Monday, August 31, 2015

Katrina 10-Year Retro

In a scene that would have given Donald Trump heart palpitations, 200 flag-waving Mexican troops breached the U.S. border outside Laredo, Tex., 10 years ago and advanced unopposed up Interstate 35 to San Antonio.

It was the first time a Mexican army had marched on San Antonio since 1836 when Gen. Santa Ana massacred besieged Texas independence fighters at the Alamo.

This time, however, the Mexican soldiers were on a relief mission to feed tens of thousands of homeless and hungry Americans displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Setting up camp at a former Air Force base outside San Antonio, they distributed potable water, medical supplies and 7,000 hot meals a day for the next three weeks.


The next 48 hours were a mad scramble to get Washington to say yes, to figure out how to admit more than 200 military personal without passports or visas, and to recognize that the Mexican army, traditionally one of the most nationalistic and anti-American elements in the Mexican gvernment, was making an extraordinary gesture.

It worked. The 45-vehicle convoy crossed the border at Laredo at dawn on Sept. 8 and arrived in San Antonio later that day. The only glitch was that the USDA would not allow the Mexicans to serve the beef they had brought because they couldn’t prove it had been produced in a mad-cow-free facility. Undeterred — and un-insulted — the Mexicans bought their beef locally.

By the time their mission in San Antonio ended Sept. 25, the Mexicans had served 170,000 meals, helped distribute more than 184,000 tons of supplies and conducted more than 500 medical consultations.

h/t E Beane via Jean

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015

In Memory of Howard Zinn on His Birthday

Howard Zinn
Aug 24, 1922 - Jan 27, 2010 

Here's a tribute to Howard Zinn by Bill Moyers:

And, at least for now, you can read Zinn's wonderful book A People's History of the United States online here:

And here's a CSPAN special of Howard Zinn talking about history and his interest in it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Global Disaster Capitalism - Slow Death

The brutality of [Hurricane Katrina] became a slow death by decay. More than 100,000 people left NOLA with nothing and were scattered to the wind. They became the internal refugees of disaster capitalism. Within a year, the nice parts of town were fixed, while areas like the Lower 9th Ward became no-man’s land urban jungles. The vegetation took over the abandoned structures, creating a surreal landscape of rot and decay.

New Orleans is not alone in this disaster capitalism scheme. In 2010, our esteemed colleague Dady Chery started to write about the tragedy of her island, Haiti, after the earthquake. Once upon a time, the business model of this empire was to rebuild after either a man-made or a natural disaster. The Marshall Plan rebuilt Germany after World War II, and a similar program, headed by General McArthur was tailored to Japan.

The empire of disaster capitalism came up with a new business plan for the world: after the destruction, nothing really gets rebuilt. Haitians are still waiting for Godot and wondering who stole the money given to them by the international community. Godot has not visited Detroit, Michigan either. Godot will certainly not pay a visit to the ruins of Iraq and Syria, courtesy of disaster capitalism empire of chaos. What will it take for the countless victims of the managers of disaster-for-profit to come out of their lethargy? What will it take for them to emerge from their semi-comatose state engineered by the mainstream media on the payroll of disaster capitalism? Will it be a hurricane bigger than Katrina sweeping through the Gulf of Mexico and destroying the bulk of the oil rigs? Will it take the destruction of another country following the model of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria? Godot or a providential man will not come. People worldwide must understand that we have already entered a stage of general systemic failure, and that it is time for action, not for change of window dressing.

It does seem surreal living in a world that is crumbling down around us.  But, to be fair, many of the victims of disaster-for-profit are dead.  They won't be coming out of their lethargy any time soon or ever.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Holy Shit

I booked a room at a hotel this morning, by phone, and I just got an email from Gmail saying Google had automatically added it to my calendar!

 And I thought Facebook was bad.

Here's another tidbit: how spammers can add stuff to your Google calendar, and how to prevent it.

