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Democrats’ “Battered Wife Syndrome”

April 30th, 2009


****************************************************************
DEMOCRATS’ ‘BATTERED WIFE SYNDROME’
By Robert Parry

Consortium News
April 25, 2009

http://consortiumne ws.com/2009/ 042509.html

In recent years, the Washington political dynamic has often resembled an
abusive marriage, in which the bullying husband (the Republicans) slaps
the wife and kids around, and the battered wife (the Democrats) makes
excuses and hides the ugly bruises from outsiders to keep the family
together.

So, when the Republicans are in a position of power, they throw their
weight around, break the rules, and taunt: “Whaddya gonna do ‘bout it?”

Then, when the Republicans do the political equivalent of passing out on
the couch, the Democrats use their time in control, tiptoeing around,
tidying up the house and cringing at every angry grunt from the snoring
figure on the couch.

This pattern, which now appears to be repeating itself with President
Barack Obama’s unwillingness to hold ex-President George W. Bush and his
subordinates accountable for a host of crimes including torture, may have
had its origins 40 years ago in Campaign 1968 when the Vietnam War was
raging.

President Lyndon Johnson felt he was on the verge of achieving a
negotiated peace settlement when he learned in late October 1968 that
operatives working for Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon
were secretly sabotaging the Paris peace talks.

Nixon, who was getting classified briefings on the talks’ progress, feared
that an imminent peace accord might catapult Vice President Hubert
Humphrey to victory. So, Nixon’s team sent secret messages to South
Vietnamese leaders offering them a better deal if they boycotted Johnson’s
talks and helped Nixon to victory, which they agreed to do.

Johnson learned about Nixon’s gambit through wiretaps of the South
Vietnamese embassy and he confronted Nixon by phone (only to get an
unconvincing denial). At that point, Johnson knew his only hope was to
expose Nixon’s maneuver which Johnson called “treason” since it endangered
the lives of a half million American soldiers in the war zone.

As a *Christian Science Monitor* reporter sniffed out the story and sought
confirmation, Johnson consulted Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Defense
Secretary Clark Clifford about whether to expose Nixon’s ploy right before
the election. Both Rusk and Clifford urged Johnson to stay silent.

In what would become a Democratic refrain in the years ahead, Clifford
said in a Nov. 4, 1968, conference call that “Some elements of the story
are so shocking in their nature that I’m wondering whether it would be
good for the country to disclose the story and then possibly have a
certain individual [Nixon] elected. It could cast his whole
administration under such doubt that I think it would be inimical to our
country’s interests.”

So, Johnson stayed silent “for the good of the country”; Nixon eked out a
narrow victory over Humphrey; the Vietnam War continued for another four
years with an additional 20,763 U.S. dead and 111,230 wounded and more
than a million more Vietnamese killed.

Over the years, as bits and pieces of this story have dribbled out –
including confirmation from audiotapes released by the LBJ Library in
December 2008 — the Democrats and the mainstream news media have never
made much out of Nixon’s deadly treachery. [See Consortiumnews. com’s “The
Significance of Nixon’s Treason.”
(http://www.consorti umnews.com/ 2008/120808. html)]

THE WATERGATE EXCEPTION

The one exception to this pattern of the Democrats’ “battered wife
syndrome” may have been the Watergate case, in which Nixon sought to
secure his second term, in part, by spying on his political rivals,
including putting bugs on phones at the Democratic National Committee.

When Nixon’s team was caught in a second break-in — trying to add more
bugs — the scandal erupted.

Even then, however, key Democrats, such as Democratic National Chairman
Robert Strauss, tried to shut down the Watergate investigation as it was
expanding early in Nixon’s second term. Strauss argued that the inquiries
would hurt the country, but enough other Democrats and an energized
Washington press corps overcame the resistance. [For details, see Robert
Parry’s *Secrecy & Privilege*.]

With Nixon’s Watergate-compelled resignation in August 1974, the
Republicans were at a crossroads. In one direction, they could start
playing by the rules and seek to be a responsible political party. Or
they could internalize Nixon’s pugnacious style and build an
infrastructure to punish anyone who tried to hold them accountable in the
future.

Essentially, the Republicans picked option two. Under the guidance of
Nixon’s Treasury Secretary William Simon, right-wing foundations
collaborated to build a powerful new infrastructure, pooling resources to
finance right-wing publications, think tanks, and anti-journalism attack
groups. As this infrastructure took shape in the late 1970s, it imbued
the Republicans with more confidence.

So, before Election 1980, the Republican campaign — bolstered by former
CIA operatives loyal to former CIA Director George H.W. Bush — resorted
to Nixon-style tactics in exploiting President Jimmy Carter’s failure to
free 52 American hostages then held in Iran.

The evidence is now overwhelming that Republican operatives, including
campaign chief Bill Casey and some of his close associates, had
back-channel contacts with Iran’s Islamic regime and other foreign
governments to confound Carter’s hostage negotiations. Though much of
this evidence has seeped out over the past 29 years, some was known in
real time.

For instance, Iran’s acting foreign minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh told Agence
France-Presse on Sept. 6, 1980, that he knew that Republican candidate
Ronald Reagan was “trying to block a solution” to the hostage impasse.

Senior Carter administration officials, such as National Security Council
aide Gary Sick, also were hearing rumors about Republican interference,
and President Carter concluded that Israel’s hard-line Likud leaders had
“cast their lot with Reagan,” according to notes I found of a
congressional task force interview with Carter a dozen years later.

Carter traced the Israeli opposition to him to a “lingering concern
[among] Jewish leaders that I was too friendly with Arabs.”

Israel already had begun playing a key middleman role in delivering secret
military shipments to Iran, as Carter knew. But — again for “the good of
the country” — Carter and his White House kept silent.

Since the first anniversary of the hostage crisis coincidentally fell on
Election Day 1980, Reagan benefited from the voters’ anger over the
national humiliation and scored a resounding victory. [For more details
on the 1980 “October Surprise” case, see Parry’s *Secrecy & Privilege*.]

GOP’S GROWING CONFIDENCE

Though much of the public saw Reagan as a tough guy who had frightened the
Iranians into surrendering the hostages on Inauguration Day 1981, the
behind-the-scenes reality was different.

In secret, the Reagan administration winked at Israeli weapons shipments
to Iran in the first half of 1981, what appeared to be a payoff for Iran’s
cooperation in sabotaging Carter. Nicholas Veliotes, who was then
assistant secretary of state, told a PBS interviewer that he saw those
secret shipments as an outgrowth of the covert Republican-Iranian contacts
from the campaign.

Veliotes added that those early shipments then became the “germs” of the
later Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal.

But the Republicans seemed to have little to fear from exposure. Their
media infrastructure was rapidly expanding — for instance, the right-wing
*Washington Times* opened in 1982 — and America’s Left didn’t see the
need to counter this growing media power on the Right.

The right-wing attack groups also had success targeting mainstream
journalists who dug up information that didn’t fit with Reagan’s
propaganda themes — the likes of the *New York Times* Raymond Bonner,
whose brave reporting about right-wing death squads in Central America led
to his recall from the region and his resignation from the *Times*.

This new right-wing muscle, combined with Ronald Reagan’s political
popularity, made Democrats and mainstream journalists ever more hesitant
to pursue negative stories about Republican policies, including evidence
that Reagan’s favorite “freedom fighters,” the Nicaraguan contras, were
dabbling in cocaine trafficking and that an illegal contra-aid operation
was set up inside the White House.

In mid-1986, when my Associated Press colleague Brian Barger and I put
together a story citing two dozen sources about the work of NSC official
Oliver North, congressional Democrats were hesitant to follow up on the
disclosures.

Finally in August 1986, the House Intelligence Committee, then chaired by
Democrat Lee Hamilton and including Republican Rep. Dick Cheney, met with
North and other White House officials in the Situation Room and were told
that the AP story was untrue. With no further investigation, the
Democratic-led committee accepted the word of North and his superiors.

LUCKY EXPOSURE

It was only an unlikely occurrence on Oct. 5, 1986, the shooting down of
one of North’s supply planes over Nicaragua and a confession by the one
survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, that put the House Intelligence Committee’s
gullibility into focus.

The plane shoot-down — and disclosures from the Middle East about secret
U.S. arms sales to Iran — forced the Iran-Contra scandal into public
view. The congressional Democrats responded by authorizing a joint
House-Senate investigation, with Hamilton as one of the mild-mannered
co-chairs and Cheney again leading the GOP’s tough-guy defense.

