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Friday, March 25, 2005

Corporate Fascism & the End of Nature

Daily Kos: Robert Kennedy Jr Implies Bush a Fascist
Sun Jan 30th, 2005 at 00:58:51 PST

I went to a lecture by Robert Kennedy Jr. tonight. As he got started, I realized something. Perhaps is it not me who is moving to the mainstream - perhaps the mainstream is moving to me. I realized this as Robert Kennedy Jr. said the "F" word, the "M" word and the "H" word - all in the context of Bush, corporate power and American democracy.

Fascism. Mussolini. Hitler. Bush.

fas-cism - A philosophy or governmental system marked by stringent socioeconomic control, a strong central government usually headed by a dictator, and often a belligerently nationalistic policy. (Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary).

Kennedy did not say: Bush is a fascist. Instead he said (in sequence):

1. Fascists are corporate plunderers of the commons
2. Mussolini and Hitler were from the fringe radical right, and were irrelevant until corporations bolstered them
3. Bush is a corporate plunderer of the the commons

Read between the lines. The implication can't be mistaken. Kennedy called Bush a fascist, and the progressive Seattle audience clapped and roared approval. There were Congressmembers in the audience - it was a mainstream crowd that had paid money to hear Kennedy speak.

Kennedy sounded like a man speaking at a radical rally. He talked of the extreme, radical, anti-democratic corporate powers that are destroying our nation - in economic, political and spiritual terms.

This is what we call a backlash. Vice President Gore says "police state" in a speech. Robert Kennedy Jr. implies Bush is a fascist, and I and other radicals are calling ourselves Democrats. Times have changed - and this was impossible to miss tonight. I felt at home, listening to a fiery speech about the defense of the republic in a mainstream setting, with a mainstream speaker, amongst a mainstream audience. Sure, we were progressives - but the words were radical. And lately more and more of the "sold-out Liberals" that I have been at odds with as a radical have been making sense to me.

Here is something in Salon on Kennedy's talk of fascism in America (emphasis added):

This week Kennedy declares war on this new "enemy within" -- the term his father applied to the Mafia lords who were subverting American politics, business and labor -- with a passionate, sweeping indictment of the Bush-sanctioned rape of our environment in the latest issue of Rolling Stone. Kennedy lays out in legal-brief detail how, under Bush, the federal agencies supposed to be guarding our air, water and natural resources have been systematically turned over to the industry foxes that are ravaging them. But the tone of his lengthy essay is far from lawyerly. Kennedy's original subtitle was "Corporate Fascism and the End of Nature."

Another source on Kennedy calling Bush fascist (

In the book, Kennedy implies that we live in a fascist country and that the Bush White House has learned key lessons from the Nazis.

"While communism is the control of business by government, fascism is the control of government by business," he writes. "My American Heritage Dictionary defines fascism as 'a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership together with belligerent nationalism.' Sound familiar?"

He quotes Hitler's propaganda chief Herman Goerring: "It is always simply a matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Kennedy then adds: "The White House has clearly grasped the lesson."

Kennedy also quotes Benito Mussolini's insight that "fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power."

"The biggest threat to American democracy is corporate power," Kennedy told us. "There is vogue in the White House to talk about the threat of big government. But since the beginning of our national history, our most visionary political leaders have warned the American public against the domination of government by corporate power. That warning is missing in the national debate right now. Because so much corporate money is going into politics, the Democratic Party itself has dropped the ball. They just quash discussion about the corrosive impact of excessive corporate power on American democracy."

Democracy is worth fighting for. It is a wonderful concept, and the American republic is worth keeping around for the next generations. I'm in - are you?

Friday, March 18, 2005

America's National Drug Problem

In the swirl of statistics constantly spinning around us, here's one that caught the eye: The fifth leading cause of preventable disease and death in America is––Our over the counter medicines.

Specifically, adverse reactions to prescription drugs are responsible for 100,000 deaths a year. This is but one of the startling findings in an important and easy-to-use book called Worst Pills, Best Pills, just published by the Health Research Group of the consumer watchdog organization, Public Citizen. Pill by pill, this 900-page compilation profiles in plain English pluses and minuses of the medicines you or a loved one might be taking.

There has been a lot of publicity recently about Vioxx, a heavily-advertised widely-consumed arthritis drug that Merck & Co. had to pull off the market because it was found to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The industry rushed out to say that Vioxx is a rare exception to an otherwise perfectly safe plethora of pills on the market.

Not. The Health Research Group finds that 53 top-selling prescribed drugs "should not be taken under any circumstances." It also lists 181 drugs under its "Do Not Use" category – ranging from antidepressants to toenail-fungus drugs – offering safer alternatives to each.

Besides the dangers of specific pills, the greater problem is that America has become massively overdosed. Thanks to pharmaceutical sales reps that hustle doctors to push their brands, and thanks to the surge of slick drug ads on TV, we have a national drug problem. Indeed, the book's researchers concludes that "the greatest epidemic of drug abuse in American society is among those patients who are the victims of misprescribing or overprescribing."

