*edit, February 24, 2017 – I see that the link to Tony Corbo’s website goes nowhere now. But his article is online. I will change the link to point to the Common Dreams version.
*edit, November 3, 2013 – I will add a link to an article reporting Noam Chomsky’s comments about the Canadian government of Stephen Harper below.
People are discovering that as far as elites are concerned, they can go without democracy and security. The people don’t have security in many ways. The neoliberal agenda of privatization and deregulation (in other words, the greatest freedom for corporations) is alive and well. Regulations that would protect citizens are disappearing as fast as Arctic ice and fresh water.
From “Researchers Study Chicken Nuggets, Find Mostly Nerves, Bone, Fat,” by Jack Phillips, the following:
Researchers with the University of Mississippi Medical Center and Baptist Medical Center looked at nuggets from two national fast food restaurants located in Jackson, Miss., and published their findings in the American Journal of Medicine. The scientists did not disclose the names of the franchises.
The researchers took a nugget from each box and then preserved, dissected, and stained them, looking at them via microscope.
“We all know white chicken meat to be one of the best sources of lean protein available and encourage our patients to eat it,” study author Dr. Richard D. deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson told Reuters…
The first nugget was around half muscle and the rest was fat, blood vessels, and nerves. The other was around 40 percent muscle and the rest was bone pieces, cartilage, and fat, the study found
“What has happened is that some companies have chosen to use an artificial mixture of chicken parts rather than low-fat chicken white meat, batter it up and fry it and still call it chicken,” deShazo said.
He added: “It is really a chicken by-product high in calories, salt, sugar and fat that is a very unhealthy choice. Even worse, it tastes great and kids love it and it is marketed to them.”
“Striated muscle (Chicken meat) was not the predominate component in either nugget,” according to the research results. ”Fat was present in equal or greater quantities along with epithelium, bone, nerve, and connective tissue.”
The studied concludes: “Chicken nuggets are mostly fat, and their name is a misnomer.”
From “USDA’s Failure To Stop Contaminated Chicken Goes Far Beyond The Government Shutdown,” by Tony Corbo, the following:
Over the couple days, several media outlets have reported that the salmonella outbreak that has sickened nearly 300 people in 17 states has become a symbol of the government shutdown or its “worst-case scenario realized.” And while the shutdown has absolutely made things worse (I’ll get to how later), it’s important to realize that this crisis has been brewing for months and its origins go much deeper than this latest episode of House Republicans holding our economy hostage…
There [is] a bigger issue at play here. Unlike E.coli 0157:H7 in beef, no strain of salmonella is considered to be an adulterant in poultry. Poultry processors can put products into commerce that have salmonella contamination on them and FSIS does not the legal authority to stop them until people get sick…
The current foodborne illness outbreak is the second one this year that has implicated Foster Farms products. Between June 2012 and July 2013, the CDC investigated an outbreak of foodborne illnesses also involving poultry from two other Foster Farms plants. In that outbreak, 134 consumers got sick and 33 were hospitalized. It also involved Salmonella Heidelberg. What did FSIS do in that case? Nothing. Not even a “public health alert.” The agency claimed that there was not enough evidence linking specific products to the outbreak. Sounds like a broken record, doesn’t it?..
Foster Farms is a big operation. It is fully vertically integrated, which means it owns its own hatcheries, raises its own poultry for slaughter and does its own processing and packaging. I used to work for a member of Congress who represented the headquarters of Foster Farms. Whenever someone from Foster Farms called the office, everything came to a screeching halt. What has been looming in the back of my mind is that Foster Farms is pulling all of its political strings to prevent stronger regulatory action from being taken. I hope I am wrong, but I am also a realist.
These latest salmonella outbreaks show that we need more government oversight, not less. Which is why we’ve been sounding the alarms about USDA’s rigged salmonella testing and its proposal to deregulate poultry inspection by drastically reducing the number of USDA inspectors assigned to poultry plants and turning those inspection responsibilities over to companies so that they can police themselves.
