THE GREAT FRACKING FRAUD

4 12 2012

There’s a story making the rounds of the mainstream media these days, frequently trumpeted as “International Energy Agency says U.S. to overtake Saudis as  top oil producer.”  This may, technically, turn out to be true. But, as they say, “The devil is in the details,” and in this case, there’s definitely a Hell’s worth of details behind that headline that are all too frequently overlooked in this, our oil-based culture’s cargo cult moment.

“Cargo  cults,” to refresh your memory, were a religious movement that flourished briefly in the South Pacific after World War II.  The natives, who had been living a largely neolithic existence, saw that our troops came in, built an airstrip, and then airplanes landed, bringing all kinds of wondrous things, never before imagined, to the island, and the islanders.  Then,when the war was over, the mysterious strangers packed up and left, the airplanes no longer arrived bearing their magical cargoes,and the airstrips grew up in brush.  Some of the natives thought that, if they just rebuilt the airstrips, the planes would come again.  So they tried it, but it didn’t work, at least not directly, although the brief peak of our now-declining civilization has, in fact, brought the airplanes–bearing tourists, not soldiers, this time–back to many of those once-isolated tropical isles.

But no such temporary relief awaits us.  In fact, the granting of our wish for the oil age to continue bears such a horrific price tag that it’s a sad wonder that most people seem all too willing to buy it.  I’m going to examine the thorns of this “petroleum rose,” and, I hope, push the chorus of voices crying “DON’T TAKE THAT DEAL!!” to a volume level that just might save us from the fraudulent, Faustian  fracking bargain. Read the rest of this entry »

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IT’S THE OIL, STUPID!

16 04 2011

Once upon a time, I thought Moammar Qadhafi was cool, a twentieth century Barbary pirate who gleefully steered an independent course, used his country’s oil money to benefit the Libyan people, and thumbed his nose at Moscow and Washington alike.  I soured on him a long time ago, though, as it became apparent that he was pocketing most of the oil money himself, and his regime was blowing up airliners and assassinating exiled Libyan dissidents.  His visit to Rome in February was little short of bizarre, as he suggested that Europeans should convert en masse to Islam, abolish all political parties, and that the etymology of the word “democracy” had to do with people sitting on chairs, not to mention quotes like these:

I am not a dictator to close facebook… But I will be arresting anyone who enters it!

Demonstrate all you want, but do not go to the streets and squares!!

So, I was thrilled when a revolt broke out in Libya that seemed to have the strength to kick his crazy ass out of the country.  I mean, the guy reminds me of Michael Jackson–way cool in the eighties, nuts in the twenty-first century.  But Qadhafi, while he may be as crazy as Michael Jackson, is a lot less musically talented and a lot more dangerous.  It became obvious that he was going to use every means at his disposal to destroy the rebellion, and he definitely had the resources to do it:  modern weaponry, 6.5 billion dollars worth of gold to buy supplies, and a porous southern border with sub-Saharan Africa, a region where money talks and anything goes.  It looked like ol’ Qadhafi Duck was gonna crush the rebellion and give any rebels who survived reason to envy the dead.  But then, but then–instead of hanging these rebels out to dry, as the West has almost invariably done, NATO came to their aid.  Wow!   The empire was doing the right thing for a change!

So why, I wondered, were Cindy Sheehan and the Green Party and a lot of my usual cohorts going ape about this?  Did they actually support Qadhafi?  Did they know something I didn’t?

It didn’t take long for the truth to come out.  First came the disclosure that there had been a quid pro quo to gain Arab support for the intervention:   the U.S. agreed not to squawk about suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain in exchange for co-operation.  It was fine with the Saudis–Qadhafi Duck has long been a loose cannon in the Middle East, and they would be happy to see him replaced with someone more tractable.  Second, I found out that Qadhafi had recently decided to start selling Libya’s oil to India and China, rather than the West.  As Saddam Hussein found out when he tried to ask for Euros instead of dollars for his oil, defections will not be tolerated.

Think of all the oppressive situations the Empire has ignored.  Repression in Iran, Syria, Turkish actions against the Kurds, the civil wars in Sudan and the Congo, the genocide in Rwanda, brutal regimes in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians, the concentration camps known as North Korea and Burma, China’s crushing of Tibet and Tiananmen Square, “dirty wars” in Chile and Argentina–the list goes on and on.  The US has tsk-tsked, turned a blind eye to, or actively assisted in the crushing of one popular revolt after another–but Libya–Libya we can, and will, do something about–and why?  It’s small enough to beat and rich enough to be worth taking.  This is not about freedom and democracy, it’s about greed and hypocrisy, about getting our people in there and taking over from the amateurs who started the revolt. I would like to see those amateurs succeed, but it’s not about freedom any more, it’s about their blood for our oil–again.

