Tomgram: Snitow and Kaufman, Water Wars in America

September 26, 2008

[Note to TomDispatch Readers: Since the following piece is excerpted from a new book produced by the invaluable website Alternet.org, I thought this might be a fine moment to urge all of you — if you don’t it the site already — to visit that ever vigorous, thoughtful, provocative site. Everyday it has a menu of superb pieces — some from websites like this one, others original — that add up to some of the best reading on the progressive blogosphere. You can sign up (as I have) for their emails, which put their top pieces in your email box daily, by clicking here.]

The headlines scream. The world goes mad. The Bush administration, which failed to fully impose its unitary executive presidency on the nation through war via a Commander-in-Chief presidency, now seems intent on doing the same in its waning days through a Treasury-Secretary-in-Chief version of the same. The following passage in the original proposed bill for the $700 billion bailout legislation now in Congress may take your breath away — “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency…” — but it is recognizably pure Bush.

Though that particular phrasing is now gone, administration officials are using the politics of fear and panic over the very financial mess they had a hand in creating to institutionalize a presidential power grab of startling magnitude. And then, of course, following the pattern of this administration, they will privatize that power, undoubtedly subcontracting the work of governmental buying and selling to the very financial characters involved in creating this mayhem. As a result, in the Bush years the Treasury Department, like the Pentagon, will have both expanded its power exponentially and privatized it all at once. Yes, Congress will add caveats and “oversight,” but these may be little more than window dressing from a body of government which has already essentially given up the ghost (of power) along with its power of the purse. If you thought we had an imperial presidency before the present economic meltdown, what’s coming may put that to shame.

Anyone who believes that an administration incapable of getting itself out of its own disasters from Kabul to Baghdad to New Orleans finally has a formula for doing so at a moment of ultimate economic debacle is surely deluded. In the meantime, Congress may turn over the checks (as in checkbooks) from those classic American governmental checks and balances to the Treasury. And as for the balances, well, you already know that story. So, a skyscraper’s worth of private financial indebtedness will now be socialized on the backs of taxpayers; and yet, as Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman, award-winning filmmakers and experts in the privatization of water supplies and systems, indicate below, the most basic public services that once gave meaning to the government now stand in danger of going “private” not just in the developing world but in the United States.

Their post, by the way, is an adaptation of an essay they wrote for a wonderful new book on a subject that will reshape our lives for decades to come — the redistribution of water on this planet, including the present fierce droughts in the American southeast and west. The Alternet.org book, Water Consciousness: How We All Have to Change to Protect Our Most Critical Resource, is in itself a resource of the first order. (Check out the book’s website while you’re at it.) Tom

Drinking at the Public Fountain

The New Corporate Threat to Our Water Supplies

By Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman

In the last few years, the world’s largest financial institutions and pension funds, from Goldman Sachs to Australia’s Macquarie Bank, have figured out that old, trustworthy utilities and infrastructure could become reliable cash cows — supporting the financial system’s speculative junk derivatives with the real concrete of highways, water utilities, airports, harbors, and transit systems.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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Ottawa arms show CANCELLED! Campaign continues!

September 26, 2008

A couple months ago I put up a post from COAT about the Arms Show scheduled to take place in Ottawa this month. Well, I am happy to report that this show has been cancelled. Thank you everyone who wrote letters and signed petitions protesting this show.  However, COAT’s campaign against all future Ottawa arms shows continues and there is an even bigger arms bazaar slated for next spring: “CANSEC 2009”.  Read about it here and please continue with your petitions and support:

YES, an upcoming Ottawa Arms Show has been CANCELLED!!
However, COAT’s campaign (including our online petition) CONTINUES against all other Ottawa arms shows!
For details on the cancellation and our continuing struggle, see the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) website:
http://coat.ncf.ca

Please sign COAT’s Online Petition to Stop ALL of these Arms Bazaars!
If you haven’t done so already, it is not too late to sign our online petition to ensure that “CANSEC 2009” and ALL other military trade shows remain banned from City of Ottawa facilities.  Please encourage your friends, colleagues and fellow activists across Canada to sign this important petition!
—–> http://prax.ca/view/coat/No-Arms-Shows <—–

ARMS EXHIBITION Cancelled!
“Secure Canada 2008,” the military trade show that was scheduled for Lansdowne Park, Ottawa (Sept.30 – Oct.1) has been “cancelled until further notice.” So says the official website of “Secure Canada 2008.” Feast your eyes on their cancellation notice here:
http://www.securecan.ca

This indeed calls for celebration! However, we need to make sure that City Staff do not just sign another contract with the organizers of “Secure Canada.”

