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Atlantic Free Press OP/ED

Sun

28

Nov

2010

Oscar Lopez Rivera: Imprisoned for Supporting Puerto Rican Independence
Sunday, 28 November 2010 11:10
by Stephen Lendman
 
After the 1898 Spanish-American War, the US took over the Philippines, Guam, Samoa, Hawaii, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Canal Zone, assorted other territories, and Puerto Rico. On September 29, its Governor-General, Manuel Macias y Casado (a Spanish general), ceded control to Washington, its current status today as a colony.

In 1966, then University of Puerto Rico economics associate, Dr. Antonio J. Gonzales said:

"The Puerto Rican Independence Party bases its struggle in favor of the independence of Puerto Rico on the conviction that we continue to be a (US) colony, thus being denied (our) right to freedom and sovereignty."

After taking over in 1898, America "never granted Puerto Ricans the total control of their lives and destiny. Sovereign powers have never been transferred to us in order to be able to decide in all those areas that affect the collective life of our nation."

For over 112 years, America's had total control, Puerto Ricans virtually none, forced to "accept the dispositions of laws imposed" by a colonial power. In its relationship with America, Puerto Rico is called "Estado Libre Asociado" (Free Associated State or Commonwealth). Under international law, it's a colony, seeking independence. Therein lies the roots of its struggle, Oscar Lopez Rivera imprisoned for supporting it.

A collective 1981 statement by Puerto Rican Independentistas, convicted of "seditious conspiracy," said the following:

"Our position remains clear: Puerto Rico is a nation intervened, militarily conquered and colonized by the United States....We are prisoners of war captured by the enemy. Our actions have always been and continue to be in the nature of fighting a war of independence, a war of national liberation....The US interventionist government has absolutely no right, no say so whatsoever in regards to Puerto Rico, ourselves, or any Puerto Rican prisoner of war. The US interventionist government has only one choice....and that is to GET OUT! It is our right to regain and secure our national sovereignty. Nothing will stand in the way of achieving our goal."
 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

Biomass invades, threatens Southern Indiana
Sunday, 28 November 2010 11:05

by Linda Greene

The biomass-combustion industry has southern Indiana under seige. The corporations are attempting to site biomass electricity-generating plants in Crawford, Scott, Dubois and Gibson/Pike counties. Those companies apparently don’t expect opposition from the residents of small towns in rural southern Indiana.

The industry touts biomass burning as a “green” technology; it’s anything but. Biomass plants are more polluting per unit of energy generated than coal-burning plants, which are the No. 1 cause of global warming. A 32-megawatt biomass plant uses 500,000–700,000 gallons of fresh water every day and regurgitates some 350,000 gallons of pollution-tainted waste water into the local river or lake.

It’s a factory for manufacturing dioxins, the most carcinogenic synthetic chemical known. The list of biomass’s hazards in relation to the land, water and air goes on and on.

Scott County

Liberty Green Renewables LLC (LGR) has been looking for sites that are heavily forested because it wants to use wood as fuel. It’s proposed a $100 million, 32-megawatt biomass plant for Scott County (population 23,000), near Scottsburg (pop. 5,900), the county seat.
"It’s very heroic what communities do to protect themselves, their children, protecting the public health, for future generations." - Pat Berna, Concerned Citizens of Scott County
One morning in July 2009, when she was reading the newspaper, Pat Berna, a retired registered nurse and Scottsburg resident, spotted a notice of a public hearing by the Scott County Area Plan Commission on a proposed biomass combustor.

Berna was alarmed. She had had experience with another polluting facility that tried to establish itself in Scott County in 1989. The company, Recontek, wanted to site a hazardous-waste recycling business there. Scott County citizens’ research left them firmly believing that Recontek had no place in their community.

They discovered that the company used cyanide to strip off silver from old film negatives in its plant in Elk Grove Village, Ill., and exposed its employees, mostly undocumented immigrants, to cyanide. One of them died of cyanide poisoning.
 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

The Waters Investigation and the Bombing of Iran Cancelled, Connect the Dots
Sunday, 28 November 2010 11:03
by Katherine Smith, PhD
 
“The House Ethics Committee, that on August 2 formally brought a case against Congresswoman Maxine Waters, one of America’s most enduring liberal and fierce Anti War politicians, has as of November 19, abruptly cancelled her public trial. The committee announced that it has delayed indefinitely Waters trial because the panel had discovered new evidence in the case. Waters accuses ethics panel of having weak case after calling off her trial by Susan Crabtree

The following will help the reader understand why the Water’s trial and the Bombing of Iran has been indefinitely delayed: [Appendix B]

August 9, 2010 - The Maxine Waters Investigation: What is Iran Doing in this Picture?

