What a long, strange trip it’s been for engineer Dr. Walter Tamosaitis. Well, perhaps not so much strange as it has been heart-wrenching. Nonetheless, every once in awhile those who are maligned end up being vindicated. That’s exactly what happened last week for Tamosaitis, who has been entangled in five strained years of litigation against his former employer URS (now owned by AECOM).
On August 12, Tamosaitis agreed to a $4.1 million settlement of his federal whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against Hanford contractor URS. While AECOM refused to acknowledge any wrong-doing in the ordeal, there’s no question it didn’t want to drag on the case that could well have made the contractor look even worse than it already did. URS was hired by Bechtel to turn the radioactive sludge at the Hanford nuclear reservation in Eastern Washington into glass rods. It’s proven to be a costly and complex task, and the longer the clean up drags on the more money the contractors make.
“We are very pleased that Walter can get on with his life after five years of litigation, and that he has been vindicated,” said Jack Sheridan, the Seattle attorney who represented Tamosaitis, “This settlement sends a message to whistleblowers everywhere that integrity and truth are worth fighting for, and that you can win if you don’t give up.”
In 2011, I wrote an investigative piece for Seattle Weekly, reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund, that not only looked into the very serious safety concerns raised by Tamosaitis at the Hanford nuclear reservation, put also exposed how his superiors plotted to silence him by removing him from his position and forcing him to work in an off-site, windowless basement. It was an egregious attempt to kill the messenger — a message that put millions of contract dollars at risk.
What URS didn’t expect, however, was that Tamosaitis would refuse to go down without a fight. He openly spoke with me about a greedy management culture at Hanford run amok. He was candid in explaining that the Hanford cleanup was a cash cow for URS and its parent contractor Bechtel, the same company accused of bilking tax-payers over its botched Iraq reconstruction projects. As such, he accused them of putting profits above safety of its employees and the public.
Tamosaitis was in charge of overseeing a sludge mixing project at Hanford’s Waste Treatment Plant (WTP), where, if certain deadlines were met, Bechtel and URS would walk away with a $6 million bonus. Yet Tamosaitis wasn’t about to sign off on it, because the mixing process wasn’t working out.
“The drive to stay on schedule is putting the whole [WTP] project at risk,” Tamosaitis told me in 2011. “”Not on my watch’ is a standard mantra among [DOE and Contract] management who like to intimidate naysayers like me. These guys would rather deal with major issues down the road than fix them up front … Cost and schedule performance trump sound science time and again.”
In 2011, Tamosaitis filed a federal whistleblower complaint under the Energy Reorganization Act (ERA). By 2013, Tamosaitis was let go for “lack of work.” Initially his case was dismissed by Federal District Court Judge Lonny Suko, who found that there was insufficient evidence to support his retaliation claim and that he didn’t have the right to a jury trial under ERA. In 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled Judge Suko, stating there was “plenty of evidence that Bechtel encouraged URS E&C to remove Tamosaitis from the WTP site because of his whistleblowing, that URS E&C knew that Tamosaitis’s whistleblowing motivated Bechtel, and that URS E&C carried out the removal.”
The 9th Circuit also found that Tamosaitis indeed had a right to a jury trial. In July 2014, AECOM announced it would acquire URS and has since been pushing for a resolution. While no parties admitted liability, with a $4.1 million settlement, it’s clear who was victorious. Of course, the bigger issue is, will this set a precedent and help ensure that future Hanford employees aren’t afraid to step forward and voice concerns about public health and environmental safety?
That’s the hope, insists Tom Carpenter, director of the Seattle-based nonprofit watchdog group that keeps a close eye on all things Hanford.
“This is great news for Walt and great news for the public. Walt is a hero who staked his career to raise nuclear safety issues that could have resulted in a catastrophe down the road,” Carpenter said after the settlement announcement. “His issues were investigated and validated, and those safety issues are being scrutinized and corrected. This settlement brings justice to Walt, and is a necessary step in the quest to address a broken safety culture at Hanford that has historically punished employees for bringing forward concerns.”
As former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sets her sights on the White House, she continues to be plagued by her email scandal. On Monday, journalist Bob Woodward compared the controversy to the infamous Nixon tapes, which led to the end of his presidency.
While still the most likely Democratic nominee for the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly addressed concerns about the private email she held while serving as US Secretary of State. While some have expressed concern that Clinton’s servers could have been compromised, others have focused on the fact that she deleted tens of thousands of emails she deemed “personal.”
On Monday, Bob Woodward of the Washington Post compared Clinton’s “emailgate” to the Nixon tapes, the White House recordings which helped prove Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal. Watergate was brought to the public’s attention by Woodward, himself.
