Posts Tagged ‘Renewable Energy’

Cartoon: Cameron, Clegg and the Tories as David Lynch’s ‘Eraserhead’

June 26, 2017

There isn’t much to say about this cartoon, except that it was based on the film poster for David Lynch’s disturbing flick, Eraserhead. This is about a man with one of the weirdest hairstyles in cinema attempting to look after a weird, mutant baby, whose head resembles an eraser, hence the film’s title. It’s set in a crumbling, dystopian world, whose audio backdrop is in industrial noise. It’s been described as a horror movie, although it’s not quite that, as well as surreal, which it certainly is.

I thought it was a suitable metaphor for the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, as they’ve certainly done their best to make Britain as decadent and dystopian as possible. This is a Britain in which austerity killed 30,000 people in 2015 alone, according to researchers at Oxford University. Over a hundred thousand people are now forced to use food banks to stop themselves from starving, where 7 million people live in ‘food insecure’ households, where the family members don’t know if they’ll eat tomorrow. Families where the mothers are starving themselves in order to feed and clothe their children.

And all the while more people are forced into poverty through wage freezes, and cuts to welfare benefits. A country in which the poor, the unemployed and the disabled are vilified simply for being poor.

It’s a Britain where the NHS and the schools and universities are being privatised for the profit of private healthcare companies and school management companies, and in which uni students will graduate owing something like £40,000 worth of student debt.

This is a Britain in which homelessness is on the rise. Except you won’t see it, because local councils are passing laws to clear the homeless off their streets, so the site of them begging doesn’t annoy or upset the richer residents.

It’s a country where public services, like the trains, are being starved of investment so that their share value remains artificially high, and the bosses can award themselves big bonuses.

It’s a country where the private energy companies also keep prices high for the same reason.

It’s a country, whose natural beauty is in danger of being plundered and despoiled, as the government despises clean, renewable energy sources, and removes environmental protection legislation for the benefit of fracking companies.

It’s a country that’s heading rapidly towards dictatorship and authoritarianism, as New Labour, the Tories and their Lib Dem enablers passed legislation setting up secret courts, in which the defendant may be tried behind closed doors, with vital evidence and the identity of his accuser also kept secret, if the government decides this is required for reasons of ‘national security’. Just like the judicial system in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Stalin’s Russia.

But to make sure you don’t realise that this country is becoming a crumbling dystopia, the media do nothing but lie about how evil the left is, and how wonderful everything is under the Tories, including the BBC. A media dominated by a very few newspaper magnates – Rupert Murdoch, the Barclay Twins, Richard Desmond, Vere Harmsworth and a pair of Russian oligarchs.

So I drew David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith all in black and white with the same weird hairstyle as the film’s hero, played by Jack Nance, like the film’s poster.

This is the face of the Tory-Lib Dem government as it was a few years ago. But things haven’t changed since under Theresa May, who’s gone full steam ahead with all the old, wretch Tory policies.

Don’t have nightmares! Just vote for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour poverty, to end austerity and the predatory capitalism that sustains it.

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Best Wishes to Mike and the Other Labour Candidates for the Local Elections

April 14, 2017

On Wednesday, Mike announced on his blog, Vox Political, that he’s standing as the Labour candidate for Powys County Council’s Llanbadarn Fawr ward. He points out that readers of his blog will know that he provides a strong voice for what he believes is right, and that the people of Llanbadarn Fawr need a strong voice to represent the real needs of their community and its people. Mike also states clearly what he wants to do for them as their representative, if elected. He writes

These are times of hard choices, with funding cuts from the Conservative Government in Westminster forcing difficult decisions on councillors.

But I am pledging to:
Protect quality social care, provided according to need;
Protect education and the future of our children;
Create opportunities for young people to live and thrive in the county;
Bring cheaper, cleaner energy to all our homes;
Protect county council functions including waste and recycling services.

I have to say that I am biased, as Mike is my brother. However, these are great policies, which are desperately needed throughout Britain. And needlessly to say, they are all under attack by a Tory government determined to decimate whatever remains of the welfare state in order to create a nation of wage slaves, ground down into poverty and debt, and give more power, profits and tax breaks to their corporate masters.

I wish Mike, and all the other create Labour candidates throughout Britain all the best for the elections. I hope they all get in, and so leave a mendacious, deeply biased media keen to denigrate and belittle the Labour party looking utterly stupid. Or even more stupid and mendacious than they already look.

To see more, go read Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/04/12/vote-for-mike-in-the-local-elections/

He also has a short video, in which he voices his determination to oppose the millions of pounds worth of cuts the government wishes to impose on Powys council, and which will gut the county, just like the fire destroyed the house behind him.