The good news is that each of us can do something about it. To find out more about Worst Pills, Best Pills, call 1-800-289-3787, or go to
Worst Pills, Best Pills, January 2005.

Jim Hightower

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Experts weigh super-volcano risks

On August 27, 1883, the 'super-volcano' Krakatoa exploded and changed the world in a way that has never been repeated since in modern times. Experts say that another such event would have an equally colossal impact on a global scale.

A soon to be aired BBC TV Drama that was postponed from its originally scheduled showing in early January 2005, (because of the tsunami disaster), is entitled, Supervolcano. The authors emphasise that while catastrophic eruptions of this kind are rare in terms of a human lifetime, they are surprisingly common on a geological scale.

Geologists have called for a taskforce to be set up to consider emergency management in the event of a massive volcanic eruption, or super-eruption.

In the instance of Krakatoa's erupting in 1883, the devestation had huge local impact as an estimated 40,000 people died in the tsunami that followed. The global impact meant even greater consequences for the rest of the world's population as ash and debris circled the earth for at least 3 years after the event as sulphuric acid droplets formed in the atmosphere, blocking out sunlight, and causing global temperatures to plummet and crops to fail.

No wonder the authors want to highlight the issue now, which they feel is being ignored. They emphasise that while catastrophic eruptions of this kind are rare in terms of a human lifetime, they are surprisingly common on a geological scale.

The effects, say the authors, "could be sufficiently severe to threaten the fabric of civilisation" - putting events such as the Asian tsunami into the shade.

The fallout from a super-eruption could cause a "volcanic winter", devastating global agriculture and causing mass starvation.

Another past super-eruption struck at Toba in Sumatra and is thought by some to have driven the human race to the edge of extinction. Signs from DNA suggest human numbers could have dropped to about 10,000, probably as a result of the effects of climate change.

The volcanic winter resulting from a super-eruption could last several years or decades, depending on the scale of an eruption, and according to recent computer models, could cause cooling on a global scale of 5-10C.

"We don't want to be sensationalist about this, but it's going to happen," said Professor Stephen Self, a geologist at the Open University in Milton Keynes and a member of the working group that produced the report.

The report, released by The Geological Society in the UK, identifies at least 31 sites where super-eruptions have occurred in the past. They include Lake Taupo in New Zealand and the Phlegrean Fields near Naples, Italy.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Experts weigh super-volcano risks

The Geological Society
Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO)
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
US Geological Survey

Saturday, March 05, 2005

BIOWILLIE - Of All The Fuels I've Known Before

Have you got "BioWillie" in your tank?

I'm talking about a clean-burning alternative fuel that Willie Nelson is helping to market through a new company called Willie Nelson Biodiesel. What is it? It's essentially vegetable oil, mainly soybean oil, though the used frying oil from Dunkin Donuts or Sid's Greasy Spoon also works.

ExxonMobil and the like don't want you knowing this, but if you take veggie oil and process it slightly to remove the glycerin (which, by the way, is what soap is made of) – you have a ready-to-go fuel for diesel engines. Whether you have a diesel pickup truck or a Mercedes, it'll run on this stripped down veggie oil without requiring any modification to the engine. Just tank up and go!

Willie has been tanking up his tour buses with it for some time. There's nothing new or complicated about the concept – French inventor Rudolf Diesel's original engines ran on vegetable oils.

So Nelson and partners are going back to the future, working with truck stops and convenience store chains to market the veggie-based fuel under the BioWillie brand. The fuel's average price is $1.79 a gallon, and while the major concentration of biodiesel pumps is in the Midwest, Nelson hopes to spread it from sea to shining sea.

Exxon tells us to put a tiger in our tanks, but BioWillie gives us a bigger bang for the buck. Not only do you get a fuel that is better for your engine at a competitive price, but biodiesel also is much better for the environment, it can be an economic boon for America's family farmers, and your exhaust fumes can smell like donuts! Oh, and Willie notes that there's one more big plus – we can put "farmers back on the land growing fuel and keep us from having to start wars for oil."

Rep. Denis Kucinich is preparing legislation to help develop of this new biodiesel industry for America. For information, call 202-225-5871.

Jim Hightower

"Willie Nelson Bets on Biodiesel," Wired, January 14, 2005,,1282,66288,00.html.
"Willie Nelson puts name on clean-burning biodiesel," Austin American-Statesman, January 15, 2005.
"Now appearing on local stages: Willie Nelson and Austin Biofuels," Austin Chronicle, January 20, 2005.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Sweeping stun guns to target crowds

New Scientist Breaking News - Sweeping stun guns to target crowds

Weapons that can incapacitate crowds of people by sweeping a lightning-like beam of electricity across them are being readied for sale to military and police forces in the US and Europe.

