Will we destroy ourselves? According to modern genetic studies, we are descendants of ape-like hominids, sharing about 98% of our genetic code with chimpanzees. In the eyes of modern science, we are genetically closer to chimps than mice are to rats. Scientifically designated our genetic cousins, these animals are listed as an endangered species on the road to extinction thanks to the environmental impact of human activities.
Although we humans are very good at inventing clever machines, it appears, however, that we are not at all as sharp when it comes to protecting the life support system on which we depend for our survival; for example:
(1) We continue to burn fossil fuels which permeate the atmosphere with Carbon Dioxide (CO2) resulting in global warming and climate change.
(2) We fill the oceans with plastic which form pools of plastic the size of the state of Texas resulting in the killing of animals and the poisoning of the food chain on which all species, including humans depend.
(3) We allow nuclear armaments to grow to alarming levels.
(4) We allow the middle class, here in the United States, to be deminished to the level where as of 2007 over 60% of the net worth of the country is held by the top 5% of the population. (Remember the golden rule: "those with the gold, rule.")
(5) We ignore the serious warning signs of melting of sea ice and glaciers which result in the worldwide
rising of sea levels.
(6) We allow corporations, another clever invention, to control our government to an unprecedented level.
(7) We allowed the Republican Party, here in the United States during the eight year George W. Bush presidency,
to take us to war through lies and deceit, then bring us to the brink of bankruptcy through the lies and deceit
of our financial lending, investment and monitoring institutions.
(8) We then elect back into office, in the 2010 midterm elections, enough Republicans to return control of the
U.S. House of Representitives back to the Republican party. This is after the Democratic party, which controlled
Congress from the end of 2008 until the 2010 midterm elections, brought the United States back, in that two year
period, from the brink of an economic depression and focused on alleviating the worst recession
in over a half century. Now the Republican Party is, as before, using their new control to continue obstructing
progress in the Obama era in order to serve their political agenda instead of serving the people.
(9) We allow, here in the U.S., our government to be inordinately influenced by special interest groups with over
12,000 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C. alone. For example, big oil companies because of their large and aggressive
lobbying effort is permitted to continue grand scale pollution while receiving large tax incentives. Simultaneously, our
our national security is weakened because of our continued dependency on oil, which is also one of the main culprits
driving global warming and climate change.
Will we Homo Sapiens follow our hominid ancestors down the road to extinction because generally, we lack the
intelligence to take the actions necessary to deal effectively with issues such as those mentioned above?
As Mark Twain once said, "God invented Man because he was disappointed with the monkey."
This statement makes one wonder if there are further disappointments ahead.
Politicians Who Mislead and Distract
At a time when we're faced multiple challenging problems; such as, job loss, severe economic stress, record housing foreclosures, climate change, and insane nuclear armaments levels, many politicians continue to mislead and distract us from serious solutions to these problems for the purpose of serving their own political agenda. Take two recent examples, one from the old-guard politicians and one from a possible new senator:
In the first example, House Republican leader John Boehner and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) argue that expiring high-income tax cuts hurt small businesses. Senator Hatch even says that letting the Bush tax cuts expire is "a job-killing tax hike on small business during tough economic times." What neither say, however, is that 98% of the small-business will be unaffected by the expiration of the Bush tax cut for the top 2% income bracket. This is a classic example of how politicians lie to us by intentionally making misleading statements.
In the second case, Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina in a new tv ad accuses Sen. Barbara Boxer D-California of being arrogant because she asked Brig. Gen Michael Walsh, in a hearing over a year ago, to call her 'Senator' instead of 'Ma'am'. Carly, tell us something relevant to the problems you are going to be faced with if you become a Senator. Don't waste our time by trying to district us with trivia. If you plan to serve the people, start serving now in a productive manner. By the way, Ms. Fiorina, lost her election bid to Sen. Boxer.
Justice may be served--to Bell city, CA, mayor, Oscar Hernandez, and former city manager, Robert Rizzo, who were taken from their homes in handcuffs yesterday and charged, along with six other city officials, with misappropriation of public funds to the tune of over $5.5 million. Yearly, Rizzo was making close to $800,000. A battering ram was used at Mayor Hernandez's home to get him. Arraignment is today. One sixth of the residents of Bell live in poverty.