While the Republicans worked to undermine the investigation, the Democrats
looked for a bipartisan solution that would avoid a messy confrontation
with President Reagan and Vice President Bush. That solution was to put
most of the blame on North and a few of his superiors, such as NSC adviser
John Poindexter and the then-deceased CIA Director Bill Casey.

The congressional investigation also made a hasty decision, supported by
Hamilton and the Republicans but opposed by most Democrats, to give
limited immunity to secure the testimony of North.

Hamilton agreed to this immunity without knowing what North would say.
Rather than show any contrition, North used his immunized testimony to
rally Republicans and other Americans in support of Reagan’s aggressive,
above-the-law tactics.

The immunity also crippled later attempts by special prosecutor Lawrence
Walsh to hold North and Poindexter accountable under the law. Though
Walsh won convictions against the pair in federal court, the judgments
were overturned by right-wing judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals citing
the immunity granted by Congress.

By the early 1990s, the pattern was set. Whenever new evidence emerged of
Republican wrongdoing — such as disclosures about contra-drug
trafficking, secret military support for Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and those
early Republican-Iran contacts of 1980 — the Republicans would lash out
in fury and the Democrats would try to calm things down.

Lee Hamilton became the Republicans’ favorite Democratic investigator,
because he exemplified this approach of conducting “bipartisan”
investigations, rather than aggressively pursuing the facts wherever they
might lead. While in position to seek the truth, Hamilton ignored the
contra-drug scandal and swept the Iraq-gate and October Surprise issues
under a very lumpy rug.

In 1992, I interviewed Spencer Oliver, a Democratic staffer whose phone at
the Watergate building had been bugged by Nixon’s operatives 20 years
earlier. Since then, Oliver had served as the chief counsel on the House
Foreign Affairs Committee and had observed this pattern of Republican
abuses and Democratic excuses.

Oliver said: “What [the Republicans] learned from Watergate was not
‘don’t do it,’ but ‘cover it up more effectively.’ They have learned that
they have to frustrate congressional oversight and press scrutiny in a way
that will avoid another major scandal.”

THE CLINTON OPPORTUNITY

The final chance for exposing the Republican crimes of the 1980s fell to
Bill Clinton after he defeated President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Before leaving office, however, Bush-41 torpedoed the ongoing Iran-Contra
criminal investigation by issuing six pardons, including one to former
Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger whose cover-up trial was set to begin
in early 1993.

Special prosecutor Walsh — a lifelong Republican albeit from the old
Eisenhower wing of the party — denounced the pardons as another
obstruction of justice. “George Bush’s misuse of the pardon power made
the cover-up complete,” Walsh later wrote in his book *Firewall*.

However, the Iran-Contra investigation was not yet dead. Indeed, Walsh
was considering empanelling a new grand jury. Walsh also had come to
suspect that the origins of the scandal traced back to the October
Surprise of 1980, with his investigators questioning former CIA officer
Donald Gregg about his alleged role in that prequel to Iran-Contra.

The new Democratic president could have helped Walsh by declassifying key
documents that the Reagan-Bush- 41 team had withheld from various
investigations. But Clinton followed advice from Hamilton and other
senior Democrats who feared stirring partisan anger among Republicans.

Later, in a May 1994 conversation with documentary filmmaker Stuart
Sender, Clinton explained that he had opposed pursuing these Republican
scandals because, according to Sender, “he was going to try to work with
these guys, compromise, build working relationships. . . .

“It seemed even at the time terribly naïve that these same Republicans
were going to work with him if he backed off on congressional hearings or
possible independent prosecutor investigations.” [See Parry’s *Secrecy &
Privilege*.]

NO RECIPROCITY

But the Democrats — like the battered wife who keeps hoping her abusive
husband will change — found a different reality as the decade played out.

Rather than thanking Clinton, the Republicans bullied him with endless
investigations about his family finances, the ethics of his appointees –
and his personal morality, ultimately impeaching him in 1998 for lying
about a sexual affair (though he survived the Senate trial in 1999).

After the impeachment battle, the Republicans — joined by both the
right-wing and mainstream news media — kept battering Clinton and his
heir apparent, Vice President Al Gore, who was mocked for his choice of
clothing and denounced for his supposed exaggerations.

Though Gore still managed to win the popular vote in Election 2000 and
apparently would have prevailed if all legally cast votes had been counted
in Florida, the Republicans made clear that wasn’t going to happen, even
dispatching rioters from Washington to disrupt a recount in Miami.

George W. Bush’s bullying victory — which was finalized by five
Republican partisans on the U.S. Supreme Court — was met with polite
acceptance by the Democrats who again seemed to hope for the best from the
newly empowered Republicans. [For details on Election 2000, see our book,
*Neck Deep*.]

Instead, after the 9/11 attacks, Bush-43 grabbed unprecedented powers; he
authorized torture and warrantless wiretaps; he pressured Democrats into
accepting an unprovoked war in Iraq; and he sought to damage his critics,
such as former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Now, after eight destructive years, the Democrats have again gained
control of the White House and Congress, but they seem intent on once more
not provoking the Republicans, rather than holding them accountable.

Though President Barack Obama has released some of the key documents
underpinning Bush-43’s actions, he opposes any formal commission of
inquiry and has discouraged any prosecutions for violations of federal
law. Obama has said he wants “to look forward as opposed to looking
backward.”

In dismissing the idea of a “truth and reconciliation commission,” Obama
also recognizes that the Republicans would show no remorse for the Bush
administration’ s actions; that they would insist that there is nothing to
“reconcile”; and that they would stay on the attack, pummeling the
Democrats as weak, overly sympathetic to terrorists, and endangering
national security.

On Thursday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs admitted as much, saying
that Obama rejected the idea of a bipartisan “truth commission” because it
was apparent that there was no feasible way to get the Republicans to be
bipartisan.

“The President determined the concept didn’t seem altogether workable in
this case,” Gibbs said, citing the partisan atmosphere that already has
surrounded the torture issue. “The last few days might be evidence of why
something like this might just become a political back and forth.”

In other words, the Republicans are rousing themselves from the couch and
getting angry, while the Democrats are prancing about, hands out front,
trying to calm things down and avoid a confrontation.

The Democrats hope against hope that if they tolerate the latest
Republican outrages maybe there will be some reciprocity, maybe there will
be some GOP votes on Democratic policy initiatives.

But there’s no logical reason to think so. That isn’t how the Republicans
and their right-wing media allies do things; they simply get angrier
because belligerence has worked so well for so long.

On the other hand, Democratic wishful thinking is the essence of this
political “battered wife syndrome,” dreaming about a behavioral
transformation when all the evidence — and four decades of experience –
tell you that the bullying husband isn’t going to change.

–Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the
Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, *Neck Deep: The
Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush*, was written with two of his
sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook. com. His two
previous books, *Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from
Watergate to Iraq* and *Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press &
‘Project Truth’* are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

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Moyers exposes BANKSTERS

April 25th, 2009

What will it take before we see change?

 

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04032009/watch.html

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Italy takes care of DU victims

April 20th, 2009

My friend, Shannon rudolf, keeps me posted  on DU:

Follow-up:   EUR30m to 1703 veterans (77 dead) : DU compensation
   Posted by: “Kazashi” nkazashi@yahoo.com nkazashi
   Date: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:40 pm ((PST))

Dear all,

  Feb. 17 a Japanese syndicated media, Kyodo Press, reported that
they asked the Italian Ministry of Defense about the DU compensation
approved by Italian Cabinet on Dec. 18, 2008, about which ICBUW has
already reported as below based on a report by Stefania Divertito,
journalist and a member of ICBUW Steering Committee.

  According to the answer Kyodo Press received, the number of
Italian veterans suffering from serious diseases like cancers and
regarded as entitled to this compensation package is 1,703, among
whom 77  have already passed away. The areas where these veterans
were deployed include Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and
Iraq. The Italian government is trying to make  standards for
compensation to the veterans and the bereaved by March and start
payments then.
  This follow-up news by Kyodo Press has already been taken up by
several papers in Japan.  For your reference.

                     Kazashi,
                     ICBUW, NO DU Hiroshima Project

***
EUR30m veterans´ DU compensation package approved by Italian Cabinet
Italian compensation package agreed after Ministry of Defence
convinces government of link between ill health and DU exposure.
Health survey of personnel who served overseas to be published in the
next few months.

9 January 2009 – ICBUW
During a meeting of the Italian Cabinet on the 18th December 2008,
the Italian Ministry of Defence, Ignazio La Russa, managed to win
approval for a EUR30m compensation package for DU victims. The money
will be paid out over the next three years.

