Friday, December 31, 2010

Project Censored: 2. US Department of Defense [sic] is the Worst Polluter on the Planet

This is important news for those who were unaware of this situation. Those of us who were aware of the Pentaon being #1 in destroying Mother Earth are planning a protest against climate chaos at the Pentagon on April 8. Contact me at mobuszewski at to get involved in the planning.   Max

Top Censored Stories Top 25 of 2011

2. US Department of Defense [sic] is the Worst Polluter on the Planet

Top 25 of 2011


The US military is responsible for the most egregious and widespread pollution of the planet, yet this information and accompanying documentation goes almost entirely unreported. In spite of the evidence, the environmental impact of the US military goes largely unaddressed by environmental organizations and was not the focus of any discussions or proposed restrictions at the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. This impact includes uninhibited use of fossil fuels, massive creation of greenhouse gases, and extensive release of radioactive and chemical contaminants into the air, water, and soil.

Student Researchers:

  • Dimitrina Semova, Joan Pedro, and Luis Luján (Complutense University of Madrid)
  • Ashley Jackson-Lesti, Ryan Stevens, Chris Marten, and Kristy Nelson (Sonoma State University)
  • Christopher Lue (Indian River State College)
  • Cassie Barthel (St. Cloud State University)

Faculty Evaluators:

  • Ana I. Segovia (Complutense University of Madrid)
  • Julie Flohr and Mryna Goodman (Sonoma State University)
  • Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)
  • Julie Andrzejewski (St. Cloud State University)

The extensive global operations of the US military (wars, interventions, and secret operations on over one thousand bases around the world and six thousand facilities in the United States) are not counted against US greenhouse gas limits. Sara Flounders writes, “By every measure, the Pentagon is the largest institutional user of petroleum products and energy in general. Yet the Pentagon has a blanket exemption in all international climate agreements.”

While official accounts put US military usage at 320,000 barrels of oil a day, that does not include fuel consumed by contractors, in leased or private facilities, or in the production of weapons. The US military is a major contributor of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that most scientists believe is to blame for climate change. Steve Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, reports, “The Iraq war was responsible for at least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) from March 2003 through December 2007. . . . That war emits more than 60 percent that of all countries. . . . This information is not readily available . . . because military emissions abroad are exempt from national reporting requirements under US law and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

According to Barry Sanders, author of The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, “the greatest single assault on the environment, on all of us around the globe, comes from one agency . . . the Armed Forces of the United States.”

Throughout the long history of military preparations, actions, and wars, the US military has not been held responsible for the effects of its activities upon environments, peoples, or animals. During the Kyoto Accords negotiations in December 1997, the US demanded as a provision of signing that any and all of its military operations worldwide, including operations in participation with the UN and NATO, be exempted from measurement or reductions. After attaining this concession, the Bush administration then refused to sign the accords and the US Congress passed an explicit provision guaranteeing the US military exemption from any energy reduction or measurement.

Environmental journalist Johanna Peace reports that military activities will continue to be exempt based on an executive order signed by President Barack Obama that calls for other federal agencies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Peace states, “The military accounts for a full 80 percent of the federal government’s energy demand.”

As it stands, the Department of Defense is the largest polluter in the world, producing more hazardous waste than the five largest US chemical companies combined. Depleted uranium, petroleum, oil, pesticides, defoliant agents such as Agent Orange, and lead, along with vast amounts of radiation from weaponry produced, tested, and used, are just some of the pollutants with which the US military is contaminating the environment. Flounders identifies key examples:

- Depleted uranium: Tens of thousands of pounds of microparticles of radioactive and highly toxic waste contaminate the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Balkans.

- US-made land mines and cluster bombs spread over wide areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East continue to spread death and destruction even after wars have ceased.

- Thirty-five years after the Vietnam War, dioxin contamination is three hundred to four hundred times higher than “safe” levels, resulting in severe birth defects and cancers into the third generation of those affected.

- US military policies and wars in Iraq have created severe desertification of 90 percent of the land, changing Iraq from a food exporter into a country that imports 80 percent of its food.

- In the US, military bases top the Superfund list of the most polluted places, as perchlorate and trichloroethylene seep into the drinking water, aquifers, and soil.

- Nuclear weapons testing in the American Southwest and the South Pacific Islands has contaminated millions of acres of land and water with radiation, while uranium tailings defile Navajo reservations.

- Rusting barrels of chemicals and solvents and millions of rounds of ammunition are criminally abandoned by the Pentagon in bases around the world.

The United States is planning an enormous $15 billion military buildup on the Pacific island of Guam. The project would turn the thirty-mile-long island into a major hub for US military operations in the Pacific. It has been described as the largest military buildup in recent history and could bring as many as fifty thousand people to the tiny island. Chamoru civil rights attorney Julian Aguon warns that this military operation will bring irreversible social and environmental consequences to Guam. As an unincorporated territory, or colony, and of the US, the people of Guam have no right to self-determination, and no governmental means to oppose an unpopular and destructive occupation.

Between 1946 and 1958, the US dropped more than sixty nuclear weapons on the people of the Marshall Islands. The Chamoru people of Guam, being so close and downwind, still experience an alarmingly high rate of related cancer.