Senate Republicans just can't stay out of the bedroom--they have stopped the defense spending bill because it allows gays and lesbians to serve their country openly--this is another example of how Republicans continue obstructionism for their own political gain instead of serving U.S. citizens. (Side Note: legislation to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" has been approved by the House.)
Republican Mitch McConnell stands with the rich again: Republican Mitch McConnell wants to put more debt burden on the middle class taxpayers by proposing legislation to extend the Bush tax cuts to also include the rich. Mr McConnell evidently believes that the rich are also "suffering" during this time of economic stress.
Bailout: No Transparency, No Accountability, Execs Also Get $$$
Just as you might have guessed, $1.6B ($1,600,000,000), out of the $188B ($188,000,000,000) of the tax-payers Banking bail-out money so far accepted by 116 Banks to boost their bottom lines, actually went to 600 top-execs of these Banks who on average each received $2.6 million in multimillion-dollar pay-package benefits as reported in a study by Frank Bass and Rita Beamish of the Associated Press. D-Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services committee, said that bank-exec bonuses amount to bribes "to get them to do the jobs for which they are well paid in the first place...most of us sign on to do jobs and we do them best we can...we're told that some of the most highly paid people executive positions are different. They need extra money to be motivated!"
To paraphrase Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., a House Financial Services Committee member, excessive exec-compensation not only undermines the development of sound banking policy, but it also promotes the growing phenomenon of accelerating exec-pay packages which conflict with Banks in turn asking for tax-payer funded bail-outs. Sherman wants Bank execs to come before Congress and provide details of their plans for spending tax-payer bailout funds like the automakers were required to do saying that "The tougher we are on the executives that come to Washington, the fewer will come for a bailout." Right on Brad!
What should infuriate tax-payers is how seemingly naive or political our Congress really is not having required a spending plan from the private banking execs before handing them huge sums of hard earned tax-payer money. (Where are the congressional conservatives when they're really needed? Probably, they're out there protecting us, or is it distracting us, with emotionally-charged issues such as gay marriage, abortion, pray in school, creationism, and family values for which we are now reaping the tangible results of this kind of political selection criteria.)
Is it a coincidence that at the very heart of this "bail-out" fiasco involving gigantic sums of tax-payer money, top Bank execs are further lining their pockets? Would the "bail-out" otherwise have been more clearly defined, deliberative, and transparent with significant strings attached? Instead the banking "bail-out" happened in a manner similar to that used by the Bush Administration to take the us to war; that is, emotional appeal, rush to judgement, a notion of extreme urgency, little or no accountability, lack of Congressional strings attached. Will we learn to identify these techniques the next time?
On the other hand, you've got to hand to these Bank execs, sort to speak, for carrying out their second greatest banking scam of the last 100 years (the first was conning our government into authorizing the set up of the Federal Reserve which, by the way, is a private Corporate banking instituation, not a government agency as many think.) So what's coming next? More "bail-outs" for big banking, big health, big brokers, big oil, big farming, big defense, big insurance, big airlines...? Big auto for sure that we know.
Corporations are designed to, as much as they can, grow and make profit. As a result, logically, they are not satisfied until they take every last penny we have and control every aspect of our lives since their profit greed and quest for power is designed to be limitless. On the other hand, our Constitution, was initially designed to set up a government to regulate institutions, not to facilitate them, and protect us from their greed and power quest, (remember King George III). So why has our government not better protected us against the clear egregious financial behaviour ocuring in this current banking bail-out? Clearly something is amiss. Is it that, in one way or another, large corporate institutions are getting to our elected officials and creating ways to circumnavigate our Constitution? Or is that our officials are so naive and our Constitution is so poorly designed they can longer protect us? These are both frightening possibilities.
Finally, as reported by Matt Apuzzo also an Associated Press writer, most banks who have received bail-out money refuse to talk about how the money is being spent. Says Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in bailout money, "We've lent some of it. We've not lent some of it. We've not giving any accounting of, 'Here's how we're doing it.'" "We have not disclosed that to the public. We're declining to."
21 banks receiving bailout money were contacted by the Associated Press, but none agreed to answer questions; such as, How much has been spent on what? How much is remaining? Where will the remaining be spent? Barry Koling, a spokesperson for Atlanta, Georgia, based SunTrust Banks Inc., which received $3.5B ($3,500,000,000) in bailout funds responded by saying: "We're not providing dollar-in, dollar-out tracking..." Some Banks refuse to discuss the subject and others claim to have no way to track bailout funds.