And, more importantly, there’s an even bigger arms bazaar looming on Ottawa’s horizon calledCANSEC 2009.” This huge weapons exhibition is scheduled for May 27-28, 2009 and the City has been negotiating a contract with its organizers. This too must be stopped!!

Join COAT in celebrating the cancellation of “Secure Canada 2008” by helping us to STOPCANSEC 2009.”

Now that they’re on the run, let’s drive them ALL right out of town!
Can we do it?    Yes we can!
Please join us!

Thanks very much for your help in continuing this important campaign!
Cheers,
Richard Sanders, Coordinator, COAT
Editor, Press for Conversion!
http://coat.ncf.ca

P.S. The Candlelight Vigil outside “Secure Canada 2008” (Sept.30) has been cancelled, due to the demise of “Secure Canada 2008.”


ICH: Ron Paul: The Creation of the Second Great Depression

September 26, 2008
The Creation of the Second Great Depression
By Ron Paul
Whenever a Great Bipartisan Consensus is announced, and a compliant media assures everyone that the wondrous actions of our wise leaders are being taken for our own good, you can know with absolute certainty that disaster is about to strike. The events of the past week are no exception.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20862.htm
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Show Us the Money
By William Greider
Taxpayers should wake up the politicians and ask them to tell Wall Street: “We want the same deal Warren Buffett got.”
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20867.htm
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Richest Americans See Their Income Share Grow
By Jesse Drucker
In a new sign of increasing inequality in the U.S., the richest 1% of Americans in 2006 garnered the highest share of the nation’s adjusted gross income for two decades, and possibly the highest since 1929, according to Internal Revenue Service data.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20863.htm
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America’s Elephant In The Room
By David Michael Green
The scope of the destruction is breathtaking to gaze upon. The rapidity with which American affluence and power and respect and responsibility were converted into their opposite numbers is mind-boggling.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20868.htm
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McCain’s Debate Ploy
By Michael Tomasky
A move so unserious, contemptible and cynical that it’s hard to imagine how they even thought of it.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20866.htm
====
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The New World War
The Silence Is A Lie
By John Pilger
It is a war of the world. In Latin America, the Bush administration is fomenting incipient military coups in Venezuela, Bolivia, and possibly Paraguay, democracies whose governments have opposed Washington’s historic rapacious intervention in its “backyard”. Washington’s “Plan Colombia” is the model for a mostly unreported assault on Mexico.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20864.htm
====
Morales Cites “Evidence” of U.S. Meddling
By Haider Rizvi
Bolivian President Evo Morales reiterated the charge Tuesday that the U.S. government was plotting to overthrow his government and that Washington had a hand in the recent episodes of violence in which a number of his supporters were killed and wounded by opposition gangs.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20860.htm
====
The Destabilization of Bolivia and the “Kosovo Option”
By Michel Chossudovsky
The death squads armed with automatic weapons responsible for killing supporters of Evo Morales in El Porvenir are supported covertly by the US. According to one report, “USAID has an “Office of Transition Initiatives” operating in Bolivia, funneling millions of dollars of training and support to right-wing opposition regional governments and movements.”
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20861.htm
====
The Future Is One Nation
The two-state approach in the Middle East has failed. There is a fairer, more durable solution
By Ghada Karmi
Imagine the scene: the United Nations general assembly meets to discuss a resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Unlike previous resolutions, which have been based on a Jewish state in most of historic Palestine with Palestinians relegated to the remnants, this one calls for a new state, covering what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, whose present and former inhabitants are equal under the law. Such a resolution has, in fact, already been drafted and discussions have begun to place it on the agenda at the UN.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20865.htm
===
Horrors of War Our Leaders Never Have to Confront
By Robert Fisk
Private James Owen was to describe how an enraged friend was trying to bayonet another German. “He lunged at the German again and again, who each time lowered his arms and stopped the point of the bayonet with his bare hands. He was screaming for mercy. Oh God it was brutal!”
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20856.htm
====
The Blood of Dresden
By Kurt Vonnegut
The author Kurt Vonnegut was a prisoner of war in Dresden during the allied bombing raids and was later forced to dig out bodies from the ruined city. In papers discovered by his son after his death last year, he provides a searing eyewitness account of the ‘obscene brutality’ that inspired his novel Slaughterhouse-Five.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20857.htm
====

Heather Wokusch: Bush Exits with a Bang: Toxic Bailout and Two More Wars?

