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News :: Education : Human Rights : Media : Social Welfare
another Reporter takes Bribes
by J. Gresham Barrett
07 Oct 2006
Another well known Columnist caught taking Bribes from the big Corporations.
Who is your congressman taking campaign contributions (bribes) from?
Does your congressman's spouse or relative have a sweetheart deal?
Scripps Howard News Service Columnist, Michael Fumento, was fired after it was discovered he had been taking money from Monsanto as incentive to bias his articles as Pro-BioTech.
MIchael Fumento got $60,000 from Monsanto to disseminate false and misleading information to the American People.
How un-patriotic and criminal. What other reporters and politicians has Monsanto been bribing? Will this corruption in our country ever end?
In 1985 Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle, the chemical company that held the patent to aspartame, the active ingredient in Nutra Sweet. Monsanto was apparently untroubled by aspartame's clouded past, including a 1980 FDA Board of Inquiry, comprised of three independent scientists, which confirmed that it "might induce brain tumors."
The FDA had actually banned the drug based on this finding.
Then Donald Rumsfeld, Searle Chairman (currently the Secretary of Defense), vowed to "call in his markers," to get it approved.
On January 21, 1981, the day after Ronald Reagan's inauguration, Searle re-applied to the FDA for approval to use aspartame in food sweetener, and Reagan's new FDA commissioner, Arthur Hayes Hull, Jr., appointed a 5-person Scientific Commission to review the board of inquiry's decision. It soon became clear that the panel would uphold the ban by a 3-2 decision, but Hull then installed a sixth member on the commission, and the vote became deadlocked. He then broke the tie in aspartame's favor. Hull later left the FDA under allegations of impropriety, served briefly as Provost at New York Medical College, and then took a position with Burston-Marsteller, the chief public relations firm for both Monsanto and GD Searle. Since that time he has never spoken publicly about aspartame.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE INFORMATION CENTER
Where does your congressman get his Money.
Stop political Prostitution
CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY
stop the Fat Cats from BRIBING your politicians.
Is Monsanto providing a sweetheart deals for your Congressman's Spouse or Relative?
stop ELECTION FRAUD, support Honest elections.
state info: http://manila.indymedia.org/index.php?action=newswire&parentview=31260
DVD: Political Corruption and the Fake Christian Right
Capitol Crimes, by Bill Moyers
The fall of super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff has exposed what may be one of the biggest political scandals in America's history. What does the dizzying scope of corruption say about how laws are made and who really owns the U.S. government? Bill Moyers and his team of investigative journalists untangle the web of relationships, secret deals, and political manipulation to open a disturbing window on the dark side of American politics.
Please join up with Republicans for Moral School Values
Stop the Predators
The president's Monsanto men
The Bush administration's could be called the Monsanto Cabinet, per Robert Cohen, author of “Milk, The Deadly Poison” which details the horrid politics behind the contamination of our nation's milk and beef supply with bovine growth hormone.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was president of Searle Pharmaceuticals, a company owned by Monsanto. Rumsfeld was also the Secretary of Defense under President Ford.
Rumsfeld is believed to have earned around US$12 million from the sale of Searle to Monsanto.
Attorney General John Ashcroft reportedly received $10,000 for his senatorial campaign from Monsanto in the mid 90s. Ashcroft's contribution from Monsanto was five times that of any other congressional hopeful. Ashcroft, and Sr. Bush Supreme Court appointee Clarence Thomas were instrumental in gaining Food and Drug Administation (FDA) approval for Monsanto's controversial artificial sweetener aspartame, which has been linked to over 200 ailments that include Alzheimer's disease, juvenile diabetes, depression, epileptic seizures, blindness, memory loss, excitability, weight gain, multiple sclerosis and lupus (The Idaho Observer, November, 2000).
Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman was on the board of directors of Calgene Pharmaceutical, another company currently owned by Monsanto.
Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson is the fourth member of the Bush cabinet to have direct ties to Monsanto. The former governor of Wisconsin designated his state as a “biotech zone” for the use of Monsanto's bovine growth hormone even though dairy farmers in his state opposed the designation by a 9-1 ratio. Thompson reportedly received $50,000 from biotech companies during his election campaign.
Bovine growth hormone, which does increase the productivity of dairy cows, has also been linked to many health problems in children and adults (The Idaho Observer, November, 2000) and makes cows sick.
Bovine growth hormone has been outlawed in most countries, but not the U.S.
And as Cohen points out, another player in the Monsanto-studded Cabinet is Rep. Richard Pombo, who will head the Agriculture Subcommittee on Dairy, Livestock and Poultry. Pombo is also a Monsanto boy, having taken campaign money from it while stalling a 1994 bill to make labeling mandatory for milk or milk products containing Bovine Growth Hormones. Pombo helped kill the bill in committee.