My bad, Ms. Sheehan.  You called it right.

The Clash:  “Rock the Casbah





LHASA RIOT MADE TO ORDER BY CHINESE

9 04 2008

Evidence is accumulating that the Chinese regime orchestrated violence in Lhasa in orderChinese policeman in disguise holding a knife to discredit the peaceful protests of Buddhist monks.

According to the Dalai Lama’s Chinese translator, Ngawang Nyendra, a witness reported that a Chinese policeman in Lhasa disguised himself as a Tibetan and joined the protesters holding a knife in his hand. This witness also recognized the man from BBC news footage and news photos provided by China.

A Chinese woman from Thailand (who prefers that her name not be used) was studying in Lhasa when the protests broke out in March. As one of her friends is a policeman, she visited him at the local police station quite often and got to know other policemen there.

(Photo: The upper portion shows the uncropped photo distributed to news media by the Chinese Embassy, with a Chinese policeman in disguise holding a knife;
The lower portion, the edited version of the same scene distributed by the Chinese Embassy after the man’s identity was revealed at a rally in Darmasala
/ from the Epochtimes website.

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TRUTH IN STRANGE PLACES

3 04 2008

Nominated for the TISP award this month is George W. Bush, who called on the Chinese to “exercise restraint” in Tibet and meet with HH the Dalai Lama to discuss Tibetan autonomy within China.  The story below alleges that the current unrest in Tibet has been stirred up by the CIA to embarass China on the eve of the Olympics.  While that may not be true, it is pretty certain that the CIA funded the Tibetan resistance for 20 years, not out of any great love for Buddhism and Tibetan culture, but simply to harass the Commies.  Officially, that aid ended in 1974, but unofficially, who knows?  Then again, claims that HHDL has “closely co-operated” with the CIA for 50 years may be greatly exaggerated….I’d like to hear the Tibetan side of the story, as the Asia Times definitely slants towards China….hey, if you’re a small country that’s been overrun by a much larger one and you’re largely getting ignored, you take help where you can get it…

It is certainly peculiar to have GWB and the CIA on my side in a dispute.  Just goes to show that the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, eh?

Tibet, the ‘great game’ and the CIA
By Richard M Bennett

Given the historical context of the unrest in Tibet, there is reason to believe Beijing was caught on the hop with the recent demonstrations for the simple reason that their planning took place outside of Tibet and that the direction of the protesters is similarly in the hands of anti-Chinese organizers safely out of reach in Nepal and northern India.

Similarly, the funding and overall control of the unrest has also been linked to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and by inference to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) because of his close cooperation with US intelligence for over 50 years.

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and this piece suggests that China’s policy of waiting ’till HHDL dies so they don’t have to deal with the Tibet issue may backfire on them:

Cracks emerge in ‘Dalai Lama clique’
By Law Siu-lan

The symbolic Olympic flame for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, lit in Athens on March 24, arrived in Beijing on March 31. The traditional torch relay will soon travel to the rooftop of the world – Mount Everest – and Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, where anti-China protests by Tibetans took place early last month.

China has accused the “Dalai Lama clique” of attempting to sabotage the Olympic torch relay. The Dalai Lama immediately dismissed the charge. As a matter of fact, Tibetans in exile have split into various factions, and there are allegedly segments of radical youths that are plotting to sabotage the Beijing Olympics. Beijing, however, indiscriminately categorizes them all as under the “Dalai clique”, a classification that could only lead Beijing into misjudgments. 

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LET THE GAMES BEGIN

22 03 2008

Mark Morford puts some much-needed juju on China:

I hope it all comes crashing down on their heads.

Is that wrong? Is it ill-minded and somehow unfair to wish that the Chinese government’s notorious record of human rights abuses and absolutely horrid treatment of Tibet be exposed to the world — and the Chinese people themselves — to the point where it is shamed and humiliated and perhaps even forced by unprecedented international scrutiny to upheave its oppressive ways and improve conditions and even (heaven forfend) honor religious and political freedom within its borders? No, I do not think it is.

***

But somehow, among all the thousands of reporters and news agencies and bloggers covering the games, a handful might have the nerve to sneak outside the carefully guarded press boxes and Olympic stadiums and find a way to report on the real atrocities, the real abuses, and beam them to the astonished world like never before. Can we hope for that? Let the games begin.





GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS

10 01 2007

Ethicist Peter Singer read the UN’s Millenium Development Plan, which calls for an additional fifty to seventy-five billion dollars a year in order to halve world poverty and hunger and offer an education to every child in the world, among other things. This plan has been stalled out for lack of funding—the US finds it’s more important to take that kind of money and burn it in Iraq, just for openers. We could end world poverty, but we’re too busy fighting the poor. We could end our dependence on fossil fuels, but we’re too busy making sure we’ve got all the fossil fuels we can glom. But, I digress…. Dr. Singer did a little math, and found that raising the tax rates for the wealthiest Americans so that they paid the same ten to thirty-five percent of gross that the rest of us have to give up —leaving them ninety to sixty-five percent of their breathtakingly high annual income–would generate…over four hundred billion dollars a year. Enough to fund the UN anti-poverty program about seven times over. Noblesse oblige, anyone?

Such a change would do more to end terrorism in the world than burning money and bodies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it doesn’t even propose cutting off money to the military/industrial blackmail complex. We could pay those people to sit around and do nothing and we’d all be better off. My old friend and teacher Stephen Gaskin has been saying since the seventies that “there’s plenty to go around,” but nobody believed him. Kudos to Mr. Singer for actually doing the math. Now all it’s gonna take is some political will.

Somebody in the DOE did some math and figured out that there’s enough off-peak power going unused in the US electric grid to substitute plug-in electric vehicles for about eighty-five percent of the gas burners on our highways today. That’s a good news/bad news situation all by itself—it means that our current, disgusting level of urban sprawl just might be sustainable—but the air would be cleaner, especially as more electricity comes from the sun and the wind. Meanwhile, it would encourage the continued strip mine rape of the central Appalachians and encourage the ghouls who are pushing nuclear power. This old curmudgeon would like to see America radically restructured, not just staying the course in electric cars.

I think that one of the most peculiar assumptions of our society is the assumption that everyone who wants full economic citizenship must own a car. Think about that, especially as real wages continue to fall (raising the minimum wage is unlikely to do much for the rest of us) and the “American dream” becomes ever more unattainable for ever more of us, for ever more.

But, just in case you think we’ve got it bad over here, consider the Chinese occupation of Tibet, which continues its genocidal course. The railway into Lhasa is now open, bringing thousands of tourists (and potentially thousands of troops), although it will take much more than passenger fares for the line to show a profit; current projections are that the tracks will sink into Tibet’s melting permafrost before the line pays for itself. Meanwhile, the Chinese are forcing Tibetans to demolish their homesteads and move into Chinese-designed dwellings that do not incorporate room for the livestock that are a necessary component of Tibetan household economies, impoverishing the Tibetans and forcing them into the unsustainable, import-everything, Chinese mode of dwelling on the Tibetan plateau. These are the people we’re trusting with our manufacturing capacity, although they are devious and amoral enough to make all but the most hard-hearted US corporations seem like the very picture of benevolence. What does this bode for how they will treat us when it comes time to call in our massive, mounting debt to them?

The Chinese have adopted our western religion of economics and turned it on us. Cheap is everything, graceful is nothing, and they are better at being ruthless than we are.

I think that one of the things we can do about the macro-economic quicksand we are trapped in, i.e., our declining purchasing power, is to spend our money very carefully, and give as little of it as we can to the vampiric multinational corporations that have gotten so very good at sucking our blood. Buy gasoline, if you must, from Citgo and give your money to Hugo Chavez, not Exxon-Mobil. Buy “consumer goods” from friendly neighborhood yard sales (and get to know your neighbors) and from thrift stores—and if you can’t find it locally, there’s all those virtual yard sales on the internet: eBay, Craig’s list, free- and cheap-cycle. More and more of us taking these steps (hell, our financial circumstances are forcing us, so we might as well!) will begin to starve the Walmarts of the world and their Chinese vampire cohorts. Do you really need cable TV? Haven’t you got something better to do with your time? Tell Comcast to get lost! Learn to work in metal or wood or clay, learn to spin and weave and sew. Learn to garden and cook, for chrissake! Learn to play an instrument and sing and tell stories! Learn to listen to other peoples’ stories! Creating post-consumerist, post-oil, post-corporate, post-industrial culture is a collective enterprise that is being created by you and you and you and me and the network of people we see every day. Let’s get to work and enjoy ourselves!

music: Adrienne Young, “Plow to the End of the Row





INNER REVOLUTION a book review

11 07 2005

One of my favorite political texts is Robert Thurman’s “Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Real
Happiness,” first published by Riverhead Books in 1998. Robert Thurman was one of the first Americans to find his way to Dharamsala, India, and become a Buddhist monk. He came back to America, decided to drop his vows but remain a Buddhist, and married. You’ve probably seen his daughter in the movies—Uma Thurman.