[Excerpt] An investigation of any kind (especially one that is over events that took place in 2008) of the most outspoken voice of reason in the U.S. House of Representatives on the issue of U.S. aggression in the Middle East should put all Americans on Red alert. And if you want more proof of a concerted effort to paint Iran, a country with a non-existent nuclear weapons capability and an air force that belongs in museums read on. [End of Excerpt]

What is Iran Doing in this Picture? is promoted to the Main Page at Rob Kall’s OpEdNews and was the 5th most popular by page views on the site. September 18, 2010, forty days after the initial release, the article was still the 2nd Most Read article at The Peoples Voice with the majority of the traffic coming from Washington DC. [1]

August 16 - The Power of Community

August 26 - Want to find real community in the United States
 (Both articles also published at OpEdNews, see Appendix A)
 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

Why Poverty Spreads Across America
Sunday, 28 November 2010 11:00
by Sherwood Ross
 
Pockets of poverty, like the sores of some malignant disease, are spreading across America, as its states and cities go broke and bankrupt.
 
“Camden, New Jersey, stands as a warning of what huge pockets of America could turn into,” The Nation magazine reports in its Nov. 22nd issue. In fact, it has already happened, it is happening all over, and there is no signal on the horizon that poverty and blight will not continue to spread. It is not that Americans are lazy and shiftless; rather, they are reeling from betrayal—for they have been betrayed both by their employers, who have shown not an ounce of loyalty to their work forces, and they have been betrayed by their Federal government, which has lied the nation into costly criminal wars.

“Camden is the poster child of postindustrial decay,” writes Chris Hedges, the former foreign correspondent for The New York Times. “It stands as a warning of what huge pockets of the United States could turn into as we cement into place a permanent underclass of the unemployed, slash state and federal services in a desperate bid to cut massive deficits, watch cities and states go bankrupt and struggle to adjust to a stark neofeudalism in which the working and middle classes are decimated.” In an article titled “City of Ruins,” Hedges reports that 70 percent of Camden’s high school students drop out, that the city’s unemployment rate is probably 30 to 40 percent, and that its dangerous streets “are filled with the unemployed.”

What is thriving in Camden is prostitution, the drug trade and crime. “There are perhaps a hundred open-air drug markets, most run by gangs like the Bloods, the Latin Kings, Los Nietos and MS-13,” Hedges writes. “Knots of young men in black leather jackets and baggy sweatshirts sell weed and crack to clients, many of whom drive in from the suburbs. The drug trade is one of the city’s few thriving businesses…Camden is awash in guns…” (and) in 2009 had the highest crime rate in the nation with 2,333 violent crimes per 100,000 population vs. a national average of just 455, Wikipedia reported.

Camden is no isolated example. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2006 ranked it fourth highest among cities with under 250,00 residents as 35.6 percent of its population lived in poverty. It followed Brownsville, Tex., 40.6%; and College Station, Tex., 37.3%. Other poverty-struck cities were Edinburg, Tex., 35.4%; Bloomington, Ind., 34.7%; Flint, Mich., 34.1%; Kalamazoo, Mich., 33.4; Florence-Graham, Ca. (in Los Angeles County), 33.0%; Gary, Ind., 32.8%; and Muncie, Ind., 32.6%.

The poverty rates of major cities show similar patterns of despair. The ten having the worst poverty rates are Detroit, 32.5%; Buffalo, 29.9%; Cincinnati, 27.8%; Cleveland, 27.0%; Miami, 26.9%; St. Louis, 26.8%; El Paso, 26.4%; Milwaukee, 26.2%; Philadelphia, 25.1%; and Newark, 24.2%.

High poverty rates, of course, stem largely from persistent, structural unemployment. As the Washington Post reported last January 15th, “Blacks, Hispanics and men have suffered the most mainly because they have been disproportionately employed in sectors hardest hit in the recession — manufacturing and construction. For instance, the unemployment rate for blacks is expected to reach 27 percent in Michigan, which has been shedding auto industry jobs. Other states with jobless rates above 20 percent for blacks are Alabama, Illinois, Ohio and South Carolina.”

Where the New Deal’s Work Projects Administration(WPA) alone in the Great Depression created 8-million new jobs, nothing of that scope exists today. The same Post article notes, “The Congressional Black Caucus wants the government to create training programs and jobs in low-income communities with the highest unemployment rates.” “It’s like triage in an emergency room — you take care of people who need the most help first and you help the others later,” said Kai Filion, research analyst at the Economic Policy Institute. Economic losses, the analyst said, could result in a 50 percent poverty rate for black children, up from 34 percent in 2008. While statistics defining the plight of African-Americans make for grim reading, it should be remembered that the majority of America’s unemployed are Caucasian and that the real unemployment figure according to some authorities is 20 percent, not the 10 percent reported by Washington.