Bernie Sanders: Our Revolution – A Future to Believe In

April 2, 2017

London: Profile Books 2016

Bernie Sanders is the ‘democratic socialist’ senator for Vermont, who ran against Hillary Clinton last year for the Democratic presidential nomination. He didn’t get it. Although he had more grass roots support than Killary, he was cheated of the nomination through the intervention of the Democrat superdelegates, who massively favoured her. He is the man, who should now be occupying the White House, rather than the gurning orange lump of narcissistic Fascism now doing his best to drag the country back to before the Civil War. The polls show that Bernie could have beaten Trump. But he wasn’t elected, as Bernie’s far too radical for the corporate state created by the Republican and mainstream, Clintonite Dems.

How radical can be seen from this book. It’s part autobiography, part manifesto. In the first part, Sanders talks about his youth growing up in Brooklyn, how he first became interested and aware of politics as a student at Chicago University, his political career in Vermont, and his decision to run for as a presidential candidate. This part of the book also describes his campaigning, as he crisscrossed America holding rallies, talking at town hall and union meetings, appearing on TV and social media trying to get votes. A strong feature of the book is Bernie’s emphasis on his background as one of the country’s now threatened lower middle class. His father was a Jewish immigrant from Poland, who worked as paint salesman. He and his family lived in a rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn, where conditions were cramped so that they often slept on couches. He freely admits that his parents were also relatively affluent and had more disposable income than others.

After having left uni, he began his political career in Vermont in 1971 when he joined and campaigned for the senate in the Liberty Union party, a small third party in the state. During the same period he also ran a small company producing educational films on the history of Vermont and other states in New England. Finding out that none of the college students he spoke to had ever heard of Eugene Victor Debs, he went and brought one out on the great American labour leader and socialist politician. On the advice of a friend and college professor, Richard Sugarman, Sanders ran for election as mayor of Burlington. He won, introducing a number of important welfare, educational and municipal reforms he called ‘socialism in one city’, a play on Stalin’s slogan of ‘Socialism in One Country’. He was strongly opposed by the Democrats. A few years afterwards, however, he was elected to Congress as an Independent, where, despite some resistance from the Democrats, he was finally admitted to the Democratic Caucus. In 2006 he ran for senator, contested the seat vacated by the Republican, Jim Jeffords, who had retired. By 2013 he was being urged by his supporters to campaign for the presidential nomination. To gauge for himself how much support he was likely to receive, Sanders went across America talking to ordinary folks across the country. After this convinced him that he had a chance, he began to campaign in earnest.

At the beginning of his campaign for the nomination, Sanders was very much the outsider, getting 15 per cent of the votes polled to Clinton’s 60 per cent. Then he started winning, climbing up the ladder as he took something like seven out of eight states in a row. The corporatist wing of the Democrats did everything they could to block his rise, culminating in the theft of the nomination through the intervention of the superdelegates.

Sanders is a champion of the underdog. He garnered much support by going to communities, speaking to the poor and excluded, often in very underprivileged neighbourhoods where the police and security guards were worried about his safety. He spoke in a poor, multiracial community in New York’s South Bronx, and to poor Whites in rural Mississippi. The latter were a part of the American demographic that the Democrats traditionally believed were impossible to win. Sanders states that actually speaking to them convinced him that they were way more liberal than the political class actually believe. During a talk to a group of local trade unionists, Sanders asked why people in such a poor area voted Republican against their interests. This was one of a number of counties in the state, that was so poor that they didn’t even have a doctor. The union leader told him: racism. The Republicans played on Whites’ hatred of Blacks, to divide and rule the state’s working people.

Sanders makes very clear his admiration for trade unions and their members, and how frequently they know far better than the politicians what is not only good for their members, but also good for the industry, their customers, and their country. He praises the nurses’ unions, who have endorsed his campaign and backed his demand for a Medicaid for all. He similarly praises the workers and professionals maintaining America’s infrastructure. This is massively decaying. 25 per cent of American bridges are, according to surveyors, functionally obsolete. Towns all over America, like Flint in Michigan, have had their water poisoned by negligent water companies. The electricity grid is also unspeakably poor. It’s ranked 35th worst in the world, behind that of Barbados. Yep! If you want to go to a country with a better electricity network, then go to that poor Caribbean country.

He describes how the poor in today’s America pay more for less. Drug prices are kept artificially high by pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer, so that many poor Americans can’t afford them. In one of the early chapter, he describes leading a group of women from Vermont over the Canadian border, so that they could buy prescription drugs cheaper. These same companies, like the rest of the big corporations, do everything they can to avoid paying tax. In some cases, these big corporations pay absolutely none. This is because of the corruption of American politics by donations from big business. As a result, the country’s politicians don’t represent the ordinary voters. They represent big business. He makes it clear he respects Hillary Clinton, but ran against her because you can’t combine representing ordinary people with taking money from the corporate rich. And at the heart of this corruption is the Koch brothers, oil magnates with a personal wealth of $82 billion and a corporate wealth of $115. They are not, explains Bernie, small government conservatives, but right-wing extremists. Their goal is to dismantle taxation completely, along with Medicaid and what little the country has of a welfare state. All so that the 1 per cent, who own as much as the poorest 90 per cent of the American population, can get even richer.