On Capitol Hill, the conversation has been restricted to whether the jobs expected from the military construction should go to mainland Americans, foreign workers, or Guam residents. But we rarely hear the voices and concerns of the indigenous people of Guam, who constitute over a third of the island’s population.

Meanwhile, as if the US military has not contaminated enough of the world already, a new five-year strategic plan by the US Navy outlines the militarization of the Arctic to defend national security, potential undersea riches, and other maritime interests, anticipating the frozen Arctic Ocean to be open waters by the year 2030. This plan strategizes expanding fleet operations, resource development, research, and tourism, and could possibly reshape global transportation.

While the plan discusses “strong partnerships” with other nations (Canada, Norway, Denmark, and Russia have also made substantial investments in Arctic-capable military armaments), it is quite evident that the US is serious about increasing its military presence and naval combat capabilities. The US, in addition to planned naval rearmament, is stationing thirty-six F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets, which is 20 percent of the F-22 fleet, in Anchorage, Alaska.

Some of the action items in the US Navy Arctic Roadmap document include:

- Assessing current and required capability to execute undersea warfare, expeditionary warfare, strike warfare, strategic sealift, and regional security cooperation.

- Assessing current and predicted threats in order to determine the most dangerous and most likely threats in the Arctic region in 2010, 2015, and 2025.

- Focusing on threats to US national security, although threats to maritime safety and security may also be considered.

Behind the public façade of international Arctic cooperation, Rob Heubert, associate director at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary, points out, “If you read the document carefully you’ll see a dual language, one where they’re saying, ‘We’ve got to start working together’ . . . and [then] they start saying, ‘We have to get new instrumentation for our combat officers.’ . . . They’re clearly understanding that the future is not nearly as nice as what all the public policy statements say.”

Beyond the concerns about human conflicts in the Arctic, the consequences of militarization on the Arctic environment are not even being considered. Given the record of environmental devastation that the US military has wrought, such a silence is unacceptable.

Update by Mickey Z.

As I sit here, typing this “update,” the predator drones are still flying over Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, the oil is still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, and 53.3 percent of our tax money is still being funneled to the US military. Simply put, hope and change feels no different from shock and awe . . . but the mainstream media continues to propagate the two-party lie.

Linking the antiwar and environmental movements is a much-needed step. As Cindy Sheehan recently told me, “I think one of the best things that we can do is look into economic conversion of the defense industry into green industries, working on sustainable and renewable forms of energy, and/or connect[ing] with indigenous people who are trying to reclaim their lands from the pollution of the military industrial complex. The best thing to do would be to start on a very local level to reclaim a planet healthy for life.”

It comes down to recognizing the connections, recognizing how we are manipulated into supporting wars and how those wars are killing our ecosystem. We must also recognize our connection to the natural world. For if we were to view all living things, including ourselves, as part of one collective soul, how could we not defend that collective soul by any means necessary?

We are on the brink of economic, social, and environmental collapse. In other words, this is the best time ever to be an activist.

Update by Julian Aguon

In 2010, the people of Guam are bracing themselves for a cataclysmic round of militarization with virtually no parallel in recent history. Set to formally begin this year, the military buildup comes on the heels of a decision by the United States to aggrandize its military posture in the Asia-Pacific region. At the center of the US military realignment schema is the hotly contested agreement between the United States and Japan to relocate thousands of US Marines from Okinawa to Guam. This portentous development, which is linked to the United States’ perception of China as a security threat, bodes great harm to the people and environment of Guam yet remains virtually unknown to Americans and the rest of the international community.

What is happening in Guam is inherently interesting because while America trots its soldiers and its citizenry off to war to the tune of “spreading democracy” in its own proverbial backyard, an entire civilization of so-called “Americans” watch with bated breath as people thousands of miles away—people we cannot vote for—make decisions for us at ethnocidal costs. Although this military buildup marks the most volatile demographic change in recent Guam history, the people of Guam have never had an opportunity to meaningfully participate in any discussion about the buildup. To date, the scant coverage of the military buildup has centered almost exclusively around the United States and Japan. In fact, the story entitled “Guam Residents Organize Against US Plans for $15B Military Buildup on Pacific Island” on Democracy Now! was the first bona fide US media coverage of the military buildup since 2005 to consider, let alone privilege, the people’s opposition.

The heart of this story is not so much in the finer details of the military buildup as it is in the larger political context of real-life twenty-first-century colonialism. Under US domestic law, Guam is an unincorporated territory. What this means is that Guam is a territory that belongs to the United States but is not a part of it. As an unincorporated territory, the US Constitution does not necessarily or automatically apply in Guam. Instead, the US Congress has broad powers over the unincorporated territories, including the power to choose what portions of the Constitution apply to them. In reality, Guam remains under the purview of the Office of Insular Affairs in the US Department of the Interior.

Under international law, Guam is a non-self-governing territory, or UN-recognized colony whose people have yet to exercise the fundamental right to self-determination. Article 73 of the United Nations Charter, which addresses the rights of peoples in non-self-governing territories, commands states administering them to “recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants are paramount.” These “administering powers” accept as a “sacred trust” the obligation to develop self-government in the territories, taking due account of the political aspirations of the people. As a matter of international treaty and customary law, the colonized people of Guam have a right to self-determination under international law that the United States, at least in theory, recognizes.

