I'm a little late on this one but it's important to acknowledge this man. Thomas Tamm demonstrated remarkable courage and integrity by leaking details of illegal wiretapping by the US government to the press. His action was taken on behalf of all Americans and the supposed rule of law that governs our democracy. One wonders why it took Obama two years to drop the prosecution of the man he championed on the campaign trail, and why we cannot guarantee the well-being of whistleblowers in this country, past, present and future.
US Opens WikiLeaks Grand Jury Hearing
Friday, June 3, 2011
This is a very interesting piece from Dave Roberts at Grist. He recalls that environmentalism was initially a high priority for the communist state and that quality of life, represented by clean working conditions, air and water, were supposed to distinguish East Germany from the capitalist West. As the need for increased industrial capacity grew and a dependence on dirty lignite coal brought brown smog the environmental standards went by the wayside. The State eventually declared all environmental information to be state secrets and an underground resistance developed.
Prominent GOP lawmakers beholden to the financial industry, and the US Chamber of Commerce, have declared all-out war on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its yet to be formerly appointed administrator Elizabeth Warren. It seems that the only constituents these players care about are their friends in the banking and financial industry, rather than the citizens whom the wizards of Wall Street prey upon with shocking alacrity.
The banking and mortgage servicing industry continue to fleece homeowners even after some have won modifications to avoid foreclosures. The deliberate stonewalling and falsification of records on behalf of bankers puts the common citizen in the position of having to prove that the bank has made a mistake and attain legal representation. It's an exploitive strategy on the part of the recently bailed out banks, a numbers game that reckons most people will not be able to fight inappropriate charges and foreclosure efforts by bankers. It's a fundamentally amoral way to do business and the banks persist in ripping off Americans on a regular basis. I will post a follow-up article on the resources being amassed and used against the nomination of Elizabeth Warren to head the CFPB, a consumer watchdog bureau that might effective curtail much of this abuse.
US regulators have known about five other deadly strains of E. coli for years but only test for one, E. coli 0157. Now there is a new super-toxic strain of E. coli that has struck in Germany and spread to ten countries so far. Yet regulators in the US continue to pander to the factory food industry which prefers to wait until there is another food-borne epidemic before testing for these known pathogens in our food supply. Like it or not, we are all guinea pigs for the chemical, biotech, pharmaceutical and food industries. In America we don't test for safety before marketing to the public, it's only after a product causes death and sickness that we consider that a product may cause more harm than good.
Do not be fooled by all the talk of privatization being the savior of democracy. The goal of all privatizers is to make money on their investment and by buying municipal water and sewage systems the privatizers buy into a monopoly market with a captive population of customers. Then they will raise water prices, a lot, and that's what this Food & Water Watch study documents. Privatizations are generally a bad deal for the public and water privatizations put an alarming economic cost on a basic necessity of life.
TEPCO is belatedly acknowledging the overflow risk posed by storage tanks containing radioactive water containing more radiation than what has already been released into the atmosphere by the Fukushima disaster. Even though the American press is failing to cover the global tragedy in Japan on a regular basis, developments there continue to worsen with industry and government there failing to do all that is possible to mitigate the danger of increased radiation releases and contamination of ocean life.
From the War On Drugs to the War On Terror to the Patriot Act, Americans have seen a steady erosion of civil liberties here at home. This AlterNet piece examines the Supreme Court's recent 8-1 decision undermining Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure by empowering police to forgo a search warrant after they are denied entry to a person's home.
This is a sobering example of what has come to freedom of expression in the United States. It appears increasingly undeniable that America is becoming a police state in which the Constitution is an inconvenience that the government trample on at will. These people were not even demonstrating, they were dancing, and they got arrested in Washington DC.
This little chart produced by the IMF underscores the fundamentally exploitive concept of privatizing profits and externalizing costs, as identified in Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine." The US has the lowest costs for polluting the environment which basically results in another government subsidy for industry that is literally borne on the backs, and health, of the American public. It's a bad deal for all of us.
Bill McKibben outlines Obama policies that facilitate massive new coal extraction in the US and Canada that threatens to raise global temperatures dramatically and further imperil the planet.