In addition to the financial assistance for sick veterans, the
decision acknowledges that some service personnel have become ill
through exposure to uranium weapons. At a press conference following
the Cabinet meeting, the Ministry said: “It’s a duty for us to
support the soldiers and their families, victims of depleted uranium
and nano-particles.” This important statement was largely ignored by
the mainstream media.

The decision marks the final step of a process begun by the previous
Prodi government who appointed an investigative commission. The
commission finished its work in March 2008 and while it didn´t name
DU as a definitive cause of ill health among veterans, it did find
that environmental pollution in war zones where DU had been used as a
likely cause of illness.

The commission also stated that the burden of proof should be
inverted, concluding that proof that the service personnel had been
deployed in areas where DU had been used was sufficient evidence to
support compensation when they later got ill or when heavy metal nano-
particles were found in their bodies. This important move has been of
great help to the families of soldiers who have died and to personnel
ill with leukaemia who are suing the state administration.

One such compensation case was that of the widow of helicopter pilot
Stefano Melone. In December, and after many years of fighting, the
High Court finally agreed to a compensation package for his death.

However, in spite of the Cabinet´s decision, two major issues still
remain, both concern the health assessment of Italian personnel who
have returned to Italy after missions abroad.

Hundreds of officials have been involved in collecting and collating
data on ill soldiers from each Italian military district and the
results are overdue. The data has been collected in paper format and
the thousands of often incomplete paper files are slowly being
transferred into digital format. The original deadline for the survey
was October 2008 and Defence Ministry staff are working hard to
complete the survey. The results – the first complete screening of
Italian personnel – are expected to be publicly announced in a few
months. It is hoped that the results will give a clearer picture of
the extent of ill health among Italian veterans.

In addition to the health assessment being published later than
planned, veterans groups, including Osservatorio Militare and
Anavafaf have complained that the data will be incomplete. The
investigation only covers the decade between 1996 and 2006, this
means it will exclude the years when Italian troop were deployed in
Bosnia and Somalia – 1994 and 1995 respectively.

This year will be an important one for the Italian scientific
committee nominated by the government at the end of 2007 and whose
work has been delayed for a year. The committee includes nuclear
energy expert Prof. Massimo Zucchetti, nano-particle researcher Maria
Antonietta Gatti and the epidemiologist Valerio Gennaro.

 

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Geithner’s ‘Dirty Little Secret’

April 16th, 2009


Reminder:
Geithner, Bernanke, Summers [and, of course, David Rockefeller who is --among other sweeties-- the former chairman of the Chase Manhattan] were all participants of the last Bilderberger meeting.
===========
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12953 <http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&amp;aid=12953>  
Geithner’s ‘Dirty Little Secret’: The Entire Global Financial System is at Risk
When the Solution to the Financial Crisis becomes the Cause

By F. William Engdahl

Global Research <http://www.globalresearch.ca/> , March 30, 2009

US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has unveiled his long-awaited plan to put the US banking system back in order. In doing so, he has refused to tell the ‘dirty little secret’ of the present financial crisis. By refusing to do so, he is trying to save de facto bankrupt US banks that threaten to bring the entire global system down in a new more devastating phase of wealth destruction.

The Geithner Plan, his so-called Public-Private Partnership Investment Program or PPPIP, as we have noted previously is designed not to restore a healthy lending system which would funnel credit to business and consumers.  Rather it is yet another intricate scheme to pour even more hundreds of billions directly to the leading banks and Wall Street firms responsible for the current mess in world credit markets without demanding they change their business model. Yet, one might say, won’t this eventually help the problem by getting the banks back to health?

Not the way the Obama Administration is proceeding. In defending his plan on US TV recently, Geithner, a protégé of Henry Kissinger who previously was CEO of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, argued that his intent was ‘not to sustain weak banks at the expense of strong.’ Yet this is precisely what the PPPIP does. The weak banks are the five largest banks in the system.

The ‘dirty little secret’ which Geithner is going to great degrees to obscure from the public is very simple. There are only at most perhaps five US banks which are the source of the toxic poison that is causing such dislocation in the world financial system. What Geithner is desperately trying to protect is that reality. The heart of the present problem and the reason ordinary loan losses as in prior bank crises are not the problem, is a variety of exotic financial derivatives, most especially so-called Credit Default Swaps.

In 2000 the Clinton Administration then-Treasury Secretary was a man named Larry Summers. Summers had just been promoted from No. 2 under Wall Street Goldman Sachs banker Robert Rubin to be No. 1 when Rubin left Washington to take up the post of Vice Chairman of Citigroup. As I describe in detail in my new book, Power of Money: The Rise and Fall of the American Century, to be released this summer, Summers convinced President Bill Clinton to sign several Republican bills into law which opened the floodgates for banks to abuse their powers. The fact that the Wall Street big banks spent some $5 billion in lobbying for these changes after 1998 was likely not lost on Clinton.  
 

One significant law was the repeal of the 1933 Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act that prohibited mergers of commercial banks, insurance companies and brokerage firms like Merrill Lynch or Goldman Sachs. A second law backed by Treasury Secretary Summers in 2000 was an obscure but deadly important Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. That law prevented the responsible US Government regulatory agency, Commodity Futures Trading Corporation (CFTC), from having any oversight over the trading of financial derivatives. The new CFMA law stipulated that so-called Over-the-Counter (OTC) derivatives like Credit Default Swaps, such as those involved in the AIG insurance disaster, (which investor Warren Buffett once called ‘weapons of mass financial destruction’), be free from Government regulation.    

At the time Summers was busy opening the floodgates of financial abuse for the Wall Street Money Trust, his assistant was none other than Tim Geithner, the man who today is US Treasury Secretary. Today, Geithner’s old boss, Larry Summers, is President Obama’s chief economic adviser, as head of the White House Economic Council. To have Geithner and Summers responsible for cleaning up the financial mess is tantamount to putting the proverbial fox in to guard the henhouse.

The ‘Dirty Little Secret’

What Geithner does not want the public to understand, his ‘dirty little secret’ is that the repeal of Glass-Steagall and the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act in 2000 allowed the creation of a tiny handful of banks that would virtually monopolize key parts of the global ‘off-balance sheet’ or Over-The-Counter derivatives issuance.

Today five US banks according to data in the just-released Federal Office of Comptroller of the Currency’s Quarterly Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives Activity, hold 96% of all US bank derivatives positions in terms of nominal values, and an eye-popping 81% of the total net credit risk exposure in event of default.

The five are, in declining order of importance: JPMorgan Chase which holds a staggering $88 trillion in derivatives (€66 trillion!). Morgan Chase is followed by Bank of America with $38 trillion in derivatives, and Citibank with $32 trillion. Number four in the derivatives sweepstakes is Goldman Sachs with a ‘mere’ $30 trillion in derivatives. Number five, the merged Wells Fargo-Wachovia Bank, drops dramatically in size to $5 trillion. Number six, Britain’s HSBC Bank USA has $3.7 trillion.

After that the size of US bank exposure to these explosive off-balance-sheet unregulated derivative obligations falls off dramatically. Just to underscore the magnitude, trillion is written 1,000,000,000,000. Continuing to pour taxpayer money into these five banks without changing their operating system, is tantamount to treating an alcoholic with unlimited free booze.

The Government bailouts of AIG to over $180 billion to date has primarily gone to pay off AIG’s Credit Default Swap obligations to counterparty gamblers Goldman Sachs, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, the banks who believe they are ‘too big to fail.’ In effect, these five institutions today believe they are so large that they can dictate the policy of the Federal Government. Some have called it a bankers’ coup d’etat. It definitely is not healthy.

This is Geithner’s and Wall Street’s Dirty Little Secret that they desperately try to hide because it would focus voter attention on real solutions. The Federal Government has long had laws in place to deal with insolvent banks. The FDIC places the bank into receivership, its assets and liabilities are sorted out by independent audit. The irresponsible management is purged, stockholders lose and the purged bank is eventually split into smaller units and when healthy, sold to the public. The power of the five mega banks to blackmail the entire nation would thereby be cut down to size. Ooohh. Uh Huh?

This is what Wall Street and Geithner are frantically trying to prevent. The problem is concentrated in these five large banks. The financial cancer must be isolated and contained by Federal agency in order for the host, the real economy, to return to healthy function.

This is what must be put into bankruptcy receivership, or nationalization. Every hour the Obama Administration delays that, and refuses to demand full independent government audit of the true solvency or insolvency of these five or so banks, inevitably costs to the US and to the world economy will snowball as derivatives losses explode. That is pre-programmed as worsening economic recession mean corporate bankruptcies are rising, home mortgage defaults are exploding, unemployment is shooting up. This is a situation that is deliberately being allowed to run out of (responsible Government) control by Treasury Secretary Geithner, Summers and ultimately the President, whether or not he has taken the time to grasp what is at stake.