Monsanto also holds the patent on the “terminator gene” which prevents plants from producing viable seed so that farmers, and therefore people, will be dependent upon the multinational corporation for their food supply.
Monsanto has proven to be one of the most greedy, ruthless and environmentally irreverent corporations in world history. One cannot serve the interests of Monsanto and serve the interests of people at the same time.
Racketeering charges have been filed against Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, Monsanto, NutraSweet Co., the American Diabetes Association and Dr Robert Moser for distributing toxic aspartame, in a class action representing many plaintiffs, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California seeking $350 million in damages.
The suit charges the defendants with manufacturing and marketing a deadly neurotoxin unfit for human consumption, while they assured the pubic that aspartame (also known as NutraSweet/Equal) contaminated products are safe and healthful, even for children and pregnant women. Present US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, is mentioned throughout the lawsuit.
As evidence, an explosive affidavit from a former translator for the GD Searle company - the developer of aspartame - was made recently public and revealed the following.
For 16 years, the Food and Drug Administration denied approval of aspartame because of compelling evidence of its contributing to brain tumours and other serious disabilities. Donald Rumsfeld left President Ford's administration as Chief of Staff to become the CEO of aspartame-producer GD Searle Co. in 1981. Shortly after, Rumsfeld became the CEO, and the day after President Reagan took office, aspartame was quickly approved by FDA Commissioner Arthur Hayes over the objections of the FDA's Public Board of Inquiry. Hayes had been recently appointed by the Reagan Administration. Shortly after aspartame's approval by the FDA, Hayes joined NutraSweet's public relations firm under a 10-year contract at $1,000 a day.
In January 1977, the FDA wrote a 33-page letter to US Justice Department Attorney Sam Skinner: "We request that your office convene a Grand Jury investigation into apparent violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act." Skinner allowed the Statute of Limitations to run. Three FDA Commissioners and eight other officers and Skinner took jobs in the aspartame industry shortly after it was approved.
The FDA once listed 92 adverse reactions from 10,000 consumer complaints and would send the list to all inquirers. In 1996 the FDA stopped taking complaints and now denies the existence of the report. Seizures, blindness, sexual dysfunction, obesity, testicular, mammary and brain tumours and death, plus dozens of other dread diseases named in the suit, arise from the consumption of this neurotoxin.
Defendant Moser, past CEO of NutraSweet, is cited for misrepresenting facts to public and commercial users with full knowledge of the deceptions. Aspartame/Nutrasweet is sold to Bayer, Con Agra Foods, Dannon, Smucker, Kellogg, Wrigley, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods (Crystal Light), Conopco (Slim-Fast), Coke, Pfizer, Wal-Mart and Wyeth (to name a few), who use it in some of their products, including children's vitamins. These entities are named in other suits now in Californian courts.
Defendant American Diabetes Association is meant to care for diabetics. A 35-year ADA member, diabetic specialist HJ Roberts, MD, FACP, discovered aspartame can precipitate or aggravate diabetes and its complications, or simulate the complications (especially neuropathy and retinopathy). His report, intended for the Annual Scientific Meeting of the ADA, was rejected for presentation - and even publication of the abstract - but was later published in another medical journal.
The Grand Ole Pedophile party is having a little trouble explaining why they didn't take action when they found out Republican Congressman Mark Foley was exchanging e-mails in which he propositioned 16-year-old boys. The Republican leadership took no action to take Foley off the Missing and Exploited Children's caucus, which he co-chaired.
According to ABC: "Hastert's staff and Republicans in leadership, including Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., the chairman of the House campaign effort, for months had been aware of a questionable 2005 e-mail exchange between Foley and a Louisiana teen."
House Speaker Dennis Hastert said the reason he didn't take action to remove the pervert from his seat as co-chair of the Missing and Exploited Children's caucus was that "the parents didn't want the matter pursued." So they just left him on the committee. Hell with the parents of other kids who would be next to be propositioned by Foley. (New York Times)
According to epluribusmedia.org, "At least 4 years after having been exposed to House Leadership as a pedophile who presented a danger to teen pages, Foley was not only allowed to remain in Congress, but was allowed to be in a powerful position on committees affecting the well-being of children. After Hastert knew what he was up to, after it had become such common knowlege in Foley's office that staffers would warn incoming children about his abusive behavior, Hastert and the rest of the Republican leadershiop not only abandoned the children in his office to his abuse, but allowed him to influence policies that could leave other children vulnerable to other predators."
Check out Foley's website: "Mark plays a powerful role on the Ways and Means Committee by reforming the tax code, providing tax relief, expanding trade while protecting Florida’s farmers, seeking solutions to save Social Security, shoring up Medicare, reforming welfare and fighting child exploitation. In addition to his committee assignments, Mark serves as Chairman of the Entertainment Industry Task Force, Co-Chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus and Co-Chairman of the Travel and Tourism Caucus."
