The Weekly Watch
The Oily, Greasy, Slippery Slope of American Empire
Last week I posed the question asking why the oligarchs are destroying our ecosystem when they too will suffer the biological consequences. The more I thought about this question, I started hypothesizing that they too are owned by the very corporations they started...or at least operate in order to promote their corporations' profits rather than improving the human condition (and their own condition despite their claim of philanthropy). The oil companies make my point ...destroying ecosystems for profits in order to fulfill their bank loans.
The corporate octopus is multi-armed. Big oil is just one of the tangled tentacles. Banks, the MIC, health care/insurance, and other powerful interests are also involved, but big oil is central to our dilemma and the focus of today's column. However there is a need to touch on these other forces in order to tell the story....
The oil industry is a powerhouse with control over land, resources, politics and more. In this episode of The Empire Files, Abby Martin uncovers big oil's strong-arm reach--its growth, its crimes, its power and its impunity.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQL-TAT5Oj8 (28 min)
We'll stick with Abby as she tells the story of the way Chevron has behaved in the Amazon. Rape and pillage might be good descriptors.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MssnB31PmZI (full hour documentary)
Abby's short summary of Chevron https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibYAX_pQ_mU (7 min)
What brought this to mind this week was an episode of Keiser Report...
I've seen it recommended in various essays around c99, and it is well worth a watch if you can spare the time (26 min). Max and Stacy discuss the latest study demonstrating that it is fracking alone that has caused a huge surge in methane emissions, not industrial farming, which had been blamed by some in the media.
They also react to the news of the US wanting to buy Greenland, and what the idea means in the larger geo-economic picture. In the second half, Max interviews independent journalist JP Sottile about his latest article -
... about the carbon feedback loop driving the US military machine. The military is used to secure oil resources that are heating up the planet, which is causing climate instability and creating a further demand, they say, for further military deployments.
The other big take away is that US aggression toward oil rich nations is designed to prevent or at least reduce oil production in those countries in order to drive up the price of our fracked gas until it is profitable. US companies are underwater from borrowing for fracked wells. The banks and oligarchs want to keep this unsustainable system going...instead of the sane thing...to stop fracking!
To profit as much as possible from fossil fuels before markets fall under the weight of climate chaos and better alternatives, industry and its allies tell us fracked gas is a climate solution. It’s not.
So it comes as little surprise that despite opposition from the regulated industry to a roll back and overwhelming public support for more efficient vehicles, the Trump administration is launching a direct attack on California’s long held authority to clean up vehicle pollution. https://blog.ucsusa.org/don-anair/administration-goes-after-states-for-p...
Why are we in denial? Cause the oligarchs own the media and manipulate enough people to create doubt. Consider the approach of the Koch brothers. (video or transcript)
It is impossible to talk about dirty energy money and corruption without mentioning the Koch brothers. Before 2011, two of the wealthiest men in America were able to operate in almost complete secrecy while they spread misinformation about climate change and attempted to dismantle environmental protections:
The volume of Koch Industries’ toxic output is staggering. According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute, only three companies rank among the top 30 polluters of America’s air, water and climate: ExxonMobil, American Electric Power and Koch Industries. Thanks in part to its 2005 purchase of paper-mill giant Georgia-Pacific, Koch Industries dumps more pollutants into the nation’s waterways than General Electric and International Paper combined. The company ranks 13th in the nation for toxic air pollution. Koch’s climate pollution, meanwhile, outpaces oil giants including Valero, Chevron and Shell. Across its businesses, Koch generates 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year.
Here's another 30 min documentary...Narrated by esteemed actor Emma Thompson, the documentary "The Doubt Machine: Inside the Koch Brothers' War on Climate Science" reveals how the Koch Brothers have used their vast wealth to ensure the American political system takes no action on climate change, and are attempting to buy the 2016 Congressional elections (sorry no transcript)
...and one more for good measure (2 min trailer)
Billionaires David and Charles Koch have been handed the ability to buy our democracy in the form of giant checks to the House, Senate, and soon, possibly even the Presidency.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N8y2SVerW8 (55 min)
David Koch may be dead, but his legacy of support for far-right politics and climate change denial lives on. The New York Times, however, chose to focus more on his love for the ballet than on his pollution and profiteering.
At least the dims discussed climate chaos this week...with the notable exclusion of Tulsi. Here's some analysis of the different approaches (video or text)
This 2 min ad has appeared on c99 this week, but worth a gander if you missed it...
Climate campaigners already have registered over 2,500 strikes worldwide, with more than 450 actions planned for the United States, the advocacy group 350.org announced in a statement Friday. To register for an event or find one near you, visit https://globalclimatestrike.net/. For U.S. strikes, visit https://strikewithus.org/.
Jimmy Dore talks with Nick Branna about the upcoming strike in DC (33 min)
Watch a special event in New York City hosted by Naomi Klein, author of the forthcoming book “On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal,” and headlined by trailblazing climate activist Greta Thunberg, author of “No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference.” Together with youth leaders Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Xiye Bastida, and Vic Barrett, as well as Indigenous Amazon leader Tuntiak Katan, Thunberg and Klein will help us envision a just and sustainable future, confront our climate emergency, and discuss the emerging cross-generational, transnational movement — including people of all races, classes, and backgrounds — that is our best hope for a sustainable planet. The livestream begins on . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw58ckJdDmI
Militarism and climate disaster
The U.S. Department of Defense is both the nation's and the world's, largest polluter. Producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined, the U.S. Department of Defense has left its toxic legacy throughout the world in the form of depleted uranium, oil, jet fuel, pesticides, defoliants like Agent Orange and lead, among others.