Once the five problem banks have been put into isolation by the FDIC and the Treasury, the Administration must introduce legislation to immediately repeal the Larry Summers bank deregulation including restore Glass-Steagall and repeal the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 that allowed the present criminal abuse of the banking trust. Then serious financial reform can begin to be discussed, starting with steps to ‘federalize’ the Federal Reserve and take the power of money out of the hands of private bankers such as JP Morgan Chase, Citibank or Goldman Sachs.      

 

F. William Engdahl is author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order; and Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation (www.globalresearch.ca <http://www.globalresearch.ca/> ). His newest book, Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order (Third Millennium Press) is due out at end of April.  He may be reached through his website, www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net <http://www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net/> .

=====

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.


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Obama’s diplomatic victories in Europe and Turkey

April 11th, 2009

 

 

My friend Gordon’s son lives in Germany and I find his analysis of Pres. Obama’s European trip (below) interesting.  I thought you might as well.  

Peace,

Janice

Life is fragile.  Handle with care.

 

 

 

From Len in Germany, after I had asked him a similar question on the phone.

G

It is better to wear out than rust out.!!!!

— On Wed, 4/8/09, Shirts Len <len.shirts@theater-rab.de> wrote:

 

Hi all,

I just wanted to let you all know a bit about the impact of President Obama‘s trip to Europe. On reading the internet news I have a feeling that in the USA you just don’t get a feel of what this trip meant.

Obama has scored high. That is putting it mildly. I read an article in “Stern” (comparable to Time or the old Life) which made that clear. It wasn’t the huge popular crowds of an impressed Europe – the comments, especially from the BBC, are all a bit jealous comparing him to a “pop star”. No, it was what actually went on in these summits.

In the New York Times they say that he didn’t get everything he wanted. That may be true, but when one knows how contrary Europe was, then it is more true to say that he got a lot more than anyone here ever expected. There was a lot of opposition and he just ironed them flat and suddenly the leaders were all exuberantly speaking of an historic moment of compromise and agreement.

Obama was also central in preventing several major european political fiascos, that probably weren’t noticed over in the States. He did it by taking leaders of opposing factions aside, speaking quietly to them, then reconciling them with each other. 

This was the case with Denmark and Turkey: Turkey was resisting Denmark’s taking up the chairmanship over an old feud over a political cartoon. After a talk under six eyes they were all friends again. In reconciling these two countries he saved France’s and Germany’s faces – they had backed Denmark.

He managed to win over Germany’s support for more funds. Again, by taking Angela Merkel aside and speaking to her alone. Suddenly she voted for something she had adamantly resisted.

He impressed the leaders by doing something that they never expected from a leader of the USA: acknowledging that the present financial crisis had it’s start in the USA and then accepting responsibility. This took the wind out of a lot of sails that might have steered the Europeans to a deadwind deadlock. Instead, they managed to agree on a program which might not satisfy all but nevertheless was an astoundlingly quick compromise.

His knowledge (respectively, his astute use of knowledge fed to him by his team) allowed him in his speeches to make local references and local relevances… I watched the speech in Prague and was astounded how he created bridges between the Czech situation and his agenda. 

In Turkey he again did something that was a complete surprise and which seems to have won over the Turkisch people and politicians. He said, basically (not a direct quote) I have my feelings and opinions (about the turkish genocide on the  Armenian populace at the beginning of the twentieth century) and they haven’t changed. But I will keep them to myself. More important than the past is the present reconciliation, and I want to help Turkey and Armenia come together again.

This is an example of what is truly new in Obama’s strategy. Expected was a condemnation of this historical genocide, which certainly would have been politically correct but which would have only put fuel on the fire. Obama changed course, but without denying his/the USAs own personal/political views.. 

There were several other things he said and actions he took in Turkey that were very positively taken by the turkish people. I don’t think you know this, I didn’t know this, but up until this point the USA was very unpopular in Turkey. I can hardly believe this, but I read that the turkish people had the lowest opinion of the USA in the world. In any case, very very low. Obama has turned this around. This is extremely important because Turkey is the meeting point of East and West.

Theater R.A.B.

Random Acts of Beauty

Franziska Braegger & Len Shirts GbR

Basler Straße 29

D – 79100 Freiburg im Breisgau

NEU AB 1. JANUAR 2009

Privat:

Schwimmbadstraße 12

D – 79100 Freiburg im Breisgau

Tel: ++49 761 20 21 203

Fax: ++49 761 319 6336

info@theater-rab.de

www.theater-rab.de

 

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Obama reversing nuclear cold war strategy?

April 6th, 2009

The 52 Minutes of Obama Magic That Changed the Nuclear Rules

Monday 06 April 2009

by: Ian Traynor  |  Visit article original @ The Guardian UK

photo
Obama in Prague, where he delivered a second call to rid the world of nuclear weapons. (Photo: Getty Images)

Two presidential speeches in two days signal end of cold war strategic thinking.

In his whirlwind debut European tour of summits in Britain, France, Germany and the Czech Republic, Barack Obama has delivered two speeches, both exactly 26 minutes long.

On Friday, in Strasbourg, he was rapturously applauded by French and German students when he said he wanted to rid the world of nuclear weapons. In Prague yesterday, he spelled out his hopes, outlining a host of means to that end and denouncing fatalism in the face of the nuclear threat as a “deadly adversary.”

Also see below:
Remarks by President Obama in Prague

The world’s estimated arsenal of 24,000 nuclear warheads – all but 1,000 in the US and Russian armouries – was the worst legacy of the cold war, Obama said. If the risk of all-out nuclear war had faded, the danger of nuclear attack had increased, he added.

Disarmament

The president pledged a drive on nuclear disarmament, possibly bigger than any ever attempted. He spelled out how he would accelerate arms control agreements with Russia, following his first summit meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev last week. The deal to conclude a new arms reduction treaty with Moscow, which would slash stockpiles by about a third was a beginning, setting the stage for further cuts.

Building on the momentum of a new agreement with the Russians, Obama said he wanted to cajole the other nuclear powers into agreeing international arms cuts.

This would include Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent as well as France’s force de frappe and could run into resistance.

John Hutton, the defence secretary, said at the weekend “there would have to be a very significant breakthrough in international nuclear weapons negotiations” before Britain’s arsenal could be put on the table.

Nuclear Testing

“It is time for testing of nuclear weapons to be banned,” Obama said. He called for a resuscitation of the 1996 comprehensive test ban treaty outlawing all nuclear tests. Obama’s Democrat predecessor, Bill Clinton, signed the treaty, but then gave up on it after running into resistance from the Republican-controlled Senate which refused to ratify it a decade ago. George Bush did not pursue the issue.

America is the most important country that has not ratified the treaty, although other nuclear countries such as China, Israel and Pakistan, as well as Iran have also declined to ratify.

Obama said he would pursue US ratification “immediately and aggressively”.

Proliferation

As well as supporting the test ban treaty, Obama pledged to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation treaty which dates from 1968 and is the cornerstone of the effort to try to curb the spread of nuclear weapons.

He specified two ways of reinforcing the NPT regime – banning the production of fissile material used for nuclear warheads and establishing an “international fuel bank” which would supply and keep tabs on low-enriched uranium for peaceful nuclear purposes in electricity generation for countries that need it.

This is aimed at keeping countries, such as Iran, from developing their own fuel enrichment programmes and at restricting the growth of nuclear knowhow.

Low-enriched uranium is used in power plants. High-enriched uranium is used for warheads. The material can be diverted for weapons use and once you have mastered the fuel cycle for power generation, it is relatively easy to produce bomb-grade material.

Obama also insisted on greater resources and authority for international inspections – and “real and immediate consequences” for countries that violate the treaty.

Loose Nukes

Over the past 15 years there have been various efforts, mainly by the US, to secure and store nuclear materials stemming from the collapse of the Soviet Union to offset the dangers of “loose nukes”, nuclear contraband, and black market trading in radioactive materials.

Obama said he wanted to re-energise this campaign to get all “vulnerable” nuclear materials in secure storage within four years.

He also said he would convene a world summit on nuclear security in the US within a year. The agenda and participants for such a conference remain unclear.

But the spread of nuclear knowhow and technology had to be stopped, he said, since it would become increasingly easy to “buy, build or steal” a nuclear bomb. The risk of terrorists being able to obtain a nuclear device was “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security.”