Sanders goes further to describe the massive inequalities that are now dividing American society, including the racism and sexism that ensures that women, Blacks and Latinos are paid less than White men. The notorious drug laws that have ensured that more Blacks are jailed for marijuana and other drugs than Whites. The crippling debt that faces more and more Americans. 48 million Americans are in poverty. 24 million have no health insurance. Many of these are people, who are in work, and frequently working their rear ends off just to make ends meet. He describes talking to a charity worker, who purchases just out of date food to give to the local food bank. According to the young man he spoke to, 90 per cent of the people using the bank are working Americans, whose jobs pay so little that they literally can’t afford to eat. In this section of the book he quotes a letter from a woman, who states that she and her husband are work 2 and 3 jobs each, but still can’t make a living. As a result, the young can’t afford to buy their houses, or go to university. He contrasts this with the situation in the 1950s. It wasn’t utopia, and there was still massive inequalities in wealth according to race and gender. But the economy was expanding, more people had the prospect of good, well-paying jobs, owning their own homes, and sending their children to college. This America is disappearing. Fast.

Sanders has given his support to women’s groups, and is a very staunch anti-racism campaigner. Amongst those who backed his campaign were Harry Belafonte and Dr. Cornel West, among other Afro-American intellectuals, performers and politicians. He also received the support of a number of Hollywood celebrities, including Seth MacFarlane and Danny DeVito. And comic book fans everywhere with genuinely progressive values will be delighted to here that his campaign manager ran a comic book store in Vermont. Presumably this guy is completely different from the owner of the Android’s Dungeon in The Simpsons. Sanders talks about his support for the Civil Rights movement, and Selma march, paying due tribute to its heroes and heroines, including Dr. Martin Luther King. He’s also a keen supporter of Black Lives Matter, the Black movement to stop cops getting away with the murder of Black people. As part of his campaign against racism, he also actively supports the campaign against the demonization of Muslims and rising tide of Islamophobia in America. When he was asked whether he would support this by a Muslim American, Sanders replied that he would, as his own father’s family were Jewish refugees from Poland.

Sanders is also strongly opposed to the current wars in the Middle East. He was not in favour of Gulf War 1 in the 1990s, and has attacked the invasion of Iraq under Bush for destabilising the country and region, and causing massive carnage. But he was no supporter of Saddam Hussein, and is also a staunch supporter of veterans, adding his political clout to their campaigns to stop the government cutting their benefits. He points out that the blame for these wars lie with the politicos, not the soldiers who had fight.

Bernie also takes worker ownership very seriously. Among the policies that he recommends for saving and expanding the American middle class are strengthening workers’ cooperatives and allowing workers to purchase their companies. One of the measures he states he will introduce will be to establish a bank to lend funds to American workers so that they can buy their own companies. He also wants to end the ‘too big to fail’ attitude to the big banks and start regulating them again. And as part of his campaign to strengthen and expand American democracy, he is a very harsh critic of the various laws the Republicans have introduced in states across America to stop Blacks, Latinos, the poor and students from voting. He also asks why it is that European countries can afford free medical care, but America can’t. And why Germany can provide college education free to its students, while Americans are faced with a mountain of debt.

Sanders is a genuine American radical in the tradition of Eugene Debs. It’s no wonder that the rich and the powerful now trying to pull the country back into the colonial era, when it was ruled by coterie of rich White men. He states that his country is now an oligarchy, and even a ‘banana republic’. He’s right, and right about the ways these issues can and should be tackled.

The Republicans have also tried to deter people from voting for him based on his apparent lack of interest in religion. They couldn’t attack him for being Jewish – although with those monsters Spencer and Gorka in the White House, I don’t know how long that will hold – so insinuated that he was an atheist. Well perhaps. But Sanders does have religious supporters. His friend and support Richard Sugarman is an Hasidic Jew and Sanders himself several times states how impressed he is with Pope Francis’ support for the global poor. He also made it clear in a speech he gave to the very Conservative Liberty University that he was impressed with the good in all religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, whatever. So he’s secular, but not anti-religious. Just anti-bigotry, and the way the right is trying to use religion to divide America.

It’s also remarkable that Sanders was the focus of a popular phenomenon far beyond his own campaign team. He states in the book that he wanted to control the campaign, and not have a SuperPAC telling people what he didn’t or didn’t believe. But he also found that up and down America, people at the grassroots were organising independently of his campaign team to support him. Unlike the astroturf fake populist campaign the Republicans and Libertarians have set up, Bernie’s genuinely popular with a growing number of American working people.

