, or perhaps even an armed "mass citizens' arrest" of the corporate criminals.

Imagine ten thousand armed, angry citizens from Texas, Louisiana and Florida converging on the BP headquarters in Houston, led by a local Sheriff, marching in and arresting all the top CEOs of British Petroleum. That's the kind of action that needs to start taking place if any justice is ever to be found in our modern world of corporate corruption and government collusion.

When it comes to corporate crimes, the justice system has utterly failed. The corporations that commit crimes are almost never held responsible. Consider the aftermath of the Goldman Sachs fiasco in 2008 - 2009, when Wall Street banksters ripped off the American people to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, and then got bailed out by the U.S. government with trillions of dollars in gift money. How is that justice?

Similarly, after drug giant Pfizer was found to have committed massive marketing fraud that violated federal law, the company was deemed "too big to fail" and was simply given a free pass by the government to stay in business, defrauding customers, states and nations. Pfizer set up a shell company to take the fall for its crimes, then went right back to business as usual. Read the story on CNN if you want to learn more:

As CNN reports: Imagine being charged with a crime, but an imaginary friend takes the rap for you. That is essentially what happened when Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, was caught illegally marketing Bextra, a painkiller that was taken off the market in 2005 because of safety concerns. When the criminal case was announced last fall, federal officials touted their prosecution as a model for tough, effective enforcement. "It sends a clear message" to the pharmaceutical industry, said Kevin Perkins, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division. But beyond the fanfare, a CNN Special Investigation found another story, one that officials downplayed when they declared victory. It's a story about the power major pharmaceutical companies have even when they break the laws intended to protect patients..."

Whether it's Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Food or Big Agriculture, every large and powerful corporations gets away with murder because laws are never properly applied to them. BP is destroying an entire ocean -- and the livelihoods of millions of people -- and will probably get off with a large fine and a slap on the wrist. In two years, it will all be back to business as usual, polluting the oceans, destroying life and ignoring safety rules and regulations once again while the American people suffer.

More dangerous than terrorists

Corporations are a greater threat to our lives than terrorists. That much should be clear by now: When corporations poison our food supply with toxic chemical ingredients; when they poison our bodies with fraudulently-marketed pharmaceuticals; when they poison our oceans with careless oil drilling... they are threatening our lives and our livelihoods. They are destroying the only world we know, and they are proving themselves to be far more dangerous to our collective future than any terrorist organization.

The real terrorists, it turns out, have "Inc." after their name. And if we really want to go after the terrorists who present a clear and present danger to our health and lives, we must rise up against the corporate machine that now controls our media, our food, our sick-care system, our patents, our elected officials and our energy. We must gather our forces to make legally-justified citizens' arrests of those at the top who are responsible for these atrocities against nature and the People. We must unite out of a common desire for survival against the corporate criminals who are destroying our very futures as we speak.

We must seek the aid of the local Sheriffs, Constables and community law enforcement officials who would join us in making these arrests, and then we must march on the corporate headquarters of these criminal corporations, right through their front doors and into their corporate offices where arrests will be made at gunpoint.

And why gunpoint? Because corporations do not respect law, nor ethics, nor morality, nor compassion towards others. They only respect one thing: force. So we must reluctantly use force -- backed by the common sense of common law -- to make these corporations stop destroying our planet and our livelihoods. I'm not saying we march in there and shoot them; I'm saying we march in and arrest them and bring them to trial in local courts, with local jurors who can make local commonsense decisions about what to do with these criminal corporate executives.

The feds cannot be trusted on this. We must deal with these corporations on a local level, with the widespread support of the everyday people whose lives are being destroyed by these corporations.

The extinction of the human race

This is more than just holding corporations accountable for specific crimes such as poisoning the Gulf Coast; it's about our very survival. We're not merely talking about small, local damage to specific regions or industries here -- we are talking about the possibility of the extinction of the human race.

If the world's powerful corporations are allowed to continue operating as they have done, they will destroy our world and cause the collapse of human civilization. We cannot survive when suffocated under a cloud of chemical toxicity, financial fraud, genetically-modified seeds and widespread environmental destruction. Corporations are incapable of acting within the guidelines of long-term sustainable living. Their power and reach are now so great that they have the capacity to destroy modern civilization (which is quite fragile already).

Rising up against the corporations now means fighting for our very survival. What BP has made as clear as day is that we must now make a choice: We can choose to appease powerful corporations and exempt them from any real enforcement of rules, regulations or common sense; or we can take a stand against them, arrest their top executives, shut down their operations, revoke their corporate charters and set course in a new world without the destructive influence of endless greed backed by incessant profit-taking.

The worship of profit has become a scourge on human civilization. Unbridled greed is now our curse. "Economic activity", taken as a lone figure without the context in which it was generated, holds no measure of real value, and it should never been pursued for its own sake.

We must now shift our consciousness to a new era of the protection of life. We must value quality of life, not imaginary numbers in a bank account, and quality of life is a complex, interdependent equation that necessarily involves the sustaining of all the diverse ecosystems that now remain on our planet. For humans to live sustainably, happily and abundantly, we must stop destroying nature and start protecting it. We must be its steward, not its exploiter. And those corporations engaged in the mass destruction or poisoning of living ecosystems must be courageously arrested as criminals and prosecuted for their crimes against both the People and the planet.

There is no other way that we will survive the next century. Poisoning our planet on such a massive scale in an inexcusable act. We the People will either rise up against it, or we shall be destroyed by it.

I, for one, am willing to fight for our survival. Because I don't want human civilization to just be a sorry footnote in the history of life on planet Earth.

U.S. govt. poisoned its own citizens during Prohibition

(NaturalNews) In a dark but little-known chapter of U.S. history, the federal government ordered the poisoning of alcohol supplies to deter and punish those who sought to flout Prohibition-era bans.

Starting in 1906, the United States began requiring manufacturers of industrial ethanol to put the chemical through a process to distinguish it from the identical substance found in alcoholic beverages. After the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol was banned by the 18th Amendment and the government cracked down on smuggling operations, bootleggers turned to chemistry to keep their customers supplied. A simple process was used to extract toxic chemicals from the industrial alcohol used in paints, solvents, fuels and medicine, and this relatively clean alcohol was then used to make beverages. By the mid-1920s, an estimated 60 million gallons of industrial alcohol were being stolen per year.

In response, the administration of President Calvin Coolidge ordered industry to add higher levels of more difficult-to-remove poisons to their alcohol, including acetone, benzene, cadmium, camphor, carbolic acid, chloroform, ether, formaldehyde, gasoline, iodine, kerosene, methyl alcohol, mercury salts, nicotine, quinine and zinc. Shortly after the institution of this campaign, 31 people were poisoned to death over the course of the Christmas holiday in New York City alone. Historians estimate that a total of 10,000 people were killed by the program before Prohibition ended in 1933.

The poisoning program was no secret, as the government hoped that knowledge of it would deter people from drinking -- although consumption of alcohol was not itself illegal.

"The government knows it is not stopping drinking by putting poison in alcohol," said New York City medical examiner Charles Norris. "[Y]et it continues its poisoning processes, heedless of the fact that people determined to drink are daily absorbing that poison. Knowing this to be true, the United States government must be charged with the moral responsibility for the deaths that poisoned liquor causes."

Antarctic glacier melting due to hidden ice ridge (rather than climate change)

An underwater ridge could explain why a major glacier in the Antarctic is melting more quickly than ever before, according to a new study.

Scientists used a robot submarine to make a 3D map of the ocean under the ice shelf at the end of the Pine Island Glacier in western Antarctica.

They discovered that the ice was no longer resting on a subsea ridge that had slowed the glacier's slide until the early 1970s.

The discovery means that the glacier's more rapid melting in recent years could be due to the flow of warmer sea water beneath it rather than climate change, as had previously been believed.

Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey have been inspecting the glacier and believe that a deepsea ice ridge is behind it melting more rapidly

Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey have been inspecting the glacier and believe that a deepsea ice ridge is behind it melting more rapidly

Adrian Jenkins, of the British Antarctic Survey, said the study raised 'new questions about whether the current loss of ice from Pine Island Glacier is caused by recent climate change or is a continuation of a longer-term process that began when the glacier disconnected from the ridge'.

Loss of contact with the subsea ridge meant that ice was flowing faster and also thawing more as sea water just above freezing flowed into an ever bigger cavity that now extended 30 km beyond the ridge.

Antarctica is key to predicting the rise in sea levels - it has enough ice to raise sea levels by 187 ft if it all melted.

West Antarctica's thaw accounts for 10 per cent of the recent rise in sea levels, with the Pine Island glacier melting far more quickly in recent decades.

Pine Island glacier

Scientists detected a ridge beneath the glacier which has now vanished

Satellite photographs in the early 1970s had shown a bump on the surface of the ice shelf, indicating the subsea ridge.

That bump has vanished and the submarine found the ridge was now up to 100 metres below the ice shelf.

'We found something very unexpected,' said co-author Pierre Dutrieux, from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

'Acoustic instruments on the submarine told us that there was a ridge at the bottom of the ocean, sitting transverse to the flow of ice.'

'Some decades ago, the glacier was sitting on this ridge and the friction of the ridge was restraining the flow of the glacier,' he explained.

'When the glacier became detached from the ridge, the ice flow was able to accelerate significantly.'

Dutrieux said the ice may have started thinning because of some as yet-unknown mechanism linked to climate change, blamed mainly on mankind's use of fossil fuels.

'It could be a shift in the wind, due to a change in climate, that pushed more warm water under the shelf,' he said.

A chunk of ice that has started to break away from the Antarctic ice shelf. A new study has shown that a submerged ice shelf may be to blame for some recent melting of a glacier

A chunk of ice that has started to break away from the Antarctic ice shelf. A new study has shown that a submerged ice shelf may be to blame for some recent melting of a glacier

Dr Dutrieux said: 'We now know that there is relatively warm water beneath this floating ice so this warm water could have been able to melt the base of the ice shelf.

'Another process leading to the ice becoming detached from the ridge could have been a change in the water properties that was grinding the shelf from beneath.'

The U.N. panel of climate scientists projected in 2007 that world sea levels could rise by between 7-24 inches by 2100, excluding risks of faster melting in Antarctica and Greenland.

The study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

UPDATE 1-GW Pharma's cannabis drug to cost 11 pounds a day

* Sativex 125 pounds per 10 ml vial, or about 11 pounds/day


* Bayer to market GW's cannabis spray in Britain

* Treats spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis

* GW Pharma shares down 2.1 pct after touching 4-year high

(Adds comments by CEO, analyst; share price)

By Ben Hirschler and Paul Sandle

LONDON, June 21 (Reuters) - GW Pharmaceuticals Plc's (GWP.L) cannabis-derived medicine Sativex will cost approximately 11 pounds ($16.3) a day when used as a prescription treatment in Britain for spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Announcing its launch in Britain on Monday, GW said the National Health Service (NHS) price would be 125 pounds for a 10 millilitre vial -- enough to last the average patient just over 11 days.

Sativex, which is sprayed under the tongue, is being launched in Britain by its licensee Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE), following its approval late last week. [ID:nLDE65H1C9]

The product's approval and launch had been well flagged by the company but the news is nonetheless a relief for investors after 11 years of development and a history of previous delays.

"It's the first new treatment for spasticity in MS for over two decades, and it's a product we know patients have long been seeking" GW's managing director, Justin Gover, said in an interview on Monday.

GW shares hit a four-year high of 156 pence but reversed the gains and were down 2.1 percent at 138 pence by 0934 GMT.

Analyst Shawn Manning at Singer Capital Markets said GW had achieved what many of its peers had not in taking a proprietary compound from laboratory to market, but he was cautious on sales potential in Europe, and downgraded the firm to "fair value" from " buy" with a price target of 137 pence.

"Going forward a key driver of valuation in our GW Pharma model is successful development and launch of Sativex for cancer pain," he said.

GW will receive a 10 million pounds milestone payment from Bayer as a result of British approval.

The next hurdle for GW and Bayer will be convincing Britain's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that Sativex is a cost-effective treatment for use on the NHS. Until that happens, its sales may be slow, analysts say.

Gover said doctors might be able to prescribe the drug under revised guidelines for treating MS. "It's quite possible that Sativex will be included within these new guidelines, so a NICE referral for Sativex would not be necessary," he said.

Outside Britain, the drug is expected to win a regulatory green light in Spain shortly, with other European countries following later. Sativex will be sold in the rest of Europe by Spanish drugmaker Almirall (ALM.MC).


Sativex is primarily made up of two cannabinoids extracted from marijuana -- cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

THC causes the euphoric effect, or "high", people get from smoking cannabis leaves or resin, but this side-effect is suppressed by the composition and delivery method of Sativex.

Sativex became the world's first medicine derived from whole plant extracts from the cannabis sativa plant to win regulatory clearance when Canada approved it in 2005 for neuropathic pain.

It is effective in treating muscle stiffness and spasms in about half of patients not benefiting from current therapies -- about 6,000 people in the UK, Gover said.

Analysts at Piper Jaffray, which advises GW, say peak sales in MS spasticity could hit 121 million pounds in Europe and Canada combined. KBC Peel Hunt's Paul Cuddon and Nomura Code's Samir Devani see only 50 million pounds of European sales.

The drug could also be used longer term to help treat cancer pain worldwide, opening up a market potentially worth over $500 million in annual sales, according to analysts. But marketing approval for this second use is not expected before 2013.

Gover said the company was researching 12 other primary cannabinoids, which could lead to treatments for tumours, epilepsy and psychotic conditions like schizophrenia. (Editing by Michael Shields))

Obama, EPA to push for restoration of Superfund tax on oil, chemical companies

There is no question that the Superfund program, first established 30 years ago to clean up sites around the country contaminated with hazardous waste, is facing a budget crunch.

For 15 years, the government imposed taxes on oil and chemical companies and certain other corporations. The money went into a cleanup trust fund, which reached its peak of $3.8 billion in 1996. But the taxes expired in 1995, and because Congress refused to renew them, the fund ran out of money.

Now the Obama administration will push to reinstate the "Superfund" tax. The Environmental Protection Agency, which rarely urges passage of specific bills, will send a letter to Congress as early as Monday calling for legislation to reimpose the tax.

The move will spark an intense battle on Capitol Hill, with Democrats and the administration lining up against oil companies and chemical manufacturers. The measure's proponents say it will ease the burden on taxpayers, who are currently funding the cleanup of "orphaned" sites, where no one has accepted responsibility for the contamination. Opponents suggest that it amounts to an unfair penalty.

"This is really about who should pay for the cleanup," said Mathy Stanislaus of the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "Should it be the taxpayer, who has no responsibility for contaminating the sites, or should it be those individuals who create hazardous substances that contaminate the site?"

Since the fund ran out of money at the end of fiscal 2003, the federal government has appropriated public dollars each year to pay for orphaned sites, which account for 606 of the 1,279 sites across the nation. But that has slowed the rate of cleanup. The program completed 19 sites last year, compared with 89 in 1999, the EPA says.

"It's clearly slowed down as the money's dried up," said Mike Charles, senior manager for government relations at the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Superfund sites are found in the District of Columbia and every state except North Dakota (whose one site was restored to health). Orphaned sites abound, including Ordinance Products in Cecil County, Md., and Atlantic Wood Industries in Portsmouth, Va. The Washington Navy Yard is still struggling with contamination dating from the 1800s, and federal authorities have yet to remove all the toxins from the area's groundwater.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee who has been pushing to reinstate the Superfund tax for more than three years, said the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico might encourage lawmakers, even some Republicans, to embrace a new tax on oil and petrochemicals.

Blumenauer's bill would raise about $18.9 billion over 10 years by imposing excise taxes of 9.7 cents a barrel on crude oil and refined oil products, excise taxes of 22 cents to $4.87 a ton on certain chemicals, and an income tax of 0.12 percent on certain corporations' modified alternative minimum taxable income above $2 million.