“Follow the trail here,” Woodward said on MSNBC. “There are all these emails. Well, they were sent to someone or someone sent them to her. So, if things have been erased here, there’s a way to go back to these email or who received them from Hillary Clinton.”
“So you’ve got a massive amount of data in a way, reminds me of the Nixon tapes: Thousands of hours of secretly recorded conversation that Nixon thought were exclusively his.”
While Woodward does not speculate as to what may have been included in Clinton’s deleted emails, he does note that they could provide valuable insight into what kind of leader Hillary Clinton would be.
“Again, it’s the volume: 60,000 emails and Hillary Clinton has said 30,000 of them, half, were personal and they were deleted. Who decided that? What’s on those emails?” he said.
“The big question about Hillary Clinton is, who is she? Is she this secretive hidden person or is she this valiant public servant? Look at those 60,000 emails and you’re going to get some answers.”
Those emails are currently being combed over by the US Justice Department, after the Democratic candidate handed over her server last week.
Woodward isn’t the first to draw a comparison between Clinton and Nixon. “If Nixon had email, he’d have been just like Hillary Clinton,” reads the headline for an article in the Hill by H.A. Goodman. In it, he makes note of the Nixon Library, where anyone can now listen to roughly 60 hours of tape acquired by the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.
“However, there will always be 18.5 minutes of missing tape, destroyed by someone within Nixon’s administrations, containing ‘incriminating evidence’ that nobody will ever be able to hear,” Goodman writes.
“Clinton and her team unilaterally deleted 31,830 emails, without any oversight, and with the expectation that Americans simply trust that these emails never contained any classified or incriminating data.”
Time will tell what the ultimate effect of the emails will be on Clinton’s presidential campaign, but Woodward doesn’t sound terribly optimistic.
“This has to go on a long time; the answers are probably not going to be pretty.”
Bereaved UK families who lost sons and daughters in the illegal invasion of Iraq have now threatened legal action against Sir John Chilcot who headed the near two year long, £10m Iraq Inquiry (30th July 2009 – 2nd February 2011) if a date for release of Inquiry findings is not announced publicly within two weeks. Further, suspicions over the reason for the approaching five years near silence from Sir John are raised by a detailed investigation by journalist Andrew Pierce.
Writing in the Daily Mail he highlights the seemingly close relationship between Sir John Chilcot and Tony Blair.
Pierce refers to Blair’s first appearance before the Inquiry five years ago when “the Chairman, Sir John Chilcot treated him with almost painful deference.” What few realized was that Sir John, a former career civil servant, “could, in fact, have greeted Blair as an old friend.”
They first met in 1997 when Blair was still Leader of the Opposition, at the discreet Travellers Club in Central London, founded in 1819 as: “A meeting place for gentlemen who had travelled abroad, their visitors and (for) diplomats posted in London.” It continues to host: “distinguished members of the Diplomatic Service, the Home Civil Service …”
The meeting took place just months before Blair became Prime Minister. “John Chilcot, at the time, was the most senior civil servant at the Northern Ireland Office … Civil servants often meet Opposition politicians for briefings (prior to) elections but they are usually held in Whitehall Departments where (official) minutes are taken.” A meeting at the ultra discreet Club ensured “it was not made public.”
On becoming Prime Minister (May 2nd,1997) Tony Blair “worked closely with Chilcot on the Northern Ireland peace process.”
On Chilcot’s retirement he was “knighted by a grateful Blair … into the fourth most senior order of British chivalry.”
However, points out Andrew Pierce, Sir John never really left Whitehall, undertaking numbers of roles on public committees “often at the behest of the Blair administration.”
Moreover, in 2004 Lord Butler was charged with convening an Inquiry “into the role of the (UK) intelligence services in the Iraq war. Blair chose the Members of the Inquiry’s five strong Committee.”
Foxes guarding hen houses cannot fail to come to mind. “Surprise, surprise, Chilcot was one of the first asked to serve on it …”
Unexpectedly, however, the Butler Review as it was named: “Provided devastating evidence that (Blair’s) Downing Street, with collusion of intelligence chiefs ‘sexed up’ the threat” from Saddam Hussein”, yet “concluded that no one should be held responsible.”
“In short, it let Blair off the hook.”
When Blair’s successor as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown – former Chancellor of the Exchequer who wrote the £mega million cheques for the illegal invasion, thus also part of the crime of enormity – established the Chilcot Inquiry in 2009, it was originally to be held “behind closed doors.” Uproar from opposition MPs, from senior military figures and the public forced it into the open.
However, Philippe Sands, QC., Professor of International Law at University College, London and barrister with Matrix Chambers, a legal firm established, ironically, by Tony Blair’s barrister wife Cherie, quickly questioned the suitability of Sir John to lead the new Inquiry.