America desperately needs him. And so do we in Britain. The predatory, parasitical capitalism at the heart of American society has also been exported over here by the Conservatives. Just like the Americans need Bernie, we need Corbyn. And we need the two together, because if Bernie can do anything to stop the current political degeneration in America, it will also help stop the process over here.

Incidentally, Bernie has a personal connection with Britain. His brother is a member of the Green party in Oxfordshire, and campaigns against the privatisation of the NHS. Sanders also has a strong interest in protecting the environment and promoting renewable energy.

I also recommend this book to aspiring young politicos because of the chapters in which he talks about running a campaign, funded by your own supporters, not corporate backers, and what you need to do when running about the country. Like making sure you can get there in time and aren’t double-booked. It’s good advice, and although the latter seems obvious, he talks about a number of incidents in which he disastrously failed to follow it.

Sanders talks about the way people are being turned off politics in America, thanks to the massive corporate corruption. This also reaches into corporate media. Sanders also has a few ideas how they can be reformed. He himself was the subject of a media blackout, as the TV and news companies definitely did not want to cover him, and very much favoured Killary. Hopefully Bernie’s book will reach more of the alienated folk now being excluded from American politics, and show them that there is someone actively fighting for them. And so encourage them to get involved for themselves.

Trump Imposes Gag Order on Government Environmental Scientists

January 28, 2017

The Republican party since the 1980s, if not before, has a bitter hatred of environmentalism and loathes just about any and all laws, movements or protests to protect Earth’s precious natural resources, and the creatures with whom we share our beautiful world. Now Trump’s taken it to its latest development.

In this video, The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss Trump’s imposition of a legal ban gagging members of the Environmental Protection Agency from releasing details of their work to the general public. Trump has also frozen official funding, so that the Agency may only publish its results and findings if these meet the official, ideological approval of his administration.

Uygur and Kasparian point out that this is intended to keep people ignorant, powerless and deprived of decent science education before Trump’s government. They also point out that this action by the Orange Dictator shows without question that the Republicans are anti-science. It doesn’t matter whether individual Republican voters support Trump’s policy, or they merely have to go along with it because they agree with his others reforms. The Republicans are anti-science, and they should now own it.

They also make the point that in any jobs that may actually be brought back to America through these bans, Americans will be fighting for scraps. The jobs in the petrochemical sectors drilling for oil, which the attacks on the EPA are designed to protect, will not be such to give Americans the standard of living they want. It would make far greater sense for the government to begin investigating in renewables – a whole new industry. At the moment, even the Chinese are beating America in investment and research into renewable energy, because, says Uygur, ‘the Chinese are smart’. But there’s no reasons why America shouldn’t be no. 1 in renewable energy. They’ve got enough sun in Arizona and wind in Chicago, the notorious ‘windy city’.

The Young Turks here are right. This is all about protecting the Republican party’s corporate backers in the petrochemical industry, like the Koch brothers. These two have financed a slew of fake astroturf ‘Green’ organisations and campaigned against genuine climate science produced by independent university laboratories. Koch money has been poured into Unis and state coffers instead to produce very politicised labs that have been set up to deny that climate change is occurring, and that drilling for oil is having a harmful effect on the local landscape of the US. This is despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, such as vast stretches of Louisiana wetland now made little more than one vast oil bog. Or the fact that there were over 300 spills from the oil pipelines crisscrossing America last year. The Kochs and their dollars try to keep facts like these well-hidden from the voters and the folks that have to live with the results of their environmental pillage.

And whatever the Republicans do, the Tories are nearly always bound to follow. The Republicans have heavily embraced fracking, and so have the Tories and their Lib Dem enablers. So you can bet that at this moment, Theresa May, members of her cabinet, or perhaps the members of some Tory think tank somewhere, is looking at these gagging laws, and wondering how something similar can be introduced over here.

Greenpeace Meeting Tonight in Bristol on Tidal Power at Cardiff

March 24, 2016

Michelle, one of the commenters on this blog, has asked me if I would let people know that there’s a meeting in Stokes Croft in Bristol tonight about a Cardiff project that could supply clean, green energy to the people of Wales for 120 years using power from the tidal lagoon at Swansea.

Here’s the publicity release for it.