"I think the stars have aligned to make it not only possible for the first time in 15 years but likely that we will reinstate the Superfund tax," Blumenauer said in an interview. He added that for industries facing the tax, "it's a golden opportunity to demonstrate their environmental responsibility and their willingness to solve problems."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also supports the reinstatement of what her spokesman, Drew Hammill, called the "polluter pays" tax.

But a similar measure in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), could face a greater challenge, given Republicans' inclination to filibuster any measure that lacks the support of 60 senators.

Oil producers and refiners, now facing the prospect of Congress raising the Oil Spill Liability Fund tax from 8 to 49 cents a barrel, are furious at the idea of another tax burden.

"Policymakers -- Congress and the administration -- have simply got to stop using the domestic refining and petrochemical industry as an ATM machine," said Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. "They seem to think we're an endless supply of cash for other programs."

Chemical manufacturers are just as opposed, and they note that the chemicals in question are used in everything from plastics to public water treatment. Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council, said members of his association "have invested literally billions of dollars" in sites that they have taken responsibility for cleaning up.

"It is blatantly inequitable and unfair for the administration or Congress to reinstate a Superfund excise tax," Dooley said in an interview. He said it would undermine the goal of "an economic recovery in the manufacturing sector in the United States" because it would result in "shifting jobs outside the United States to chemical manufacturers that would not be subject to this tax."

BP ‘burning sea turtles alive’

A rare and endangered species of sea turtle is being burned alive in BP's controlled burns of the oil swirling around the Gulf of Mexico, and a boat captain tasked with saving them says the company has blocked rescue efforts.

Mike Ellis, a boat captain involved in a three-week effort to rescue as many sea turtles from unfolding disaster as possible, says BP effectively shut down the operation by preventing boats from coming out to rescue the turtles.

"They ran us out of there and then they shut us down, they would not let us get back in there," Ellis said in an interview with conservation biologist Catherine Craig.

Part of BP's efforts to contain the oil spill are controlled burns. Fire-resistant booms are used to corral an area of oil, then the area within the boom is lit on fire, burning off the oil and whatever marine life may have been inside.

"Once the turtles get in there they can't get out," Ellis said.

Dr. Brian Stacey of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told NPR last week that, although there are five different species of sea turtle in the Gulf of Mexico, the majority of the ones found affected by the oil spill are Kemp's Ridleys, "the rarest of them all."

Ellis confirmed that he's mostly been seeing Kemp's Ridleys.

Mike Michael at reports that Kemp's Ridleys are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Harming or killing one "carries stiff fines and civil penalties ($500-$25,000) assessed for each violation. Criminal penalties include possible prison time and fines from $25,000-$50,000."

Michael suggests that, given the size of the fines BP could face as a result of the turtle deaths, the company may be happy to let turtles burn, as it would make it impossible to calculate exactly how many turtles died. He notes that the bodies of dead animals are being kept as evidence to determine how much in fines BP will be liable for.

"Is BP destroying evidence to keep their liability down?" he asks. "Is anyone going to stop them?"

Asked if he had suffered health problems as a result of being exposed to the chemicals swirling around the Gulf, boat captain Ellis said he had been suffering from "pretty wicked headaches," but said he didn't know "if that was just from seeing everything you know just destroyed and just disgusting."

The following video was posted to YouTube by Catherine Craig, June 13, 2010.

Gulf oil spill: A hole in the world

The Deepwater Horizon disaster is not just an industrial accident – it is a violent wound inflicted on the Earth itself. In this special report from the Gulf coast, a leading author and activist shows how it lays bare the hubris at the heart of capitalism

Oil-soaked pelicans huddle in a cage at a research centre in Buras, Louisiana
‘Obama cannot order pelicans not to die (no matter whose ass he kicks). And no amount of money – not BP’s $20bn, not $100bn – can replace a culture that’s lost its roots.’ Photograph: Lee Celano/Reuters

Everyone gathered for the town hall meeting had been repeatedly instructed to show civility to the gentlemen from BP and the federal government. These fine folks had made time in their busy schedules to come to a high school gymnasium on a Tuesday night in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, one of many coastal communities where brown poison was slithering through the marshes, part of what has come to be described as the largest environmental disaster in US history.

"Speak to others the way you would want to be spoken to," the chair of the meeting pleaded one last time before opening the floor for questions.

And for a while the crowd, mostly made up of fishing families, showed remarkable restraint. They listened patiently to Larry Thomas, a genial BP public relations flack, as he told them that he was committed to "doing better" to process their claims for lost revenue – then passed all the details off to a markedly less friendly subcontractor. They heard out the suit from the Environmental Protection Agency as he informed them that, contrary to what they have read about the lack of testing and the product being banned in Britain, the chemical dispersant being sprayed on the oil in massive quantities was really perfectly safe.

But patience started running out by the third time Ed Stanton, a coast guard captain, took to the podium to reassure them that "the coast guard intends to make sure that BP cleans it up".

"Put it in writing!" someone shouted out. By now the air conditioning had shut itself off and the coolers of Budweiser were running low. A shrimper named Matt O'Brien approached the mic. "We don't need to hear this anymore," he declared, hands on hips. It didn't matter what assurances they were offered because, he explained, "we just don't trust you guys!" And with that, such a loud cheer rose up from the floor you'd have thought the Oilers (the unfortunately named school football team) had scored a touchdown.

The showdown was cathartic, if nothing else. For weeks residents had been subjected to a barrage of pep talks and extravagant promises coming from Washington, Houston and London. Every time they turned on their TVs, there was the BP boss, Tony Hayward, offering his solemn word that he would "make it right". Or else it was President Barack Obama expressing his absolute confidence that his administration would "leave the Gulf coast in better shape than it was before", that he was "making sure" it "comes back even stronger than it was before this crisis".

It all sounded great. But for people whose livelihoods put them in intimate contact with the delicate chemistry of the wetlands, it also sounded completely ridiculous, painfully so. Once the oil coats the base of the marsh grass, as it had already done just a few miles from here, no miracle machine or chemical concoction could safely get it out. You can skim oil off the surface of open water, and you can rake it off a sandy beach, but an oiled marsh just sits there, slowly dying. The larvae of countless species for which the marsh is a spawning ground – shrimp, crab, oysters and fin fish – will be poisoned.

It was already happening. Earlier that day, I travelled through nearby marshes in a shallow water boat. Fish were jumping in waters encircled by white boom, the strips of thick cotton and mesh BP is using to soak up the oil. The circle of fouled material seemed to be tightening around the fish like a noose. Nearby, a red-winged blackbird perched atop a 2 metre (7ft) blade of oil-contaminated marsh grass. Death was creeping up the cane; the small bird may as well have been standing on a lit stick of dynamite.

And then there is the grass itself, or the Roseau cane, as the tall sharp blades are called. If oil seeps deeply enough into the marsh, it will not only kill the grass above ground but also the roots. Those roots are what hold the marsh together, keeping bright green land from collapsing into the Mississippi River delta and the Gulf of Mexico. So not only do places like Plaquemines Parish stand to lose their fisheries, but also much of the physical barrier that lessens the intensity of fierce storms like hurricane Katrina. Which could mean losing everything.

How long will it take for an ecosystem this ravaged to be "restored and made whole" as Obama's interior secretary has pledged to do? It's not at all clear that such a thing is remotely possible, at least not in a time frame we can easily wrap our heads around. The Alaskan fisheries have yet to fully recover from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill and some species of fish never returned. Government scientists now estimate that as much as a Valdez-worth of oil may be entering the Gulf coastal waters every four days. An even worse prognosis emerges from the 1991 Gulf war spill, when an estimated 11m barrels of oil were dumped into the Persian Gulf – the largest spill ever. That oil entered the marshland and stayed there, burrowing deeper and deeper thanks to holes dug by crabs. It's not a perfect comparison, since so little clean-up was done, but according to a study conducted 12 years after the disaster, nearly 90% of the impacted muddy salt marshes and mangroves were still profoundly damaged.