The military buildup, however, reveals the United States’ failure to fulfill its international legal mandate. This is particularly troubling in light of the fact that this very year, 2010, marks the formal conclusion of not one but two UN-designated international decades for the eradication of colonialism. In 1990, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 1990–2000 as the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. To this end, the General Assembly adopted a detailed plan of action to expedite the unqualified end of all forms of colonialism. In 2001, citing a wholesale lack of progress during the first decade, the General Assembly proclaimed a second one to effect the same goal. The second decade has come and all but gone with only Timor-Leste, or East Timor, managing to attain independence from Indonesia in 2002.

In November 2009—one month after “Guam Residents Organize Against US Plans for $15B Military Buildup on Pacific Island” aired—the US Department of Defense released an unprecedented 11,000-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), detailing for the first time the true enormity of the contemplated militarization of Guam. At its peak, the military buildup will bring more than 80,000 new residents to Guam, which includes more than 8,600 US Marines and their 9,000 dependents; 7,000 so-called transient US Navy personnel; 600 to 1,000 US Army personnel; and 20,000 foreign workers on military construction contracts. This “human tsunami,” as it is being called, represents a roughly 47 percent increase in Guam’s total population in a four-to-six-year window. Today, the total population of Guam is roughly 178,000 people, the indigenous Chamoru people making up only 37 percent of that number. We are looking at a volatile and virtually overnight demographic change in the makeup of the island that even the US military admits will result in the political dispossession of the Chamoru people. To put the pace of this ethnocide in context, just prior to World War II, Chamorus comprised more than 90 percent of Guam’s population.

At the center of the buildup are three major proposed actions: 1) the construction of permanent facilities and infrastructure to support the full spectrum of warfare training for the thousands of relocated Marines; 2) the construction of a new deep-draft wharf in the island’s only harbor to provide for the passage of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers; and 3) the construction of an Army Missile Defense Task Force modeled on the Marshall Islands–based Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, for the practice of intercepting intercontinental ballistic missiles.

In terms of adverse impact, these developments will mean, among other things, the clearing of whole limestone forests and the desecration of burial sites some 3,500 years old; the restricting of access to areas rich in plants necessary for indigenous medicinal practice; the denying of access to places of worship and traditional fishing grounds; the destroying of seventy acres of thriving coral reef, which currently serve as critical habitat for several endangered species; and the over-tapping of Guam’s water system to include the drilling of twenty-two additional wells. In addition, the likelihood of military-related accidents will greatly increase. Seven crashes occurred during military training from August 2007 to July 2008, the most recent of which involved a crash of a B-52 bomber that killed the entire crew. The increased presence of US military forces in Guam also increases the island’s visibility as a target for enemies of the United States.

Finally, an issue that has sparked some of the sharpest debate in Guam has been the Department of Defense’s announcement that it will, if needed, forcibly condemn an additional 2,200 acres of land in Guam to support the construction of new military facilities. This potential new land grab has been met with mounting protest by island residents, mainly due to the fact that the US military already owns close to one-third of the small island, the majority of which was illegally taken after World War II.

In February 2010, upon review of the DEIS, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated it “insufficient” and “environmentally unsatisfactory,” giving it the lowest possible rating for a DEIS. Among other things, the EPA’s findings suggest that Guam’s water infrastructure cannot handle the population boom and that the island’s fresh water resources will be at high risk for contamination. The EPA predicts that without infrastructural upgrades to the water system, the population outside the bases will experience a 13.1 million gallons of water shortage per day in 2014. The agency stated that the Pentagon’s massive buildup plans for Guam “should not proceed as proposed.” The people of Guam were given a mere ninety days to read through the voluminous 11,000-page document and make comments about its contents. The ninety-day comment period ended on February 17, 2010. The final EIS is scheduled for release in August 2010, with the record of decision to follow immediately thereafter.

The response to this story from the mainstream US media has been deafening silence. Since the military buildup was first announced in 2005, it was more than three years before any US media outlet picked up on the story. In fact, the October 2009 Democracy Now! interview was the first substantive national news coverage of the military buildup.


Sara Flounders, “Add Climate Havoc to War Crimes: Pentagon’s Role in Global Catastrophe,” International Action Center, December 18, 2009,

Mickey Z., “Can You Identify the Worst Polluter on the Planet? Here’s a Hint: Shock and Awe,” Planet Green, August 10, 2009,

Julian Aguon, “Guam Residents Organize Against US Plans for $15B Military Buildup on Pacific Island,” Democracy Now!, October 9, 2009, 2009/10/9/guam_residents_organize_against_us_plans.

Ian Macleod, “U.S. Plots Arctic Push,” Ottawa Citizen, November 28, 2009,

Nick Turse, “Vietnam Still in Shambles after American War,” In These Times, May 2009,

Jalal Ghazi, “Cancer—The Deadly Legacy of the Invasion of Iraq,” New America Media, January 6, 2010, _id=80e260b3839daf2084fdeb0965ad31ab.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Honor the WikiLeakers

Honor the WikiLeakers

Friday 31 December 2010

by: Alexander Cockburn, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed


When it comes to journalistic achievements in 2010, the elephant in the room is WikiLeaks. I've seen many put-downs of the materials as containing "no smoking guns", or as being essentially trivial communications to the State Department from U.S. diplomats and kindred government agents around the world.