“TIDAL LAGOON POWER” PRESENTATION 7pm THURSDAY 24 th March 2016 “FREEDOM ROOM” HAMILTON HOUSE 80 STOKES CROFT BS1 3QY
Hosted by The Bristol GREENPEACE GROUP [E= wilfman@btinternet.com]
Presented by Joanna LANE
Tidal Lagoon Power’s[TLP] mission is to drive a critical change in the UK’s energy mix by developing infrastructure to harness natural power from the rise and fall of the tides. Tidal lagoons represent affordable and sustainable infrastructure that can: indigenous, low carbon electricity at scale; create long term UK employment; catalyse a long term UK hydroelectricity manufacturing and engineering industry; promote biodiversity; promote local community resilience and pride; and allow UK institutions and the general public to invest in and take longterm ownership of our natural power assets TLP’s first project, Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay, establishes a scalable blueprint for our programme. Beyond this, they aim to develop, construct and operate a fleet of tidal lagoons to meet up to 8% of UK electricity demand. At this meeting you’ll get an introduction to Tidal Lagoon Power’s future projects, which aim to harness natural power from the rise of fall of the tides in the Severn Estuary. These proposals are at an early stage. So far TLP has requested a Scoping Opinion for Tidal Lagoon Cardiff from the and will continue to develop proposals in conjunction with stakeholders, independent experts and the public. We aim to deliver: The UK’s first fullscale energygenerating lagoon, with between 1,800MW and 2,800MW installed capacity and an annual output of 4 TWh and 6 TWh – the equivalent of powering all Welsh homes Clean, renewable and entirely predictable power for 120 years A real contribution to the local economy and natural environment Conservation, restocking and biodiversity programmes Improved and enhanced coastal flood protection in the region For more information on our project, please contact us at or register for updates Tidal Lagoon Cardiff is Tidal Lagoon Power’s second project site. For more information on the first site in Swansea Bay, please visit:
Please contact us on +44 (0)1792 274006 email info@tidallagoonpower.com or write to: Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) plc, Unit 6, J Shed, Kings Road, Swansea, SA1 8PL.
For Tidal Lagoon Power’s head office, please contact +44 (0)1452 303892 or write to Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd, Pillar & Lucy House, Merchants Road, The Docks, Gloucester, GL2 5RG.
Media enquiries should be directed to Lisa Jenkins on 07908 738763 e: lisa.jenkins@tidallagoonpower.com. 

Meme: Reforming Ideas for the American ‘Next Deal’

February 10, 2016

This is another American political meme I found over at the Tumblr site, 1000 Natural Shocks (Over 18s only). I don’t know who the American Reformers are, but looking at the points on their meme, I’d say that they were similar to the Bernie Sanders’ radical Left of the Democrats, and wished to transform their country’s political system into something like that of Europe’s.

American Next Deal

It’s clearly American, but there are some points which would definitely benefit our politics over here. For example:

* Ending gerrymandering
* Strengthening trade unions
* Dealing with student debt
* Ending lobbying (And not the pathetic deception Cameron pulled, which actually ended democratic access and strengthened the professional, corporate lobbyists)
* Raising the minimum wage.
* Shifting the tax burden fairly so that the rich pay their proper whack
* A proper commitment to the NHS: Reverse and end privatisation.
* Ending privately run prisons.
* Actually strengthening the welfare state, so that the sick, the disabled and the unemployed are genuinely supported.
* Make a secure commitment to genuine human rights. Retain membership of the EU and its human rights legislation. David Cameron wants to replace these with a far weaker version that would not give British citizens anywhere near the same level of protection.
* Make a genuine commitment to real environmental protection, including against flooding, rather than the derisory token gestures of Cameron’s cabinet.
* 50 per cent renewable energy over here sounds pretty good as well.
* Increased spending on infrastructure.
* Genuine, proper support for small businesses. Make sure the big boys pay their smaller contractors on time. This is driving many to the wall. The Tories have been putting it off since Major’s day. It’s time this ended.

The Young Turks on the Devastation Caused by the TPP

January 25, 2016

I’ve posted a number of pieces about the damaging effects on the projected TPP trade agreement now being considered by politicians across the world. Left-wing bloggers and social activists have criticised the agreement on the grounds that it gives private corporations the power to sue national governments for legislation that may harm their trade. In effect, it takes power away from national governments to regulate and control industry, and gives it to big business. There have been a number of petitions launched against it in Britain, most notably because of the threat it poses to the National Health Service. Campaigners are trying to get the NHS omitted from the deal, as they fear that the TPP will lock in the Tories’ steal privatisation of the health service.

The TPP is also controversial and unpopular in America. In this video from The Young Turks, the anchors John Iadarola, Michael Shure and Elliot Hill discuss the findings of researchers from Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Unit. The Tufts researchers found that the claims that the TPP would promote economic growth and jobs were all wrong. Instead, they predict that in America, GDP will be 0.54% lower than it would be without the trade deal. The Japanese would also be worse off by 0.12%.

The also state that there would be minimal or negligible economic gains for the participating countries. There would be less than 1% economic growth for the nations in the Developed World after ten years, and only 3% for nations in the Developing World.

771,000 jobs would be lost due to the deal. The most severe job losses would be felt in America, which would lose 448,000. The countries that did not participate in the trade deal would also suffer massive job losses. In the Developed World, GDP would suffer by 3.77%, and 879,000 jobs would be lost, mostly in Europe. In the Developing World, the economic losses would include 5.24% of the GDP and 4.45 million jobs lost in China and India.

