Category Archives: Resources

Bloody indigenous protest over another pipeline

While indigenous people in the U.S. are battling one pipeline project, two indigenous groups are battling each other and the government over another pipeline, this one in Mexico.

And the conflict has suddenly turned violent.

From  Mexico News Daily:

Yaqui indigenous communities in disagreement over a proposed natural gas pipeline clashed yesterday, leaving at least one person dead.

The confrontation involved close to 300 people from the neighboring Yaqui communities of Loma de Bácum and Loma de Guámuchil in the state of Sonora. The former community is opposed to the pipeline project, while the latter is in favor.

The Yaqui from Bácum filed and won an amparo against the construction, which resulted in the temporary suspension of all activity in the area, but the construction company started work again last Saturday, allegedly with the support of government officials and the Yaqui of Guamúchil.

Those from Bácum have accused Guámuchil leader César Cota Tortola of being “close to the state government” and receiving “millions of pesos” for his support for the project.

The refusal of those from Guámuchil to abide by the amparo was what sparked the violence between the two communities, which reportedly started late Thursday night and climaxed about noon yesterday.

Billions in health costs from plastic bottles, cans


For several years we’ve been posting about the grave health dangers posed by the flood of chemicals we’ve poured into our world, particularly compounds capable of mimicking natural chemicals critical to our welfare and manufactured by the body’s endocrine system.

These s-called endocrine disruptors have been linked to a whole host of afflictions, ranging from cancer and obesity to ADHD and fetal abnormalities and social isolation.

And now, for the first time, comes a report detailed the huge financial costs these chemicals are imposing on our already staggered healthcare system.

From New York Universit’s Langone Medical Center:

Annual healthcare costs and lost earnings in the United States from low-level but daily exposure to hazardous chemicals commonly found in plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides, exceeds $340 billion, according to a detailed economic analysis by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center.

The investigators who performed the calculations say the massive toll from everyday contact with endocrine-disrupting chemicals amounts to more than 2.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Included in the team’s analysis, described online [$31.50 to read] October 17 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, are estimated costs from more than 15 medical conditions linked by previous research to toxic levels of these chemicals. Scientists say chemical exposure occurs through gradual ingestion and buildup of these toxins as consumer products are used and break down.

According to researchers, endocrine-disrupting chemicals have for decades been known to pose a danger to human health because the compounds can interfere with natural hormone function. Such chemicals include bisphenol A (BPA), commonly used to line tin food cans; phthalates, used in the manufacture of plastic food containers and many cosmetics; polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-like polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, found in flame retardants in furniture and packaging; and pesticides, such as chlorpyrifos and organophosphates.

However, the researchers say their new analysis, which took three years to complete, is the first U.S. assessment of the costs associated with routine endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure and resulting increases not only in rates of neurological and behavioral disorders, but also in rates of male infertility, birth defects, endometriosis, obesity, diabetes, and some cancers, as well as diminished IQ scores.

More, including a video report, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Quote of the day: Neoliberalism in a nutshell

From Dr. Gus Bagakis, a retired philosophy instructor at San Francisco State University, writing for Truthout:

The Reagan administration mobilized and promoted a heartless formulation of capitalism: neoliberalism. This was a model based on replacing the state with the market as a way to coordinate the economy. It stood for a world in which human relationships are forced to conform to an ideal of economic competition. The individual is transformed from a citizen into an independent economic actor. Under the regimes of President Reagan in the US and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the UK, neoliberalism led to massive tax cuts for the rich, the destruction of trade unions, a growing inequality of wealth, deregulation, privatization, unemployment and the decline of public services — with the exception of prisons and the military-industrial complex.

The main principles of neoliberalism are:

  • The rule of the free market around the world from restrictions imposed by government (also known as globalization).
  • The cutback of money spent for social services (also known as austerity).
  • The reduction of government regulations for everything that could hamper profits.
  • The privatization of government ventures leaving wealth in a few private hands.
  • The focus on individual responsibility over that of the public good.
  • Tax reductions for corporations and the wealthy.

Trump is [partly] right: The game really is rigged

But contrary to what The Donald declares, the game is rigged in his favor, as a Pulitzer-winning journalist explains to fellow Pulitzer-winner Chris Hedges in the latest edition of the latter’s series for RT America:

On Contact: A Tax System Rigged for the Rich with David Cay Johnston

Program notes:

On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges sits down with David Cay Johnson, author of “The Making of Donald Trump” to examine how the Republican presidential nominee and the rich are benefiting from a rigged tax system. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil further explores how the U.S. tax code has been rewritten to benefit the wealthy.

Hillary Clinton, the bankster’s and frackster’s BFF

We’ve characterized Campaign 2016 as a contest between the Despicable [Donald Trump] and the Deplorable [Hillary Clinton].

Events of recent days have done nothing to change our opinion and everything to confirm it, most notably the leaked Trump tape and the massive cache of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails handed over to Wikileaks.

Today’s we focus on the massive Clinton documents, confirmation that Trump’s got one thing exactly right: She really is Lying Hillary, campaigning as a candidate who favors strong financial regulation and opposes fracking, while privately telling industry folks she opposes the former and favors the latter.