National Security

Obama also promised to rewrite American military and national security strategy to downgrade the centrality of nuclear weapons, reversing a tendency among some senior former military officials to argue in favour of an increased reliance on nuclear weapons and a commitment to embrace preemptive nuclear strikes as an option.

The Timetable

The president conceded the nuclear challenge was daunting, would be a long haul, and could fail. “This goal will not be reached quickly – perhaps not in my lifetime. It would take patience and persistence. But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change.” But he said it was time for a new, more robust international regime. “Rules must be binding, violations must be punished, words must mean something.”

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Remarks by President Obama in Prague
Hradcany Square
Prague, Czech Republic

Sunday 05 April 2009

President Obama: Thank you so much. Thank you for this wonderful welcome. Thank you to the people of Prague. Thank you to the people of the Czech Republic. (Applause.) Today, I’m proud to stand here with you in the middle of this great city, in the center of Europe. (Applause.) And, to paraphrase one of my predecessors, I am also proud to be the man who brought Michelle Obama to Prague. (Applause.)

To Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, to all the dignitaries who are here, thank you for your extraordinary hospitality. And to the people of the Czech Republic, thank you for your friendship to the United States. (Applause.)

I’ve learned over many years to appreciate the good company and the good humor of the Czech people in my hometown of Chicago. (Applause.) Behind me is a statue of a hero of the Czech people – Tomas Masaryk. (Applause.) In 1918, after America had pledged its support for Czech independence, Masaryk spoke to a crowd in Chicago that was estimated to be over 100,000. I don’t think I can match his record – (laughter) – but I am honored to follow his footsteps from Chicago to Prague. (Applause.)

For over a thousand years, Prague has set itself apart from any other city in any other place. You’ve known war and peace. You’ve seen empires rise and fall. You’ve led revolutions in the arts and science, in politics and in poetry. Through it all, the people of Prague have insisted on pursuing their own path, and defining their own destiny. And this city – this Golden City which is both ancient and youthful – stands as a living monument to your unconquerable spirit.

When I was born, the world was divided, and our nations were faced with very different circumstances. Few people would have predicted that someone like me would one day become the President of the United States. (Applause.) Few people would have predicted that an American President would one day be permitted to speak to an audience like this in Prague. (Applause.) Few would have imagined that the Czech Republic would become a free nation, a member of NATO, a leader of a united Europe. Those ideas would have been dismissed as dreams.

We are here today because enough people ignored the voices who told them that the world could not change.

We’re here today because of the courage of those who stood up and took risks to say that freedom is a right for all people, no matter what side of a wall they live on, and no matter what they look like.

We are here today because of the Prague Spring – because the simple and principled pursuit of liberty and opportunity shamed those who relied on the power of tanks and arms to put down the will of a people.

We are here today because 20 years ago, the people of this city took to the streets to claim the promise of a new day, and the fundamental human rights that had been denied them for far too long. Sametová Revoluce – (applause) – the Velvet Revolution taught us many things. It showed us that peaceful protest could shake the foundations of an empire, and expose the emptiness of an ideology. It showed us that small countries can play a pivotal role in world events, and that young people can lead the way in overcoming old conflicts. (Applause.) And it proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon.

That’s why I’m speaking to you in the center of a Europe that is peaceful, united and free – because ordinary people believed that divisions could be bridged, even when their leaders did not. They believed that walls could come down; that peace could prevail.

We are here today because Americans and Czechs believed against all odds that today could be possible. (Applause.)

Now, we share this common history. But now this generation – our generation – cannot stand still. We, too, have a choice to make. As the world has become less divided, it has become more interconnected. And we’ve seen events move faster than our ability to control them – a global economy in crisis, a changing climate, the persistent dangers of old conflicts, new threats and the spread of catastrophic weapons.

None of these challenges can be solved quickly or easily. But all of them demand that we listen to one another and work together; that we focus on our common interests, not on occasional differences; and that we reaffirm our shared values, which are stronger than any force that could drive us apart. That is the work that we must carry on. That is the work that I have come to Europe to begin. (Applause.)

To renew our prosperity, we need action coordinated across borders. That means investments to create new jobs. That means resisting the walls of protectionism that stand in the way of growth. That means a change in our financial system, with new rules to prevent abuse and future crisis. (Applause.)

And we have an obligation to our common prosperity and our common humanity to extend a hand to those emerging markets and impoverished people who are suffering the most, even though they may have had very little to do with financial crises, which is why we set aside over a trillion dollars for the International Monetary Fund earlier this week, to make sure that everybody – everybody – receives some assistance. (Applause.)

Now, to protect our planet, now is the time to change the way that we use energy. (Applause.) Together, we must confront climate change by ending the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, by tapping the power of new sources of energy like the wind and sun, and calling upon all nations to do their part. And I pledge to you that in this global effort, the United States is now ready to lead. (Applause.)

To provide for our common security, we must strengthen our alliance. NATO was founded 60 years ago, after Communism took over Czechoslovakia. That was when the free world learned too late that it could not afford division. So we came together to forge the strongest alliance that the world has ever known. And we should – stood shoulder to shoulder – year after year, decade after decade – until an Iron Curtain was lifted, and freedom spread like flowing water.

This marks the 10th year of NATO membership for the Czech Republic. And I know that many times in the 20th century, decisions were made without you at the table. Great powers let you down, or determined your destiny without your voice being heard. I am here to say that the United States will never turn its back on the people of this nation. (Applause.) We are bound by shared values, shared history – (applause.) We are bound by shared values and shared history and the enduring promise of our alliance. NATO’s Article V states it clearly: An attack on one is an attack on all. That is a promise for our time, and for all time.

The people of the Czech Republic kept that promise after America was attacked; thousands were killed on our soil, and NATO responded. NATO’s mission in Afghanistan is fundamental to the safety of people on both sides of the Atlantic. We are targeting the same al Qaeda terrorists who have struck from New York to London, and helping the Afghan people take responsibility for their future. We are demonstrating that free nations can make common cause on behalf of our common security. And I want you to know that we honor the sacrifices of the Czech people in this endeavor, and mourn the loss of those you’ve lost.

But no alliance can afford to stand still. We must work together as NATO members so that we have contingency plans in place to deal with new threats, wherever they may come from. We must strengthen our cooperation with one another, and with other nations and institutions around the world, to confront dangers that recognize no borders. And we must pursue constructive relations with Russia on issues of common concern.

Now, one of those issues that I’ll focus on today is fundamental to the security of our nations and to the peace of the world – that’s the future of nuclear weapons in the 21st century.

The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War. No nuclear war was fought between the United States and the Soviet Union, but generations lived with the knowledge that their world could be erased in a single flash of light. Cities like Prague that existed for centuries, that embodied the beauty and the talent of so much of humanity, would have ceased to exist.

Today, the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not. In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up. More nations have acquired these weapons. Testing has continued. Black market trade in nuclear secrets and nuclear materials abound. The technology to build a bomb has spread. Terrorists are determined to buy, build or steal one. Our efforts to contain these dangers are centered on a global non-proliferation regime, but as more people and nations break the rules, we could reach the point where the center cannot hold.

Now, understand, this matters to people everywhere. One nuclear weapon exploded in one city – be it New York or Moscow, Islamabad or Mumbai, Tokyo or Tel Aviv, Paris or Prague – could kill hundreds of thousands of people. And no matter where it happens, there is no end to what the consequences might be – for our global safety, our security, our society, our economy, to our ultimate survival.

Some argue that the spread of these weapons cannot be stopped, cannot be checked – that we are destined to live in a world where more nations and more people possess the ultimate tools of destruction. Such fatalism is a deadly adversary, for if we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then in some way we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable.

Just as we stood for freedom in the 20th century, we must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st century. (Applause.) And as nuclear power – as a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it.

So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. (Applause.) I’m not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly – perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence. But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist, “Yes, we can.” (Applause.)

Now, let me describe to you the trajectory we need to be on. First, the United States will take concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons. To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same. Make no mistake: As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies – including the Czech Republic. But we will begin the work of reducing our arsenal.

To reduce our warheads and stockpiles, we will negotiate a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the Russians this year. (Applause.) President Medvedev and I began this process in London, and will seek a new agreement by the end of this year that is legally binding and sufficiently bold. And this will set the stage for further cuts, and we will seek to include all nuclear weapons states in this endeavor.

To achieve a global ban on nuclear testing, my administration will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. (Applause.) After more than five decades of talks, it is time for the testing of nuclear weapons to finally be banned.

And to cut off the building blocks needed for a bomb, the United States will seek a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials intended for use in state nuclear weapons. If we are serious about stopping the spread of these weapons, then we should put an end to the dedicated production of weapons-grade materials that create them. That’s the first step.