Then there’s the serious problem of antibiotic misuse in the raising of food animals, which is contributing to the ineffectiveness of antibiotics to treat human diseases…
From “Playing Chicken With Our Food Safety,” by Michael Winship, the following:
The other day there was this guy in a chicken suit on Pennsylvania Avenue protesting outside the White House. Silly, but the reason the chicken and other demonstrators had crossed the avenue was to deliver a petition of more than half a million names, speaking out against new rules the US Department of Agriculture wants to put into effect – bad rules that would transfer much of the work inspecting pork and chicken and turkey meat from trained government inspectors to the processing companies themselves. Talk about putting the fox in the henhouse!
(Photo: Public Citizen/flickr)The revised regulations also call for a substantial speeding up of the disassembly line along which workers use sharp knives and often painful, repetitive hand motions to cut up and clean carcasses of dirt, blood and other contaminants that can cause infection and sickness. Not only will this increase in speed – by 25 percent or more — raise the chance of injury, it makes it easier to miss anything wrong – even deadly — with the meat. To compensate for that, the rules also call for an increase in the use of antimicrobial chemicals sprayed on the meat — but those sprays may actually damage the health of the workers. Inspectors and meat packing employees report instances of asthma, burns, skin rashes, sinus trouble and other respiratory ailments, some of them severe. What’s more, when complaints were made about health or hygiene, the response from employers often came in the form of threats and reprimands.
According to the Agriculture Department, their plan will increase food safety, but early last month, the Government Accountability Office – the GAO — reported on a years-old pilot program for some of these new rules and determined that the data on which they were based was, in the words of The Washington Post, “incomplete and antiquated.” One study used data that was more than 20 years old.
The Agriculture Department says the new rules will save the Federal budget $30 million annually, but compared to the more than $256 million it will save the poultry industry every year, that’s chickenfeed. In reality, as Tom Philpott, the food and agriculture correspondent for Mother Jones magazine, succinctly put it: “…The Obama administration has been pushing a deregulatory sop to a powerful industry based on a shoddy analysis.”…
Additional pressure on Congress and state legislatures comes from our old friend ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, funded by Koch Industries and other corporations – including, recently, Google and Facebook – as well as conservative organizations, to draft legislation designed to benefit big business no matter the cost to the rest of us.
That is how Obama operates. National security, when mouthed by Barack Obama, doesn’t mean the security of the nation, as in everyone. It really refers to the security, first and foremost, of corporations. Tied to that security, is freedom. Free trade deals, increasing rights for corporations and having nothing to do with free trade, continue apace under the Obama administration. And that admin is currently pushing through the mother of free trade deals, namely the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Public Citizen has characterized as a corporate power tool. Free trade deals are corporate charters of rights and they say zilch about what the people need and want. Why would they? The people are to be exploited. While citizens in the US, and other developed democracies (let’s call them), have lost their freedom because they’ve lost governments, The corporations, which have played a large role in helping citizens to lose their governments, now use governments, which they buy and control, to give themselves more of everything. (And when ‘progressives’ blithely talk about the things ‘our’ governments are doing wrong, that doesn’t help. You can’t talk about ‘our governments’ without qualifying the phrase. They are only ours in a limited manner. There is a degree of representation happening, but not enough by a long shot.) Included in the fake democracy we have is an undemocratic electoral system. There’s a paid, professional Left that is invested in the system and, while it can see it’s faults, mostly, and can critique it, often devastatingly, those in that group then strangely show a great deal of fear at the prospect of our ditching the corrupt system they’ve helped to expose. And those progressives can say the silliest things about corporatocracy just when you are expecting the tirade to end in a call to arms.) But will capitalists want all of the crap they sell? Does pretty Malia eat Chicken McNuggets I wonder?
From “Monsanto’s Minions: The White House, Congress, and the Mass Media,” by Ronnie Cummins (from the book titled “Hopeless – Barack Obama And The Politics Of Illusion,” edited by Joshua Frank and Jeffrey St. Clair, the following:
Like Obama’s campaign promises to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; like his promises to bring out-of-control banksters and oil companies under control; like his promises to drastically reduce greenhouse gas pollution and create millions of green jobs; Obama has not come [through] on his 2008 campaign promise to label GMOs. His unilateral approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered alfalfa, overruling the federal courts, scientists, and the organic community, offers the final proof: don’t hold your breath [waiting] for this man to do anything that might offend Monsanto or Corporate America.