Sands questioned what it was in his “role in the Butler Inquiry that caused the Prime Minister to conclude he was suitable?” He cited a first hand observer who had described Chilcot’s “obvious deference to governmental authority, a view he had heard repeated several times. More troubling is evidence I have seen for myself.”
He was also dismissive of Sir John’s questioning of Law Lord, Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General, who had ruled that the Iraq invasion would be illegal – only to change his mind when Blair wrote on the top left hand side of the page: “I really do not understand this.”
Professor Sands – author of Lawless World in which he accuses former President George W. Bush and Tony Blair of conspiring to Invade Iraq in violation of international law – also cited “Sir John’s spoon-fed questions” to the former Attorney General “designed to elicit a response” demonstrating “the reasonableness of his actions and those of the government.”
In context, in Lawless World Sands cites a five page long “extremely sensitive” memo relating to a meeting between George W. Bush and Tony Blair at the White House on January 31st, 2003. The memo was written by David Manning, Blair’s Chief Foreign Policy Advisor at the time, who was also present.
Content included Bush mooting the idea of painting a U-2 spy-plane in UN colours and flying it low over Iraq in the hope of Iraq reacting by shooting it down, providing a pretext for the US and UK to attack and invade.
It also confirms Bush and Blair agreeing to invade regardless of whether weapons of mass destruction were found by the UN weapons inspectors. This contradicts Blair’s statement to Parliament after his return that Iraq would be given a final chance to disarm.
Giving a further lie to Blair’s Parliamentary assurances, Bush is paraphrased as saying:
The start date for the military campaign was now pencilled in for 10th March. This was when the bombing would begin.
In an opinion which should surely be George W. Bush’s epitaph he told Blair he “thought it unlikely there would be internecine warfare between different religious and ethnic groups” after the invasion.
In spite of the erased and ruined lives in millions, the ruins of Iraq, of much of Baghdad “the Paris of the 9th century”, of many of historical gems that have survived assaults over millennia but not Bush and Blair, it seems likely Chilcot’s Inquiry, if it eventually appears, will prove another dead end.
As Sir Christopher Meyer, former UK Ambassador to Washington pointed out:
When Downing Street set up the Inquiry into ‘phone hacking (by) newspapers, it was a Judicial Inquiry, led by a Judge (with) powers to compel witnesses to answer all questions put to them. Chilcot does not have that power. A Judge should be running this Inquiry, not a retired civil servant.
Prime Minister David Cameron has paid lip service to exasperation, but as commented on before in these columns, regards Blair as a “mentor” and in opposition aspired to be “heir to Blair.” He has also refused Sir John correspondence between Bush and Blair (held in government archives) which Sir John has been reported as regarding as essential to his findings. Current speculations are, unless the families of the bereaved win out, is that the world will see nothing until late 2016.
Another reason for the inordinate delay is the decision of the Inquiry to write to every witness criticized in order to allow them to respond. How very cosy. Imagine that in a Court of Law!
However, if any of the above has you wondering, there is far worse to come.
According to a recent report although “as many as one hundred and fifty (government) Ministers, civil servants and senior military figures have been sent details of criticism, including draft pages of the Report”, due to the structure of the Inquiry, “Ministers and officials accused of wrongdoing in (the) Chilcot Inquiry will never be named.”
One former Labour Minister is now said to be going through hundreds of pages of the report ‘with a fine toothcomb’. The ex-Minister has also been offered free legal advice from the Government.
A £ ten million stitch-up?
Reg Keys, speaking for one of the bereaved UK families threatening action against Sir John Chilcot’s team, who ran against Tony Blair in his Durham constituency of Sedgefield as an Independent Parliamentary candidate in 2005, and whose son, Lance Corporal Tom Keys was killed in Iraq in 2003, has had enough. Tony Blair “should be dragged in shackles to a War Crimes Court” he says.
In a memorable speech on the 2005 election night, Blair and his wife standing with frozen faces, as Keys vowed: “I’ll hold Blair to account.” Unlike Blair, Reg Keys speaks the truth.
The Russian cabinet has approved a legal amendment that, once passed, would allow foreign companies to be punished for giving bribes in foreign nations if their actions harm the interests of the Russian Federation.
The approved draft, published on the Justice Ministry’s website details the responsibility of foreign firms for so-called commercial bribery or the “illegal transfer of money or other property or promise of such transfer to persons performing managerial duties in a commercial company or other organization with the goal to coerce this person into action or inaction that would be in the interest of the bribe-giver.”
The bill allows Russian law enforcers to open administrative cases against foreign bribe-givers when that bribery damages the interests of the Russian Federation as a state.
Under the current Russian Administrative Code, such actions are punishable with fines proportional to the amount of the given or promised bribe. The ratio can vary from threefold for bribes under 25,000 rubles ($385) to 100-fold for sums over 1 million rubles (about $15,000 at current rate). The law also orders that those who became involved in the bribery scheme, but voluntarily informed the authorities about it, should not be prosecuted.