The Turks acknowledge that there are other predictions that the economy will actually grow under the TPP, and state they merely want to start a conversation about this issue. But from this, it seems clear that the TPP will be devastating to nations right across the globe. The only people, who will profit from it are the leaders of big business. Everybody else seems set to lose their jobs and see their nations become even more impoverished.

The Turks also ponder how it can be that whatever the price of oil, it’s bad for the economy. When the price is high, it’s harming the economy. When it’s low, this also harms the economy. John Iadarola suggests, half-jokingly, that it’s time we stopped being dependent on oil. He mentions that he did a piece the other day on how Denmark got 42% of its power from wind. He doesn’t say this would be possible in America, but something should be done to make America less dependent on it.

This programme provides further evidence that the TPP is altogether harmful, and should be firmly resisted by everyone, whether they’re in Britain, America, China, Japan, India or wherever.

Empire Files: The Tyranny of Big Oil

January 19, 2016

This is another excellent video from the Empire Files. In this edition, the presenter, Abby Martin, discusses the power and corruption at the heart of the industry, from the emergence of the first oil monopoly under the Rockefellers, to the effect control of the market, the economy and US and global politics by a few firms, such as Standard Oil, Chevron, Mobil and, of course, BP. These firms have reaped massive profits, and are able to act with impunity to trash the environment, and destroy lives and livelihoods by buying the loyalty of politicians in both the Republican and Democrat parties. Through their influence in the media and in academia, they suppress or distort climate science to allow the continuing massive destruction of Earth’s fragile ecosystem through oil spills, global warming and the effects of fracking.

Martin begins by describing how oil wealth is at the very heart of US imperialism. Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan and Qatar have all been set up as ‘oil monarchies’ founded on its power. She describes how John D. Rockefeller climbed to his position as the world’s first oil billionaire through strong arm tactics used against the other oil firms. Rockefeller was the owner and founder of Standard Oil. He made a deal with the railway companies, which he used to force the other companies in the nascent oil companies to sell up to him. When this didn’t work, he bought their pipelines, and then used his power there to force them to give in. Eventually, Standard Oil owned 90% of all US refineries, and had a workforce of about 150,000 men. Rockefeller was, unsurprisingly, bitterly anti-union, and so they had no union representation. And since him the power of the oil tycoons subverts democracy in the US and imperils the Earth.

Martin then interviews Antonia Juhasz, the author of the book, The Tyranny of Oil, written during the final years of the Bush administration about the massive political, human rights’ and economic abuses of the oil industry. She states that Obama is not as tied to the oil industry as Bush was, but nevertheless he was not confronting the industry’s power. She then moved on to discuss the rise of deep drilling in oil rigs off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The age of easy oil, where all you had to do was stick a pipe into the ground and out it would come is over. Most of the world’s oil is already claimed, and that which isn’t, is difficult to get to. As a result, oil drilling went further out into the ocean and deeper. And the results were blow-outs and spills. Such as the BP blowout in 2012. This resulted in the deaths of a million birds. To disperse the oil, 2 million gallons of a chemical were used which made it 42% more toxic. It also caused the deaths of eleven men. During the investigation it became clear that BP actually had no plans what to do in the eventuality of a spill. They simply counted on learning it ‘on the fly’. And the result was the world’s largest offshore oil spill to date. Juhasz states that she herself saw some of the resulting ecological devastation from a submarine. All the local wildlife that could get out of the area, did. The animals and plants that couldn’t, in her words, ‘were nuked’. There’s nothing down there except a tarry blanket of oil that will be there forever.

Martin also has as another of her speakers the left-wing journalist, Greg Palast. He reveals that BP had a spill 17 months previously in the Caspian Sea. This was covered up by the company itself, the Azerbaijani government – which he terms the Islamic Republic of Azerbaijan, because it’s so completely owned by BP – and also the American government’s State Department under Condoleeza Rice. Why the American government? Because the spill was partly due to BP using an American quick-drying cement. Despite this, the US Defense Department doubled their contracts with BP.

The Gulf Coast blow-out cost BP $17 billion in fines. This is a staggering amount of money, but not nearly as much as the company should have been fined. The Bush administration passed a number of extremely strict environmental laws. If these had been properly applied, then BP would have been hit with a fine of $200 billion. This would have made it difficult for the company to continue operating. As it was, the company said that the fine they eventually got was ‘manageable’.

The programme also discusses the immense political power the oil industry has through the banking lobby, and the power of the big corporations over the Senate. In the early part of last century, pressure from the Progressive Party and mass protests and agitation caused the US government to pass the anti-trust laws and break up Standard Oil, not least because they also wanted to destroy the unions. This was fragmented into 34 separate companies. These, however, are beginning to coagulate and reform back into a single giant trust as they merge and buy each other out. BP was a prime example of this. The company only got into America because it bought a US company, Arco. By the time Standard Oil had been broken up in 1911, Rockefeller was the world’s first billionaire. At that time the world’s oil industry was owned by only three dynasties – the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds and the Dutch royal family.