Obama’s Administration, like the Bush and Clinton Administrations before it, has become a literal “revolving door” for Monsanto operatives. President Obama stated on the campaign trail in 2007-2008 that agribusiness cannot be trusted with the regulatory powers of government.
But, starting with his choice for USDA Secretary, the pro-biotech former governor of Iowa, Tom Vislack, President Obama has let Monsanto and the biotech industry know they’ll have plenty of friends and supporters within his administration. President Obama has taken his team of food and farming leaders directly from the biotech companies and their lobbying, research, and philanthropic arms…
In order to forestall opposition from Canadians and First Nations and activists everywhere to his lunatic, frenzied push to get at the bitumen in Alberta’s tar sands, and to empower special interests to do a whole pile of environmentally iffy things in their drive to earn profits from Canada’s natural resources, Canada’s fascist prime minister essentially killed the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA). Rivers and lakes threatened by tar sands, and other, operations, both in progress and proposed, don’t face automatic environmental assessments as a result, illustrating the way elites view law and order. If law and order stands in the way of special interests, then you find some way to murder it. You ignore laws, change them, make new ones… whatever works. Elites, including their political tools, believe in inequality – judging from their actions rather than just ‘some’ of their words, like Google’s “Do no evil.” They do socialism for their class only while mindlessly railing against any check or whiff of a check on their lawlessness and irresponsibility, branding it ‘socialism’ or ‘a trade barrier’ or ‘trade restrictive’. Or ‘piracy’. They believe that the system works as long as it works for them. Others believe that a system works when it works for everyone. The view depends on the value system held by the viewer.
I’m reading Michael Klare’s informative book titled “Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet” right now and in it he looks at a few instances where the state, Russia in one instance (Sakhalin 2) and Kazakhstan in another, “cited long ignored environmental regulations” in order to overcome other rules that were inconvenient. Royal Dutch Shell and Japan’s Mitsui and Mitsubishi conglomerates were tapping the oil off of the coast of Sakhalin Island, within the terms of their production sharing agreement (PSA) with Russia (under the leadership of gangster Boris Yeltsin), until Russia, like all the other corporatocracy states, got more serious about grabbing up oil fields and doing deals to get access to oil and gas outside it’s borders. The oil already on Russian territory, but not fully in Russia’s possession, was too tempting to ignore, especially for Vladimir Putin, who didn’t like the way Boris Yeltsin fervently embraced privatization (even though most of that action went to Russian nationals). Screw legalities and agreements! And so, suddenly, Shell and Japan weren’t doing business in Russia in a green enough fashion. The solution to that problem was simple. Russia would relieve it’s partners of their obligations within the PSA, forcing them to sell a majority stake in the venture at a discounted price, take over the operation and save the environment. The genuineness of the concern for the environment can be seen in the follow-up, which we’ll look at. First, Here’s a few examples of the sort of comment Klare has to make often in this book, in connection with ‘all’ the players (corporatocracy states hunting for oil and gas and minerals) all the time. Everyone’s doing deals with everyone and the Americans, Canadians and others just don’t care about what kind of monsters run the countries whose oil or gas they want to get their hands on. They will deal, prospering and strengthening the tyrants, as long as they, and their militaries, get what they want:
“No less than the Americans and the Russians, the Chinese have endeavored to protect their energy investments in the region by establishing military ties with local powers…
“Predictably enough, the stench of corruption is already pervasive in Azerbaijan, where President Ilham Aliyev excercises ultimate control over the economy. Before succeeding his father, Heydar Aliyev, as chief executive in 2003 – in elections widely viewed as tainted – Ilham ran the state oil company, SOCAR, and he retians strong ties to the nation’s energy industry…
“The situation is not much different in Kazakhstan, where another dynasty, headed by Nursultan Nazarbayev, effectively monopolizes state power. As in Azerbaijan, key segments of the economy – and especially the energy industry – are dominated by state monopolies, which in turn are controlled by Nazarbayev’s friends and relatives. “Widespread allegations of bribery, corruption, diversion of funds, as well as increasing ownership and policy influence of the President, members of his family, and close associates continue to be made,” two experts on Kazakhstan’s oil industry, Mark J. Kaiser and Allan G. Pulsipher, wrote in Oil & Gas Journal…