Alternatively, don't use Google.  Besides all the crappiness, the government is a Google partner.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Oh, Hillary, I Has a Sad

It turns out that at least two of the emails which traversed Hillary Clinton’s personal email account and server were “top secret,” according to the inspector general for the Intelligence Community as reported by McClatchy. To describe that as reckless is an understatement given that, as AP notes, “There is no evidence she used encryption to shield the emails or her personal server from foreign intelligence services or other potentially prying eyes.” The FBI has now taken possession of that server.

  Glenn Greenwald
Well, well, what a surprise. Hillary's private emails did, after all, contain national secrets. After all her denials, I'm sure you're shocked.

Shall be interesting to see how she fares as a 2016 candidate now.
NSA whistleblower Tom Drake […] faced years in prison, and ultimately had his career destroyed, based on the Obama DOJ’s claims that he “mishandled” classified information (it included information that was not formally classified at the time but was retroactively decreed to be such). Less than two weeks ago, “a Naval reservist was convicted and sentenced for mishandling classified military materials” despite no “evidence he intended to distribute them.” Last year, a Naval officer was convicted of mishandling classified information also in the absence of any intent to distribute it.
I'm sure Hillary has nothing to worry about, Hillary fans.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Yet Another Tale of Corporate Criminality - Getting Away with Murder

I'm sure you could name many.  Here's another:
We know, too, from internal DuPont documents that emerged through the lawsuit, that Wamsley’s fears of being lied to are well-founded. DuPont scientists had closely studied the chemical for decades and through their own research knew about some of the dangers it posed. Yet rather than inform workers, people living near the plant, the general public, or government agencies responsible for regulating chemicals, DuPont repeatedly kept its knowledge secret.

Another revelation about C8 makes all of this more disturbing and gives the upcoming trials, the first of which will be held this fall in Columbus, Ohio, global significance: This deadly chemical that DuPont continued to use well after it knew it was linked to health problems is now practically everywhere.

  The Intercept
UPDATE: Part 2 of the DuPont story

UPDATE:  Part 3

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Shall We Fulfill the Prophecy?

Billmon ‏@billmon1

Trump is a sign the media WILL play their appointed role in HL Menken's great prophesy: That on some great & glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a complete moron.

Although frankly, I think we've already had two of those in my lifetime.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Who Needs Radical Islam When You Have the Perfect Storm

Toxic waste, crumbling infrastructure with corporate ownership, and lame agencies. We'll kill ourselves. (With a little help from gun-toting All-American nuts.)
A cloud of orange-brown, toxic mine water and sludge accidentally released by the US Environmental Protection Agency is flowing down the Animas River through the hearts of towns in Colorado and New Mexico, and ultimately toward a lake in a national park.

The water, described as an “unnatural” orange color and loaded with heavy metals, was flowing through a stretch of wilderness as of Friday afternoon from Durango, Colorado toward Farmington, New Mexico. It is flowing toward the western edge of the Navajo Nation and along the Glen Canyon national recreation area in Utah.


The EPA was working at the property as part of a plan to remediate the superfund site and stop a longtime flow of acidic, heavy metal-laden wastewater from the nearby Red and Bonita mine, all near the abandoned Gladstone mining town.


The huge amount of water nearly flooded Cement Creek as it flowed into the Animus River, after breaking free from a shoddy dam at the Gold King Mine. EPA officials said that a blockage of loose soil and little more was holding in the bright orange wastewater at Gold King, a former gold mine, when water broke loose. An EPA official estimated that 200 gallons of wastewater per minute was still flowing out of the mine as of Friday afternoon.


EPA officials later told reporters that the impact on human and environmental health was not immediately clear, because toxicologists are still analyzing data from water samples.

Yeah, I think we can guess.
Agency officials, saying they didn’t realize the severity of the event, didn’t tell community members until Thursday, a full day after fluorescent orange water began flowing through the center of western towns.

The lack of notification may have caused the water to be used to irrigate crops in the area, as farmers weren’t aware the water was contaminated.


“First off, I’d like to just say I’m sorry for what’s happened,” David Ostrander, the EPA’s head of emergency management told a standing-room-only crowd in Durango, Colorado Friday afternoon. “This is a huge tragedy, and it’s hard being on the other side of this, in terms of being the one who caused this incident.”
He's sorry. And it's hard for him.

Environmental Protection Agency.