September 26, 2008

It’s good to hear back from my American friend, progressive writer, author, political commentator and blogger, Heather Wokusch.  Check out her two short videos and following links:

I’ve been on a short break from blogging, but recent events have gotten me riled up! If you have strong opinions about the Bush administration’s ‘toxic debt’ bailout and/or destabilization of Pakistan and Iran, then check out the ten-minute video I made called ‘Bush Exits with a Bang: Toxic Bailout and Two More Wars?’ here:

Bush Exits with a Bang: Toxic Bailout and Two More Wars?

The video provides background and context into these dangerous developments, as well as ideas for taking action.

I hope to be back to blogging on a regular basis soon, but for now, check out:
Bush Exits with a Bang: Toxic Bailout and Two More Wars?

Links for sources cited in the video:

Bailout:
Crisis talks over $700B ‘toxic debt’ rescue plan
Bush: “The American people have got to know that I made this decision along with a lot of experts because it was necessary to protect them.”

Pakistan:
Washington is Risking War with Pakistan

The American War Moves to Pakistan

Iran:
Preparing The Battlefield July 07, 2008

Dutch intel: US to strike Iran in coming weeks September 1, 08

Israel asks U.S. for arms, air corridor to attack Iran September 11, 08

U.S. to sell IAF smart bombs for heavily fortified targets September 14, 08

Bush could still attack Iran September 17 08


US Bailout Protests Today, September 25th!

September 25, 2008

Protest the Bailout Today
There are more than 200 events planned coast to coast for today, September 25, protesting the Bush Administration’s proposed bailout.  Find an event near you and contact your elected reps and implore them to reject a plan that bails out Wall Street but not Main Street.


Online Bailout Outrage Jumps to Streets, and Into Lawmakers’ Inboxes

September 25, 2008

An e-mail that began as a rallying cry from a lone journalist to an influential circle of friends to protest the U.S. government bailout of Wall Street has ignited a national day of street protests. Some demonstrators plan to dump their rubbish in front of the bronze bull sculpture near Wall Street in downtown Manhattan Thursday.

“People are going to bring their own personal junk that they think is worth as much as the junk financial instruments that the government is proposing to buy from the Wall Street banks,” says Andrew Boyd, an activist and freelance online-video artist for nonprofit groups in Manhattan. “We’re hoping that people show up with their 8-track cassette collections, their old Spice Girl CDs, their surf boards that got bit by sharks and old Enron stock certificates.”

Boyd is just one of thousands of Americans from all over the political spectrum who the Bush Administration has angered with its vague proposal to hand $700 billion over to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to restore U.S. financial markets’ health. That anger has manifested itself online through e-mail, web sites and other online chatter, with one site, BuyMyShitPile.com, going rapidly viral this week. The site, a parody of the dire financial situation, is what is inspiring the self-organizing group of activists to show up in downtown Manhattan Thursday evening with all their junk. They hope to make their simmering fury palpable to Wall Streeters getting off work.

… Read more (Wired Blog Network)

Protest the Bailout Today
There are more than 200 events planned coast to coast for today, September 25, protesting the Bush Administration’s proposed bailout.  Find an event near you and contact your elected reps and implore them to reject a plan that bails out Wall Street but not Main Street.


America Pays the Piper

September 24, 2008

To understand how the United States got itself into today’s bailout mess, one has to look back three decades to the rise of Ronald Reagan, the neocons and the anti-regulators, writes Robert Parry.

After a 28-year binge of drunken optimism and blind nationalism – often punctuated by chants of “USA, USA!” and “We’re No. 1!” – Americans are waking up with a painful hangover, facing a grim “morning in America,” not the happy vision that Ronald Reagan famously sold them on.”

For the full story, go to Consortiumnews.com .