We do know this. Far from being "made whole," the Gulf coast, more than likely, will be diminished. Its rich waters and crowded skies will be less alive than they are today. The physical space many communities occupy on the map will also shrink, thanks to erosion. And the coast's legendary culture will contract and wither. The fishing families up and down the coast do not just gather food, after all. They hold up an intricate network that includes family tradition, cuisine, music, art and endangered languages – much like the roots of grass holding up the land in the marsh. Without fishing, these unique cultures lose their root system, the very ground on which they stand. (BP, for its part, is well aware of the limits of recovery. The company's Gulf of Mexico regional oil spill response plan specifically instructs officials not to make "promises that property, ecology, or anything else will be restored to normal". Which is no doubt why its officials consistently favour folksy terms like "make it right".)

If Katrina pulled back the curtain on the reality of racism in America, the BP disaster pulls back the curtain on something far more hidden: how little control even the most ingenious among us have over the awesome, intricately interconnected natural forces with which we so casually meddle. BP cannot plug the hole in the Earth that it made. Obama cannot order fish species to survive, or brown pelicans not to go extinct (no matter whose ass he kicks). No amount of money – not BP's recently pledged $20bn (£13.5bn), not $100bn – can replace a culture that has lost its roots. And while our politicians and corporate leaders have yet to come to terms with these humbling truths, the people whose air, water and livelihoods have been contaminated are losing their illusions fast.

"Everything is dying," a woman said as the town hall meeting was finally coming to a close. "How can you honestly tell us that our Gulf is resilient and will bounce back? Because not one of you up here has a hint as to what is going to happen to our Gulf. You sit up here with a straight face and act like you know when you don't know."

This Gulf coast crisis is about many things – corruption, deregulation, the addiction to fossil fuels. But underneath it all, it's about this: our culture's excruciatingly dangerous claim to have such complete understanding and command over nature that we can radically manipulate and re-engineer it with minimal risk to the natural systems that sustain us. But as the BP disaster has revealed, nature is always more unpredictable than the most sophisticated mathematical and geological models imagine. During Thursday's congressional testimony, Hayward said: "The best minds and the deepest expertise are being brought to bear" on the crisis, and that, "with the possible exception of the space programme in the 1960s, it is difficult to imagine the gathering of a larger, more technically proficient team in one place in peacetime." And yet, in the face of what the geologist Jill Schneiderman has described as "Pandora's well", they are like the men at the front of that gymnasium: they act like they know, but they don't know.

BP's mission statement

In the arc of human history, the notion that nature is a machine for us to re-engineer at will is a relatively recent conceit. In her ground-breaking 1980 book The Death of Nature, the environmental historian Carolyn Merchant reminded readers that up until the 1600s, the Earth was alive, usually taking the form of a mother. Europeans – like indigenous people the world over – believed the planet to be a living organism, full of life-giving powers but also wrathful tempers. There were, for this reason, strong taboos against actions that would deform and desecrate "the mother", including mining.

The metaphor changed with the unlocking of some (but by no means all) of nature's mysteries during the scientific revolution of the 1600s. With nature now cast as a machine, devoid of mystery or divinity, its component parts could be dammed, extracted and remade with impunity. Nature still sometimes appeared as a woman, but one easily dominated and subdued. Sir Francis Bacon best encapsulated the new ethos when he wrote in the 1623 De dignitate et augmentis scientiarum that nature is to be "put in constraint, moulded, and made as it were new by art and the hand of man".

Those words may as well have been BP's corporate mission statement. Boldly inhabiting what the company called "the energy frontier", it dabbled in synthesising methane-producing microbes and announced that "a new area of investigation" would be geoengineering. And of course it bragged that, at its Tiber prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, it now had "the deepest well ever drilled by the oil and gas industry" – as deep under the ocean floor as jets fly overhead.

Imagining and preparing for what would happen if these experiments in altering the building blocks of life and geology went wrong occupied precious little space in the corporate imagination. As we have all discovered, after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on 20 April, the company had no systems in place to effectively respond to this scenario. Explaining why it did not have even the ultimately unsuccessful containment dome waiting to be activated on shore, a BP spokesman, Steve Rinehart, said: "I don't think anybody foresaw the circumstance that we're faced with now." Apparently, it "seemed inconceivable" that the blowout preventer would ever fail – so why prepare?

This refusal to contemplate failure clearly came straight from the top. A year ago, Hayward told a group of graduate students at Stanford University that he has a plaque on his desk that reads: "If you knew you could not fail, what would you try?" Far from being a benign inspirational slogan, this was actually an accurate description of how BP and its competitors behaved in the real world. In recent hearings on Capitol Hill, congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts grilled representatives from the top oil and gas companies on the revealing ways in which they had allocated resources. Over three years, they had spent "$39bn to explore for new oil and gas. Yet, the average investment in research and development for safety, accident prevention and spill response was a paltry $20m a year."

These priorities go a long way towards explaining why the initial exploration plan that BP submitted to the federal government for the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon well reads like a Greek tragedy about human hubris. The phrase "little risk" appears five times. Even if there is a spill, BP confidently predicts that, thanks to "proven equipment and technology", adverse affects will be minimal. Presenting nature as a predictable and agreeable junior partner (or perhaps subcontractor), the report cheerfully explains that should a spill occur, "Currents and microbial degradation would remove the oil from the water column or dilute the constituents to background levels". The effects on fish, meanwhile, "would likely be sublethal" because of "the capability of adult fish and shellfish to avoid a spill [and] to metabolise hydrocarbons". (In BP's telling, rather than a dire threat, a spill emerges as an all-you-can-eat buffet for aquatic life.)

Best of all, should a major spill occur, there is, apparently, "little risk of contact or impact to the coastline" because of the company's projected speedy response (!) and "due to the distance [of the rig] to shore" – about 48 miles (77km). This is the most astonishing claim of all. In a gulf that often sees winds of more than 70km an hour, not to mention hurricanes, BP had so little respect for the ocean's capacity to ebb and flow, surge and heave, that it did not think oil could make a paltry 77km trip. (Last week, a shard of the exploded Deepwater Horizon showed up on a beach in Florida, 306km away.)

None of this sloppiness would have been possible, however, had BP not been making its predictions to a political class eager to believe that nature had indeed been mastered. Some, like Republican Lisa Murkowski, were more eager than others. The Alaskan senator was so awe-struck by the industry's four-dimensional seismic imaging that she proclaimed deep-sea drilling to have reached the very height of controlled artificiality. "It's better than Disneyland in terms of how you can take technologies and go after a resource that is thousands of years old and do so in an environmentally sound way," she told the Senate energy committee just seven months ago.

Drilling without thinking has of course been Republican party policy since May 2008. With gas prices soaring to unprecedented heights, that's when the conservative leader Newt Gingrich unveiled the slogan "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" – with an emphasis on the now. The wildly popular campaign was a cry against caution, against study, against measured action. In Gingrich's telling, drilling at home wherever the oil and gas might be – locked in Rocky Mountain shale, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and deep offshore – was a surefire way to lower the price at the pump, create jobs, and kick Arab ass all at once. In the face of this triple win, caring about the environment was for sissies: as senator Mitch McConnell put it, "in Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana and Texas, they think oil rigs are pretty". By the time the infamous "Drill Baby Drill" Republican national convention rolled around, the party base was in such a frenzy for US-made fossil fuels, they would have bored under the convention floor if someone had brought a big enough drill.

Obama, eventually, gave in, as he invariably does. With cosmic bad timing, just three weeks before the Deepwater Horizon blew up, the president announced he would open up previously protected parts of the country to offshore drilling. The practice was not as risky as he had thought, he explained. "Oil rigs today generally don't cause spills. They are technologically very advanced." That wasn't enough for Sarah Palin, however, who sneered at the Obama administration's plans to conduct more studies before drilling in some areas. "My goodness, folks, these areas have been studied to death," she told the Southern Republican leadership conference in New Orleans, now just 11 days before the blowout. "Let's drill, baby, drill, not stall, baby, stall!" And there was much rejoicing.

