Monthly Archives: August 2008

Robber in the Vault

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A damning critique of the current state of government in Canada.  Private corporations have infiltrated our democracy and are threatening to turn it into a police state in order to ensure all profits are maximized.

Read more here.

Not only have relatively harmless administrative matters formerly run by civil servants been “privatized”.  But whole, large bodies of privately employed workers (employees of CGI, for example) have been brought in “alongside” civil servants.  The loyalty of privately employed workers is NOT to Canada or the government of Canada but to private corporate employers who are, in fact, invading and becoming government (from inside as well as from outside?).

What does this say about what happened with Maple Leaf Foods?

I’ll repeat myself:  It’s time to demand a recall of the Harper Conservatives.  Our lives depend on it.

Research I’d Like to See for Canada

(In the UK) Drug giants accused over doctors’ perks: Original story here

Here are some examples:

  • Astra Zeneca paid £2,500 for a doctor at the Royal Bournemouth trust and £1,500 for a doctor at Sheffield teaching hospital to attend a cancer conference in Texas
  • Sanofi-Aventis, the world’s fourth biggest pharmaceutical company, paid for doctors at the Countess of Chester trust to go to conferences in Cape Town, New Orleans and Barcelona. At Gateshead trust, their reps gave a breakfast for 30 staff "to discuss drugs for the treatment of breast cancer". The trust’s register records that "the donor was seeking to secure business".
  • Roche spent £2,000 for an oncology consultant at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge to go to a conference in May last year.
  • GSK, the biggest British pharmaceutical company, paid £1,200 for a consultant at Sheffield teaching hospital to attend the 11th international congress of Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders in Turkey last June.
  • Companies have also been taking hospital staff to top football and rugby matches. Carillion, a public sector construction firm, spent £180 taking a senior manager at Milton Keynes trust to lunch and then a rugby match at Twickenham last August.

And the best quote of all:

Most doctors deny that their reliance on drug company cash makes them biased. The pharmaceutical companies argue that they are helping doctors acquire further medical education by funding their trips to conferences in foreign cities, but they refuse to reveal how much they pay out.

In Canada, we’ve hit the level of having health care at any price.  The Romanow report identified that pharmaceuticals make up one of the largest components of our spend on our health and we should have a nationalized system of generic drugs in order to mitigate the impact of these costs.

I believe that it’s the massive profits going to pharma companies that are threatening the stability of our health care system and that we should follow the Romanow recommendations (most of which have been largely ignored by our leaders).  More importantly, we should encourage the development of a health care system, where people have the right to choose from a list of options (including naturopathic solutions) as opposed to being bullied by practitioners into taking the latest cosmetic drug.

What are your thoughts?

Nuke Containers Unsafe … At Any Depth

This story falls into the ‘really … issues with nuke materials?  I had no idea’ department organized by the ‘let’s watch American Gladiators’ publishing and marketing team.

Here’s the original link.

I have a suggestion:  Let’s stop lobbying for new nuke plants.  OK?

I love this line:

Thousands of containers of lethal nuclear waste are likely to fail before being safely sealed away underground , a devastating official report concludes.

If they can’t even get them off the truck before they boil over and turn into crazed George Romero characters , why the hell are we locking them underground for some future generation to find?

"Look … we’re about to make a very important and exciting discovery.  It’s the tomb of the unknown ChemBot of the early 21st century.  Let’s see what legacy they’ve left us …"

Egyptians left us gold and wonders of the universe.  We’ll leave ponds full of toxic sludge.

Bayer & Bees

Is there a connection between the world’s greatest pollinators and one of the world’s producers of chemicals?  Original link here.

You be the judge.

Here’s some additional information:

  • A German prosecutor is investigating Werner Wenning, Bayer’s chairman, and Friedrich Berschauer, the head of Bayer CropScience, after critics alleged that they knowingly polluted the environment.
  • The complaint is part of efforts by groups on both sides of the Atlantic to determine how much Bayer CropScience knows about the part that clothianidin may have played in the death of millions of honeybees.
  • Clothianidin and related pesticides generated about $1 billion of Bayer CropScience’s $8.6 billion in global sales last year. The coalition is demanding that the company withdraw all of the pesticides.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the pesticide in 2003 under the condition that Bayer submit additional data. A lawsuit, which the environmental group filed Aug. 19 in federal court in Washington, accuses the EPA of hiding the honeybee data.
  • The group thinks the data might show what role chlothianidine played in the loss of millions of U.S. honeybee colonies.
  • Three months ago, German regulators suspended sales of chlothianidine and related chemicals after the family of pesticides was blamed for the destruction of more than 11,000 bee colonies.
  • The Julius Kühn Institute, a state-run crop research institute in Germany, collected samples of dead honeybees and determined that clothianidin caused the deaths.
  • Bayer CropScience blamed defective seed corn batches.
  • The company said that the coating came off as the seeds were sown, which allowed unusually high amounts of toxic dust to spread to adjacent areas where bees collected pollen and nectar.
  • Bayer paid about $3 million in damages

What to believe, eh?  At the end of everything, I would suggest it’s the numbers that are the most important thing.  If they paid out now, what has been the agreement with the settlement?