From Democracy Now!:

Leaked Hillary Clinton Emails: Could Bernie Sanders Have Won Primary If Leak Occurred Earlier?

From the transcript:

LEE FANG: These emails are very interesting. They provide a window into Clinton and her experiences, certainly her speeches. I don’t believe that there are any huge bombshells, that this will change the course of the general election. Maybe if these emails came out earlier in the year, during the Democratic primary, that could have maybe changed history. But this won’t change the course of the general election.

That being said, the emails really show, including the transcripts, that Hillary Clinton is far more conservative, far more business-friendly, when she’s speaking with aides, when she’s giving speeches to these Wall Street banks. Also, the emails show that Clinton’s inner circle is filled with wealthy people, Wall Street types, Washington insiders, that are kind of part of a—what you might call a Washington bubble. They are very quick to attack and show a lot of contempt for anyone that they perceive on their political left, whether that’s activists or certain journalists. So, you know, these are interesting emails, but for folks who have followed Hillary Clinton’s tenure in government, they aren’t particularly surprising. They certainly fit a larger pattern.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Lee, they do reveal that, especially with Wall Street firms or commercial interests, that they expect to be able to be heard, given the money that they contribute. They also show, though, some of the major labor unions in the country also seeking to get heard because of their donations, as well, to the Clinton campaign, don’t they?

LEE FANG: Yeah, that’s right. You know, I think the Dodd-Frank comments are really interesting, the ones you just highlighted. You know, on the campaign trail, as she competed with Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton embraced Dodd-Frank, the big financial reform law passed by President Obama, called it a great law that she will defend. She was very proud of it. But, you know, speaking to bankers, she showed a contempt for the law. She sympathized with bankers who were opposed to this law, basically made the argument that it was only passed because of politics, that, you know, after the financial crisis of 2008, Democrats had to do something, and so they had to pass this. And she mentioned to Goldman Sachs in some of these paid speeches that she sees the financial sector, folks who work on Wall Street, that they know how to make the rules better than those in Washington. So it’s a stark contrast.

Map of the day: Illegal cash transfer outflows

A look at funds being illegally siphoned out of nations in the Second and Third Worlds by folks ranging from plutocrats and crime lords to banksters and mere common criminals. From Global Financial Integrity:


Big Agra African land grabs raise risk of violence

Regions of Africa where the relative availability of fresh water, as calculated by the Blue Water Index [BWI] threatens violence as the competition got fresh water between smallholders and giant foreign-owned farms intensifies.

Regions of Africa where the relative availability of fresh water, as calculated by the Blue Water Index [BWI] threatens violence as the competition got fresh water between smallholders and giant foreign-owned farms intensifies.

We’ve long been concerned about the increasing share of African farmlands, once owned in common by the people who farm them, being sold to foreign agricultural giants by cash-strapped African governments.

One of our deepest concerns has been the power of those corporations, largely own by Chinese and European multinationals, to gain control over the continent’s water supplies, raising the risk of starvation and violence for the planet’s poorest continent.

And now comes a study confirming our suspicions and revealing just where the risks of conflict are greatest.

From Sweden’s Lund University:

For the first time, researchers point to areas in Africa where foreign agricultural companies’ choice of crops and management of fresh water are partly responsible for the increased water shortages and greater competition for water. This in turn increases the risk of outright conflicts between all those who need water – plants, animals and humans.

During the 21st century, foreign companies have leased large tracts of land in Africa – more so than in other parts of the world – in order to produce cheap food, cheap timber and cheap raw material for biofuels. An interdisciplinary study from Lund University in Sweden shows that about three per cent of the land leased in Africa by foreign companies has been registered as currently in production, for the purpose of growing crops. For various reasons, the companies have either pulled out or not started producing on other leased land.

The study also shows that the crops that foreign investors decide to grow often require more water than the traditionally grown crops. Furthermore, it shows that the same crop can have very different needs for water, depending on the climate where it is grown and which irrigation systems the companies use.

The researchers in Lund, together with a colleague in France, have developed a model that shows how much water is needed for different production systems, in different types of climates, in different parts of the continent. The model takes into account both the size of the land and the type of irrigation system.

This model has enabled researchers to distinguish between areas where rainwater accounts for the largest share of irrigation water, and areas where large foreign agricultural companies satisfy more than half of their water needs by using fresh water sources, such as groundwater, rivers and ponds. This has allowed the researchers to highlight the areas around the continent where increased competition for water escalates the risk of water-related conflicts between different sectors and ecosystems.

“These hotspots have not been identified in this way before. Previous studies have often focused on the size of the area and not on how much fresh water is used to grow the demanding crops that foreign companies are interested in”, says physical geographer Emma Li Johansson, who was in charge of the study.

The leases are often written for periods of 33 to 99 years. The contracts rarely include any rules or limits concerning the use of water.

“Our research can perhaps lead to foreign investors showing greater consideration for how much water is necessary, in relation to how much water is actually available. Hopefully, the results can serve as a basis for documents that regulate the water consumption of large-scale farming companies”, says Emma Li Johansson.

The results are published in an article in the scientific journal PNAS.

Download article: Johansson E L et al (2016) Green and blue water demand from large-scale land acquisitions in Africa. PNAS (open access).