In his congressional testimony, Hayward said: "We and the entire industry will learn from this terrible event." And one might well imagine that a catastrophe of this magnitude would indeed instil BP executives and the "Drill Now" crowd with a new sense of humility. There are, however, no signs that this is the case. The response to the disaster – at the corporate and governmental levels – has been rife with the precise brand of arrogance and overly sunny predictions that created the disaster in the first place.

The ocean is big, she can take it, we heard from Hayward in the early days. While spokesman John Curry insisted that hungry microbes would consume whatever oil was in the water system, because "nature has a way of helping the situation". But nature has not been playing along. The deep-sea gusher has bust out of all BP's top hats, containment domes, and junk shots. The ocean's winds and currents have made a mockery of the lightweight booms BP has laid out to absorb the oil. "We told them," said Byron Encalade, the president of the Louisiana Oysters Association. "The oil's gonna go over the booms or underneath the bottom." Indeed it did. The marine biologist Rick Steiner, who has been following the clean up closely, estimates that "70% or 80% of the booms are doing absolutely nothing at all".

And then there are the controversial chemical dispersants: more than 1.3m gallons dumped with the company's trademark "what could go wrong?" attitude. As the angry residents at the Plaquemines Parish town hall rightly point out, few tests had been conducted, and there is scant research about what this unprecedented amount of dispersed oil will do to marine life. Nor is there a way to clean up the toxic mixture of oil and chemicals below the surface. Yes, fast multiplying microbes do devour underwater oil – but in the process they also absorb the water's oxygen, creating a whole new threat to marine life.

BP had even dared to imagine that it could prevent unflattering images of oil-covered beaches and birds from escaping the disaster zone. When I was on the water with a TV crew, for instance, we were approached by another boat whose captain asked, ""Y'all work for BP?" When we said no, the response – in the open ocean – was "You can't be here then". But of course these heavy-handed tactics, like all the others, have failed. There is simply too much oil in too many places. "You cannot tell God's air where to flow and go, and you can't tell water where to flow and go," I was told by Debra Ramirez. It was a lesson she had learned from living in Mossville, Louisiana, surrounded by 14 emission-spewing petrochemical plants, and watching illness spread from neighbour to neighbour.

Human limitation has been the one constant of this catastrophe. After two months, we still have no idea how much oil is flowing, nor when it will stop. The company's claim that it will complete relief wells by the end of August – repeated by Obama in his Oval Office address – is seen by many scientists as a bluff. The procedure is risky and could fail, and there is a real possibility that the oil could continue to leak for years.

The flow of denial shows no sign of abating either. Louisiana politicians indignantly oppose Obama's temporary freeze on deepwater drilling, accusing him of killing the one big industry left standing now that fishing and tourism are in crisis. Palin mused on Facebook that "no human endeavour is ever without risk", while Texas Republican congressman John Culberson described the disaster as a "statistical anomaly". By far the most sociopathic reaction, however, comes from veteran Washington commentator Llewellyn King: rather than turning away from big engineering risks, we should pause in "wonder that we can build machines so remarkable that they can lift the lid off the underworld".

Make the bleeding stop

Thankfully, many are taking a very different lesson from the disaster, standing not in wonder at humanity's power to reshape nature, but at our powerlessness to cope with the fierce natural forces we unleash. There is something else too. It is the feeling that the hole at the bottom of the ocean is more than an engineering accident or a broken machine. It is a violent wound in a living organism; that it is part of us. And thanks to BP's live camera feed, we can all watch the Earth's guts gush forth, in real time, 24 hours a day.

John Wathen, a conservationist with the Waterkeeper Alliance, was one of the few independent observers to fly over the spill in the early days of the disaster. After filming the thick red streaks of oil that the coast guard politely refers to as "rainbow sheen", he observed what many had felt: "The Gulf seems to be bleeding." This imagery comes up again and again in conversations and interviews. Monique Harden, an environmental rights lawyer in New Orleans, refuses to call the disaster an "oil spill" and instead says, "we are haemorrhaging". Others speak of the need to "make the bleeding stop". And I was personally struck, flying over the stretch of ocean where the Deepwater Horizon sank with the US Coast Guard, that the swirling shapes the oil made in the ocean waves looked remarkably like cave drawings: a feathery lung gasping for air, eyes staring upwards, a prehistoric bird. Messages from the deep.

And this is surely the strangest twist in the Gulf coast saga: it seems to be waking us up to the reality that the Earth never was a machine. After 400 years of being declared dead, and in the middle of so much death, the Earth is coming alive.

The experience of following the oil's progress through the ecosystem is a kind of crash course in deep ecology. Every day we learn more about how what seems to be a terrible problem in one isolated part of the world actually radiates out in ways most of us could never have imagined. One day we learn that the oil could reach Cuba – then Europe. Next we hear that fishermen all the way up the Atlantic in Prince Edward Island, Canada, are worried because the Bluefin tuna they catch off their shores are born thousands of miles away in those oil-stained Gulf waters. And we learn, too, that for birds, the Gulf coast wetlands are the equivalent of a busy airport hub – everyone seems to have a stopover: 110 species of migratory songbirds and 75% of all migratory US waterfowl.

It's one thing to be told by an incomprehensible chaos theorist that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas. It's another to watch chaos theory unfold before your eyes. Carolyn Merchant puts the lesson like this: "The problem as BP has tragically and belatedly discovered is that nature as an active force cannot be so confined." Predictable outcomes are unusual within ecological systems, while "unpredictable, chaotic events [are] usual". And just in case we still didn't get it, a few days ago, a bolt of lightning struck a BP ship like an exclamation mark, forcing it to suspend its containment efforts. And don't even mention what a hurricane would do to BP's toxic soup.

There is, it must be stressed, something uniquely twisted about this particular path to enlightenment. They say that Americans learn where foreign countries are by bombing them. Now it seems we are all learning about nature's circulatory systems by poisoning them.

In the late 90s, an isolated indigenous group in Colombia captured world headlines with an almost Avatar-esque conflict. From their remote home in the Andean cloud forests, the U'wa let it be known that if Occidental Petroleum carried out plans to drill for oil on their territory, they would commit mass ritual suicide by jumping off a cliff. Their elders explained that oil is part of ruiria, "the blood of Mother Earth". They believe that all life, including their own, flows from ruiria, so pulling out the oil would bring on their destruction. (Oxy eventually withdrew from the region, saying there wasn't as much oil as it had previously thought.)

Virtually all indigenous cultures have myths about gods and spirits living in the natural world – in rocks, mountains, glaciers, forests – as did European culture before the scientific revolution. Katja Neves, an anthropologist at Concordia University, points out that the practice serves a practical purpose. Calling the Earth "sacred" is another way of expressing humility in the face of forces we do not fully comprehend. When something is sacred, it demands that we proceed with caution. Even awe.

If we are absorbing this lesson at long last, the implications could be profound. Public support for increased offshore drilling is dropping precipitously, down 22% from the peak of the "Drill Now" frenzy. The issue is not dead, however. It is only a matter of time before the Obama administration announces that, thanks to ingenious new technology and tough new regulations, it is now perfectly safe to drill in the deep sea, even in the Arctic, where an under-ice clean up would be infinitely more complex than the one underway in the Gulf. But perhaps this time we won't be so easily reassured, so quick to gamble with the few remaining protected havens.

Same goes for geoengineering. As climate change negotiations wear on, we should be ready to hear more from Dr Steven Koonin, Obama's undersecretary of energy for science. He is one of the leading proponents of the idea that climate change can be combated with techno tricks like releasing sulphate and aluminium particles into the atmosphere – and of course it's all perfectly safe, just like Disneyland! He also happens to be BP's former chief scientist, the man who just 15 months ago was still overseeing the technology behind BP's supposedly safe charge into deepwater drilling. Maybe this time we will opt not to let the good doctor experiment with the physics and chemistry of the Earth, and choose instead to reduce our consumption and shift to renewable energies that have the virtue that, when they fail, they fail small. As US comedian Bill Maher put it, "You know what happens when windmills collapse into the sea? A splash."