Second, together we will strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a basis for cooperation.

The basic bargain is sound: Countries with nuclear weapons will move towards disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them, and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy. To strengthen the treaty, we should embrace several principles. We need more resources and authority to strengthen international inspections. We need real and immediate consequences for countries caught breaking the rules or trying to leave the treaty without cause.

And we should build a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation, including an international fuel bank, so that countries can access peaceful power without increasing the risks of proliferation. That must be the right of every nation that renounces nuclear weapons, especially developing countries embarking on peaceful programs. And no approach will succeed if it’s based on the denial of rights to nations that play by the rules. We must harness the power of nuclear energy on behalf of our efforts to combat climate change, and to advance peace opportunity for all people.

But we go forward with no illusions. Some countries will break the rules. That’s why we need a structure in place that ensures when any nation does, they will face consequences.

Just this morning, we were reminded again of why we need a new and more rigorous approach to address this threat. North Korea broke the rules once again by testing a rocket that could be used for long range missiles. This provocation underscores the need for action – not just this afternoon at the U.N. Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons.

Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something. The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons. Now is the time for a strong international response – (applause) – now is the time for a strong international response, and North Korea must know that the path to security and respect will never come through threats and illegal weapons. All nations must come together to build a stronger, global regime. And that’s why we must stand shoulder to shoulder to pressure the North Koreans to change course.

Iran has yet to build a nuclear weapon. My administration will seek engagement with Iran based on mutual interests and mutual respect. We believe in dialogue. (Applause.) But in that dialogue we will present a clear choice. We want Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations, politically and economically. We will support Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy with rigorous inspections. That’s a path that the Islamic Republic can take. Or the government can choose increased isolation, international pressure, and a potential nuclear arms race in the region that will increase insecurity for all.

So let me be clear: Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran’s neighbors and our allies. The Czech Republic and Poland have been courageous in agreeing to host a defense against these missiles. As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven. (Applause.) If the Iranian threat is eliminated, we will have a stronger basis for security, and the driving force for missile defense construction in Europe will be removed. (Applause.)

So, finally, we must ensure that terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon. This is the most immediate and extreme threat to global security. One terrorist with one nuclear weapon could unleash massive destruction. Al Qaeda has said it seeks a bomb and that it would have no problem with using it. And we know that there is unsecured nuclear material across the globe. To protect our people, we must act with a sense of purpose without delay.

So today I am announcing a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. We will set new standards, expand our cooperation with Russia, pursue new partnerships to lock down these sensitive materials.

We must also build on our efforts to break up black markets, detect and intercept materials in transit, and use financial tools to disrupt this dangerous trade. Because this threat will be lasting, we should come together to turn efforts such as the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism into durable international institutions. And we should start by having a Global Summit on Nuclear Security that the United States will host within the next year. (Applause.)

Now, I know that there are some who will question whether we can act on such a broad agenda. There are those who doubt whether true international cooperation is possible, given inevitable differences among nations. And there are those who hear talk of a world without nuclear weapons and doubt whether it’s worth setting a goal that seems impossible to achieve.

But make no mistake: We know where that road leads. When nations and peoples allow themselves to be defined by their differences, the gulf between them widens. When we fail to pursue peace, then it stays forever beyond our grasp. We know the path when we choose fear over hope. To denounce or shrug off a call for cooperation is an easy but also a cowardly thing to do. That’s how wars begin. That’s where human progress ends.

There is violence and injustice in our world that must be confronted. We must confront it not by splitting apart but by standing together as free nations, as free people. (Applause.) I know that a call to arms can stir the souls of men and women more than a call to lay them down. But that is why the voices for peace and progress must be raised together. (Applause.)

Those are the voices that still echo through the streets of Prague. Those are the ghosts of 1968. Those were the joyful sounds of the Velvet Revolution. Those were the Czechs who helped bring down a nuclear-armed empire without firing a shot.

Human destiny will be what we make of it. And here in Prague, let us honor our past by reaching for a better future. Let us bridge our divisions, build upon our hopes, accept our responsibility to leave this world more prosperous and more peaceful than we found it. (Applause.) Together we can do it.

Thank you very much. Thank you, Prague. (Applause.)

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Comments

This is a moderated forum.  It may take a little while for comments to go live. Be civil and on-topic, don’t threaten or advocate violence, please keep it under 300 words. Thanks for participating.

Perhaps Israel will reduce

Perhaps Israel will reduce its nuclear arsenal? I would support this initiative only if Israel is included in the deal. Otherwise we (US, China Russia, EU etc) might be facing Nuclear Israel and have nothing in our arsenal to respond with.

If Obama means what he said

If Obama means what he said in the speeches, why is he pushing Russia into a new era of development in nuclear weapons by putting anti-ballistic missiles in Poland? Why is he whetting Iran’s appetite for nukes by threatening Iran with attack? It seems his actions belie his words.

What “magic”? The talismanic

What “magic”? The talismanic mojo emanating from each and every word of the Great One seems to have eluded me. Major changes in nuclear policy have been proposed before, accompanied by declarations that the abolition of nuclear weapons is a worthy goal. Nothing earth-shaking here, folks, “rapturous” students notwithstanding. BO is the POTUS, the current face of the permanent government and its interests, not the herald of the Age of Aquarius. Really, this stuff is getting sillier by the day.

45 years ago Amitai Etzioni

45 years ago Amitai Etzioni published a little-noticed book: The Hard Way to Peace. In it he delineated what the process of unilateral, gradualist, disarmament from nuclear weapons might look like. JFK endorsed the ideas in the book, even if he was too cautious to follow them with action. It seems and feels clear that too many weapons exist and we cannot afford not to at the least begin the dismantling of them. Obama can start this but he needs support. That, as they say, is us.

America has never kept a

America has never kept a treaty. Why would you ever believe the US would ever bring their huge imperial arsenal to zero. Our “manifest destiny” mentality seems to allow us to lie, cheat, steal, deceive, and invade anyone we wish… if it goes against our “national interest.” I no longer trust Obama because of the people he’s put in his cabinet. Why should another country? When he takes back the monetary system from the Fed’s, helps other countries do the same, stop the theft of Wall Street, redistribute the wealth to the working class, and pass bills to help “we, the people” then I will begin to trust.

Nothing will happen so long

Nothing will happen so long as we continue to put negotiation ahead of action. We (the United States) have the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, far larger than we need to maintain a deterrent. We can declare significant unilateral reductions and then invite other countries to match us. Once that process begins, then we can compel not-NPT nuclear states (India, Pakistan, Israel) to join. Then the UN can negotiate a binding roadmap to zero, with inspections in all countries. The point is, someone has to act first, and, as we are the strongest power, that someone should be us. “We must think anew, and act anew, and then we shall save our world.”
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Ongoing bailout coverup–Bill Moyers (my HERO!)

April 5th, 2009

This Bill Moyers interview is going viral so fast, I can’t even keep up with it. And for a very good reason – former S&L regulator Bill Black explains exactly why http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04032009/transcript1.html>  the current banking bailout is a mistake. There’s so much information, you simply have to read or watch the entire thing:

BILL MOYERS: Yeah. Are you saying that Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of  the Treasury, and others in the administration, with the banks, are engaged in  a cover-up to keep us from knowing what went wrong?
 

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Absolutely.
 

BILL MOYERS: You are.
 

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Absolutely, because they are scared to death. All right?  They’re scared to death of a collapse. They’re afraid that if they  admit the truth, that many of the large banks are insolvent. They think  Americans are a bunch of cowards, and that we’ll run screaming to the  exits. And we won’t rely on deposit insurance. And, by the way, you  can rely on deposit insurance. And it’s foolishness. All right? Now, it may be  worse than that. You can impute more cynical motives. But I think they are  sincerely just panicked about, “We just can’t let the big banks fail.” That’s  wrong.
 

BILL MOYERS: But what might happen, at this point, if in fact they keep  from us the true health of the banks?
 

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, then the banks will, as they did in Japan, either  stay enormously weak, or Treasury will be forced to increasingly absurd  giveaways of taxpayer money. We’ve seen how horrific AIG — and remember, they  kept secrets from everyone.
 

BILL MOYERS: A.I.G. did?
 

WILLIAM K. BLACK: What we’re doing with — no, Treasury and both  administrations. The Bush administration and now the Obama administration kept  secret from us what was being done with AIG. AIG was being used secretly to  bail out favored banks like UBS and like Goldman Sachs. Secretary Paulson’s  firm, that he had come from being CEO. It got the largest amount of money.  $12.9 billion. And they didn’t want us to know that. And it was only  Congressional pressure, and not Congressional pressure, by the way, on  Geithner, but Congressional pressure on AIG.
 