The explanatory note attached to the document reads that it was developed by the Justice Ministry as a part of the nationwide anti-corruption program approved by President Vladimir Putin in April 2014.
Proportional fines for bribery were introduced in Russia in 2011 on the initiative of then-President Dmitry Medvedev as part of a pro-business liberalization of laws. However, after returning to the presidency and analyzing the situation, Putin criticized the move as ineffective and ordered various federal ministries to draft suggestions and plans to tackle the situation.
In spring 2014, Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika proposed a bill making a prison term the sole punishment for anyone convicted of corruption, saying that compensatory punishment or fines were not a deterrent – one of the key points that provide the rule of law. Chaika’s proposal has not yet been made into a bill.
US presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says he is traveling to Israel this week to raise money for his campaign and meet with a number of Israeli officials to discuss the nuclear accord with Iran.
The former governor of Arkansas opposes the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran, like most of his Republican colleagues.
Huckabee’s campaign spokeswoman, Alice Stewart, said the presidential hopeful will depart on Tuesday for Israel but did not specify which officials he would meet with.
Stewart declined to say whether he would meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu, citing security concerns.
She said the campaign will disclose details of the trip when he returns. Huckabee announced the trip to Israel on Sunday.
Last month, Huckabee made controversy for saying US President Barack Obama was marching Israelis “to the door of the oven” following the nuclear deal with Iran.
“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history,” he said. “It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”
Analysts believe his remarks were aimed at appealing to Israel advocacy groups in order to receive campaign contributions from Zionist donors.
Huckabee is currently at 7th place among Republican presidential hopefuls, holding steady at six percent.
Disappearing are the days of going to the pharmacy and asking for a generic version of a drug and expecting it to cost a lot less than its name brand equivalent. Consolidation in the generic drug industry has allowed manufacturers to raise prices dramatically.
Only two years ago, the cost of the antibiotic tetracycline in generic form was only $1.50 for pharmacies, according to Steve Hendricks at Truthout. But by 2014, the same drug cost $257.70 … a 17,080% increase. Another antibiotic, doxycycline, went from costing $1.20 to $111 in just six months. That’s an increase of 9,150%.
One of the big players in the generic field is Israeli company Teva Pharmaceuticals. Teva has bought up competitors and as it has done so, it has raised its prices. The company now controls 22% of the generic market.
Teva even bought a name-brand manufacturer, Cephalon, and in doing so became liable to pay a $1.2 billion fine for paying generic companies to give up their rights to manufacture a drug after patent protection expires. “Pay for delay” lets a drug’s originator keep its monopoly longer. Its drug Provigil went from $166 for a month’s supply to $1,001.
Hendricks also cited data from Medicare and Medicaid that showed from July 2013 to July 2014, “the price of half of all generics went up, and nearly 10 percent of them went up by double or more,” he wrote. Among that 10%, the average increase was 448%.
Something that would help cut costs would be giving the federal government the right to negotiate Medicare Part D drug prices. President George W. Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress inexplicably gave up that right when the law was passed in 2003.
To Learn More:
The Rise of Big Generic: Why Knockoff Prescriptions Now Cost $1,200 (by Steve Hendricks, Truthout )
How High? The Backlash Over Rising Prescription Drug Prices Gains Steam (by Ed Silverman, Wall Street Journal )
CVS Health Accused in Suit of Overcharging for Generic Drugs (by Michael Hytha, Bloomberg )
This Hepatitis C Drug, Developed with U.S. Government-Funded Research, Costs $300 per Treatment Course in India… and $84,000 in the U.S. (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov )
Six years after the so-called “Twitter Revolution” which ousted the ruling communist regime in Moldova and brought pro-Europeans to power, and one year since the ratification of the country’s association agreement with the EU, the country has found itself on the brink of ruin and in the tight grip of the oligarchs, according to a European official.
Six years of pro-European rule in Moldova has done little good for the country. Even though last year it signed and ratified an association agreement with the European Union, “corruption [in Moldova] remains endemic” and the state is “still in the hands of oligarchs, while punishingly low incomes have propelled hundreds of thousands of Moldovans to go abroad in search of a better life,” according to Thorbjorn Jagland, a former prime minister of Norway, who is the current secretary-general of the Council of Europe.
“The value of the Moldovan currency, the leu, has dropped, interest rates have rocketed and a recession looms,” he adds in his article in The New York Times.
The high-ranking politician however suggests that the remedy is “outside financing”.
“If the authorities fail to do what is needed to restore external support — and quickly — the country will face serious economic turmoil. Social programs for the poor and vulnerable will be cut just before the harsh winter months,” he therefore predicts.