I’d like to share my review of this slim but profound volume with you. I originally wrote it for a magazine called The Country Rag. It’s no longer published but there is a memorial website.

Overall, human civilization seems to have had a deleterious effect on this planet’s ecosystem. The Indus and Euphrates valleys, two once-fertile areas where civilization first arose, have been trampled into desert by our passage there. Europe, once a vast, wild, trackless forest, is now largely farm and city—and its forests are beginning to die. Here in America, in our own lifetimes woods and wilderness have become spaces preserved only by the strength of the government, as corporate greed for their wealth of “raw materials” drives their “value” up to the point where immediate exploitation becomes the only economically rational thing to do.

Why do we do this? Why are we as a species so ready to foul our own nest? This widespread fouling is created by the acts of countless individuals, acts prompted by individual perceptions and decisions. Although the perceptions and decisions are individual, I believe they can be seen to be prompted by certain common assumptions, psychologies, and myths.

A common human assumption, because it has been true for all our thousands of years of history up until the last few hundred years, is that, no matter how much of a mess you make, it’s ok, because nature covers over everything sooner or later. In the last hundred years, though, we have gone from maintaining small pockets of human culture in a vast sea of nature to the reverse situation.

The human psyche is built for individual survival. When we were islanders in the vast sea of nature, subject to plagues and droughts and ice ages, bands of humans learned to compete with each other for scarce resources and hoard them against hard times.The predominant myth of the dominant culture on our planet is an angry and jealous god, harassed by an evil other whose strength is in this world, a god who will resolve his struggle with that evil other in a way that will destroy this world we live in—probably very soon.

This god, like a feudal lord, cares more about whether we humans acknowledge his suizeranity than how we behave among ourselves.These are the attitudes that we, as Greens, face when we take up the challenge of altering the course of American politics. They run deep. They are not swayed by logic, catchy phrases, demonstrations, or legislation. To change them, we need to know how to change attitudes and override psychological conditioning. We need a countermyth that posits a steady state world, free of overarching cosmic conflict.

That is a lot to come up with from scratch! Fortunately, there are a few places on earth where humans have been able to create high culture in harmony with nature, and by studying these, we may derive a template which can be applied to the reshaping of America. Tibet was one of those places.

In Inner Revolution, Robert Thurman tells the story of the rise of Tibetan culture, weaving it in with the rest of world history in an inspiringly unique way. For example, the early part of the seventeenth century saw widespread conflicts over the interplay of religion and government. In Europe, this was known as the Thirty Years’ War, and resulted in the disestablishment of the Catholic Church and the placing of the quest for material wealth and power in the driver’s seat of our civilization.

In Tibet, by contrast, the struggle ended with the ascendency of the Dalai Lama, who was (and is) recognized as the incarnation of Compassion (as if the Pope were Christ incarnate), and who proceeded to act to create peace and harmony in the country based on the realization that the millenium had come and they were living in it.

Thurman’s narrative is not only historical. He also imparts the essence of Buddhist philosophy and practice, and the fruits of that practice. Here is a paragraph that shows this kind of bridging:

“Millenial or apocalyptic consciousness… develops when a person breaks through the shell of habitual self-centeredness, sees through the falsely created view of the absoluteness of the ordinary world, and realizes truth in an instant. A healthy person in the melting aspect of the moment of full orgasm loses himself or herself completely and has an instance of apocalypse before the structures and boundaries of inadequacy return with all their force.

“People absorbed in activity—runners running, musicians performing, artists creating , mothers giving milk—all of them have a taste of millenial consciousness, a momentary blissful freedom from dissatisfaction, self-concern, and pain. The consciousness in the enlightenment movement is called millenial when the vision of this freedom expands so greatly that it aims to create a nationwide and ultimately a world-wide society of perfect happiness based on enlightenment. It is apocalyptic in the sense of being instantaneously revelatory and ultimately decisive.”