In this video at Think Progress, Hastert says he didn't remember being told about Foley last spring because he thought that it was "resolved" because "the family had got what it wanted to get". And "if he told me it would have been in the context of half a dozen other things ... that might have affected campaigns." No need to be concerned, as long as it didn't affect any campaigns.
October 8, 2006
The Foley thing is fascinating. The Republicans, as they say, don't know whether to s*** or go blind. They are finally at the end of their bag of tricks. This particular twist is beyond their repertoire. All their familiar poses of sanctimonious virtuousness fall flat in this circumstance. It's just so hard for them to appear holier than thou. But that doesn't stop them from trying. What else can they do? For years they've clanged on the same tiresome bell. Ultimately it doesn't matter what people think because they can control the outcome of the elections with a few well-placed strokes in a master computer. But their pretense that they won in 2004 because of an inexplicable surge of concern with "values issues" like opposition to gay marriage, is going to be hard to pull off this time.
They can always employ the series of defense measures of any scoundrel: lie, lie, deny, blame someone else. And the Republicans can always pull out their phony religious act. But in this case that schtick is a drawn a little thin. And then of course, natural for the Republicans, they can go on the offensive. According to the Mercury News, "Republican Rep. John Shimkus demanded Friday that two of Congress' leading Democrats apologize for what he said were accusations that he tried to cover up the Capitol Hill pages' scandal involving former GOP Rep. Mark Foley." But "Rather than apologize, spokespeople for Durbin and Pelosi counterattacked. 'It's been a week since this scandal broke and U.S. Rep. Shimkus still doesn't get it,' said Durbin spokesman Joe Shoemaker. 'This isn't about too much partisan politics - it's about too little effort to protect children under his care. It is not a House scandal or a Republican scandal - it is a national disgrace.'"
Bush seems almost constitutionally incapable of giving in on anything or admitting error. His intransigence may in the end be his undoing, but it may first be the undoing of America. Will Americans finally say they've had enough with the Foley bit, the fact that Republicans abandon all their supposed principles of morality when it comes to the only thing they really believe in: power? Will it work?
Please email this web page to your friends and to people who are concerned about our future and our Grandchildren’s future. Thank you.
This work is in the public domain
enemies of democracy
by Steve Buyer
(No verified email address)
07 Oct 2006
The enemies of democracy are flexing their muscles. A corporate front group calling itself Frontiers of Freedom has petitioned U.S. tax officials to revoke the tax-exempt status of Rainforest Action Network (RAN), a major environmental organization (www.ran.org). If successful, the petition would put Rainforest Action Network out of business, and would open the door for lethal attacks on other environmental advocates. Frontiers of Freedom acknowledged to the WALL STREET JOURNAL that, if successful against RAN, "it will challenge other environmental groups."
Frontiers of Freedom was founded in 1995 by Malcolm Wallop, a former U.S. Senator (R-Wyo.) and "friend of vice-president Dick Cheney," according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The JOURNAL reports that Frontiers is funded by Philip Morris Companies, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, Inc., and the Exxon Mobil Corporation.
This latest corporate attack on freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of assembly, is not random. It is part of an accelerating campaign to replace representative democracy with control by corporate elites.
Now a new book, TRUST US, WE'RE EXPERTS! by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, provides a chilling, documented history of ongoing corporate efforts to use propaganda and "public relations" to distort science, manipulate public opinion, discredit democracy, and consolidate political power in the hands of a wealthy few.
The Big Idea behind the anti-democratic corporate-power movement is that people cannot be trusted to make political decisions because they are irrational, emotional, and illogical. This cynical view of humans is widely held by the public relations industry's experts but also by the scientific experts they employ to 'guide' the public. For example, physics professor H.W. Lewis (University of California, Santa Barbara), a well-known risk assessor, says people worry about non-problems like nuclear waste and pesticides because they are irrational and poorly educated. "The common good is ill served by the democratic process," he says. (pg. 111)
If people are not rational they cannot be guided by reason, so they must be manipulated through emotion, PR experts say (thus justifying their own propaganda services). For example, a spokesperson for Burson-Marsteller, a PR firm that manipulates the public on behalf of Philip Morris, Monsanto, Exxon Mobil and others, told the Society of Chemical Industry in London in 1989, "All of this research is helpful in figuring out a strategy for the chemical industry and for its products. It suggests, for example, that a strategy based on logic and information is probably not going to succeed. We are in the realm of the illogical, the emotional, and we must respond with the tools that we have for managing the emotional aspects of the human psyche... The industry must be like the psychiatrist..." (pg. 3)
The PR psychiatric manipulation industry is now enormous. Corporations spend at least $10 billion each year hiring PR propaganda experts (pg. 26) and our federal government spends another $2.3 billion or so (pg. 27) -- and these are no doubt underestimates. But these huge sums are not wasted -- they provide major benefits to the clients. For example, about 40% of all stories that appear in newspapers are planted there by PR firms on behalf of a specific paying client. Because most radio and TV news is simply re-written from newspaper stories, a substantial proportion of the public's "news" originates as PR propaganda. Naturally the connection to the PR source is edited out.
The COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW analyzed the WALL STREET JOURNAL and found that more than half its stories are "based solely on press releases" even though many carry the misleading statement, "By a WALL STREET JOURNAL Staff Reporter." Thus what passes for news these days is, as often as not, corporate propaganda. Tongue in cheek, Rampton and Stauber refer to the major news media as the disinfotainment industry.
Unfortunately, as Rampton and Stauber make crystal clear with example after example, all of this manipulation has devastating consequences for real people. The news media largely set the limits on public discussion, and thus on public policy debate. What is excluded from the news is often more significant than what gets inserted. For example, approximately 800,000 new cases of occupational illness arise each year, making occupational illness much larger than AIDS and roughly equivalent to cancer and all circulatory diseases, but most people have no idea that this is so. (See REHN #578.)
Combined with on-the-job injuries, work-related illnesses kill about 80,000 workers each year -- nearly twice the national death total from automobile accidents. In 1991 former NEW YORK TIMES labor correspondent William Serrin reported (but, notably, NOT in the NEW YORK TIMES) that about 200,000 workers had been killed on the job since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970, and that an additional 2 million workers had died from diseases caused by conditions where they worked. That's 273 work-related deaths EACH DAY, day after day after day. This corporate carnage is ignored by the news media, which prefer to keep us focused on yuppie SUV crashes, and crimes of passion.
During the same 20-year period, 1970-1990, an additional 1.4 million workers were permanently disabled in workplace accidents. Yet during those 20 years, only 14 people were prosecuted by the Justice Department for violation of workplace safety standards and only one person went to jail -- for 45 days for suffocating two workers to death in a trench cave-in.
PR experts "spin" stories for the media on the assumption that most reporters are too overworked (or too lazy) to search out the truth for themselves. But Rampton and Stauber exhaustively document that "spin" goes much farther than merely providing a "news hook," a viewpoint, or a few facts. Modern corporate propaganda involves purchasing scientific opinions and planting them in scientific journals (without, of course, mentioning the money connection to the corporate benefactor). Tobacco companies invented this technique, but now others are using it freely. For example, in the early 1990s, tobacco companies paid $156,000 to a handful of scientists to sign their names to letters written by tobacco company lawyers. The letters were published in the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, the LANCET, the JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE, and the WALL STREET JOURNAL, and were then cited by the tobacco companies as if they had been written by independent scientists. "It's a systematic effort to pollute the scientific literature," says professor of medicine Stanton Glantz (University of California, San Francisco), a longtime critic of Big Tobacco. (pg. 199)
In 1999 drug maker Wyeth Laboratories commissioned ghost writers to manufacture ten medical articles promoting a combination of Wyeth drugs called fen-fen, as a treatment for obesity. Two of the articles actually got published in peer-reviewed journals. After fen-fen was pulled from the market for permanently damaging peoples' heart valves, lawyers for injured victims discovered that Wyeth had edited the articles to play down and occasionally delete descriptions of side effects caused by fen-fen. Prominent scientists put their names on these articles in return for fees as small as $1000 to $1500 -- and journal editors published the articles as if they represented independent scientific inquiry. Wyeth could then cite these "independent" studies to convince doctors to prescribe fen-fen.
In 1996, Sheldon Krimsky of Tufts University examined 789 articles published by 1105 researchers in 14 leading life science and biomedical journals. In 34% of the articles, at least one of the chief authors had an identifiable financial interest connected to the research. None of these financial interests was disclosed in the journals. Krimsky said the 34% figure was probably an underestimate because he couldn't check stock ownership or corporate consulting fees paid to researchers.
Science, like democracy, depends crucially upon the free flow of information. When secrecy is imposed, errors go undetected and fallacies proliferate -- only to be discovered years later, if at all. For example, secrecy has allowed the U.S. military to create a "pattern of exaggeration and deception" in its reports to Congress, just as secrecy allowed the military to waste more than $100 billion (!) in failed attempts to create a workable "star wars" missile defense system. In 1993, a front-page story in the NEW YORK TIMES began, "Officials of the 'Star Wars' project rigged a crucial 1984 test and faked other data in a program of deception that misled Congress..." Secrecy invites deception and destroys democratic accountability.