Now, it's true that the cables were legally available to well over 1.5 million Americans, who had adequate security clearance. But trivial? Don't believe it. The cables show the daily business of a mighty empire acting in manners diametrically opposite to public pretensions. The cables form one of the most extraordinary lessons in the cold realities of international diplomacy ever made public. Normally, scholars have to wait for 10, 20, even 50 years to gain access to such papers.

The WikiLeaks documents show that the picture of the international business of the United States offered by the major U.S. media to the public is an infantile misrepresentation of reality. The efforts being made by Attorney General Eric Holder to bolster secrecy and espionage laws show that the U.S. government, led currently by a man who pledged "transparency," wants the American people to remain in blissful ignorance of what its government is actually doing.

The alleged leaker of the WikiLeaks files, Army Private Bradley Manning, currently being held in solitary confinement in sadistic conditions, should be vigorously applauded and defended for exposing such crimes as the murder of civilians in Baghdad by U.S. Apache helicopters. The WikiLeaks Afghan-related files are a damning, vivid series of snapshots of a disastrous and criminal enterprise.

In these same files, there is a compelling series of secret documents about the death squad operated by the U.S. military known as Task Force 373, an undisclosed "black" unit of special forces, which has been hunting down targets for death or detention without trial. From WikiLeaks we learn that more than 2,000 senior figures from the Taliban and al-Qaida are held on a "kill or capture" list, known as Jpel, the joint prioritized effects list.

Julian Assange and his colleagues should similarly be honored and defended. They have acted in the best traditions of the journalistic vocation.

The U.S. began the destruction of Afghanistan in 1979, when President Jimmy Carter and his National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, started financing the mullahs and warlords in the largest and most expensive operation in the CIA's history until that time. Here we are, more than three decades later, half-buried under a mountain of horrifying news stories about a destroyed land of desolate savagery, and what did one hear on many news commentaries earlier this week? Indignant bleats often by liberals, about WikiLeaks' "irresponsibility" in releasing the documents, twitchy questions such as that asked by The Nation's Chris Hayes on the "Rachel Maddow Show": "I wonder ultimately to whom WikiLeaks ends up being accountable."

The answer to that last question was given definitively in 1851 by Robert Lowe, editorial writer for the London Times. He had been instructed by his editor to refute the claim of a government minister that if the press hoped to share the influence of statesmen, it "must also share in the responsibilities of statesmen."

"The first duty of the press," Lowe wrote, "is to obtain the earliest and most correct intelligence of the events of the time, and instantly, by disclosing them, to make them the common property of the nation ... The Press lives by disclosures ... For us, with whom publicity and truth are the air and light of existence, there can be no greater disgrace than to recoil from the frank and accurate disclosure of facts as they are. We are bound to tell the truth as we find it, without fear of consequences -- to lend no convenient shelter to acts of injustice and oppression, but to consign them at once to the judgment of the world."

Alexander Cockburn is co-editor with Jeffrey St. Clair of the muckraking newsletter CounterPunch. He is also co-author of the new book "Dime's Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils," available through

Copyright 2010 

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Lobbyist Lanny Davis' Client List Puts Him on the Defensive

Published on Friday, December 31, 2010 by the New York Times

Lobbyist Lanny Davis’ Client List Puts Him on the Defensive

by Ginger Thompson and Eric Lipton

WASHINGTON - After decades of work for some of this country's most powerful lobbying firms, Lanny J. Davis, the lawyer who once helped defend President Bill Clinton from impeachment, is suddenly scrambling to defend himself.

[United Students Against Sweatshops hung this banner July 20, 2009 on the building across the street from Honduran coup regime lobbyist Lanny Davis’ office in Washington.]United Students Against Sweatshops hung this banner July 20, 2009 on the building across the street from Honduran coup regime lobbyist Lanny Davis’ office in Washington.

Since leaving the White House, Mr. Davis has built a client list that now includes coup supporters in Honduras, a dictator in Equatorial Guinea, for-profit colleges accused of exploiting students, and a company that dominates the manufacture of additives for infant formula. This month, he agreed to represent the Ivory Coast strongman whose claims to that country's presidency have been condemned by the international community and may even set off a civil war.

Mr. Davis withdrew from his $100,000-a-month contract with Ivory Coast on Wednesday night, saying that the embattled government refused to accept his suggestion to talk to President Obama. Still, his role in West Africa has stoked growing criticism that Mr. Davis has become a kind of front man for the dark side, willing to take on some of the world's least noble companies and causes.

Many lobbying firms have clients with checkered records. Indeed, those are the people who need help the most in Washington. But many activists - and even some government officials - said the list of clients in Mr. Davis's firm stood out.