I think that pretty much all of us who are involved in Green politics derive our passionate involvement in it from what he is talking about here.Thurman goes on to examine the question of how to apply the lessons of Tibet to the situation in America. Obviously this does not mean that most of us need to become yak herders! What he does do is extract a series of axioms and a “ten point program”(!) for political action.

Here are some sample “axioms”:

“16. The main rival of monasticism is imperialistic militarism, the core institution for secular and religious rules of ordinary societies. Militarism is anchored in organizations in which the human being’s basic feeling of enlightenment is trained out and armored over, encouraging individual regression to subhuman insensitivity, viciousness, and harmfulness. Militarism allows for a politics of compulsion, if it allows for any politics at all.”

“29. All one needs to understand the inner revolution and live the politics of enlightenment is wisdom about one’s long-term self-interest, good- humored tolerance of one’s own and others’ faults, trust in the adequacy of the environment and our fellow beings, and the courage to take up the responsibility of enlightenment.”

I feel very enthusiastic about reccomending this book. It is rare to see such adroit interweaving of politics, psychology, and spirituality, and I think anyone who cares about the fate of the earth and those of us here on it will be inspired and instructed by Thurman’s opus. The only things I would fault him for are failing to include an index or bibliography—but perhaps the lack of bibliography is to better encourage each of us to make our own search, which is all the more self-empowering—and that is the theme of this book.

I would like to leave you with some quotes from Thurman’s ten-point platform.

“Lately (the) democratic process has been effectively threatened by virtual autocrats who have pretended to champion the individual and his or her liberty against the supposedly oppressive domination by ‘big government.’ These corporate spokespersons have used the “big lie” technique and have come close to subverting democracy in the name of individual liberty. They have led revolts to diminish taxes for the very rich; called for law and order to imprison the very poor; tried to reestablish racist dominance patterns; attacked women’s rights to chose their roles and relations; pretended to defend religious freedom to promote religious bigotry; supported a demented international arms industry and an insane level of citizenry armament; attempted to remove all protections of the environment from short-sighted exploitation; and generally fostered a sense of alienation, apathy and confusion among the people. It is therefore essential that we reassume the idealistic high ground of democratic political activism and put libertarian principles at the fore of all policies. A skillful arguing of these principles will solve the major tough issues of the day and reunite the divisive, single-issue splinter groups into a winning coalition. To succeed, we must try to present enlightenment reinforcement as a developing middle way through the crippling polarizations.”

“The leaders of the 1980s rolled back the American and European welfare state by rejecting government’s role in managing society, holding up the white racist’s specter of the black welfare mother with nine children on the dole who rides in Cadillacs and swims in luxuries and so on. But this image was only a racist fantasy, and, on top of the injustice, these leaders didn’ t save any money at all but ran up the biggest deficits in history. What was saved in school lunches, nutrition for pregnant mothers, and so on was spent tenfold in crime prevention, prisons, and futile measures against the sheer destruction that always results from injustice. Job training was cut so that more money could be spent on unemployment benefits. Taxes were somewhat cut, but mostly for the rich, and the massive transfer of wealth to the top one percent of the population resulted not in a bonanza of investment and job creation but in a massive flight of capital to tax-sheltered investment in cheap-labor areas, with a disastrous loss of jobs and infrastructure in the developed societies. Our platform must be to reaffirm the altruistic welfare state, to prove that money invested in the lower end of the economic scale is money well spent. The removal of a poverty-ridden disaster area of the country is not only just but also saves funds in the long run and creates an incalculable treasure of human potential.”

“Enlightened activists are pro-wealth. They consider it the karmic evolutionary fruit of generosity in previous lives. A bodhisattva or messianic person wants to accumulate wealth so he or she can give it away to needy people, most creatively by investing intelligently in things that will provide long-term happiness to the people. But if wealth becomes an object of obsession, if it is used carelessly, it can be incredibly destructive, most of all to the wealthy people themselves. The enlightened democratic system institutionalizes revolution and uses progressive income taxes and other mechanisms to rebalance the rich/poor equation gently and continuously. Our platform reaffirms this policy of continuous, peaceful revolution out of compassion for both the poor and the rich. True wealth is a rich network of loving people, a pleasant and healthy lifestyle, a beautiful environment, and an inviting setting for expressing creativity. Money alone is a heavy burden, isolating its owner from real affection, ennobling unhealthy addictions, harming the environment, and causing boredom, frustration, and anxiety. Enlightenment cures all these problems through its prime virtue: generosity in all things.”

And I think that’s something we can all agree to. The book is Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Real Happiness, written by Robert Thurman, published by Riverhead Books in 1998.








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