Where Congress said, “We will not give you a single penny more unless we  know who received the money.” And, you know, when he was Treasury Secretary,  Paulson created a recommendation group to tell Treasury what they ought to do  with AIG. And he put Goldman Sachs on it.
 

BILL MOYERS: Even though Goldman Sachs had a big vested stake.
 

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Massive stake. And even though he had just been CEO of  Goldman Sachs before becoming Treasury Secretary. Now, in most stages in  American history, that would be a scandal of such proportions that he wouldn’t  be allowed in civilized society.
 

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, like a conflict of interest, it seems.
 

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Massive conflict of interests.
 

BILL MOYERS: So, how did he get away with it?
 

WILLIAM K. BLACK: I don’t know whether we’ve lost our capability of  outrage. Or whether the cover up has been so successful that people just don’t  have the facts to react to it.

BILL MOYERS: Who’s going to get the facts?
 

WILLIAM K. BLACK: We need some chairmen or chairwomen–
 

BILL MOYERS: In Congress.
 

WILLIAM K. BLACK: –in Congress, to hold the necessary hearings. And we can  blast this out. But if you leave the failed CEOs in place, it isn’t just that  they’re terrible business people, though they are. It isn’t just that  they lack integrity, though they do. Because they were engaged in these  frauds. But they’re not going to disclose the truth about the  assets.

BILL MOYERS: And we have to know that, in order to know what?
 

WILLIAM K. BLACK: To know everything. To know who committed the frauds.  Whose bonuses we should recover. How much the assets are worth. How much they  should be sold for. Is the bank insolvent, such that we should resolve it in  this way? It’s the predicate, right? You need to know the facts to make  intelligent decisions. And they’re deliberately leaving in place the  people that caused the problem, because they don’t want the facts.  And this is not new. The Reagan Administration‘s central priority, at  all times, during the Savings and Loan crisis, was covering up the  losses.

BILL MOYERS: So, you’re saying that people in power, political power, and  financial power, act in concert when their own behinds are in the wringer,  right?
 

WILLIAM K. BLACK: That’s right. And it’s particularly a crisis that  brings this out, because then the class of the banker says, “You’ve got to  keep the information away from the public or everything will collapse. If they  understand how bad it is, they’ll run for the exits.”


 

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the Bible simplified by a child (FUN!)

April 3rd, 2009

 

A child was asked to write a book report on the entire Bible.  This is amazing and brought tears of laughter to my eyes.  I wonder how often we take for granted that children understand  what we are teaching???

Through the eyes of a child:

 

The Children’s Bible in a Nutshell

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas.  The Bible says, ‘The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that.  Anyway, God said, ‘Give me a light!’ and someone did.  Then God made the world.  He split the Adam and made Eve.  Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren’t embarrassed because mirrors hadn’t been invented yet. 

 

Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden…..Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn’t have cars.   Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

 

 

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham.  Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.  After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast.  Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

 

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston.  Moses led the Israel Lights out of  Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh’s people.  These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable.

 

God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti.  Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don’t lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor’s stuff.   Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.

 

One of Moses’ best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies.  Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.  After Joshua came David.  He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot.  He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines.  My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn’t sound very wise to me.

 

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets.  One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore.  There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don’t have to worry about them.

 

After the Old Testament came the New Testament.  Jesus is the star of The New.  He was born  in  Bethlehem  in a barn.  (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, ‘Close the door! Were you born in a barn?’ It would be nice to say, ‘As a matter of fact, I was.’)

 

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Democrats.   Jesus also had twelve opossums.  The worst one was Judas Asparagus.  Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

 

Jesus was a great man.  He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount.  But the Democrats and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot.  Pilot didn’t stick up for Jesus.  He just washed his hands instead.

Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again.  He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum.  His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

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Dr. Mercola on Monsanto’s dream bill HR 875

April 2nd, 2009

 

Congressional Bill HR 875 was introduced by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, whose husband Stanley Greenburg works for Monsanto.

 

The bill is essentially a giant gift package for Monsanto, mandating the criminalization of seed banking, prison terms and confiscatory fines for small farmers and 24 hour GPS tracking of their animals, and of “industrial” standards to independent farms.

 

The corporations want nothing less than full control of the land, the end of normal animals so they can substitute patented genetically engineered ones, and the end of normal seeds and thus of seed banking by farmers or individuals.

 

And now Monsanto wants its own employee, Michael Taylor (the man who forced genetically engineered rBGH on the country when the Clintons placed him over “food safety” in the 90’s) back in government, this time to act with massive police power as a “food safety tsar”.  HR 875 would give him immense power over what is done on every single farm in the country and massive police state power to wield over farmers.

 

Rosa DeLauro and Stanley Greenburg have a great deal to account for in attempting to force through a mislabeled “food safety” bill with hidden intent to wipe out farmers and harm everyone.

 

for links, go to http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/04/02/Monsantos-Dream-Bill–HR-875.aspx

Sources:

 

  Op Ed News March 9, 2009

 

  Cryptogon March 9, 2009

 

  Campaign for Liberty March 6, 2008

 

Dr. Mercola”s Comments Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

 

Although I’m not familiar enough with this bill in its entirety to make any definitive declarations about what it would mean for the future of small organic farms should it pass, I will say this: any law introduced by someone with ties to Monsanto is likely to be grossly tainted by industry bias.  

 

Who Does This Bill Benefit the Most? 

 

And Monsanto in particular – one of the most evil companies on the planet — is a powerful entity that has repeatedly proven its clout. Monsanto has already managed so many reprehensible acts, it boggles the mind. Including: 

 

    *

      Leading the world into a new age of potentially hazardous genetic modification of seeds.

    *

      Patenting not only their own GMO seeds, but also a huge number of crop seeds, patenting life forms for the first time — without a vote of the people or Congress.

    *

      Not allowing farmers to save their seeds to replant the next year – a practice that has been done for generations. Instead, they aggressively seek out and sue farmers they suspect of doing so.

    *

      Suing farmers who have not been able to prevent the inevitable drift of Monsanto’s GE pollen or seed onto their land for patent infringement!

    *

      Producing two of the most toxic substances ever known — polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs, and dioxin (Agent Orange).

 

Perhaps their biggest assault to your food supply already is what’s known as terminator technology. These are seeds that have been genetically modified to “self-destruct.” In other words, the seeds (and the forthcoming crops) are sterile, which means farmers must buy them again each year.

 

The implications that terminator seeds could have on the world’s food supply are disastrous: the traits from genetically engineered crops can get passed on to other crops. Once the terminator seeds are released into a region, the trait of seed sterility could be passed to other non-genetically-engineered crops, making most or all of the seeds in the region sterile.

 

If allowed to continue, every farmer in the world could come to rely on Monsanto for their seed supply!  

 

So, would it be safe to say that Monsanto stands to gain from H.R. 875?

 

Absolutely! With thousands of organic farmers driven out of business, they would be that much closer to dominating the food supply of the world, since organic farms don’t use Monsanto seeds or toxic products. 

 

Based on their history, I believe it’s prudent to question what the future of our small farms will hold, should a bill with such blatant ties to Monsanto be allowed to pass without further scrutiny. 

 

It is quite possible, perhaps even most probable, that the bill entitled H.R. 875: Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 is designed to halt the growing trend of small organic farms – not through a direct, frontal assault on organic farming, but rather by insidiously creating rules and laws that make it extremely difficult, and incredibly expensive, for small farms to comply.  

 

And in this case, the rules and regulations created by this proposed bill are mandatory, not voluntary, meaning they apply equally to a tiny farmer with half a dozen cows as it does to a massive factory farm. 

 

What are the Potential Hazards of HR 875? 

 

The stated purpose of H.R. 875: Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 is:

 

To establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes.

 

As detailed in the articles above, some of the potential hazards of HR 875 include: 

 

    * It includes small farmers who just sell their fruits and vegetables at farmer’s markets

    * Anyone engaged in food growing, or “holding food for consumption” in the U.S. would have to register annually, and create and maintain extensive records of the foods they grow and/or store

    * The definitions of who this law pertains to are so broad and loosely defined that they could potentially even include your personal backyard fruit or vegetable garden, even if you don’t sell anything but grow them for personal consumption

    * It appears it could dictate how all food growers would have to grow their food, including potentially the necessity to use certain pest control measures, for example

    * Authorities would have the ability to inspect any food production facility at random to make sure it’s operating in compliance with the food safety law, and again the definition of “food production facility” is so loosely defined it could apply to your personal orchard, vineyard, or vegetable garden, as long as it produces something edible

    * After the enactment of this Act, the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture and representatives of State departments of agriculture will promulgate regulations to establish “science-based minimum standards for the safe production of food” by food production facilities. Meaning, no one even knows what the food production standards are yet, but whatever they turn out to be will have to be followed

    * It is prohibited to: fail to register; refuse to permit access to an inspector; refuse to allow copying of all records; fail to establish or maintain any record required under the law

    * Should you fail to comply with any of the rules and regulations, there are both civil and criminal penalties, going as high as $1 million per violation, something that could clearly wipe out any small farmer in a blink of an eye 

 

What Can You Do?