“Alongside the urgent measures needed to fix the banks, the government must immediately begin purging corrupt officials from public bodies. As a start, the dozens of judges — some very high-profile — who have been accused of egregiously abusing their power should be investigated. Law enforcement agencies must also do everything they can to arrest the individuals responsible for the massive bank fraud.”
“In order to give people confidence that justice will be served in these cases, murky political interference must be eliminated from the judicial system. Legislation currently before Parliament that would guarantee the impartiality of state prosecutors should be implemented without delay. And to prove that no one is above the law, the current blanket immunity from prosecution enjoyed by members of Parliament should be reduced.”
It yet remains to be seen what reforms Moldova, which the politician calls a “captured state” will introduce in the nearest future.
“The shaping of the will of Congress and the choosing of the American president has become a privilege reserved to the country’s equestrian classes, a.k.a. the 20% of the population that holds 93% of the wealth, the happy few who run the corporations and the banks, own and operate the news and entertainment media, compose the laws and govern the universities, control the philanthropic foundations, the policy institutes, the casinos, and the sports arenas.”—Journalist Lewis Lapham
Being a citizen in the American corporate state is much like playing against a stacked deck: you’re always going to lose.
The game is rigged, and “we the people” keep getting dealt the same losing hand. Even so, most stay in the game, against all odds, trusting that their luck will change.
The problem, of course, is that luck will not save us. As I make clear in my book, Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the people dealing the cards—the politicians, the corporations, the judges, the prosecutors, the police, the bureaucrats, the military, the media, etc.—have only one prevailing concern, and that is to maintain their power and control over the citizenry, while milking us of our money and possessions.
It really doesn’t matter what you call them—Republicans, Democrats, the 1%, the elite, the controllers, the masterminds, the shadow government, the police state, the surveillance state, the military industrial complex—so long as you understand that while they are dealing the cards, the deck will always be stacked in their favor.
Incredibly, no matter how many times we see this played out, Americans continue to naively buy into the idea that politics matter, as if there really were a difference between the Republicans and Democrats (there’s not).
As if Barack Obama proved to be any different from George W. Bush (he has not). As if Hillary Clinton’s values are any different from Donald Trump’s (with both of them, money talks). As if when we elect a president, we’re getting someone who truly represents “we the people” rather than the corporate state (in fact, in the oligarchy that is the American police state, an elite group of wealthy donors is calling the shots).
Politics is a game, a joke, a hustle, a con, a distraction, a spectacle, a sport, and for many devout Americans, a religion.
In other words, it’s a sophisticated ruse aimed at keeping us divided and fighting over two parties whose priorities are exactly the same. It’s no secret that both parties support endless war, engage in out-of-control spending, ignore the citizenry’s basic rights, have no respect for the rule of law, are bought and paid for by Big Business, care most about their own power, and have a long record of expanding government and shrinking liberty.
Most of all, both parties enjoy an intimate, incestuous history with each other and with the moneyed elite that rule this country. Don’t be fooled by the smear campaigns and name-calling. They’re just useful tactics of the psychology of hate that has been proven to engage voters and increase voter turnout while keeping us at each other’s throats.
Despite the jabs the candidates volley at each other for the benefit of the cameras, they’re a relatively chummy bunch away from the spotlight, presenting each other with awards (remember when Jeb Bush presented Hillary Clinton with a Liberty Medal for her service to the country), attending each other’s weddings (Bill and Hillary had front-row seats for Trump’s 2005 wedding), and embracing with genuine affection.
Trump’s various donations to the Clintons (he donated to Hillary’s Senate campaigns, as well as the Clinton Foundation) are not unusual. Remember, FOX News mogul Rupert Murdoch actually hosted a fundraiser for Hillary’s Senate reelection campaign back in 2006 and contributed to her presidential campaign two years later. In fact, FOX News has reportedly been one of Hillary’s biggest donors for the better part of two decades.
Are you starting to get the picture? It doesn’t matter who wins the White House, because they all work for the same boss: Corporate America. In fact, many corporations actually hedge their bets on who will win the White House by splitting their donations between Democratic and Republican candidates.
We’re in trouble, folks, and picking a new president won’t save us.
We are living in a fantasy world carefully crafted to resemble a representative democracy. It used to be that the cogs, wheels and gear shifts in our government machinery worked to keep our republic running smoothly. However, without our fully realizing it, the mechanism has changed. Its purpose is no longer to keep our republic running smoothly. To the contrary, this particular contraption’s purpose is to keep the corporate police state in power. Its various parts are already a corrupt part of the whole.
Just consider how insidious, incestuous and beholden to the corporate elite the various “parts” of the mechanism have become.