“The big losers, of course, are ordinary citizens – who, if history is any guide, will continue to be excluded from most of the benefits of instant energy wealth. This kind of exclusion, in turn, fuels the rise of antigovernment movements and, in some areas, radical Islamic organizations.” – pages 137, 142, 143
President Obama’s foreign policies, and clearly stated determination to view his country’s (his class’s) domination of the energy resources of the planet as a matter of ‘national security’, putting everyone on notice that uncle Sam is not hiding from imperialism, but is embracing it – and causing Jeremy Schahill’s jaw to drop to the floor when he heard that speech – means very clearly that he can’t allow democracy to break out anywhere. Simply, The people are in the way. The US ruling class will always (while it exists) struggle with contenders for the crown in the corporatocracy, but all the contenders, the corporatocracy governments, will trample the people in the process because the people, who are not benefitting from the kleptocratic impulses of the corporatocracy’s leaders, are victims of it instead, along with the environment. The Benefactors in power have no intention of giving up their game of ‘riches for the strongest’, which requires them to show how strong they are by trampling on law abiding citizens and protesters (like the Greenpeace activists who putrid Putin declares pirates). Take the means of survival from others so that they notice you and that brings you glory and material benefits and, you have chosen to believe, life. Chomsky made the point that US polling firms consistently found that the Arab street – not it’s autocratic, perverted leaders – saw the United States and Israel as the biggest threat to peace in their region. Iran hardly registered. Which gives you an idea why Obama and other corporatist leaders cannot allow democracy to take root in the middle east and northern Africa. If it did, the people would ask the US and all foreign armies to leave, which would be inconvenient for them. One shudders to think, however, how that might turn out.
On September 18th, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise was involved in a peaceful protest at Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya platform, which is expected to become the first to produce oil from ice filled Arctic seas.
Over a day later, the Russian Coast Guard boarded the ship and seized the crew at gunpoint. The ship was then towed to the port of Murmansk. The crew of the Arctic Sunrise were held without charge during this time.
28 Greenpeace International activists, as well as a freelance videographer and a freelance photographer, have now been charged with piracy and face up to 15 years in prison.
In this unequal world, the abused 99% have overlords, who like to be called Benefactors, who smile in your face as they abuse you. Obama smiled and talked nicely to Malala Yousefzai who was shot in the face by other men of God for seeking democracy. She survived that attempt on her life and that attempt to kill her democracy promotion work. But she faces other self-important Benefactors in power who would kill her democracy promotion work. You flee from the bear and bump into a roaring lion. What an example Obama sets for his daughter Malia: Malala is shot by the Taliban for championing democracy and human rights (mainly for women and girls) and then she’s shot down by Malia’s father for asking him to stop bombing her country. And the media obviously isn’t concerned that Obama will disagree, genuinely, with their false reportage of Obama’s discussion with Malala.
Jesus words as recorded in Luke chapter 22, verses 25 to 27:
“But he said to them: “The kings of the nations lord it over them, and those having authority over them are called Benefactors. You though are not to be that way. But let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the one acting as chief as the one ministering. For which one is greater, the one reclining at the table or the one ministering? Is it not the one reclining at the table? But I am in your midst as the one ministering.””
From “In Oval Office Meeting, Malala Yousafzai Tells Obama to End Drone Strikes in Pakistan,” by Jacob Chamberlain, the following:
Malala Yousafzai, the sixteen-year-old Pakistani girl who survived a gunshot to the head by members of the Taliban for speaking out on women’s right to education, told President Barack Obama in an Oval Office meeting on Friday that he should stop drone strikes in countries such as Pakistan.
In a statement released after the meeting, Yousafzai said that she told Obama that she is concerned about the effect of U.S. drone strikes in her country—a portion of the conversation that was omitted from White House statements so far.
“I [expressed] my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism,” Yousafzai said in a statement released by the Associated Press. “Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.”
Yousafzai—the youngest ever nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize—was invited to the White House “for her inspiring and passionate work on behalf of girls education in Pakistan,” according to a White House statement.