It is hardly accidental that cities with high unemployment rates also have high crime rates. In terms of violent crime, as FBI statistics for calendar year 2009 show, Detroit, noted above to have the highest poverty rate, also has the most violent crime per 1,000 citizens, with 19.67 cases. Other major cities are (2) Memphis, 18.06; (3)Oakland, 16.79; (4) Baltimore, 15.13; (5) Buffalo, 14.59; (6) Cleveland, 13.95; (7)Kansas City, 13.00; (8) Stockton, 12.67; (9) Washington, D.C., 12.65; and (10), Philadelphia, 12.38. As Sir Thomas More wrote in his classic Utopia, published in 1516: “You allow these people to be brought up in the worst possible way, and systematically corrupted from their earliest years. Finally, when they grow up and commit the crimes that they were obviously destined to commit, ever since they were children, you start punishing them. In other words, you create thieves, and then punish them for stealing,” Could he have better explained America’s 2.3-million prison population today?

In Camden, there isn’t a single inner city supermarket that can put ghetto kids to work at an honest job after school and weekends but reporter Hedges says there are plenty of drug markets. Often, the only job a teenager can land is one on the staff of the local drug lord. The other employment choice for ghettoized youth is the military. While Pentagon recruiters strongly deny they target low-income neighborhoods, a careful reading of the home towns of those reported killed in the Middle East may well cast doubt upon this contention. Camden once was a significant manufacturing hub but those days are long gone. In many communities, major employers abandoned their workers with no compunction (and often without deserved pensions), automating employees out of their jobs.

Other employers, as in Detroit, simply relocated their plants overseas entirely. The idea of a prosperous work force based on a vibrant local economy to underpin “the American Dream” got lost in the race to maximize corporate profits. In Trenton, N.J., the sign on a bridge across the Delaware River, “Trenton Makes, The World Takes,” is the boast of a bygone era. Reduced employment means reduced purchasing power and reduced tax take for local governments. This year, according to The Christian Science Monitor, California faces a $20 billion budget gap. It has already resorted to “mandatory furloughs for all state workers, teacher layoffs, (and reduced) aid to the university system 20 percent, (and made) massive cuts to education, corrections, and social services.” This grim picture is mirrored everywhere. The rising unemployment in New York City’s workforce, for example, has worsened its budget crisis, Financial Times reported Nov. 22nd.

At the same time, U.S. corporations continue their race to the bottom for cheap labor. Cable News Network’s “Exporting America” broadcast listed hundreds of “U.S. companies either sending American jobs overseas or choosing to employ cheap overseas labor instead of American workers.” A very small fraction of the companies on CNN’s list are reprinted in the following three paragraphs to convey some idea of the enormity of the indifference of employers for their workers:

Aetna, AIG, Alamo Rent a Car, Alcoa, Allstate, Anheuser-Bush, AT&T, Bank of America, Bechtel, BellSouth, Best Buy, Borden Chemical, Boeing, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Caterpillar, ChevronTexaco, Citigrouup, Continental airlines, Delta Air Lines, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Eastman Kodak, Eli Lilly, ExxonMobil, Fedders Corp., Fluor, Ford Motor, General Electric, General Motors, and Goldman Sachs.

Also, Halliburton, Hershey, Hewlett-Packard, Honeywell, IBM, Illinois Tool Works, ITT Industries, John Deere, Johns Manville, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, Kerr-McGhee Chemicals, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft Foods, Lear Corp., Levi Strauss, Lockheed Martin, Mattel, Maytag, Merrill Lynch, MetLife, Microsoft, Monsanto, Motorola, Nabisco, Northrop Grumman, Northwest Airlines, Office Depot, Orbitz, Oracle, Otis Elevator, Owens Corning, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Polaroid, Pratt & Whitney, Procter & Gamble, and Prudential Insurance.

Also, Quaker Oats, Radio Shack, Rayovac, Rohm & Haas, Safeway, Sara Lee, Seco Manufacturing, Square D, State Farm Insurance, Target, Tenneco Automotive, Texas Instruments, Time Warner, Tropical Sportswear, TRW Automotive, Tupperware, Tyco Electronics, Union Pacific, UNISYS, United Plastics Group, United Technologies, Verizon, Wachovia Bank, Weyerhaeuser, Xerox, and Zenith.