This is the sort of 'technical breakthrough' that has many people wondering how it will be used and for what reasons. Crowd control issues are of prime importance to police and law enforcement agencies, and especially in light of the worrying aspects relating to acute shortages of water and food and the resultant breakdown of law and order where large populations are located, i.e., cities and suburban areas. But as this article mentions, human rights groups are appalled by the fact that no independent safety tests have been carried out, and by their potential for indiscriminate use.

The weapons are designed to address the perceived shortcomings of the Taser, the electric-shock gun already used by 4000 police departments in the US and undergoing trials with some police forces in the UK.

It hits the victim with two darts that trail current-carrying wires, which limit its range to a maximum of seven metres. As a single shot, short-range weapon, the Taser is of little use in crowd control. And Tasers have no effect on vehicles.

Meanwhile, Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems (XADS), based in Anderson, Indiana, will be one of the first companies to market another type of wireless weapon capable of firing a stream of electricity like water out of a hose at one or many targets in a single sweep," claims XADS president Peter Bitar.

The gun has been designed for the US Marine Corps to use for crowd control and security purposes and is due out in 2005. It is based on early, unwieldy technology and has a range of only three metres, but an operator can debilitate multiple targets by sweeping it across them for "as long as there is an input power source," says Bitar.

Read On (not for the faint hearted)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Casino Nation

Lyrics by Jackson Browne
Music by Jackson Browne, Kevin McCormick, Mark Goldenberg, Mauricio Lewak, Jeff Young

In a weapons producing nation under Jesus
In the fabled crucible of the free world
Camera crews search for clues amid the detritus
And entertainment shapes the land
The way the hammer shapes the hand

Gleaming faces in the checkout counter at the Church of Fame
The lucky winners cheer Casino Nation
All those not on TV only have themselves to blame
And don't quite seem to understand
The way the hammer shapes the hand

Out beyond the ethernet the spectrum spreads
DC to daylight, the cowboy mogul rides
Never worry where the gold for all this glory's gonna come from
Get along dogies, it's coming out of your hides

The intentional cultivation of a criminal class
The future lit by brightly burning bridges
Justice fully clothed to hide the heart of glass
That shatters in a thousand Ruby Ridges
And everywhere the good prepare for perpetual war
And let their weapons shape the plan
The way the hammer shapes the hand

Lyrics from the album THE NAKED RIDE HOME

(Swallow Turn Music, ASCAP; Eye Cue Music, ASCAP; Bossypants Music/Songs of Windswept Pacific, BMI; Bateria Music, ASCAP; Glad Brad Music, Inc., ASCAP)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Kama Sutra - What's Your Position on the Matter?

Thought for the day: "You might need to study the 'Kama Sutra' in order to find out your position on the matter."

Imagine: 500 Miles Per Gallon

MSNBC - Imagine: 500 Miles Per Gallon - The current crop of hybrid cars get around 50 miles per gallon. Make it a plug-in and you can get 75 miles. Replace the conventional fuel tank with a flexible-fuel tank that can run on a combination of 15 percent petroleum and 85 percent ethanol or methanol, and you get between 400 and 500 miles per gallon of gasoline. (You don't get 500 miles per gallon of fuel, but the crucial task is to lessen the use of petroleum. And ethanol and methanol are much cheaper than gasoline, so fuel costs would drop dramatically.)

There are transition costs—gas stations will need to be fitted to pump methanol and ethanol (at a cost of $20,000 to $60,000 per station). New technologies will empower new industries, few of which have lobbies in Washington.

Nevertheless, every option that would take us away from dependency on oil and petroleum, (and the nightmare of global warming), should be pursued with purpose and determination. With global warming threatening to continue unabated unless something is done now, driving a fuel efficient car like a hybrid is something that everybody can do to help protect our planet.

A plug-in hybrid would be an even better option: More than half of the electricity generating capacity of the U.S. Power Grid is idle at night, so it makes perfect sense that owners of plug-in hybrids would take advantage of this situation while energy is less in demand and less costly.

"We need to cure our addiction to oil," says AFS Trinity CEO Edward W. Furia, former director of the U.S. EPA’s Middle Atlantic office. "Our current 20 mpg national average vehicle fuel efficiency is embarrassing. While 50 miles per gallon in cars like the Toyota Prius is great for today, to address our transportation energy needs in the near future our national average fuel economy should be more than 200 miles per gallon."

"With most global oil supplies centered in an unstable Middle East, demand rising with the expansion of China and India, and some experts predicting oil prices of $150 a barrel and $5-plus per gallon gasoline in five years, Furia believes that technologies such as the Extreme Hybrid(tm) are a matter of national security. This technology could dramatically change the geopolitical landscape within a decade," he said.

Source: EV World - AFS Trinity Unveils 'Extreme Hybrid' Flywheel Technology

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