This dependence on oil and the power of the oil industry has shaped the structure of American cities. The oil industry has done everything it can to destroy public transport systems. In 1949 the system of streetcars in one US city was destroyed through illegal action taken jointly by General Motors and the oil industry. The legislation passed to protect the environment contains massive exemptions for the oil industry. The corruption goes deep into government. Three of every four lobbyist for dirty energy used to work for the US government. 430 + congressmen have ties to the oil industry. And the industry has already given $35 million to political candidates for 2016. Dick Cheney was part of the industry, duly drafting legislation in its favour. Condoleeza Rice sat on the board of Chevron. And under Obama America has become the world’s top producer of oil and gas.

The programme then moves on to fracking, and the disastrous effects this has had on North Dakota. This state has been overnight transformed into an oil-producing environment. It contrasts with the other areas, where the industry has been around longer and so people have had time to get used to it and organise resistance. The state’s beautiful countryside of rolling hillsides and buttes, including a Native American reservation, are now disrupted by flaring, in which natural gas is burnt off. In neighbouring Oklahoma there have been 600 earthquakes in a single year due to the dumping of the waste water produced by fracking.

As for politics and the oil industry, the programme states that the oil industry now is the American political process. It’s not as bad under Obama as it was under Bush. Then big oil was the American government. The power of the oil industry is still there, but it’s now more subtle. Palast describes how every Republican candidate in the US elections is frantically in favour of the Excel pipeline, to the point where one of them even said that ‘you have to love it.’ This is directly due to the Koch brothers. The Koch brother bought a big refinery on the coast. However, there are laws that prevent them from using Texan oil. So they have to import ‘heavy’ oil from elsewhere. This is either Venezuela, where they’ll have to try to remove opposite by ousting Chavez or Madura, or to import it from Canada. This is the Excel pipeline, from which the Koch brothers will each get an extra $1 billion a year. Just as the Republicans are connected to the oil companies, so the Democrats have their links to BP. Obama has approved drilling in the Arctic. Palast describes how he was at one of the communities that may be affect, Qoqtovik, where he was told by one of the local Inuit that if drilling started, ‘it was over for them as a people there’. And if there is a spill in the arctic, it’ll go under the ice cap all the way to Norway.

Martin and her guests also discuss why it is Americans are so ignorant about climate change. The problem is that the oil industry buys up America’s academics. Palast states that almost every biologist in America is on BP’s payroll through grants from the Lawrence Livermore laboratory, which were donated by BP. And what happened to biology has also happened to climate science. The oil industry will also exaggerate the importance and status of dissenting scientists through the press. One flagrant example of this was when NPR, which Palast calls National Petroleum Radio, stated that the oil spill in the Gulf would be eaten by ‘oil-eating’ bacteria. This piece of disinformation came courtesy of a $1/2 billion grant to Lawrence Livermore by BP. The press, however, never informed its readers that the release and the science was paid for by that company. America no longer has an investigative press. They simply state that some people say this, while other have an opposite opinion.

Another example of corporate control over academia was in the case of Von Heerden, a meteorologist at Louisiana’s Hurricane Center. One month before Hurricane Katrina hit, Von Heerden warned that New Orleans could be under water due to the oil industry’s destruction of the neighbouring mangrove swamps for 100 miles. And 30 days later, New Orleans was under water. Instead of celebrating this man for his warning and efforts to save the city, the state closed down the Hurricane Centre and replace it with a Wetlands Centre. This was due to the state receiving a massive cheque from the oil companies, who specified that they would also choose the staff to be employed in the new Centre.

And globally the environmental damage from the oil industry is devastating, to the point where the future of the planet is in grave danger. The UN in 2015 stated for the very worst effects of climate change to be avoided, three-quarters of the world’s fossil fuels need to stay in the ground. Yet in the US alone there have been 20,000 oil spills a year. In the Niger Delta they have had to put up with the consequences of the devastation equivalent to an Exxon-Mobil spill every year for the past fifty years, due to untouchable oil corporations. In 2013, 1.15 million gallons of oil was spilled due to derailed trains. The preferred mode of transport for the oil industry nevertheless remains road. From 2008 to 2012 550 workers in the oil industry were killed in industrial accidents. This is a deathrate eight times higher than the other industries. And yet the world’s use of oil is completely unnecessary. Stanford University developed a plan to transfer America entirely to renewable energy, state by state, by 2050. The cost of the Iraq War alone could have financed the world’s transition to renewables. However, the power of the oil industry will only be destroyed when the power of the American Empire is also destroyed.