Rampton and Stauber point out that "Corporate funding creates a culture of secrecy that can be as chilling to free academic inquiry as funding from the military. Instead of government censorship, we hear the language of commerce: nondisclosure agreements, patent rights, intellectual property rights, intellectual capital." (pg. 214)
A key feature of the corporate anti-democracy strategy of the past 20 years is reduced government funding for needed research, thus inviting corporate funders to step in. This is what "tax cut" really means. Tax cuts are not primarily aimed at giving families another $300 to spend -- they are mainly intended to reduce the capacity of governments to fund needed public services, such as medical research. As a result, corporations are asked to provide the funds and thus they gain an opportunity to influence the national research agenda and the results.
In 1994 and 1995 researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital surveyed more than 3000 academic scientists and found that 64% of them had financial ties to corporations. They reported in the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (JAMA), that 20% of the 3000 researchers admitted that they had delayed publication of research results for more than 6 months, to obtain patents and to "slow the dissemination of undesired results." "Sometimes if you accept a grant from a company, you have to include a proviso that you won't distribute anything except with its OK. It has a negative impact on science," says Nobel-prize-winning biochemist Paul Berg. (pg. 215) In 1999 Drummond Rennie, editor of JAMA, said private funding of medical research was causing "a race to the ethical bottom.... The behavior of universities and scientists is sad, shocking, and frightening," Rennie said. "They are seduced by industry funding, and frightened that if they don't go along with these gag orders, the money will go to less rigorous institutions," he said. (pg. 217)
In this rich, deep book, Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber have painstakingly documented the specific techniques that PR experts and their corporate masters employ to deceive the courts, the legislatures, the media, educators, and the public. The next time someone accuses you of "chemophobia" or of relying on "junk science" you'll know you're dealing with corporate manipulators who are being guided by PR skanks. Their overriding goal is to discredit decision-making by the public and replace it with control by corporate elites. They know better, they're experts, trust them.
The final chapter of this important book tells us how to fight back. If you care about democracy, science or simple truth and want to know exactly how corporate elites subvert all three, this is the book for you.
--Peter Montague (National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO)
 Anne Marie Chaker, "Conservatives Seek IRS Inquiry On Environmental Group's Status," WALL STREET JOURNAL (June 21, 2001) pg. unknown.
 Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, TRUST US, WE'RE EXPERTS HOW INDUSTRY MANIPULATES SCIENCE AND GAMBLES WITH YOUR FUTURE (New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 2001). ISBN 1-58542-059-X. And check out their web site: http://www.prwatch.org/cgi/spin.cgi.
 William Serrin, "300 Dead Each Day: The Wages of Work," THE NATION Vol. 252, No. 3 (January 28, 1991), pgs. 80-81.
 Tim Weiner, "Military Accused of Lies Over Arms," NEW YORK TIMES (June 28, 1993), pg. A10 quoting a 3-year investigation by the U.S. General Accounting Office.
 William J. Broad, "After Many Misses, Pentagon Still Pursues Missile Defense," NEW YORK TIMES (May 24, 1999), pgs. A1, A23.
 Tim Weiner, "Lies and Rigged 'Star Wars' Test Fooled the Kremlin, and Congress," NEW YORK TIMES (August 18, 1993), pgs. A1, A15.
Politics of Oil and Money
by Ken Calvert
(No verified email address)
07 Oct 2006
Another sub-title for this article could well be "a study in state monopoly capitalism." A book of the author, Dan Briody, focused on the Carlyle Group, the spectacularly well-heeled firm that includes former President George H.W. Bush, his crony James Baker and a veritable rogues’ gallery of washed-up politicians and businessmen of questionable integrity who blatantly trade upon their inside knowledge of government for private gain in yet another textbook example of state monopoly capitalism.
Yet, their money-grubbing pales in comparison – and chutzpah – to Halliburton, a firm formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, a firm that is frequently in the headlines in light of the lucrative contracts they have been awarded by Cheney’s government in the theater of war that is Iraq.
The story begins in Texas where a predecessor firm of Halliburton, Brown & Root, was catapulted into prominence – and obscene profitability - because of a tight relationship with former Senator, then Vice President and President, Lyndon B. Johnson. Large scale construction and oil services were the two pillars on which this giant company was built. Routinely the government handed out handsome "cost plus" contracts, e.g. building the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, to this corporation. "Cost plus" means that the contractor could recoup all expenses plus a guaranteed profit based on a pre-negotiated percentage. This eliminates risk for the contractor and erodes the necessity to eliminate wasteful billing which, says the author, is "great for the contractor, not so great for the taxpayer." "Basically, it’s a blank check from the government….when your profit is a percentage of the cost, the more you spend, the more you make."
Brown & Root reaped a bonanza of wasteful contracts during the war in Vietnam, which – coincidentally – Johnson prosecuted as vigorously as Cheney has done in Iraq. By 1967 this firm was the largest employer in South Vietnam. Yet even then there was an obvious downside to relying so heavily upon the private sector to perform the clear government function of waging war: motivated by the lust for profit their employees were "manipulating currency and selling goods on the black market," among other transgressions.