The most positive possible outcome of this disaster would be not only an acceleration of renewable energy sources like wind, but a full embrace of the precautionary principle in science. The mirror opposite of Hayward's "If you knew you could not fail" credo, the precautionary principle holds that "when an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health" we tread carefully, as if failure were possible, even likely. Perhaps we can even get Hayward a new desk plaque to contemplate as he signs compensation cheques. "You act like you know, but you don't know."

Naomi Klein visited the Gulf coast with a film-crew from Fault Lines, a documentary programme hosted by Avi Lewis on al-Jazeera English Television. She was a consultant on the film

Noam Chomsky's Hypocrisy

By Ghali Hassan

“I don't regard myself as a critic of Israel. I regard myself a supporter of Israel ... I think the U.S. should continue to support Israel”. [1]

- Noam Chomsky

The American linguist Noam Chomsky is often described by Western media as “arguably the world's most influential intellectual today”. To his friends, Chomsky is a “relentless thorn” in U.S.-Israel Zionist policies. But reading between the lines of his repetitive and recycled propaganda, Chomsky is an opportunistic hypocrite.

On May 16 2010, Noam Chomsky was illegally denied entry to the Israel-Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank. Chomsky was scheduled to meet with members of the Palestinian Authority (PA), including the unelected U.S.-imposed and Israel-backed collaborationist “Prime Minister”, Salam Fayyad.

We know that the Israeli military controls all the borders of Israel-Occupied Palestinian Territories, and subjects Palestinians to prison-like living conditions. Thousands of Palestinians, pregnant women, the elderly, and the sick are denied free movement every day. While Chomsky failed to condemn this Israeli illegal behaviour, he could have entered via Tel Aviv (as he did many times in the past) and gone on to meet Salam Fayyad in Ramallah. Israel has since apologised to Chomsky. In an interview with Democracy Now on May 17, 2010, Chomsky said:

“I was going to meet with the [unelected] Prime Minister. Unfortunately, I couldn't. But his office called me here in Amman this morning, and we had a long discussion. He is pursuing policies, which, in my view, are quite sensible, policies of essentially developing facts on the ground. It's almost – I think it's probably a conscious imitation of the early Zionist policies, establishing facts on the ground and hoping that the political forms that follow will be determined by them. And the policies sound to me like sensible and sound ones. The question, of course, is whether – the extent to which Israel and the United States, which is a determining, factor – the extent to which they'll permit them to be implemented. But if implemented, and if, of course, Israel and the United States would terminate their systematic effort to separate Gaza from the West Bank, which is quite illegal, if that continues, yes, it could turn into a viable Palestinian state”. Noam Chomsky sounds like Shimon Peres.

Chomsky's argument does not withstand the slightest scrutiny. How could Chomsky, who claims to defend the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, be prepared to meet with an unelected stooge of a Vichy-like collaborationist regime? To present Fayyad as a saviour for the Palestinian people is to ignore his despicable record of collaboration with the criminal oppressors of the Palestinians.

The PA is a corrupt administration and has no significant support among the Palestinian population. Its security apparatus is a brutal militia acting to enforce the Occupation on behalf of Israel. Fayyad was a U.S. servant at the World Bank from 1987 to 1995 and remains so in a different capacity. He is known in Israel as “the Palestinian Ben-Gurion”. David Ben-Gurion – a criminal Zionist much admired by Noam Chomsky as a “great statesman” – was the architect of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes and lands in 1948. This period of Palestinian history has come to be known as al-Nakbah (Arabic for ‘The Catastrophe') which was, according to Chomsky, a “war of independence”. More than 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes, thousands of defenceless Palestinians were murder in countless cold-blooded massacred by Jewish terrorists, and more than 500 villages were destroyed. The same continues today.

Chomsky is said to be “encouraged” by Fayyad's recent ranting that “the birth of a Palestinian state will be celebrated as a day of joy by the entire community of nations ... it will come around August 2011”. It is a repackaged Camp David proposal, which was concocted in 2000 by Bill Clinton and his Zionist handlers and courageously rejected by the late Yasser Arafat. According to Fayyad, the new state will:

  • recognise Israel as a Jewish “biblical country”;
  • allow Israel to build Jewish colonies ‘within the valleys and hills of the West Bank';
  • suppress – using U.S.-trained and Israeli-approved Palestinian militias (Keith Dayton-trained death squads) – all forms of resistance to Israel's Zionist colonisation of Palestine; and
  • relinquish the Palestinian people's right of return to their homes from which they were ethnically cleansed in 1948.

The so-called “two-state” solution, which Chomsky supports, is a Zionist fraud. It has been around for decades. Israel and the U.S. use this fraud to manipulate the world's public opinion and to continue forcing more Palestinians out of their homes and land. Most of the Palestinian arable land and water resources have been stolen and colonised by illegal Jewish colonists (‘settlers') from the U.S., Poland, and the former Soviet satellite states. The new Palestinian “state” will be just a collection of Nazi-like ghettoes similar to the South African Bantustan hemmed in by Jews-only highways and the Apartheid Wall. Like the “peace process”, the “two-state” solution enables Israel to stall for time and continues the ghettoization of the Palestinians.

The largest of these ghettoes, Gaza, is now complete. Gaza is a state of the art Concentration Camp. It has been under complete Israeli military blockade since 2006, essentially imprisoning 1.5 million men, women, and children, and denying them food, medicine, and essential materials for building their demolished homes. Even the pro-Israel Western humanitarian agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Amnesty International (AI), described the Israeli blockade is an illegal collective punishment , and an economic warfare aimed at terrorising the civilian population and toppling the democratically-elected administration of HAMAS. Even the Nazis wouldn't resort to such wholesale brutality against 1.5 million innocent civilians. Instead of bragging about his meeting with Fayyad, Chomsky should call for an immediate and total end to the Israeli-imposed blockade and the withdrawal of the Israeli army and the illegal Jewish settlers from Palestinian lands.

For his support of the Palestinians, Chomsky opposes pressure to force Israel to behave according to international law and civilised norms. For example, Chomsky is against the peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign against Israel. Chomsky believes the boycott will hurt Israelis. The Campaign is based on the international boycott campaign used to end South Africa's Apartheid rule. The BDS Campaign is a call by Palestinian and international civil societies, human rights organisations, unions, and NGOs to boycott Israel and expose Israel's ongoing crimes against the Palestinians. The Campaign is calling upon people of conscience around the world to boycott Israeli products and Israeli institutions that are complicit on Israel's brutal oppression and war crimes. Successive Israeli regimes have violated international law and committed more crimes against the Palestinians. Without international pressure, Israel will not end the Occupation.

The Campaign is part of peaceful international resistance to force Israel to end its Occupation of Palestinian land and end Israel's apartheid system. Chomsky is against boycotting a state with a regime that is enforcing an apartheid system worse than that of South Africa. “Under Israeli military occupation, repression is worse than South Africa's. It's a sophisticated form of social, economic, political and racial discrimination, strangulation, and genocide, incorporating the worst elements of colonialism and apartheid as well as repressive dispossession, displacement and state terrorism to separate Palestinians from their land and heritage, deny them their rightful civil and human rights, and gradually remove or eliminate them altogether”, writes the American writer, Stephen Lendman. Chomsky's objection to the Campaign only underlines the hypocrisy and doublespeak of his alleged support for the oppressed people of Palestine.