"You look at who he represents, and the list is just almost unseemly, tawdry," said Meredith McGehee, a lobbyist for California WIC Association, which represents agencies that serve poor women with infant children, and who faced off against Mr. Davis this year in the fight over baby formula, which his client won. "It is an illustration of what most of the American people think of as wrong with Washington."

Mr. Davis says he is aware of the criticism, particularly since his representation of Ivory Coast became an issue. And he is pushing back with some of the same message-molding that earned him a label as a "spinmeister par excellence." He says he's lining up State Department officials, members of Congress and business leaders to testify about how much he has helped them.

Mostly, however, he's single-handedly flooding the zone, writing long, detailed responses to reporters and columnists, and making himself available to anyone interested in directly hearing his side of his story.

"My credibility is the only thing I have," he said in a long, emotional interview on Thursday. "If I defend people in indefensible, corrupt acts, then I lose everything I have, and I'm just another gun for hire. But when I see that I can help get out the facts, and improve people's lives, and peacefully resolve conflicts, then I feel an obligation to do so."

The 65-year-old native of Jersey City said his client list reflected his philosophy that everyone deserved a voice, particularly companies and causes that challenged conventional wisdom or the public's sense of the politically correct. In his career, he has not only embraced controversy, but has also sought it out, portraying himself above all as a crisis manager committed to peacefully resolving conflicts.

That is essentially how Mr. Davis explains his decision to work for the self-declared president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo [1], who has refused to accept that he lost his country's presidential election this month, despite the sanctions and threats of force by his African neighbors.

"I felt great pressure that I could accomplish the avoidance of bloodshed by convincing this man to seek a fair hearing, and to stand down if the result didn't go his way," Mr. Davis said, referring to Mr. Gbagbo. Later, he added, "I thought I could do some good."

He similarly explained his work as one of three foreign agents for the government of Equatorial Guinea, which has been governed for three decades by Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Rights groups and anticorruption activists have accused Mr. Obiang of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from his tiny oil-rich West African state, while most of its people scrape by in dire poverty.

"I'm a liberal Democrat," Mr. Davis said, referring to his work for Mr. Obiang. "I've been a liberal Democrat all my life. I haven't changed my values. But what am I supposed to do if the leader of a country comes to me and says he wants to get right with the world, and get right with the United States? Am I supposed to say no, and let him go on doing what he's doing? Or should I try to help him get right?"

Obama administration officials say Mr. Davis is on the wrong side of some of these fights.

"Lanny is a relentless and effective interlocutor, but he cannot change the basic facts and interests that guide our foreign policy," said the State Department spokesman Phillip J. Crowley. Referring respectively to leaders in Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea, he added, "President Gbagbo scheduled an election that he lost fair and square. That's a fact. President Obiang has an abysmal human rights record. That's a fact."

To be sure, his professional roster includes more clearly altruistic causes, such as the death-row inmate in California, Kevin Cooper, whom he has been helping, on a pro bono basis, to try to get clemency from the governor. "He is indefatigable - he works around the clock," said Norman C. Hile, a California lawyer who is leading the clemency effort on Mr. Cooper's behalf. "And he has been very persuasive in getting people to listen to our case."

Regardless of the merits of the arguments Mr. Davis has made on behalf of his clients, he has come under unusually vociferous attacks in recent months, from a diverse array of advocates representing everyone from college students and mothers of poor children, to diplomats and international human rights advocates.

When advocates for poor women with infant children began to question if all the federally subsidized baby formula sold in the United States should include fatty acids known as DHA and ARA - which are supposed to make the formula more resemble breast milk - Mr. Davis was hired by Martek Biosciences, the Maryland-based company that makes the additives.

No one was arguing that these additives were dangerous, but there was debate as to whether they were effective.

Mr. Davis stepped in, sending around an e-mail on Capitol Hill claiming that the legislation that would have mandated more research on the additives was being pushed by "lactivists" who want to force women to continue breast-feeding. The provision was dropped.

More recently, Mr. Davis has taken up the fight on behalf of some of the largest for-profit colleges in the United States, which have been under attack for aggressive recruiting tactics. Critics say the colleges often leave students with excessive debt and degrees of limited value.

Mr. Davis has argued that these colleges are critical to Mr. Obama's effort to increase higher-education opportunities, particularly for minority students.

Mr. Davis disagreed with his critics. And on Thursday, he had supporters call in with praise and flooded a reporter with e-mails of speeches he has given, comments he has made or the names of people who could speak on his behalf. He said that he was fighting back against Internet writers who ignored the facts, and a 24-hour news cycle that cared only about snappy sound bites.

"Do I often find myself in a position of disputing facts that are not consistent with easy labels?" he said. "That's what I do for a living. Controversy is what I do for a living."

Helene Cooper contributed reporting.

© 2010 New York Times


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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Can the leak phenonomen sustain the continued assault by the corporate sector to prevail in the first ever cyber-war?

Published on Wednesday, December 29, 2010 by Al-Jazeera-English

Capital's War Against WikiLeaks

Can the leak phenonomen sustain the continued assault by the corporate sector to prevail in the first ever cyber-war?

by Mark Levine

When your Swiss banker throws you overboard, you know you've made some very powerful enemies.

Long famed for hiding money for everyone from Nazis and drug lords to spies and dictators, the Swiss government's banking arm has decided that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are just too hot even for it to handle.