By every measure, the Pentagon is the largest institutional user of petroleum products and energy … Yet, the Pentagon has a blanket exemption in all international climate agreements … Any talk of climate change which does not include the military is nothing but hot air
Additionally the US has been spreading depleted uranium all over the planet...
We just can't stop...
Yemen is a nightmare, a catastrophe, a mess—and the United States is highly complicit in the whole disaster. Refueling Saudi aircraft in-flight, providing targeting intelligence to the kingdom and selling the requisite bombs that have been dropped for years now on Yemeni civilians places the 100,000-plus deaths, millions of refugees, and (still) starving children squarely on the American conscience. If, that is, Washington can still claim to have a conscience.
Meanwhile we beat the war drum with Iran...(video or text)
Washington escalates “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran
The US and the Taliban are about to sign an agreement to withdraw 14,000 US troops from Afghanistan, potentially ending the longest war in US history. However, the Afghans will not see an end to fighting yet, says The Independent's Patrick Cockburn (video or text)
A blast in Kabul, Afghanistan killed at least 10 and wounded 40 people on Thursday. The Taliban has taken responsibility for the attack. Three days earlier, an explosion killed 16 and wounded more than 100. Is the tentative peace deal between US and Taliban over before it began?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNR6HLDgdmI (6 min)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, is so far declining to sign what Time magazine calls a “risky” deal that would wind down, if not end, the conflict.
And they don't want us to know or discuss all our dirty little actions around the world..
The US military has issued a call for research proposals from technology partners for the development of an automated system capable of scanning the entire internet and locating and censoring content deemed as “false media assets” and “disinformation.” According to government documents, the requested solution would provide “innovative semantic technologies for analyzing media” that will help “identify, deter, and understand adversary disinformation campaigns.”
Politics and Climate denial...
The Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist Democratic think tank that grew out of the party’s pro-business wing in the 1980s and ’90s, received $50,000 from Exxon Mobil in 2018 via its parent organization, the Third Way Foundation, according to the oil giant’s 2018 Worldwide Giving Report. https://theintercept.com/2019/09/06/exxon-mobil-progressive-policy-insti...
How Larry Fink, Joe Biden’s Wall Street Ally, Profits From Amazon Cattle Ranching, a Force Behind Deforestation
The day after Joe Biden participates in CNN’s climate forum in New York, the former vice president will head to a high-dollar fundraiser co-hosted by a founder of a fossil fuel company, Andrew Goldman, a co-founder of Western LNG, a natural gas production company based in Houston, Texas
Of course it isn't just the dims. The rethugs are worse.
Jimmy takes Bernie to task for promoting Russiagate
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gukpKO91dA (10 min)
You think they mislead us about politics? I do, but perhaps worse is the way the medical system misleads us about health. This is a great interview with William Davis MD, cardiologist extraordinaire and author of the “Wheatbelly” series, “Track Your Plaque”, “Undoctored” and many other superb books. He begins the conversation..
“treat your cholesterol” is lousy, outdated marker for the factors that actually do cause heart disease that should have been abandoned, by the way 40 years ago, but still in use because the from that ridiculous piece of misinformation.
(video, audio, or text) https://thefatemperor.com/ep37-william-davis-md-cardiologist-reveals-the...
Human nature does not change. It follows its familiar and cyclical patterns. Yes, this time, when we go down the whole planet will go with us. But until then we will be mesmerized by fools and con artists. What are demagogues like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, positive psychologists and Candide-like prognosticators such as Steven Pinker other than charlatans who insist the tragedy facing us is not real? What are the technocrats and scientists arguing that education and Western civilization can turn us into rational beings other than shamans? What are the corporate titans who make their fortunes off the arms, chemical, fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries that are destroying the natural world other than high priests demanding human sacrifice?
Chris Hedges joins Richard Wolff to talk about a declining, decaying capitalism at the 29 min mark (sorry no transcript)
Abby Martin sat down last week with Marxist Economist Richard Wolff to discuss the growing popularity of socialism under Trump and its historical roots in America, misconceptions about Russia and China’s economic success and Marx’s theory of alienation and monopoly capitalism.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVo0YNZK_oY (27 min)
This Labor Day, The Washington Post and the New York Times had touching stories of workers in various jobs from a human interest point of view. There was little space devoted to labor policies, labor reforms, worker safety, the persistent private pension crisis, and the huge power imbalance in labor/management relations. NBC’s Meet the Press, anchored by Chuck Todd, is symptomatic of the media’s indifference to showcasing Labor leaders on Labor Day.
Great interview with Jimmy Dore, Matt Taibbi, and Katie Halper (starts at the 30 min mark)
Journalist John Pilger has delivered a stark warning from WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who said that his persecution is intended to kill dissent. “Speak up now,” Pilger said, or face “the silence of a new kind of tyranny.” (8.5 min)
The US journey to empire has been an oily slide into the depths of denial, repression, and aggression. It is time to start anew. It is time to speak up as John Pilger so eloquently said above. It is time to stop fracking and selling dirty fuels. It is time to create societies based on cooperation instead of competition. If our species is to survive we must begin these transitions. Do we have the stamina and drive to do so, or will we roll over and accept our fate? Time will tell.