The people everywhere lack security because powerful special capitalist interests everywhere believe in inequality and have decided that they will acquire the means of survival by taking it from the people. And they are powerful because they’ve managed to capture governments and all that goes with them, including police, armies and assorted security organizations, like the surveillance-crazy NSA. Malala asked Obama to stop drone attacks in Pakistan. Good luck with that Malala. But well done for showing the courage to ask the president to stop murdering your fellow Pakistanis. Obama’s murder spree is feeding disaffected people’s desire to retaliate with terror and his war on whistleblowers and journalism together with the NSA’s out of control surveillance operations is making everyone everywhere less secure. But Obama, who partners with the private sector, it’s defense contractors, it’s oil companies (who the defense contractors depend on to keep their entire system oiled and operational), the banksters and corporate America generally, will call his rapine and terrorism ‘national security’, done in the cause of democracy. And how do we know that we have democracy? They want us to believe that as long as we can vote (in their sham elections), then we have democracy and don’t need to look for it.
From the October 11, 2013 Democracy Now show, titled “Worse Than Nixon? Committee To Protect Journalists Warns About Obama Crackdown On Press Freedom,” the following excerpt:
LEONARD DOWNIE JR.: I found that these leaks investigations and a program called the Insider Threat Program, instituted since the Bradley Manning leaks, that requires government employees to monitor each other to make sure that they’re not leaking information to anyone, including journalists, to have really frightened government officials. Many, many reporters that I interviewed here in Washington say that government officials are afraid to talk to them. They’re afraid that their telephone conversations and their email exchanges would be monitored. That is to say that investigators could come in later, as they did in several leaks investigations, and use their telephone and email records in order to find the contacts between government officials and reporters. So they’re simply scared to talk to reporters.
And this, this is not good, because—I just heard the president saying that he was concerned about the safety of our troops and our intelligence officers. It’s important that responsible, knowledgeable government officials be able to talk to reporters about these matters, so that, among other things, they can alert reporters to information that might be harmful to national security or harmful to human life, in which case no responsible news organization would publish those.
AMY GOODMAN: What were you most surprised by?
LEONARD DOWNIE JR.: I guess I was most surprised by—you know, I’m used to reporters complaining about access, because we all want more access than we can get all the time, and that’s understandable. But I was surprised by the pervasiveness of this administration’s control over the—over information, by how much it discourages leaks of all kinds and not just classified information leaks, and how much it does not allow for unauthorized contacts with the press, if it can help it, and how much it uses social media and other digital means—websites and so on—to put out a lot of its own story, a lot of its own information, that makes the administration look good, while restricting access to information that would hold the government accountable for its actions.
The planet is burning up. And the lunatic capitalists see it as an investment opportunity. Obama’s state is only the most powerful player in the corporatocracy whose assorted national branches are run by Benefactors who are just as hostile to law and order and democracy as Barack Obama. Russia’s first major drilling operation in the more accessible Arctic sea was protested peacefully by Greenpeace members who were stopped, terrorized and charged with piracy. These leaders seem to play a game where they try to outdo each other in perversity. Vladimir Putin acknowledges that the Greenpeace members whose lives his thugs threatened – by the careless way they apprehended them – are not pirates and then signs off on having them charged with that crime, which carries a serious penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
And the mad scramble for energy, by corporatocracy governments (which you can view as governments that essentially are extensions of the corporations they work for and protect), which will be supplied by natural gas and oil, will also have a serious impact on water. And that’s more precious than the oil which needs to stay where it is for a variety of reasons. Enormous amounts of fresh water are being used to extract the bitumen in Alberta for example. Water is also needed to accomplish the insane procedure called fracking (hydraulic fracturing), which involves forcing water and chemicals (mostly secret) deep underground, explosively, in order to fracture rock and release shale gas. Meanwhile, Special interests, such as mining companies and the water barons, notably Nestle, are allowed to pollute and steal water. The destroyers are trying mightily to rob the people of their water because they need it to destroy the people. Got that?
From the Grist article titled “Ask Umbra: What’s so bad about fracking?,” the following:
“Fans of fracking cite the fact that natural gas is cheap, abundant, and relatively clean-burning. The booming industry makes people feel happy about energy independence, creates jobs, and boosts local economies — why, one pizza shop in South Dakota reportedly made $1 million after fracking came to town!”
When Jehovah promised to bring to ruin those ruining the earth, Did he mean those who are enslaving and abusing millions? Or did he mean those who are literally ruining the earth? Or did he mean both? Because, in fact, You can’t have the one without the other.