The US: The Next Argentina

This is a lenthy review , but worth it.  I’ve tried to capture some of the salient points below.

This article is a review of This Time is Different: A Panoramic View of Eight Centuries of Financial Crises by University of Maryland‘s Carmen Reinhart and Harvard’s Kenneth Rogoff.

  • a US default will make Argentina ‘s debt defaults pale both by comparison and consequence.
  • The flow of credit from England and then from its surrogate successor, the US, to developing nations such as Argentina was but the flow of printed coupons designed to harness and indebt the wealth and productivity of new lands.
  • The “capital” was really only credit, thinly disguised debt in the form of paper money originally issued by central banks, the Bank of England in Britain and the Federal Reserve Bank in the US , the twin towers of monetary Mordor.
  • The wonderfully sounding idea of unfettered capitalism is but a smokescreen for bankers to leverage their coupons in the form of credit and thereby indebt and control the productivity and wealth of others. As such, it has accomplished its goal admirably but its success will now cost the bankers dearly.
  • Three centuries of indebting nations, businesses, and the citizenry with constantly compounding debt is no longer sustainable. This is why central bankers in London , New York , Paris , and Tokyo are in such distress. Debtors can no longer pay their debts, defaults are on the rise and bankers may actually have to find real jobs if their confidence game continues to disintegrate.

Part of the review touches on “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” (Barrett Koehler, 2004) by John Perkins.

Perkins story is nearly incomprehensible and well worth reading.  Here are some quotes from the article:

In 1968, after graduating from Boston University , Perkins joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Ecuador . There, he was recruited by the National Security Agency (NSA) and hired by an international consulting firm, Chas. T. Main in Boston.

Soon after beginning his job in Boston , “I was contacted by a woman named Claudine who became my trainer as an economic hit man.” Perkins assumed the woman worked for the NSA.

“She said she was sent to help me and to train me,” Perkins said. “She is extremely beautiful, sensual, seductive, intelligent. Her job was to convince me to become an economic hit man, holding out these three drugs –- sex, drugs and money. And then she wanted to let me know that I was getting into a dirty business. And I shouldn’t go off on my first assignment, which was going to be Indonesia, and start doing this unless I knew that I was going to continue doing it, and once I was in I was in for life.”

Perkins worked for Main from 1970 to 1980. His job was to convince the governments of the third world countries and the banks to make deals where huge loans were given to these countries to develop infrastructure projects. And a condition of the loan was that a large share of the money went back to the big construction companies in the USA – the Bechtels and Halliburtons.

The loans would plunge the countries into debts that would be impossible to pay off.

“The system is set up such that the countries are so deep in debt that they can’t repay their debt,” Perkins said. “When the U.S. government wants favors from them, like votes in the United Nations or troops in Iraq, or in many, many cases, their resources – their oil, their canal, in the case of Panama, we go to them and say – look, you can’t pay off your debts, therefore sell your oil at a very low price to our oil companies. Today, tremendous pressure is being put on Ecuador , for example, to sell off its Amazonian rainforest -– very precious, very fragile places, inhabited by indigenous people whose cultures are being destroyed by the oil companies.”

When a leader of a country refuses to cooperate with economic hit men like Perkins, the jackals from the CIA are called in. Perkins said that both Omar Torrijos of Panama and Jaime Boldos of Ecuador -– both men he worked with – refused to play the game with the U.S. and both were cut down by the CIA -– Torrijos when his airplane blew up, and Roldos when his helicopter exploded, within three months of each other in 1981.

If the CIA jackals don’t do the job, then the U.S. Marines are sent in –- Butler ‘s “racketeers for capitalism.”

The conclusions?  Not glowing:

Both parties are controlled by the same money, the same money that now controls global governments and institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, the same money that buys politicians, scholars, the military, lawyers, TV anchors, radio talk show hosts and anyone else whose influence they can use for their own ends.

… Humanity now finds itself at the beginning of a profound shift, a shift that will force us—if we are to survive, if we are to triumph—to put aside our differences to accomplish together what we obviously cannot accomplish apart.

The two political polarities must find common ground or they will soon find there is no ground at all. What is happening is bigger than money and power although it involves both. It involves humanity, it involves all of us and unless we find each other we will soon find there will be nothing left to find at all.

We are closer to the end than to the beginning. Keep your own counsel. Buy gold and silver. Keep the faith.

Where will you be when the meltdown occurs?