Johnson was so helpful to this company that the author argues that actually he was "working for Brown & Root, not the people of his district or the state." Something similar used to be said about another leading Democratic Party politician, the late Henry "Scoop" Jackson of Washington, who was referred to as the "Senator from Boeing." Obviously today we are in dire need of deeper examinations of the ramified ties between various sectors of state monopoly capitalism and leading political figures and parties, along the lines of the work at hand.
Brown & Root was also viciously anti-union. At one time, for example, progressive formations e.g. the National Maritime Union, played a pivotal role in Texas politics but after Brown & Root and their confederates pushed through anti-union legislation in the 1940s, the political complexion of what is now the second largest state began to change to the point where it has now become a reliable Republican redoubt and, not coincidentally, the home of both the current President and Vice-President.
But as profitable as it had been, when Dick Cheney left the Pentagon in the 1990s to become head of Halliburton, this company was catapulted to a new level of profitability. A staunch conservative, while a member of Congress Cheney avidly opposed imposing sanctions against apartheid South Africa while pushing aggressively for sanctions against socialist Cuba. Before leaving the Pentagon, which he headed during the administration of George H.W. Bush, he accelerated the privatization of core military functions in a way that – coincidentally – aided the company he was about to lead. "They made $109.7 million in Somalia…$6.3 million from Operation Support Hope in Rwanda…..Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti netted the company $150." Halliburton was "becoming another unit in the US Army" and reaping millions from war and misery, providing a perverse incentive for an increase in such pestilences. "From 1995 to 2000, Brown & Root" – now part of Halliburton—"billed the government for more than $2 billion in services. The company did everything from build the [military] camps to deliver the mail, with 24-hour food service and laundering. It provided firefighting services, fuel delivery, sewage construction, hazardous material disposal, and the maintenance and delivery of equipment." War in the Balkans was the "driving force" for Halliburton’s increased profitability and heightened profile. "Halliburton’s government business doubled while Cheney was CEO."
Yet Cheney also left this firm with a basket of problems after he was elected Vice-President and this may have given him incentive to steer contracts in Halliburton’s direction in order to lessen the pain inflicted on his firm. He pushed through a merger with Dresser Industries, a profoundly disastrous maneuver, given the backbreaking liability for asbestos related lawsuits that this company carried. Coincidentally – that word again – Dresser was "the company that gave George H.W. Bush his first job." After Cheney left Halliburton a "grand jury investigation into over-billing and a Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] investigation into Halliburton’s accounting practices while Cheney was CEO" ensued. That is not all. The company was accused of bribing a "Nigerian tax authority in exchange for contracts to build a liquefied natural gas plant." A French magistrate "was looking into the possibility of bringing charges against Dick Cheney for complicity in the bribery case and allegations that $243 million in secret commissions were paid from the late 1990s to 2002….the United States Justice Department and the SEC are looking into accusations that Halliburton made $180 million in illegal payments to win other contracts in Nigeria."
This points up another festering problem with Halliburton. The French investigation of Cheney’s alleged malfeasance has complicated Washington’s already deteriorating relations with Paris, while Halliburton’s chicanery has contributed mightily to a culture of corruption in West Africa.
After Cheney left, Halliburton stock plummeted precipitously and given the millions of stock options that he still holds, this jeopardized his own personal fortune, not to mention the fortunes of his fellow executives with whom he had become quite close.
Though the author does not stress this, his study reveals a critical fault line within state monopoly capitalism. For when Halliburton began to feed ravenously at the government trough, other firms in the same business became angrily resentful, which helped to fuel congressional investigations and adverse publicity. For example, during the Reagan years, Bechtel was the government contractor of choice, as suggested by the prominent role in his administration played by two of their former executives – former Secretary of State George Schulz and former Pentagon chief, Caspar Weinberger. "The rapid rise" of Brown & Root, for example, "brought on a fit of jealousy" from their "biggest rival, Bechtel of San Francisco."
book: The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money
author: Dan Briody
2ND BOOK: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas
Halliburton is of Brown & Root, a company that obtained government contracts via Lyndon B. Johnson during the New Deal. They also took most of the government contracts during the Second World War, Korean War and Vietnam War. It was all done by controlling the chairman of key Senate Committees and having their people holding key posts in the government such as Secretary of the Navy, Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Treasury.
Not that this is common knowledge. This group of Texans (sometimes known as the Suite 8F Group) bought into Operation Mockingbird (a CIA project to control the US domestic media). However, the web has undermined this project.
The key point made by Bryce and Briody is that this is really an economic issue. The politics of all this is about making money out of their ideology. It does not matter who the US is fighting, it is the spending this goes on it that is important.
Global military spending is $956bn and rising. US spends 40% of this. Most is spent with companies based in Texas.