And so the PostFinance, which runs the country's banks, declared in early December that it had "ended its business relationship with WikiLeaks founder Julian Paul Assange" after accusing Mr. Assange of - gasp! - providing false information about his place of residence.

This move followed similar moves by credit card companies MasterCard and Visa, as well as PayPal and, to no longer process WikiLeaks payments and, in's case, to cease hosting its data.

As I write this, Bank of America has joined the crescendo of corporations taking aim at WikiLeaks, refusing to process payments for it any longer because of "our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments."

And soon after, none other than Apple joined the chorus, pulling the plug on a WikiLeaks app only days after it went on sale on its iTunes website. Every sector of the corporate economy, it seems, is out to get WikiLeaks.

Zeroing in on "neocorporatism"

Should CIA agents, mafia bosses and other fellow Swiss banking customers who have likely been even less than forthright in their personal representations than Assange is alleged to have been also worry about the loyalty and discretion of their Swiss bankers?

Probably not. And that's because the world's criminals, autocrats and spooks are very much part of the global political economic system, even if sometimes on opposite sides.

But WikiLeaks both operates outside the system, seeking "Matrix"-style, to use technology - the internet - to "destroy" it by prying it open to public scrutiny, exposing the constant conspiracies of the powerful against the rest of society.

This task, Assange argues, is the most important way to help free the system's millions of often complicit - if not quite willing - victims and in so doing, "change or remove... government and neocorporatist behaviour".

As a political theorist, Assange leaves something to be desired. "Neocorporatism" describes a system in which capital and labour are enmeshed in an integrated but ultimately dependent relationship with a powerful and autonomous state apparatus - an update of the triangular relationship that enabled unprecedented economic growth and gains for the working class in the West in the decades after World War II.

Ideologically, this kind of close working relationship between government, big business and organised labour is the antithesis of the neoliberal system WikiLeaks seeks to combat.

But Assange is right that there is something "neo", if not exactly new, in the way the corporate sector is behaving today and its relationship with government. It lies in the embrace - or better, re-embrace - of finance capitalism and militaristic empire and the military industrial complex that sustains it.

Whether preying on unwitting consumers in middle America or preying on suspected insurgents in the Middle East, these are two of the most secretive sectors of the American economy. They depend on the public knowing as little as possible about their inner workings to secure the greatest possible freedom of action, power and profits.

The power of secrecy

Assage's abandonment by the Swiss banking system and its American corporate cousins is thus not surprising. Few industries have used secrecy and lack of disclosure more effectively than the banking, financial services and credit card industries.

Indeed, their secretive business practises are central to their constant ability to rake in enormous profits at the expense of working and middle class Americans through monopolising trading systems, charging morally usurious interest rates and fees, and engaging in other practises that would make even the most cold-hearted lone shark blush.

If the grand bargain between workers, capitalists and governments enabled the first two post-World War II generations to move from high school right into the middle class, this road was irreparably damaged by the 1980s, when the neoliberal Right first came to power.

As the United States entered its long and painful era of deindustrialization American foreign policy became more aggressively militaristic; and so joining the military as opposed to GM or Ford became one of the few routes to secure any kind of stable economic future (as long as you stayed in the military).

Not surprisingly, profits from the financial sector surpassed that of manufacturing in the early 1990s and haven't dropped since. But these profits and the economic growth they generated have relied disproportionately on government and consumer debt and a hollowing out of the manufacturing sector, which together helped make the US the "sick man of the globe", as one senior corporate economist.

For their part, GM, Ford and Chrysler simultaneously focused most of their energies on producing comparatively profitable gas-guzzlers like SUVs while establishing financial services arms that quickly became responsible for a substantial share of their profits (in some years upwards of 90 percent of profits are so derived).

Their lending practises, it's worth noting, included the kinds of "liar" home loans, given out with little concern over the ability of borrowers to pay them, that precipitated the global economic crisis of 2007 till today.

Financialisation and history

None of these practises would have withstood the light of public scrutiny, and it was only the corporatisation - in good measure, financialization - of American politics that allowed them to flourish in the last thirty years. Few enterprises threaten that secrecy as much as WikiLeaks and its laser-like focus on openness, which is why its actions are viewed in Washington as "striking at the very heart of the global economy".

The "financialisation" of the economy represents the increasing dominance of the financial industries in the overall economy, taking over "the dominant economic, cultural, and political role in a national economy".

Crucially, this process isn't unique to the United States; it also happened to previous empires, like the Hapsburg's, Dutch and British empires, at precisely the eras they lost their dominant global position. In all cases, financialism and militarism went hand in hand, as first pointed out by the British historian John Hobson's famous 1902 book Imperialism: A Study.

In it, Hobson argued that the monopolisation of the financial sector created a new oligarchy that linked together the large banks and industrial firms together with "war mongers and speculators" which encouraged imperialism to secure markets for the surplus products produced by corporations.

America's rise to global dominance came after the end of the imperial era and so it couldn't blatantly conquer territory to create new markets. But at the moment of its rise policy makers called on the government to use high military spending to ensure overall robust economic growth.