Rachel Maddow on the Republican’s ‘Southern Strategy’ and Fox’s Demonisation of Blacks

March 27, 2015

Rachael Maddow is an American left-wing news anchor and political commentator on American television. I found this extremely interesting video from her show on Youtube. In it, she talks about the Republicans’ ‘Southern Strategy’. This was formulated in 1970s by Kevin Phillips. Phillips believed that after desegregation, the Republicans would get no more than 10 to 20 per cent of the Black vote. He advised the party that this should not concern them, and that they shouldn’t even try. Instead, they should target White voters, playing on their fears of Blacks and that they would be disadvantaged and discriminated against in their favour.

She shows a 1990s Republican party political broadcast which featured a pair of white hands clenched in rage and despair over a job rejection letter. The White man in the broadcast had been turned down for the job because of ethnic quotas introduced to give more jobs to Blacks and supported by a named politician. The job then urges Whites opposed to this new form of discrimination and fearing their own displacement and victimisation to vote for the Republican candidate. She then goes on to discuss Kevin Philips’ invention of the strategy before moving on to report its latest manifestation in Fox News.

She gives for examples of the way Murdoch’s American network deliberately demonised and played on White fears about individual Black politicians and organisations in order to get White votes. Fox News boasts, and has even copyrighted, the slogan ‘fair and balanced reporting’. It’s anything but. In the four cases she discusses, the broadcaster actually lies to smear its victims.

It attacked Obama’s czar on renewable energy, Van Jones, claiming that he had been jailed for waving a club around during the Rodney King riots. He hadn’t. She talks about how it presented ACORN, a scheme which promoted mostly ethnic minority causes, as one long festering morass of corruption. The scheme has long since collapsed, but in other videos she shows how the Republicans were still mentioning it in order to scare and drum up support from White voters long after its demise.

They also attempted to create political capital out of the New Black Panther Party shouting at and haranguing voters at a local polling station. This was presented as a new form of Black militancy targeting and intimidating White voters. In fact, they weren’t. Maddow herself states that far from being a new, terrifying political force, the New Black Panther Party was ‘a couple of whackjobs’. They certainly look aggressive and extremely intimidating in the footage Fox showed of them. The federal authorities investigated them, however, and found that they weren’t. The other news agencies didn’t bother with this non-story. Fox was one of the exceptions.

And then there was the supposed case of a Black federal official, Sheren Sherad (sp?), who supposedly was found guilty of discriminating against White farmers. That was another lie.

Among the faces repeating these barefaced lies and propaganda were the usual offenders against truth, decency and a genuinely moral, civil society: Bill O’Reilly, Michelle Malkin and the original, archetypal swivel-eye loon himself, Glen Beck.

Maddow concludes by saying that this isn’t about the victimisation of Black per se, it is about the use of the fears of the supposed threat from Black to get Whites to vote Republican. Here’s the video.

I’ve posted it here, as although it deals with American history and political issues, this tactic has cross the Atlantic. Anti-racist legislation here in Britain and the fact that we don’t have a written constitution defending freedom of speech means that such blatant fear-mongering is simply impossible over here. Nevertheless, the Tories and Farage’s UKIP have tried something very similar. Despite it’s claims to be a non-racist, non-sectarian party, UKIP is full of racists, Islamophobes and, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, bigots with a bitter hatred of Roman Catholics. It has the full backing of groups like Britain First, and its members also support other far right organisation like the BNP and EDL. It is a party, which is founded on White fears of Blacks and Asians, and particularly Islam. It is also fiercely misogynistic and homophobic. As for playing on White fears, remember the poster they put up showing a builder in hardhat and high-visibility clothing? This was put up on hoardings up and down the country with a slogan about how British people were being laid off in order to employ cheap immigrant labour. It’s a line that goes all the way back to the British Brothers’ League and the fears about Jewish immigration just before the First World War.

And the Tories very definitely are no better. I’ve blogged before about how they too have used an approach very similar to the ‘Southern Strategy’, but of necessity less overt. The Daily Mail has been running pieces attacking ‘affirmative action’, positive discrimination quotas and other forms of ‘political correctness’, since these first appeared in the 1980s. Other Tory papers and magazines have also repeated this line. In 2004 the Spectator published a piece that stated that the only section of the demographic not welcome in London were White males. It also ran a piece ‘Blackened Whites’, attacking the way anti-racism campaigns portrayed Whites as evil and racist. It’s the same approach the Repugs ran under Dubya attempting to play on the fears and hatred of ‘angry White men’. And it’s significant that for all the more liberal verbiage with which Farage comes out, he attended the CPAC Republican convention.

Maddow shows what’s going on in America. But it’s also only the most extreme and overt manifestation of what Cameron, Farage, and their media friends, like the Dirty Digger and Richard Desmond, are doing over here.