In 1963 John F. Kennedy tried to deal with the Texas stranglehold over government policy. However, he underestimated the power of the Suite 8F Group.
book: Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas
author: Dan Briody
Beyond Oil or is it GreenWash
by Dave Camp
(No verified email address)
07 Oct 2006
BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, has marketed itself heavily as the greenest oil company, even going so far as to say that they believe BP stands for "Beyond Petroleum." They've been quite successful at working the environmental organizations in their campaign to separate themselves from the dinosaurs like Exxon Mobil. But, with the disclosure this week that their Prudoe Bay pipeline must be shutdown in order to take care of years of neglected repairs, that reputation has suffered a big blow.
But that carefully-crafted "Beyond Petroleum" image led by its green-friendly chief executive John Browne may be in jeopardy as BP deals with the latest blow to its U.S. operations -- the shutdown of its massive Prudhoe Bay, Alaska oil field after a spill from a corroded pipeline.
Now it looks like much of their story was just a Potemkin sham and the drive for profits has overcome their responsibility for taking care of their own equipment. And in this they were aided and abetted by our government who has decided that industry is overregulated.
The announcement about the Prudoe bay pipeline reminded me of another story I read back in March. Back then, a very large spill was found on the pipeline that indicated not all was well.
The spill was discovered early Thursday morning by BP operators visually inspecting lines, Beaudo said. He was not sure how long it took to respond but said the line was quickly blocked and depressurized.
BP workers also shut down Gathering Center 2 in response. Gathering centers separate oil from water and other materials that come out of the ground during drilling.
The spill was about a mile from the gathering center, which processes about 100,000 barrels of Prudhoe Bay's daily production of 470,000 barrels. That oil is fed into the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline, which provides nearly 17 percent of domestic oil production and carries about 850,000 barrels per day from all sources.
The spill was not detected by automated leak detection systems, which are geared to automatically shut down pipelines during catastrophic failures.
"They are not necessarily as sensitive to very small leaks at any one time," Beaudo said.
Air monitors measuring high levels of hydrocarbons kept crews away Thursday morning. Beaudo said there could have been an explosion risk as well as a breathing risk for workers.
Even then back in March, Chuck Hamel, a oil industry critic, indicated that the leak was much bigger than BP had admitted and the problem was poor maintenance.
The amount spilled is far greater than BP and government officials are saying, according to oil industry critic Chuck Hamel. Hamel, of Alexandria, Va., said he learned from onsite personnel that the spill volume is closer to 798,000 gallons, which would make it the second largest oil spill in Alaska, second only to the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill of 11 million gallons in Prince William Sound.
Hamel said meters record the volume flowing into the pipe as well as the amount leaving it.
"There's a 798,000 gallon discrepancy," he said in a phone interview.
Tuesday, in an interview with NBC News, a federal official in charge of pipeline safety charged that BP has been doing inadequate maintenance for 15 years.
It is clear that the shutdown of the pipeline should not have been unexpected as the problems along the pipeline have been known for quite a while. While BP was polishing its green sheen, it was also directing its workers to neglect performing the basic maintenance on the pipeline.
"I think this was predictable and preventable," says Phil Flynn, an energy analyst with Alaron Trading Corp.
In fact, allegations about BP's maintenance practices have been so persistent that a criminal investigation now is under way into whether BP has for years deliberately shortchanged maintenance and falsified records to cover it up.
The criminal probe was triggered by Chuck Hamel, a longtime nemesis of the oil companies and advocate for oil workers.
"They're playing the Russian roulette up there," he says.
Hamel says a dozen past and current BP employees came to him claiming they'd been told to cut back on a chemical put into the system to retard rust and corrosion, and to falsify records. A federal official confirms that many of these workers have also talked to the FBI.
"They were telling me that they were not properly injecting the corrosion inhibitors into the system," says Hamel.
Does he think it was deliberate?
"Absolutely," he says, "to save money."
This week, in announcing the shutdown, BP acknowledged that a key maintenance procedure to check for sludge — known as "pigging" — had not been performed in more than a decade.
It looks like BP's GREENWASH has been just as manufactured as Chevron's "People Do" campaign where more money was put into the ads than put into programs that the ads talked about.
The solution is to stop killing the Electric Car and seriously start kicking our oil habit. We can't afford the never-ending oil wars nor the destructive damages that come from large petroleum companies proclaiming their environmental credentials while neglecting their responsibilities to the people and our environment.
The worrisome thing is that BP is not the worst oil company. Shell's probably in the same camp.
Trouble in the Pipeline
by John Campbell
(No verified email address)
07 Oct 2006
What happened at the wreckage of the UN Earth Summit? Governments may not have delivered, but big business has. The world's biggest corporations, with the UN's blessing, have negotiated a series of "partnership agreements" - voluntary commitments obliging those companies to respect the environment and defend human rights - which will be recorded as official outcomes of the summit. These, they claim, will show that international law is not required to force corporations to respect human rights and the environment. Governments appear to agree, which may be one reason why they have seemed so relaxed about the survival of the planet: why legislate if the world can be saved by promises?