Congress. Perhaps the most notorious offenders and most obvious culprits in the creation of the corporate-state, Congress has proven itself to be both inept and avaricious, oblivious champions of an authoritarian system that is systematically dismantling their constituents’ fundamental rights. Long before they’re elected, Congressmen are trained to dance to the tune of their wealthy benefactors, so much so that they spend two-thirds of their time in office raising money. As Reuters reports, “For many lawmakers, the daily routine in Washington involves fundraising as much as legislating. The culture of nonstop political campaigning shapes the rhythms of daily life in Congress, as well as the landscape around the Capitol. It also means that lawmakers often spend more time listening to the concerns of the wealthy than anyone else.”
The President. With the 2016 presidential election shaping up to be the most expensive one in our nation’s history, with estimates as high as $10 billion, “the way is open for an orgy of spending by well-heeled interest groups and super rich individuals on both political sides.” Yet even after the votes have been counted and favors tallied, the work of buying and selling access to the White House is far from over. President Obama spends significant amounts of time hosting and attending fundraisers, having held more than 400 fundraising events over the course of his two terms in office. Such access comes with a steep price tag. It used to be that $100,000 got you an overnight stay at the White House. Now it will cost you $500,000 for four meetings a year with President Obama. Yet as Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig asks, “[H]ow does a man, as a person, run the nation when he’s attending 228 fundraisers? And the answer is not very well. It’s pretty terrible for your ability to do your job. It’s pretty terrible for your ability to be responsive to the American people, because—let me tell you—the American people are not attending 228 fundraisers. Those people are different.”
The Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court—once the last refuge of justice, the one governmental body really capable of rolling back the slowly emerging tyranny enveloping America—has instead become the champion of the American police state, absolving government and corporate officials of their crimes while relentlessly punishing the average American for exercising his or her rights. Like the rest of the government, the Court has routinely prioritized profit, security, and convenience over the basic rights of the citizenry. Indeed, law professor Erwin Chemerinsky makes a compelling case that the Supreme Court, whose “justices have overwhelmingly come from positions of privilege,” almost unerringly throughout its history, sides with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful. For example, contrast the Court’s affirmation of the “free speech” rights of corporations and wealthy donors in McCutcheon v. FEC, which does away with established limits on the number of candidates an entity can support with campaign contributions, and Citizens United v. FEC with its tendency to deny those same rights to average Americans when government interests abound, and you’ll find a noticeable disparity.
The Media. Of course, this triumvirate of total control would be completely ineffective without a propaganda machine provided by the world’s largest corporations. Besides shoving drivel down our throats at every possible moment, the so-called news agencies which are supposed to act as bulwarks against government propaganda have instead become the mouthpieces of the state. The pundits which pollute our airwaves are at best court jesters and at worst propagandists for the false reality created by the American government.
The American People. “We the people” now belong to a permanent underclass in America. It doesn’t matter what you call us—chattel, slaves, worker bees, drones, it’s all the same—what matters is that we are expected to march in lockstep with and submit to the will of the state in all matters, public and private. Through our complicity in matters large and small, we have allowed an out-of-control corporate-state apparatus to take over every element of American society.
Our failure to remain informed about what is taking place in our government, to know and exercise our rights, to vocally protest, to demand accountability on the part of our government representatives, and at a minimum to care about the plight of our fellow Americans has been our downfall.
Now we find ourselves once again caught up in the spectacle of another presidential election, and once again the majority of Americans are acting as if this election will make a difference and bring about change—as if the new boss will be different from the old boss.
When in doubt, just remember what comedian and astute commentator George Carlin had to say about the matter:
The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls. They got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying. Lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests.
They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork…. It’s a big club and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club. …The table is tilted, folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice…. Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on…. It’s called the American Dream, ’cause you have to be asleep to believe it.
SB277 passed. And some political campaigns got richer and more powerful in the mean time. But let’s start with the spin factory. Via Sac Bee :
“We aren’t pushing this bill behind the scenes,” said Priscilla VanderVeer, the senior director for communications for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, the industry’s main trade group. The group has no taken no position on SB 277, although the group has long backed vaccinations as sound public health policy, she said.
This statement from VanderVeer is absolutely absurd and panders to the lowest denominations of our society’s intelligence. Who would believe this stuff? This can’t be real life.
Sen. Richard Pan, a Sacramento Democrat, himself nabbed $95,000 during the 2013-14 year. That’s a serious amount of cash from Pharmaceutical companies who just don’t seem to care about mandatory vaccinations, no? I wonder what policies he supports which they enjoy? It couldn’t be a more transparent situation.
The overall spend from Big Phama was $3 million to lobby legislature, the governor and the state pharmacists’ board. Again, a lot of cash for a group that isn’t “pushing the bill behind the scenes.”