This coincided with rapid expansion of easily obtainable credit, creating two "giant black holes" (in the words of Israeli economists Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan) whose potential for expansion was limited only by the willingness of citizens to support the policies that enabled them, despite the long term harm to the economic and political well-being of their societies.

During the first thirty years of the Cold War era, the propensity towards militarism was balanced by the robust manufacturing economy and the tripartite business-labour-government relationship that secured it.

This began to change in the 1970s, when the hugely expensive, and profitable, Vietnam War began to wind own.

At this moment, as Nitzan and Bichler describe in their hugely important book, The Global Political Economy of Israel, beginning in this period "there was a growing convergence of interests between the world's leading petroleum and armament corporations. The politicisation of oil, together with the parallel commercialisation of arms exports, helped shape an uneasy weapondollar-petrodollar coalition between these companies."

What is most crucial about Nitzan and Bichler's analysis is that one of the most important ways that the arms and oil industries were able to earn a disproportionate (as they describe it, "differential") level of profits was through the regular eruption of Middle Eastern energy conflicts, which ensured both relative high oil prices and arms purchases.

McDonald's and McDonnell Douglas

As this process developed, the authors explain that "the lines separating state from capital, foreign policy from corporate strategy, and territorial conquest from differential profit, no longer seem very solid."

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman puts it more colourfully: "The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist. McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas - and the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps."

This is the "neocorporatism" that Assange and his WikiLeaks comrades have zeroed in on, although today, more than a decade after Friedman wrote the above words, Master Card is more relevant than McDonald's.

The problem is that WikiLeaks alone cannot turn the tide in this conflict.

Assange might well be a "high tech terrorist," as US Vice President Joseph Biden recently called him, given how much terror his actions have struck in the heart of the American political system.

But the US is ultimately only one of a group of powerful countries and corporations whose leaders all share a fundamental commitment to securing as much profit and power as possible for themselves, however much their methods and politics differ.

Indeed, a sober look at the relevant data reveals that the profit share of the financial sectors outside the US has almost always been significantly higher than in the US, meaning that the rest of the world has long been more "financialised" than has the US economy.

As always, capitalism and power have never been as conveniently centred in one country or region as people imagine.

To really have an impact, WikiLeaks needs to inspire a whole generation of leakers in other countries and cultures, who are as willing to risk their freedom as Assange and the other people behind WikiLeaks. The leak culture [1] has started to take root, however only time will tell is it resists the forces working against it's development.

If this doesn't happen - if Assange and his comrades are successfully made into examples by their corporate and political enemies that scare off those who might be inspired by their example - Capital will likely win the world's first "cyber-war", much as it's won most every war before it during modernity's long, bloody and unimaginably profitable history.

© 2010 Al-Jazeera-English


Mark Levine is a professional musician and professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of California, Irvine. He is author of half a dozen books, including Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Religion and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam (forthcoming, Random House/Verso, companion CD to be released by EMI Records).


URL to article:


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Israeli Activist Jailed for Bike Protest

Israeli Activist Jailed for Bike Protest


(Two Takes)


By Robert Mackey

New York Times blog

December 28, 2010




Israeli activists during a "Critical Mass Against the

Occupation" bike protest in Tel Aviv in 2007.Yotam

Ronen/Activestills The Israeli activist Jonathan Pollak

during a "Critical Mass Against the Occupation" protest

in Tel Aviv.


Updated | 2:07 p.m. An Israeli activist was sentenced

to three months in jail on Monday for his part in a

2008 protest by Tel Aviv cyclists opposed to the

blockade of Gaza.


The activist, Jonathan Pollak, is a 28-year-old leader

of Anarchists Against the Wall, an Israeli group that

joins Palestinian protesters in weekly demonstrations

against the security barrier Israel is building on West

Bank land it has occupied since 1967. He also works to

draw media attention to the West Bank protests through

another group, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.


Joseph Dana, an Israeli blogger and activist who works

with Mr. Pollak, explained in a post on the blog +972

that his colleague was arrested in January 2008, as he

took part in a "Critical Mass bicycle ride through the

streets of Tel Aviv against the siege on Gaza. During

the protest, Pollak was arrested by plain-clothes

police who recognized him from previous protests and

because, as claimed in court, they assumed he was the

organizer and figurehead of the event."


Mr. Pollak's conviction for illegal assembly at the

bike protest activated an older three-month suspended

sentence imposed on him for protesting the construction

of the security barrier. The activist refused to

apologize for his role in the protest or ask for

leniency in a statement to the court.


"I have no doubt that what we did was right and, if

anything, not sufficient considering what is being done

in our name," Mr. Pollak said later in a telephone

interview with Ana Carbajosa of The Guardian. "If I

have to go to prison to resist the occupation, I will

do it gladly."


Israel's Ynet News reported that Dan Yakir, the chief

legal counsel for The Association for Civil Rights in

Israel, criticized the sentence, saying:


The fact that Pollak was the only one arrested, even

though he behaved just like the rest of the protesters,

and the fact that bicycle demonstrations are usually

held without police involvement raises a strong

suspicion regarding personal persecution and a severe

blow for freedom of expression, just because of his

opinions. A prison sentence in the wake of a protest is

an extreme and exaggerated punishment.