Says Elizabeth Warren, top congressional person overseeing the bailout, "It is entirely appropriate for the American people to know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent in private industry."
Gene Dodaro, Acting U.S. Comptroller General, states that the U.S. Treasury currently has no method for tracking and monitoring bailout funds.
Drug Dealers Destroying and Polluting U.S. National Forests
Large areas of National forest and park land across the U.S. forest areas such as the Cascade Mountain and Sequoia National Park in the West are being destroyed and polluted with toxic chemicals used to process marijuana by Mexican drug cartels. "What's going on public lands is a crisis at every level," said Forest Service agent Ron Pugh (as reported by Tracie Cone, a writer for the Associated Press). "These are America's most precious resources, and they are being devastated by an unprecedented commercial enterprise conducted by armed foreign nationals. It is a huge mess." says Pugh.
Weed and bug sprays banned in the U.S. along with rat poison and plant growth hormones have been dumped into springs and creeks and miles of PCV pipe has been used to divert water to growing areas, for example, in the Sequoia National Forest, herbicides and pesticides along with miles of drip irrigation pipe, tons of human garbage, and propane canisters have been discovered on these illegal drug farms.
Scott Wanek, western regional chief ranger for the National Park Service, thinks that eradication efforts reach only a small percentage of these illegal marijuana farms and their resulting environmental impact is much greater than anyone knows. "The impact goes well beyond the acreage planted. They create huge networks of trail systems, and the chemicals that get into watersheds are potentially very far-reaching all the way to drinking water for the downstream communities. We are trying to study that now." says Wanek.
Congress is Finally Beginning to Flex Power Congress is finally waking up and beginning to flex its' long over due muscle to start nuetalizing the over reaching power of the Bush Administration. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the Justice Department to open a grand jury investigation into whether President Bush's chief of staff and former counsel should be prosecuted for contempt of Congress.
Coal and Oil Companies and their Lobbyist and the Global Warming Problem One way to significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reduce CO2 global warming gas emissions, and reduce the cost of gasoline is to have Congress drop the tariff on sugar which is a main ingredient in ethanol. Sugar is seven times more efficient than corn in making ethanol but the big agricultural companies and their lobbyists, along with gas, oil, coal companies and their lobbyists are keeping Congress from doing this with their large contributions to key Congressional seats. This must change. You can help make this change by supporting those Congress members who have the courage and wisdom to drop this tariff.
Our Congress and Tax Dollars at Work Continuing their effort to distract us from the big issues--instead of dealing with Global Warming issues, White House lies, nuclear arms spread, corruptions, etc. our Congress is now holding hearings on whether or not a base ball player took steroids. Our media of course is there to provide daily coverage.
Things You can to to Help Fight Global Warming
1. Support politicians who are working to find new and creative solutions to the Global Warming crisis.
2. Recycle: do not buy bottled water, use your old grocery bags, do not use plastic bags, ask your local store to stop carrying plastic bags, and help to ban the use of plastic bags.
3. A report from the New York State Department of Conservation sights that each year in this country, out of over 22 billion plastic bottles used only about 10% are recycled. The remaining plastic bottles end up in our landfills or incinerated with regular trash creating toxic air pollution. Manufacturing and transporting these bottles also requires millions of barrels of oil. Join the Brooklyn Green Team and "kick the disposable lifestyle."
4. Work on reducing your auto miles by half through better trip planning, taking mass transit, and riding your bike.
5. In your home, replace each light bulb with a new energy efficient one.
How many of these have you done?
Tornados Hit the South One factor that characterizes Global Warming is the increase in extreme and unusual weather patterns. One example of this might be, for example, the 300-mile string of over 100 tornados sighted the night of February 5th, a result of unseaonably warm winter weather, where over 59 people were killed in the South.
Super Tuesday Tonight after the voting results, out of the five presidential candidates there was only one candidate who mentioned the global warming crisis. That candidate was Hillary Clinton.
Do the Candidates and Media Really Understand the Significance of Global Warming? Laurie David, Founder of "StopGlobalWarming.org", writes in an Internet letter that out of 170 Presidential candidate debates and interviews during which 2,938 question were asked by network news commentators such as Tim Russert, George Stephanopoulos and Wof Blitzer, only four (4) of the 2,938 questions mentioned global warming. The letter quotes Dr. R. K. Pachauri, Head of the UN Panel for Global Warming: "What we do (about global warming) in the next two or three years will determine our future." Ms. David goes on to say that "The decisions made by our next president will make all the difference. So what are these reporters waiting for?"