State records show that pharmaceutical companies and trade groups donated more than $2 million to current lawmakers in 2013-2014.
Courtesy of the Sac Bee, this is a total joke. I hope everyone who supported this bill understands what these numbers mean. And when Big Pharma comes calling for more mandatory drugs, like forced SSRI treatment to depressed kids, please understand where it all started.
|Pharmaceutical company or group||Campaign donations to current state legislators||Direct lobbying payments|
|Johnson & Johnson Inc.||$86,300||$583,926|
|Eli Lilly & Company||$193,100||$280,863|
|Gilead Sciences Inc.||$77,600||$196,732|
|Astellas Pharma US Inc.||$47,900||$161,440|
|AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LLP||$157,300||$49,583|
|Merck & Co. Inc.||$91,600||$108,204|
|California Pharmacists Association||$53,389||$134,176|
|Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers Assn.||$137,950||$45,455|
|Bristol-Myers Squibb Company||$32,300||$144,101|
|Allergan USA Inc.||$120,100||$22,757|
|Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.||$40,000||$83,348|
|Pharmacy Professionals of California||$32,000||$0|
TOP DRUG MAKER RECIPIENTS
|Sen. Richard Pan*||D-Sacramento||$95,150|
|Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins||D-San Diego||$90,250|
|Sen. Ed Hernandez*||D-Azusa||$67,750|
|Sen. Holly Mitchell*||D-Los Angeles||$60,107|
|Assemblyman Brian Maienschein*||R-San Diego||$59,879|
|Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León||D-Los Angeles||$56,648|
|Sen. Isadore Hall||D-Compton||$52,400|
|Sen. Jerry Hill||D-San Mateo||$50,209|
|Assemblyman Henry Perea||D-Fresno||$49,550|
|Assemblywoman Shirley Weber||D-San Diego||$47,000|
|Assemblyman Mike Gatto||D-Los Angeles||$46,491|
|Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla*||D-Concord||$45,600|
|Sen. Andy Vidak||R-Hanford||$42,800|
|Assemblyman Tom Daly||D-Anaheim||$40,300|
|Assemblyman Kevin Mullin||D-South San Francisco||$38,400|
|Assemblyman Adam Gray||D-Merced||$37,000|
|Assemblyman Rob Bonta*||D-Alameda||$36,750|
|Assemblyman Anthony Rendon||D-Lakewood||$36,200|
|Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez*||D-Los Angeles||$33,850|
|Assemblyman Richard Gordon||D-Menlo Park||$33,100|
*Member of the Assembly or Senate health committees
Source: Bee analysis of secretary of state campaign finance and lobbying reports
It’s become apparent that there is a systemic problem in policing, yet many Americans continue to be willfully ignorant of the dark reality transpiring outside of their front doors. Often people will claim “it’s just a few bad apples,” but the truth is that problem is much more deeply ingrained.
Imagine for a moment being bestowed one of the highest honors of your profession, and what that recognition would represent. In policing that honor would be called the “Officer of the Year,” and would represent the elite of the police force within which these officers work.
It would make sense to expect that the officers awarded this prestigious honor to be those who uphold and exemplify the highest ideals and values of law enforcement.
In a telling sign of the current state of policing in America, we have seen five former “Officer of the Year” recipients reveal their true nature in 2015 and show exactly how corrupt the soul of American law enforcement system has become.
This is what an “Officer of the Year” looks like in 2015:
Eric Casebolt: “Officer of the Year” in 2008 in McKinney, TX. Casebolt resigned in disgrace this year after assaulting children at a pool party while a grand jury investigation was pending.
Noe Juarez: “Officer of the Year” in 2009 in Houston, TX. Juarez was indicted on charges of trafficking drugs and weapons for Los Zetas, one of the most ruthless and violent Mexican cartels.
Edwin Guzman: “Officer of the Year” in 2012 in Boston, MA. Guzman was arrested and charged with sexual assault charges against a minor.
Jonathan Bleiweiss: “Officer of the Year” in 2013 in Broward County, FL. Bleiweiss plead guilty to confining and raping 20 male immigrants.
Jerad Gale: “Officer of the Year” in 2014 in Champaign, IL. Gale was arrested and charged for choking and raping two women.
Americans should be very troubled that men like theses are being honored as the best of the best in policing. People must come to the realization that these weren’t simply a few bad apples that had simply people fooled into believing they were good cops.
The sinister reality is these men are exactly what law enforcement looks for, modern day cowboys with too much machismo and a bully complex. Theses borderline sociopathic tendencies, which are rampant within the profession, are a canary in the coal mine and a stark warning about the systemic brutality that has taken firm root in U.S. policing today.
When men such as these are honored as the best of “America’s Finest” it’s apparent the system is broken!