But just as the chief executives congratulate each other, a new report suggests that the partnership agreements are worthless. The company most clearly associated with "corporate social responsibility", which has launched one of the new partnerships and sponsored some of the key events at the summit, appears to be saying one thing and doing just the opposite.
In a survey conducted by the Financial Times, BP was named as the firm which commands the most public respect for its environmental record. The energy company claims to run its operations according to a set of strict "business policies", which have enabled it to become "a power for good in the world". BP, the policies state, will "respect the rule of law", defend "basic human rights and fundamental freedoms", "be held accountable for our actions" and "will not choose business partners to do things on our behalf that contravene these commitments". As an example of good practice, the company cites, in its statement on environmental and social reporting, the "major stakeholder consultation exercises" carried out in preparation for the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline project.
Last week, an international coalition of environmental and human rights groups published the results of their fact-finding missions along the route of this pipeline. Their report suggests that, far from being a model of good practice, BP's showcase project breaks both the commitments BP has published and the promises business leaders have made in Johannesburg. Their findings imply that those who imagine we can rely on trust to save the world are deceiving themselves.
The pipeline, the construction of which is due to begin in December, runs from the Caspian Sea, through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to the Mediterranean. It will carry one million barrels of crude oil a day. One of the most important energy projects on earth, it will reinforce Turkey's position as a key strategic ally of the west. The 1,000 kilometers of pipeline running through Turkey will be built by the Turkish company Botas, on behalf of a consortium of oil firms led by BP.
Botas, which is responsible for the "major stakeholder consultation exercises" of which BP has boasted, claims to have distributed information "to all stakeholders" in the project, and to have consulted most of the villages along the route of the pipeline and nearly everyone else who might be affected by its construction. These assertions, the fact-finding mission to Turkey suggests, are untrue.
The mission visited eight of the villages Botas claims to have consulted. Four of them, it discovered, had not been contacted at all. In the mission's report there is a photograph of the village of Haçibayram, which Botas says it "consulted by telephone". The houses are little more than piles of rubble: the entire village was deserted years ago. It has no telephones.
The consultations which did take place appear to have been designed to manufacture consent. The people Botas visited were asked what they felt the benefits of the pipeline might be, but were not questioned about the potential costs. Botas brought in "university professors", who told the villagers, incorrectly, that there were no safety or environmental risks associated with the project. The questionnaire noted that the pipeline is a Turkish government project "of high economic and strategic importance" to the country. The people who live along the route (some of whom are Kurds) are likely to have interpreted this as a coded warning that they speak out at their peril. Even the fact-finding mission was stopped and questioned by police.
Though the construction of the pipeline will destroy homes, fields and roads and damage many people's livelihoods, only a minority of those it affects are likely to receive compensation. Most of the land along the route is either not officially registered, or is held in the name of dead people. BP's partner has told the villagers that it will compensate only those whose names are on the official register. No compensation at all has been offered to the fishing communities affected by the construction of the tanker port at the end of the line.
Violations of this kind have been common practice in the oil industry for years, but what is new and astonishing about BP's project is the contract struck between the oil companies and the government of Turkey, a copy of which the fact-finding mission has obtained. The contract suggests that, far from being a model project led by an "accountable" corporation, the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline sets new standards for corporate impunity and domination. The pipeline's "host government agreement" effectively grants the corporations executive power over the government.
The contract overrides all Turkish laws except the constitution. It insulates the oil companies from any change in either Turkish law or international law: if, for example, new taxes or new environmental or health and safety rules are introduced, the agreement takes priority. In effect, it forces Turkey to flout international law in order to protect the consortium. BP appears to be legally exempt from paying compensation to anyone affected by oil spills or other impacts of the pipeline project. Turkey has promised that its security forces will defend the consortium from "civil disturbances", but neither the government nor the companies are obliged by the agreement to respect human rights. BP may terminate the contract at any time. Turkey may not.
What BP and its partners have done, in other words, is to negotiate a contract which has the same effect as the multilateral agreement on investment, the charter for corporate rights drawn up in secret by governments and corporations five years ago, but dropped when it caused an international outcry. The company which has promoted itself in Johannesburg as the exemplar of corporate responsibility, which has promised to respect the rule of law and "be held accountable" for its actions, has exempted itself from effective democratic control.
If BP - by common consent the most environmentally and socially responsible of all big companies - is prepared to play by these rules, it is hard to see why we should believe any of the promises made by big business in Johannesburg. Corporations will take what they can: when there is a conflict between profitability and the environment or human rights, the profits come first. Voluntary agreements, this case suggests, simply do not work. Big business will protect human rights and the environment only when it is forced to do so.