In  an interview with Russia Today, a Kremlin-financed

broadcaster, Joseph Dana claimed that the jailing of

Mr. Pollak was "a clear attempt to silence dissent on

the Israeli left and part of a broader attack on non-

violence" as a means of protesting Israeli policies.


Critical Mass protests, in which activists take to the

streets on bicycles, began in San Francisco in the

1990s but are now said to take place in some 300 cities

around the world, including New York. One regular rider

told Ben McGrath of The New Yorker that the events were

"a `happening,' a temporary reorganization of public space."


As my colleague James Barron has reported, the New York

Police Department has had regular run-ins with the

cyclists. In 2008, a police officer was filmed  shoving

a cyclist to the ground as Critical Mass riders left

Times Square. Two months ago, New York City agreed to

pay nearly $1 million to settle a lawsuit filed by 83

participants in Critical Mass rides who claimed that

they were wrongly detained and arrested at protests

between 2004 and 2006.




Jewish activist faces jail for West Bank resistance


By Donald Macintyre in Tel Aviv

The Independent (UK)

December 27, 2010


It is not every day that a leading Palestinian activist

issues an emphatic statement of support for a Jewish

Israeli - "this friend, whose friendship I am proud to

share" - facing prison.


But then Jonathan Pollak, who could be jailed for

between three and six months when the Tel Aviv

Magistrates Court decides on his prosecution for

illegal assembly today, is an unusual figure even in

the long history of Israeli dissent.


The man praising him, Ayed Morrar, has become

internationally known thanks to an award-winning

documentary on the victorious unarmed struggle he led

to change the route of the Israeli military's

separation barrier in the Palestinian village of

Budrus. Mr Pollak, 28, is already a veteran of that and

many other battles against the barrier and settlements

in the West Bank, protesting alongside Palestinian

residents and sharing the same physical risks in the

clashes between armed security forces - that sometimes

use live ammunition - and stone-throwing young

villagers that the struggle tends to generate.


Thanks to his media work for the Popular Struggle Co-

ordination Committee, which loosely links these village

protests, Mr Pollak is the best known of the small-but-

persistent group of young Israelis who go week after

week to the West Bank to take part.


Yet the current indictment is for something closer to

home - his participation in a cycle ride through the

streets of Tel Aviv some 30 Israelis held in protest at

the siege of Gaza in January 2008. The cycle ride was

similar to many others that have been held unimpeded in

the city to further environmental goals. He was the

only one arrested. "From the arrest itself to the

indictment, this has been a political case," he said

yesterday. "Had we not been protesting the occupation,

none of it would have taken place."


Mr Pollak was born to leftist parents, who will be

present in court today. His father Yossi is one of

Israel's most prominent actors - among those pledged to

boycott performances some of Israel's leading theatres

are planning to stage in the West Bank Jewish

settlement of Ariel. His maternal grandfather, Nimrod

Eshel, was jailed for his leadership of a strike by

seamen in the 1950s.


He attended the first of very many demonstrations as a

months-old babe-in-arms at the huge mass rally in Tel

Aviv calling for an end to the first Lebanon war in

1982. What makes him and his Israeli comrades unusual,

however, is the decision to go beyond mere

demonstrations to, as he himself puts it, "crossing

sides, moving from protest to joining resistance".


A high school dropout at 15, he was a teenage animal

right activist, a cause with few Israeli adherents -

and most of those Israelis who were part of it were

anarchists. Very much part of Tel Aviv's young

counterculture in the politically relatively relaxed

Nineties, Mr Pollak became one too. He remains an

anarchist and a vegan, still a strong believer in

animal rights, which he sees as consistent with his

wider politics. For him, "racism, chauvinism, sexism,

speciesism all come from the same place of belittling

the other", he said.


A few minor brushes with the law appear to have been

enough to convince the army that he was not suitable

material for compulsory military service. "I don't

think they wanted me any more than I wanted them," he

said. He spent two years in the Netherlands, living in

a squat, before being deported back to Israel.


By this time, the second intifada was at its peak, and

Mr Pollak found himself drawn, despite the dangers for

a young Israeli of visiting the West Bank at the time,

to the unarmed dimension of the Palestinian cause -

including, most significantly, the very first anti-

barrier protests in the West Bank village of Jayyous.


According to Mr Morrar, a long-term opponent of armed

uprising, "Jonathan... is a man trying to prove that

those who believe in occupation cannot claim to be

humanitarian or civilised. He also wants to prove that

resisting oppression and occupation does not mean being

a terrorist or killing". Just as Mr Pollak learned his

Arabic on the Palestinian street, as a serial

leafleteer he discovered a talent for graphic design,

which makes him a living when he needs the money.


His lawyer, Gaby Lasky, has been arguing throughout the

case that his indictment was discriminatory. But if he

is convicted he will go to prison "wholeheartedly and

with my head held high", as he hopes to tell the court

in a polite but uncompromising address. He planned to

say: "It will be the justice system itself... that will

need to lower its eyes in the face of the suffering

inflicted on Gaza's inhabitants, just as it ... averts

its vision every day when faced with the realities of

the occupation."