WASHINGTON – The US government’s $293 billion nuclear arsenal upgrade will endanger the United States rather than improve its national security, MIT professor and former Pentagon official Theodore Postol told Sputnik.
The United States has launched an enormous quarter century program to completely upgrade or replace the entire US strategic nuclear weapons stockpile and their delivery systems
“This has nothing to do with the national security of the United States. It is damaging the national security of the United States.”
On Thursday, the US Government Accountability Office said in a report that the country’s 25 year nuclear modernization program would cost $18 billion more than previous estimates.
Postol commented that the rising cost of the program is not surprising.
“The Nuclear Modernization Program is on automatic with no oversight, no thought on the role nuclear weapons will play in our defense or in future wars.”
Postol continued that US policies to maintain massive nuclear stockpiles had never been seriously reassessed since the end of the Cold War and the weapons upgrade could prompt other nuclear powers to improve their capability.
“This program is causing the Russians and the Chinese in particular to become increasingly concerned about what they perceive as our new nuclear build up and they will respond accordingly.”
He added that top US defense policymakers are not ready to ask difficult but necessary questions about when and how nuclear weapons could be used, as well as whether it is necessary to have so many of them.
The scale of the US nuclear arsenal, he argued, “is just absurd.”
“A very small number of nuclear weapons will deter everybody. It does not take much to establish a credible deterrent threat.”
However, he said some amount of nuclear retaliatory threat was necessary to maintain peace.
Postol previously worked as an analyst at the US Office of Technology Assessment and as a science and policy adviser to the Chief of Naval Operations, the operational head of the US Navy.
American hawks are calling upon the US government to “flood” Ukraine with weapons because they are more concerned about their own wallets than about European security, US journalist Lee Fang points out.
Although the United States Institute of Peace and its chairman Stephen Hadley profess that they promote international peace through nonviolent conflict resolution, it is not what they are actually doing, US journalist and writer Lee Fang underscores.
“Stephen Hadley is a relentless hawk whose advocacy for greater military intervention often dovetails closely with the interests of Raytheon, a major defense contractor that pays him handsomely as a member of its board of directors,” the journalist revealed.
In June, during his speech at Poland’s Wroclaw Global Forum, the Institute of Peace chairman insisted that Washington should provide weapons to Kiev in order to “raise the cost for what Russia is doing in Ukraine.”
“[E]ven President Putin is sensitive to body bags — it sounds coarse to say, but it’s true — but body bags of Russian soldiers who have been killed,” Hadley stressed, not bothering to present any evidence to confirm his statement about Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine.
“The call to flood Ukraine with weapons not only contrasts sharply with the stated mission of the Institute of Peace, but many scholars believe doing so would provoke more conflict,” Fang remarked, adding that Hadley also urged European governments to boost their military spending substantially.
Although Hadley’s statement sounds downright Orwellian, there is an obvious explanation for his illogical behavior: Stephen Hadley also serves as a highly paid board member of Raytheon, a major American defense contractor.
“Hadley has been a Raytheon board member since 2009 and was paid cash and stock awards worth $290,025 in 2014 alone,” the journalist highlighted, adding that for companies like Raytheon, regional strife and intervention have always been “good for business.”
The conflict in Ukraine is obviously playing into hands of Raytheon and other US defense manufacturers. Remarkably, Raytheon has recently announced that “strong international demand” for its weaponry had resulted in unexpectedly high quarterly revenues, making its shares significantly higher.
Raytheon’s Chief Executive Tom Kennedy elaborated that the international orders reached a record 44 percent of the defense contractor’s backlog at the end of the second quarter, in contrast with 38 percent a year ago.
Citing Raytheon’s chief financial officer Dave Wajsgras, Lee Fang pointed out that European states are increasing their defense spending due to the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine, facilitating the company’s revenues growth.
Curiously enough, it is not the first time the US Institute of Peace has joined the chorus of American hawks and warmongers. Fang pointed out that in the 1980s the institute’s first president, Robert Turner, expressed his active support for the Contras, right-wing insurgents in Nicaragua. The Contras were infamous for using terrorist tactics in their war against the Nicaraguan government, but nevertheless they received financial and military support from Washington.
Today the institute’s neoconservative board members call for the invasion of Middle Eastern countries, particularly Iran, as well as for the deployment of nuclear weapons in Eastern European NATO members — former Warsaw Pact states — in order to confront Russia.
However, arming Ukraine is a very bad idea the journalist noted, citing Stephen Walt, Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University.
“The core problem is that Ukraine’s political alignment is a vital interest for Russia, which is why it intervened in the first place. It is right next door to Russia, which means Moscow both cares more about the outcome and can escalate there much more easily than we can. Doubling down now will intensify and prolong the fighting and get more Ukrainians killed,” Walt stressed, as cited by Lee Fang.