 

I believe everyone should take the time to look this bill over and decide for yourself — Do you, or do you not believe industry will use every loophole they can find to further their own interests over up-and-coming small, organic family farms?

 

If you believe this bill warrants further scrutiny before being blindly passed, here are a few ways you can get involved and make your voice heard:

 

   1. Contact your Congressional members at 202-224-3121 and ask them to oppose HR 875 and S 425.  

   2. Sign the Natural Solutions Foundation’s petition to Amend the Food Safety Modernization Act H.R. 875 [and Substitutes], by adding a “Natural and Family Food and Farming Exclusion Amendment”

   3. Find out who sits on your states agriculture and farming committee and contact them with your concerns.

   4. Contact your local elected officials and let them know your position on legislation and why.

   5. Attend a local Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) meeting, this is a good start to learning about what is going on in farming, as well as getting involved with local and state initiatives .  

   6. Support the Farmers Legal Defense Fund 

 

 

 

Related Links:

 

  Monsanto’s Many Attempts to Destroy All Seeds but Their Own

 

  This Company May Be the Biggest Threat to Your Future Health

 

  How Monsanto Manipulates the System to Poison Your Health

 

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Lighting the Green Life

April 1st, 2009

 

Fwd: Be prepared if you break a CFL

 

 

Sorry for any redundancy, but here is info for disposing of broken compact bulbs — If you only have time to skim — look for the clean-up instructions at the end of the piece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 2009

 

CFLs AND MERCURY

 

 

 

Hysteria or Legitimate Concern?

 

 

 

 

Occasionally, I meet people who are reluctant to switch to energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) despite a serious interest in living more sustainably. Maybe you’re one of them.

 

I’m guessing that cost is not the problem. You are doubtless aware that even though you pay more up-front for the bulbs, you save in the long run from lower electric bills.

 

I assume you also know that today’s CFLs are comparable, or even superior, to incandescent bulbs in terms of the quality of the light. No moreflicker or buzz either.

 

So, those issues are not what’s holding you back. It could be simple inertia — or it could be the mercury inside the bulb. What if it breaks, you may wonder. Would I have to get the guys in the haz-mat suits in for $2,000, like that woman in Maine was advised to do? Would my children be safe? Would I?

 

It’s true that mercury is a dangerous substance, which can damage the nervous system, brain and other organs at miniscule doses. Young children and fetuses are at greatest risk because their developing brains absorb the mercury easily and don’t readily flush it out. During certain stages, so-called “windows of vulnerability,” neurotoxins like mercury can throw brain development off course, resulting in problems ranging from memory impairment to mental retardation. Clearly, you are right to be cautious wherever mercury is concerned.

 

However, you are only at risk of exposure from CFLs if a bulb breaks AND you don’t follow a straightforward set of steps when cleaning up. (The woman in Maine was advised incorrectly.) I am going to list the steps on the right. PRINT THIS PAGE or the printer-friendly version and put it in your kitchen where the instructions will be available if you ever need them.

 

Now you’re ready to go out and buy some bulbs.

 

Families with young children might want to skip over the table or floor lamps in the play area on the off-chance that a lamp gets knocked over when a pillow fight gets out of hand. On the other hand, if you’re not the kind of parent who is already worried about the possibility of broken glass, you may feel this precaution is unnecessary.

 

If and when you are pregnant, do not change the bulbs yourself in case one should happen to break when you screw it in, the same way you wouldn’t change kitty litter because of the risk of exposure to Toxoplasma gondii. Simply having and using the CFLs is no problem. You kept your kitty, didn’t you?

 

There is only one other thing I would strongly recommend you do — recycle the compact fluorescent bulbs when you’re done with them so they don’t break in the garbage or landfill and jeopardize the health of sanitation workers and the environment. (CFLs are amazingly long-lived, so you won’t have to deal with this eventuality for years.) Your town may have a special drop-off place for CFLs or you can take them to your local Home Depot or Ikea. Plug in your zip code at earth911.org to find the drop-off place nearest you.

 

Meanwhile, if mercury is on your mind, watch what fish you eat (especially if you are pregnant) and what fish you feed your children. Fish consumption is a route of exposure that is not a “what if” like a broken bulb. Larger, predatory fish are known to have high levels of mercury. The ones at the top of the food chain, such as shark, swordfish and big-eye and ahi tuna are the most contaminated and should be avoided altogether. (They are also species whose numbers are perilously low, so shouldn’t be eaten for that reason as well.) Other fish, such as Chilean sea bass, bluefish, halibut, snapper, lobster and canned tuna have somewhat lower levels of mercury. You can eat these without undue risk a few times a month (not each one a few times a month but all of them together).

 

There are also plenty of fish that are low in mercury and safe to eat, such as freshwater trout, sardines, catfish, crawfish and clams. Since fish is part of a healthy diet, you should put these on your shopping list. Download NRDC‘s wallet guide to fish so you know which fish to buy at the store.

 

It’s important to recognize that our energy use is one of the major causes of mercury contamination of fish in the first place. (The mercury is emitted by coal plants and settles in the water where it is taken up by the fish.) By replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, you will reduce your energy usage and help to reduce the amount of mercury you and others are exposed to.

 

You will also help in the effort to rein in global warming, which is a much greater risk to your family’s welfare down the road.

 

Honestly, if you are looking to make a difference, switching to compact fluorescent bulbs remains the simplest way.

 

 

 

 

Sheryl Eisenberg, a long-time advisor to NRDC, posts a new This Green Life every month. Sheryl makes her home in Tribeca (NYC), where-along with her children, Sophie and Gabe, and husband, Peter-she tries to put her environmental principles into practice. No fooling.

 

 

 

 

Comments?

 

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Feed back at thisgreenblog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ONLINE RESOURCES

 

 

 

 

NRDC

 

CFLs Are Safe for Your Home

 

 

 

 

TREEHUGGER

 

Is Mercury from a Broken CFL Dangerous?

 

 

 

 

ENERGY STAR

 

Choose a Light Guide

 

 

 

 

EARTH 911

 

Where to Recycle Light Bulbs

 

 

 

 

NRDC

 

Mercury in Fish

 

 

 

 

FAST COMPANY

 

How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change the World? One.

IF YOU BREAK A BULB…

 

1) Open a window before cleaning up, and turn off any forced-air heating or air conditioning.

 

 

 

 

2) Instead of sweeping or vacuuming, which can spread the mercury around, scoop up the glass fragments and powder. Use sticky tape to pick up remaining glass fragments or powder. Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel or wet wipes.

 

 

 

 

3) Dispose of the broken bulb through your local household hazardous waste program or recycling program. If that service is unavailable in your area, place all clean-up materials in atrash container outside the building.

 

 

 

 

4) Wash your hands after cleaning up.

 

 

 

 

5) If vacuuming is needed afterwards, when all visible materials have been removed, vacuum the area and dispose of the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag. For the next few times you vacuum, turn off any forced-air heating or air conditioning and open a window before doing so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND HERE IS A BIT OF VERY INTERESTING INFO . . . . maybe switch to canned salmon??

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most common risk of mercury exposure to children comes from canned tuna because kids eat so much of it. Give them chunk light tuna rather than white albacore, since it’s lower in mercury, and limit the portions and frequency according to their weight. Pregnant women should do the same. Get guidelines here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To read This Green Life on the NRDC website, go to http://www.nrdc.org/thisgreenlife/ * * *

 

This Green Life is a monthly online publication of NRDC, the Natural Resources Defense Council. NRDC is the nation’s most effective environmental action organization. We use law, science and the support of more than 1.2 million members and online activists to protect the planet’s wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things. For more information about NRDC or how to become a member of NRDC, please contact us at:

 

 

 

 

Natural Resources Defense Council

 

40 West 20th Street

 

New York, NY 10011

 

212-727-4511 (voice) / 212-727-1773 (fax)

 

Email: thisgreenlife@nrdc.org

 

http://www.nrdc.org

 

 

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