For all Israel's crimes and flagrant violations of international law, Chomsky blames the U.S., precisely the White House and the President. Chomsky has no quarrel with the powerful U.S. Congress, where the Zionist Jewish Lobby (the ‘Lobby') exerts complete control. Indeed, the U.S. Congress is far more pro-Israel than the Israeli Knesset. For example, the recent premeditated barbaric murder of at least nine defenceless humanitarian aid volunteers on board the Free Gaza-bounded Mavi Marmara Flotilla by Israeli commandos is unconditionally defended by U.S. Democrat and Republican congressional leaders as an act of “self-defence”, not an act of state terrorism. Chomsky rejects the role of the Lobby and Zionist Jewish Organisations controlling U.S. foreign policies, particularly in the Middle East. Chomsky argues fiercely that the U.S. supports Israel because of Israel's strategic position (close to the oil-rich region) and is “a reliable pro-Western military force protecting Arab dictators”. This argument is flawed and its aim is to deflect attention away from Israel and the Zionist Jewish organisations defending Israel's terror. Credible research by respected scholars shows that Israel is unconditionally supported – financially, militarily, and politically – by the U.S. and European governments because of pressure from wealthy and powerful Zionist Jewish Organisations who are also in total control of nearly all mainstream media outlets, including the Internet, TV channels, and the print media. Indeed, Zionist control over the mainstream media is clearly demonstrated by the biased reporting through an Israel-Zionist lens [2, 3, & 4].

The U.S. does not need Israel to control the oil-rich region of the Middle East. For decades, the U.S. directly dominated the region through its massive military bases in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The U.S. does not need to pay Israel more than $3 billion a year in order to commit war crimes. It is true: Israel doesn't act and commit crimes without the approval of its allies, particularly the U.S. government. They are accomplices to murder.

On Iran, Chomsky is very unclear. While he rightly argues that the U.S. and Israel are seriously threatening Iran, Chomsky has yet to show any evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Quoting Martin van Crevel, the Zionist military historian at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and adviser to the Israeli military, Chomsky argues that Iran is developing nuclear weapons to deter any U.S.-Israel aggression. If not, the Iranians “are crazy”. There is absolutely no evidence that Iran is enriching uranium for military use. Iran has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. The rest is anti-Muslim Zionist warmongering propaganda. Iran has broken no agreement and is fulfilling all its obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The real violator is Israel which stands in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and IAEA safeguards obligations. To date, Israel is refusing to open its nuclear facilities for inspection and threatening to use nuclear weapons against Iran.

Furthermore, Chomsky's attack on the Iranian Government is unjustified. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the choice of the majority of the Iranian people (3-1), according to an analysis of multiple polls of the Iranian public conducted by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA). [5] Like most Western “Leftists”, Chomsky believes the elections were rigged and supports the opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister who was complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity at the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988. Chomsky's reliance on anti-Muslim propaganda organs, such as the BBC, FOX News and CNN shows that he is a propagandist.

Given Chomsky's defence of freedom and democratic principles, it was ironic that in 2005 Chomsky and his leftist friends supported the U.S.-staged fraudulent elections in Iraq to install a puppet government as “democratic” and “worthy of praise”. If people like Chomsky fail to condemn fraudulent elections staged by foreign military occupation, then the U.S. will continue to manipulate democracy to serve U.S. imperialist interest. He called the murderous Occupation “incompetence” and attacked the Iraqi Resistance as a “violent insurgency”. It is sad that Chomsky, a leading critic of U.S. imperialism and injustice, could have ignored U.S. imperialist motives.

Furthermore, according to Chomsky, Iraq has become ‘an incubator or a university for advanced training for terrorists'. Where is the evidence? And since when is legitimate resistance to illegal aggression called terrorism? Instead, Chomsky and his leftist friends should condemn the Occupation and demand the immediate and full withdrawal of U.S. troops and mercenaries from Iraq.

It is important to remember that while Chomsky protested against the criminal U.S. invasion of Iraq, he later justified the illegal invasion on the basis that it has “removed” not only Saddam Hussein but also the genocidal sanctions. Seven years after the criminal U.S. invasion, Iraq is far worse today than under Saddam Hussein and the genocidal sanctions. An entire nation has been deliberately destroyed. More than 1.5 million Iraqis have been killed and at least 5 millions Iraqis are refugees, including 2.7 million internally displaced Iraqis. According to the U.S. think-tank, the Brookings Institute, only 20 per cent of the Iraqi population have access to proper sanitation, 45 per cent to clean water, 50 per cent to more than 12 hours a day of electricity, 50 per cent to adequate housing, and 30 per cent to health services. A quarter of Iraq's population is living in extreme poverty. Iraq remains under murderous U.S. military Occupation. The motive remains conspicuous; defending the Zionist state of Israel and enforcing long-lasting imperialist-Zionist control of the region.

It is important to acknowledge that despite Chomsky's contradictions, he is a respected scholar. In addition to his contribution to the field of linguistics, Chomsky has on many occasions provided useful analyses of U.S. terrorism, propaganda, and U.S. imperialist foreign policy. However, his contradictions are not possible to redress.

As a scholar, Chomsky has admitted that all intellectuals (including Chomsky himself) are propagandists who serve power by manipulating the public. “Chomsky feeds our need for truth by providing analysis, an intellectual framework that resides in inaction. [He] feeds the false notion that one can understand the world and one's place in it and oneself by reading books”, writes Denis Rancourt, a former professor of Physics at the University of Ottawa.

Finally, in an opinion poll conducted by the European Union Commission in Brussels between 8 and 16 October 2003 (published in the El Pais and the International Herald Tribune newspapers), a majority of 7,500 Europeans polled from 15 European Union countries (500 citizens from each EU member) said that Israel posed the most serious threat to regional and international peace, ahead of North Korea, Iran, and Afghanistan. The poll proved to be accurate. On 02 March 2010, Martin van Crevel, the Zionist military historian and adviser to the Israeli army, told the Western media: “We [Jews] possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets of our air force … The Palestinians should all be deported ... The people [Israeli Jews] who strive for this are waiting only for the right man and the right time. Two years ago only 7 or 8 percent of Israelis were of the opinion that this would be the best solution, two months ago [January 2010] it was 33 percent and now, according to a Gallup poll, the figure is 44 percent”. The comment shows that Israeli Zionists and those who defend their crimes lack morality and respect for international law.

How can any progressive-minded person support a state that was built on the ruins of Palestinian villages, genocide, and dispossession? How can anyone support a state that openly espouses a racist and fascist ideology and is in flagrant violation of international law and civilised norms?

“I don't think there is one moral person in the world that supports what Israel stands for”, said Ilan Pappé, a Haifa-born Jewish history scholar at the University of Exeter in the UK and author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. It is not unfair to describe Chomsky as the most influential pro-Israel propagandist.


  1. ???? ?????? ??????? ????? Noam Chomsky interviewed in Israel
  2. John Mearsheimer & Stephen Walt, The Israel lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy , Middle East Policy . 13(3),29-87, 2006 ;
  3. James Petras, The Power of Israel in the United States , Clarity Press, 2006;
  4. M. Shahid Alam, Chomsky on Oil and the Israel Lobby , Dissident Voice , 31 January, 2009.
  5. Steven Kull, Clay Ramsay, Stephen Weber & Evan Lewis, An Analysis of multiple polls of Iranian Public , The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA),, Washington DC, February 2010.

Ghali Hassan is an independent writer living in Australia.

Fannie and Freddie tab is $146B and rising

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac took over a foreclosed home roughly every 90 seconds during the first three months of the year. They owned 163,828 houses at the end of March, a virtual city with more houses than Seattle. The mortgage finance companies, created by Congress to help Americans buy homes, have become two of the nation’s largest landlords.

Bill Bridwell, a real estate agent in the desert south of Phoenix, is among the thousands of agents hired nationwide by the companies to sell those foreclosures, recouping some of the money that borrowers failed to repay. In a good week, he sells 20 homes and Fannie sends another 20 listings his way.

“We’re all working for the government now,” said Bridwell on a recent sun-baked morning, steering a Hummer through subdivisions laid out like circuit boards on the desert floor.