Indeed, what are the candidates waiting for? These two questions are really more suited to the rhetorical realm since one oblivious reason the Global Warming topic is not getting any play on the national networks is because the public airwaves are controlled by corporations whose main goal is to maximize profits; that is, when profits are good, corporate executives bring home the big pay checks, however, corporate profits are not maximized by doing public good even though the FCC (government regulators of the public air waves) are mandated to see that the publics airwaves are to provide for the "public interest."
To the contrary, the maximized profit approach is only sustained by the network news media providing entertainment oriented programing which in turn gets the largest number eyeballs and hence the most advertising revenue. After all it is not "pleasing" or "entertaining" to hear that our planet is going to experience enormous changes with consequences that will devastate the world as we now know it; and this, is not good for the "numbers." The networks have turned our electorial process into one of image over content. If you've ever wondered why your local "newscasters" are becoming yet more "friendly","happy" and "entertaining", it is because the bottom-line profit approach is better served.*
As an example of a typical network news and pundits effort to twist and mold the news to their own purposes, here's one of their most recent hack jobs: on January 26, 2008, responding to a reporter's question about Barack Obama's statement that it takes both Hillary and Bill Clinton to beat him, Bill Clinton said that "Jesse Jackson won in South Carolina twice, in '84 and '88. He ran a good campaign and Senator Obama is running a good campaign. He's running a good campaign everywhere. He's a good candidate with a good organization." The networks then twisted this into a "racist's" statement and reported and talked about it ad nauseam. (To hear Clinton's exact words go to: "Bill Clinton on Barack Obama") It would have served the "public interest" far better for reporters to ask, for example, "what do the candidates plan to do about the growing gobal warming crisis." Important? Yes. Entertaining? Well, not so much. Television networks do not have a monopoly on the "profit approach." David Perlman, Science Editor for the San Francisco Chronicle news paper, recently reported that satellites have reveal that the "...glaciers (in Antarctic) are melting much more quickly" than expected because the Antarctic waters are warming. This is a big story. It concerns our planets potential to provide an environment in which we can survive. (By the way, did you see this report on your national or local news?) The glacier melting story appeared on page two of the Chronicle. The lead story on page one was about traveling musicians which I guess the Editor in Chief felt was more entertaining and hence would sell more newspapers.
The candidates don't have much of a say in the debate questions since the format is controlled by the networks. For example, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a presidential candidate until recently, was invited to one network debate. Then for some reason at the last minute, the network un-invited him. Mr. Kucinich would have added a significant point of view difference in the debates. Mr. Kucinich among other interesting positions has call for the Presidents impeachment--one of our constitutional fail-safe systems. Most recently, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer newspaper, lining up with the national media, has demanded that Mr. Kucinich be removed from his 10th-District Ohio Congressional office because of "his defiance" of go-along/get along Congressional policies.
Last but not least, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), established by the Communications Act of 1934, is an independent government agency directly responsible to Congress for seeing that network stations meet the "public interest, convenience, or necessity" mandate. There are five Presidential appointed FCC commissioners confirmed by the Senate. The President appoints commissioner as the Chairperson who directs FCC management in all FCC activities. Control starts at the top.
February 10, 2012: As reported by CBS 60-Minutes, Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, used insider trading information to financially gain in stock market speculation shortly after being briefed by the then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke about the pending meltdown prospects for the U.S. economy. During the 2008 financial crises, while Bachus was publicly trying to keep the economy from tanking, privately he was betting against it by buying option funds that would go up if the economy went down. This behavior was also described by the conservative Hover Tower think-tank fellow Peter Schweizer at Stanford University in his book “Throw Them All Out.” Dave Weigel also reported on this in the November 14, 2011, issue of Slate.
December 3, 2010: The "Republican Party of No" is at it yet again: Pretty much along party lines the Democratically controlled House of Representatives passed a bill keeping the Bush tax cuts in place for the middle-income wage earners but letting tax cuts expire for those in the high income brackets, however, the Republican Senate leadership says they will block this bill because the rich will not be getting a tax cut, which if they do will increase the deficit by $700,000,000,000 ($700 billion), and reducing the deficit is suppose to be the Republican's big effort.