Why hasn’t the Obama administration taken swift and forceful action to relieve the situation, perhaps even to launch the Domestic Marshall Plan for the cities the Urban League’s Whitney Young called for as far back as 1962? Perhaps it’s because like President Bush before him Mr. Obama is more focused on waging war. Here, again, Sir Thomas More speaks to us: “To start with, most kings are more interested in the science of war…than in useful peacetime techniques. They’re far more anxious, by hook or by crook, to acquire new kingdoms than to govern their existing ones properly.”

This, of course, applies perfectly to America’s kings, for not only have our presidents assumed the powers and prerogatives of kings but they have, in fact, acted no better than medieval kings, waging wars with armies raised from the poorest strata of society and spending lavishly to conquer while ignoring their own citizenry’s cries for bread and opportunity. Put another way, the Pentagon is spending more money for war (52 cents of every tax dollar) than all 50 states combined spend for all purposes to improve the lot of 300 million Americans. In their book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War”(W.W. Norton), Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes write, “A $3 trillion figure for the total cost strikes us as judicious, and probably errs on the low side. Needless to say, this number represents the cost only to the United States. It does not reflect the enormous cost to the rest of the world, or to Iraq.” (Stiglitz is former chief economist at the World Bank and a Nobel Prize laureate and Bilmes is a public policy authority at Harvard.) Given the wars’ colossal and criminal waste of human life and treasure, it is little wonder states and cities the nation over are starved for income, record numbers of homes are being foreclosed, and soup kitchens are reporting a rising influx of patrons, many of them bewildered former members of the shrinking middle class.

This situation has pertained in America now for several generations. Before Iraq and Afghanistan there was the Viet Nam aggression. Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern attempted to make the connection between war abroad and hard times at home when he said, “For every bomb that falls in Viet Nam a house somewhere in America collapses from neglect.” McGovern was defeated by incumbent Richard Nixon in a landslide. It is apparent from the recent elections that Americans today, just as in the national election of 1972, do not grasp the reality of the terminal disease that is war. They do not recognize how it is driving them relentlessly into poverty while sacrificing their children like some primitive culture on the altar of the military-industrial complex to ensure a profitable harvest from their blood.

(Sherwood Ross is director of the Anti-War News Service of Coral Gables, Fla. His prior experience includes work as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News, as a “workplace” columnist for a wire service, and as News Director for a major civil rights organization. To comment or contribute to his News Service reach him at sherwoodross10@gmail.com)

 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

The New York Times: What Passes for Journalism in the Newspaper of Record
Sunday, 28 November 2010 10:58
by Stephen Lendman

Overall, America's major media fails the test. It's biased, shameless, and irresponsible with "everything to sell and nothing to tell" as a noted US media critic once said. It delivers a daily diet of "managed news" (propaganda), infotainment, and "junk food news," a worthless mix, treating people like mushrooms - well-watered, in the dark, and uninformed about what matters most. No wonder greater numbers opt out, consuming less broadcast "news" and print media, the kind no one should waste time or money on.

No paper has more clout than The New York Times. Media critic Norman Solomon once called its front page "the most valuable square inches of media real estate in the USA" - in fact, anywhere because its reports circulate globally.

In his April 1998 article titled, "All the News Fit to Print (Part I): Structure and Background of the New York Times," Edward Herman called The Times "an establishment newspaper," serving wealth and power interests, a record dating from 1896 when the Ochs-Sulzberger family took control. Its agenda "persist(s) to this day" as two earlier articles explained, accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/ 2007/06/record-of-newspaper- of-record.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/ 2009/11/paid-lying-what- passes-for-major-media.html

For many decades The Times has had the lead role distorting, censoring, and suppressing truth, a shameful record:

  • -- supporting the powerful; 
  • -- backing corporate interests; 
  • -- endorsing imperial wars; 
  • -- ducking major issues like government and corporate lawlessness and corruption, sham elections, democracy for the select few alone, an unprecedented wealth gap, and eroding civil liberties and social benefits; and
  • -- supporting Pentagon and CIA efforts to topple elected governments, assassinate independent leaders, prop up friendly dictators, secretly fund and train paramilitary death squads, practice sophisticated forms of torture, and menace democratic freedoms at home and abroad.

Journalism, New York Times Style

Predictably, The Times endorsed Obamacare, a March 21 editorial praising it, titled "Health Care Reform, at Last," saying:

"The process was wrenching....Barack Obama put his presidency on the line for an accomplishment of historic proportions." The editorial called the law "a triumph for countless Americans who have been victimized or neglected by their dysfunctional health care system."
 
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