For all the focus on the historic federal rescue of the banking industry, it is the government’s decision to seize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September 2008 that is likely to cost taxpayers the most money. So far the tab stands at $145.9 billion, and it grows with every foreclosure of a three-bedroom home with a two-car garage one hour from Phoenix. The Congressional Budget Office has predicted that the final bill could reach $389 billion.

Fannie and Freddie increased American home ownership over the last half-century by persuading investors to provide money for mortgage loans. The sales pitch amounted to a money-back guarantee: If borrowers defaulted, the companies promised to repay the investors.

Rather than actually making loans themselves, the two companies — Fannie older and larger, Freddie created to provide competition — bought loans from banks and other originators, providing money for more lending and helping to hold down interest rates.

“Our business is the American dream of home ownership,” Fannie Mae declared in its mission statement, and in 2001 the company set a target of helping to create 6 million new homeowners by 2014. Here in Arizona, during a housing boom fueled by cheap land, cheap money and population growth, Fannie Mae executives trumpeted that the company would invest $15 billion to help families buy homes.

As it turns out, Fannie and Freddie increasingly were channeling money into loans that borrowers could not afford to repay. As defaults mounted, the companies quickly ran low on money to honor their guarantees. The federal government, fearing that investors would stop providing money for new mortgage loans, placed the companies in conservatorship and took a 79.9 percent ownership stake, adding its own guarantee that investors would be repaid.

The huge and continually rising cost of that decision has spurred national debate about federal subsidies for mortgage lending. Republicans want to sever ties with Fannie and Freddie once the crisis abates. The Obama administration and congressional Democrats have insisted on postponing the argument until after the midterm elections.

In the meantime, Fannie and Freddie are editing the results of the housing boom at public expense, removing owners who cannot afford their homes, reselling the houses at much lower prices and financing mortgage loans for the new owners.

The two companies together accounted for 17 percent of real estate sales in Arizona during the first four months of the year, almost three times their share of the market during the same period last year, according to an analysis by MDA DataQuick. The signs of their presence — small placards hung beneath the real estate agent’s standard for-sale sign — often are planted in the front yards of several homes on the same street.

Valarie Ross, who lives in the Phoenix suburb of Avondale, has watched six of the nine homes visible from her lawn chair emptied by moving trucks during the last year. Four have been resold by the government.

“One by one,” she said. “Just amazing.”

The population of Pinal County, where Bridwell lives and works, roughly doubled to 340,000 over the last decade. Developers built an entirely new city called Maricopa on land assembled from farmers. Buyers camped outside new developments, waiting to purchase homes. One builder laid out a 300-lot subdivision at the end of a three-mile dirt road and still managed to sell 30 of the homes.

Bridwell sold plenty of those houses during the boom, then cut workers as prices crashed. Now his firm, Golden Touch Realty, again employs as many people as at the height of the boom, all working exclusively for Fannie Mae. The payroll now includes a locksmith to secure foreclosed homes and two clerks devoted to federal paperwork.

Golden Touch gets more listings from Fannie Mae than any other firm in Pinal County. Bridwell said he was ready to jump because he remembered the last time the government ended up owning thousands of Arizona houses, after the late-1980s collapse of the savings and loan industry.

“The way I see it,” said Bridwell, whose glass-top desk displays membership cards from the Republican National Committee, “is that we’re getting these homes back into private hands.”

Selling a house generally costs the government about $10,000. The outsides are weeded and the insides are scrubbed. Stolen appliances are replaced, brackish pools are refilled. And until the properties are sold, they must be maintained. Fannie asks contractors to mow lawns twice a month during the summer, and pays them $80 each time. That’s a monthly grass bill of more than $10 million.

All told, the companies spent more than $1 billion on upkeep last year.

“We may be behind many loans on the same street, so we believe that it’s in everyone’s best interest to aggressively do property maintenance,” said Chris Bowden, the Freddie Mac executive in charge of foreclosure sales.

Prices have dropped significantly. So by the time a home is resold, Fannie and Freddie on average recoup less than 60 percent of the money that the borrower failed to repay, according to the companies’ financial filings. In Phoenix and other areas where prices have fallen sharply, the losses often are larger.

Foreclosures punch holes in neighborhoods, so residents, community groups and public officials are eager to see properties reoccupied. But there also is concern that investors are buying many foreclosures as rental properties, making it harder for neighborhoods to recover.

Real estate agents tend to favor investors because the sales close surely and quickly and there is the prospect of repeat business. But community advocates say that Fannie and Freddie have an obligation to sell houses to people as a place to live, creating new homeowners.

David Adame worked for Fannie Mae’s local office during the boom, on programs to make ownership more affordable. Now with prices down sharply, Adame sees a second chance to put people into homes they can afford.

“Yes, move inventory,” said Adame, now an executive focused on housing issues at Chicanos por la Causa, a Phoenix nonprofit group, “but if we just move inventory to investors, then what are we doing?”

Executives at both Fannie and Freddie say they have an overriding obligation to limit losses, but that they are taking steps to sell more homes to families.

Fannie Mae last summer announced that it would give people seeking homes a “first look” by not accepting offers from investors in the first 15 days that a property is on the market. It also offers to help buyers with closing costs, and prohibits buyers from reselling properties at a profit for 90 days, to discourage speculation. Fannie Mae said that 68.4 percent of buyers this year had certified that they would use the house as a primary residence.

Freddie Mac has adopted fewer programs, but the company said that it has sold about the same share of foreclosures to owner-occupants.

The companies also have agreed to sell foreclosed homes to nonprofits using grants from the federal government’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Chicanos por la Causa, which won $137 million under the program in partnership with nonprofits in eight other states, plans to buy more than 200 homes in Phoenix in the next two years. The group plans to renovate the houses, then sell to local families.

The scale of such efforts is small. The home ownership rate in Phoenix continues to fall as foreclosures pile up and renters replace owners.

But John R. Smith, chief executive of Housing Our Communities, another Phoenix-area group using federal money to buy foreclosures, said that he tried to focus on salvaging one property at a time.

“I tell them, ‘OK, you want to unload 10 houses to that guy, fine,’” he said. “‘Now give me this one. And this one. And one over here.’”

For some reason, this reminds me of the movie "Wall-E"

Click this link .....

Bank failure is 83rd in '10; pace more than double last year's

WASHINGTON (AP) — Regulators on Friday shut down a Nevada bank, raising to 83 the number of U.S. bank failures this year.

The 83 closures so far this year is more than double the pace set in all of 2009, which was itself a brisk year for shutdowns. By this time last year, regulators had closed 40 banks. The pace has accelerated as banks' losses mount on loans made for commercial property and development.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over Nevada Security Bank, based in Reno, with $480.3 million in assets and $479.8 million in deposits. Umpqua Bank, based in Roseburg, Ore., agreed to assume the assets and deposits of the failed bank.

The failure of Nevada Security Bank is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $80.9 million.

In addition, the FDIC and Umpqua Bank agreed to share losses on $368.2 million of Nevada Security Bank's loans and other assets.

The number of bank failures is expected to peak this year and be slightly higher than the 140 that fell in 2009. That was the highest annual tally since 1992, at the height of the savings and loan crisis. The 2009 failures cost the insurance fund more than $30 billion. Twenty-five banks failed in 2008, the year the financial crisis struck with force, and only three succumbed in 2007.

As losses have mounted on loans made for commercial property and development, the growing bank failures have sapped billions of dollars out of the deposit insurance fund. It fell into the red last year, and its deficit stood at $20.7 billion as of March 31.

The number of banks on the FDIC's confidential "problem" list jumped to 775 in the first quarter from 702 three months earlier, even as the industry as a whole had its best quarter in two years.

A majority of institutions posted profit gains in the January-March quarter. But many small and midsized banks are likely to continue to suffer distress in the coming months and years, especially from soured loans for office buildings and development projects.

The FDIC expects the cost of resolving failed banks to grow to about $100 billion over the next four years.

The agency mandated last year that banks prepay about $45 billion in premiums, for 2010 through 2012, to replenish the insurance fund.

Depositors' money — insured up to $250,000 per account — is not at risk, with the FDIC backed by the government.

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